That's better. Not perfect, but better. We managed to cash the Bobcats as a 2* play yesterday, but dropped a 1* play on Jersey. Still, a profit is a profit, and much like the title says, a win is a win. Tons of games today, but a lot of "well-matched pairs," so to speak!
Because of the simple fact that we've been running in place since the end of that losing skid about 2 weeks ago, I am not promoting any "for sale" items. Buy if you so choose, but until things get kicked back into high gear (like they were when we made about 50 units from mid-August through mid-November), I think it's the noble move to use this section of the daily blog to promote the Free stuff, or other similar tasks!
This week, instead of posting a link, I come before you to ask a favor.
TELL ONE PERSON ABOUT A PREGAME PODCAST.
That's it. Just find one coworker or cousin, or new acquaintance and use TiSB as an ice-breaker. Because if everyone that listens to the show tells exactly one person, the show could double in size with everyone just doing 5 seconds of word-spreading.
Then, once you've told one person and made a new fan, report back to me.
Hell, let's make a contest out of it. The person who gets the most NEW listeners to ANY Pregame podcast gets 10 Pregame bucks. And rather than just relying on the honor system, have those new listeners come in this blog and type a quick response.
Make it happen!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Chicago Bulls @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
After a stint of playing relatively decent basketball (considering the roster), the Raptors seem to be cooling off just a bit. I might blame it on the lack of a point guard that has a ton of experience distributing the ball, and maybe I'm overvaluing Jose Calderon, I think others might be undervaluing him. When Jarrett Jack was in town, Toronto had one other PG that at least knew the offense. Bayless has been a solid scorer, but he's not really a floor general, and it's hurting Toronto. Chicago, meanwhile, has started the surge. The defense is fantastic, and Boozer is getting more comfortable by the day. The line being off tells me there's an injury that I didn't hear about while in transit on Tuesday, but regardless, it's unlikely Calderon returns for this one, and Toronto is finishing up a back-to-back that began in Charlotte. That's a decent travel schedule, and including a quick stop in customs, Toronto might be a little tired. However, despite the low talent pool, Toronto does have a few bench guys that can give the tired starters a breather. It's a tough call, but I'd lean just a tiny bit to the BULLS, and the UNDER.
Boston Celtics (-3.5) @ New York Knicks with a total of 206;
Something's gotta give. The Celtics have won 10 in a row, and the Knicks have collected 8 straight. And really, both teams have been kicking ass even longer than the most recent win streak. I think a lot of people are going to force a play on this game, to be quite honest. It's the marquee matchup, both teams are red hot, and everyone wants to get down on either the reigning juggernauts or the new kids on the block. For what it's worth, I actually like the KNICKS on the side, and the OVER, and here's why. For all of the fanfare that New York is getting right now, they have actually played Boston tough even when they were stinking up the place. That includes a narrow loss in Boston earlier this year, and even a few close games (and a win) last season. Now, suddenly, the Knicks are hyper-confident, they're scoring almost at will, and I don't actually think the Celtics style of defense is that well-suited to facing such a perimeter oriented club. Fact is, I would not be surprised to see one team win this on on the final bucket. I'd love to get 4 points, but I don't see that happening. Also, the last meeting between these two hit 206 points despite both teams shooting horribly from the free throw line, and not that impressively from the field. This one should touch 210.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Indiana Pacers with a total of N/A;
This one comes down to Granger. Word on the street is that he's going to try to play through the pain in this one, but that sentence in and of itself might be enough to keep us off this play. I'm also leery of fading the Lakers off their first truly strong performance (outside of the Kings game) in quite some time. We all know how streaky the Lakers can be, and perhaps just the mere presence of Andrew Bynum has given the other Lakers "bigs" a shot in the arm, knowing they can actually rest for 10-12 minutes a game without worrying that the offense will go stagnant. Bynum is going to be able to help protect the rim, and it was clear that Washington couldn't muster anything against an angry Lakers team last night. Will the back-to-back hurt LA? I actually don't think so. The starters didn't play a ton of minutes last night, and a banged-up Granger is going to keep this line lower than if he were to just sit it out. Let's just stay simple - lean to LAKERS to get an ATS streak going, and the UNDER.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Philadelphia 76ers (-5.5) with a total of 192;
This one is leaving me scratching my head a tad. The Sixers are absolutely playing better basketball, so they should be expected to win this game, but covering 5.5 on the second night of a back-to-back isn't going to be simple. Of course, we've seen the Sixers actually play well in fatigue spots before, so I wouldn't use that angle with a ton of confidence. Perhaps it's best to go back to the basics on this game, as well. The Sixers have, relatively quietly, covered 9 consecutive games. Maybe it's best to just hop on the freight train, instead of standing in its tracks. Lean to SIXERS and the UNDER.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat (-17.5) with a total of 194;
Oh boy, here we go again. The LeBron-Cavs rematch, this time in Miami. Will the King take pity on his former club? Somehow I doubt it. Cleveland has been getting blown out in horrifying fashion on a nightly basis, and that loss to the Cavs seems to have helped start a spiral for this young team. Hickson is in Byron Scott's doghouse, the bench is worthless, and Cleveland can't seem to stay within 20 points. Meanwhile, the Heat just keep rolling, as both Wade and LeBron are starting to flex some muscle on offense, and the team defense is improving by the night. Fact is, we all knew this day would come, when the Heat start to develop some chemistry, and as a result, they're laying almost 20 points. This game has "PASS" written all over it. In fact, it might be tattooed on it. Leave this one alone!
Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-8) with a total of 209;
This Wednesday really feels like one of those days where oddsmakers are finding themselves with a lot of either really hot teams playing against each other, really awful teams playing each other, or really hot teams taking on cold ones. There just don't seem to be many games with good situational angles or any kind of middle ground. Which, in my mind, leaves us with a lot of coin-flips. Here, the Rockets head to OkC off an easy win over the Kings last night, and are quietly starting to play better basketball, covering 7 of 9. The Thunder have covered 3 in a row. For Houston, the key has been putting up points and just trying to out-shoot teams. For the Thunder, the key has been putting some effort into defense...sometimes. The only other angle at play is that the Rockets nipped the Thunder by a single point in Houston, so you could potentially argue that there's some sort of revenge, but covering 8 points isn't really part of the revenge factor. Tiny, tiny lean to the THUNDER, and a slightly bigger lean to the OVER.
Sacramento Kings @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of N/A;
No Tyreke Evans, and the second game of a back-to-back in Houston and New Orleans? This game, on paper, looks like a terrible spot for the Kings, but doesn't it just have that scent of the game where Sacramento pulls together to keep it close? Sometimes I love the NBA, and sometimes I just want to punch it right in the groin. This games makes me want to do the latter. The Hornets are having trouble scoring the ball, and they haven't scored 95 points since November 28. Yes, they play a slow tempo, but poor shooting has held them back on a nightly basis. The Kings are just bad all around. So, here we are, again, with two struggling teams. Someone has to win, yes, but I recommend looking, instead, at the total. The Kings have serious offensive problems even with Tyreke, but without him, who knows where they'll go. And New Orleans isn't about to start running and gunning overnight. PASS on the side, UNDER lean on the total.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Memphis Grizzlies (-7) with a total of 187;
Alright Memphis, I might have been a day late, but I'll give some credit. The Grizzlies are beginning to get things turned around, and, surprise-surprise, it starts with defense. Memphis has held its last 4 opponents under 100 points, accomplishing that feat in 4 straight games for the first time all season. And, not surprisingly, Memphis has won 3 of those 4, losing only in Utah. Charlotte is not a hugely competent offensive club, so if Memphis brings the same defensive intensity they have in the previous 4 games, I'd be very surprised to see Charlotte crack 88 points. Memphis has scaled back on running, using it off missed shots and turnovers, and they've become a more balanced team, and a club that gives rebounding expert Zebo a chance to get position on the glass and get the team second chance opportunities. Memphis still doesn't look that pretty at 11-14 SU, but they're coming around, and Charlotte's road issues are well-documented. Lean to the GRIZZ and the UNDER.
Milwaukee Bucks @ San Antonio Spurs (-9) with a total of 190;
Fear the deer? Milwaukee just ended the Mavericks' monster winning streak two nights ago, so they're riding high. The question is, can the Bucks put on another 3-point shooting clinic like they did in Dallas? I'm inclined to think they will not. The Spurs, like the Magic, are a good defensive club, and draining over 50% from downtown two games in a row against two good teams is not a common occurrence. But then, when a team gets confident and starts raining in buckets, is it wise to go against them? Absolutely not. But, yet again, we have two teams coming off a few straight ATS wins facing off. Curse you, NBA card! Why can't we get some more fun scheduling and situational notes to work with? You're making my blog writing exceptionally challenging! Tiny lean to the BUCKS on the side, and the UNDER, if just by a hair.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Phoenix Suns (-9.5) with a total of 222;
In these long blogs, it's important to try to stay as organized as possible. Minnesota is playing the second night of a back-to-back that began in the Bay Area against the Warriors last night. The Wolves are also smack in the middle of a long road trip. Phoenix has been struggling offensively, and it seems like as Jason Richardson goes, so go the Suns. He hasn't been able to throw a pebble in the ocean lately, and the team has, consequently, had issues scoring. I wouldn't necessarily say that I'd give a huge edge to either team, but in a game where both clubs are just going to try to outshoot the other, 9.5 seems like a lot of points. This one, to me, comes down to turnovers. If the Wolves can limit themselves to 12-14 (albeit unlikely) they have a decent shot of actually winning this game. If they cough it up 20 times, the Suns will get even easier buckets, and it'll be a long night. Tiny lean to the WOLVES and the OVER.
Portland Trailblazers @ Dallas Mavericks (-7) with a total of 188;
We just cannot catch a break with these darn angles lately. Where one great angle pops up, an equally bad one creeps up on the other side. For instance, this is a spot I'd normally love to fade the Mavs. You guys all know how I dig playing against teams coming off a long losing streak, since it generally takes a little time to reach that equilibrium, and when the luster comes off, the lines are still inflated. But then, the damn opponent happens to be a team that consistently gives us a 10-point quarter any time we back them, and a team on the final game of a rather unsuccessful 4-game road trip. All I can really say is..."son of a bitch." Minor lean to PORTLAND and the UNDER.