Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It's Getting Hot in Laker Land

Opener:

Who doesn't love a nice Thursday of NBA?

We get a short card to work with, so the time consumption drops, and the games are always the most interesting of the week, outside of, perhaps, Sunday morning.

This time around, we have the Lakers-Heat rematch, with each team headed in complete opposite directions; we have the Knicks on the road in Big D; and we have the high-flying, ultra-deep Nuggets attacking the banged-up-but-playing-decent-ball Suns. Plenty of reasons to tune in...or really, plenty of reasons to get a 2nd TV for your living room, what with the College Hoops occurring simultaneously.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Los Angeles Lakers @ Miami Heat (Pk) with a total of 188;
To no one's surprise, this line zoomed to Lakers by 2, and that, good friends, makes this game very, very hard for me to bet. Considering that when these teams met in Los Angeles on Christmas and both teams were playing pretty well, the Lakers were a 3.5-point home favorite. I realize a ton of time has passed between then and now, but for the Lakers to go from being considered a half-point neutral court favorite to an opening number that corresponds to 3-points superior to a current line of 5 points better...well, that doesn't add up. On the Tuesday podcast, I wondered aloud how many games the Heat would have to lose before the value started to swing back onto them, but what I neglected to note was that it depends largely on the opponent. Here, Miami isn't the public choice, which will, for one day, at least, create some line value on the home team. Can I back the Heat right now? Maybe, but it would take a nice Pepto-Prevacid cocktail, but at this price (LAL -2) I don't think I can pay to play on LA, even with their 8-game win streak and 7-1 ATS mark in that same span. As far as totals go, the Lakers are winning games with defense, playing a slower tempo, executing in the half-court, and using their superior size to just push teams slowly out of the game. It's probably the so-called "obvious" play, but I can't help but be a tad scared to take any overs involving either of these clubs. Slight leans to MIAMI (shudders) and the UNDER.

Related: Phil Jackson Sympathizes with Heat [Sun Sentinel]

New York Knicks @ Dallas Mavericks (-7) with a total of 215.5;
Both teams are playing the second game of a back-to-back, so the first note that pops to mind is a potential Over play. Both clubs are huge Over teams when they're unrested (Knicks are 9-6 to the Over, Mavs are 10-4), and even though it's almost inarguable that this total is a hair inflated to begin with, I still think it could go up and Over. Let's hope both teams play slow, ugly games on Wednesday to help our cause. In terms of the side, this is a tough one to call - the Mavs are crazy-deep, so you'd think that they'd have a slight edge in the back-to-back spot, but the Knicks catching 7 points is tough to ignore. New York has enough scoring punch to stay within 7 points on most nights, and if Dallas doesn't shoot 55% (which they might), New York should be able to get to the foul line and keep the game close. I hate to have 2 games in a row where I know darn well I have at least one lean (maybe 2, here) that is to the squarer side of the ledger, but damn if I can't figure a way that the Knicks get blown out in a low scoring game. Leans to the KNICKS and the OVER.

Denver Nuggets @ Phoenix Suns (-4) with a total of 216.5;
These teams are two nice stories. Both made huge trades, and both seem to have benefited from them. Phoenix has leaned heavily on Marcin Gortat, and now healthy, Vince Carter is chipping in with some offense, as well. The Nuggets have put together a monster of a bench, and though Gallinari hasn't really been healthy since his arrival in Denver, the team is still playing pretty well. The Nuggets are coming off an absurd layoff, and my big question for this game is whether they come out rusty or energized, and whether all that time off was enough to get the new pieces a little more time to develop chemistry. The issue, as I see it, is that the Suns lost by 34 on their last trip to Denver. So, while the Nuggets might be the team developing chemistry, the Suns are the ones that would seem to want this win just a bit more. Phoenix got a tough win over Houston in its last game, and now playing its second game back home (with a rejuvenated VC and without Channing Frye), this would seem to be a decent spot for both teams. Maybe the way to go is to consider the Under, if indeed Denver's long layoff created defensive energy and/or any rust. Just some thinking or talking points. Leans to the SUNS and the UNDER.

Related: Iverson's Denver Mansion in Foreclosure [HipHopWired.com]

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