Getting this blog done wildly early, so I don't have a ton of random thoughts. Today feels like the kind of day we should just launch into the meat of the blog.
Sports Wagering: NBA
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks (-5) with a total of 193;
The Sixers head into Atlanta off a rare set of back-to-back ATS defeats. Yes, they won 1 of the 2 games with the Knicks, but failed to cover either, a sure sign that oddsmakers are beginning to catch up with the Sixers tremendous ATS mark to this point. And, with that in mind, this line is a tad on the low side, as well. In many cases, I might argue this line is low because Atlanta has issues, and in fairness, Atlanta does have a few. Here, however, I think we might be staring down the barrel of a line that is, at long last, right about where it should be. Atlanta has defeated the Sixers twice this season, first by 3 on the road, then by 5 at home, so Philadelphia has been right there in both games, but unable to clear the hurdle. This game will likely be played pretty close, as well, and I only wonder if Philly can channel that double revenge and squeak out a win, or if they'll get nipped by the bigger, stronger team once again. I wish we could get 5.5 or 6, but even at the low number, the double revenge just barely tips the scale towards the SIXERS, and if the road team is going to come in hot, take a peek at the OVER.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Orlando Magic (-9.5) with a total of 201.5;
The Clippers are probably going to cover one of the next two games, either this one, or tomorrow's tough back-to-back in New York. LA is a strong rebounding team, which makes them a tough club to blow out, and in all likelihood, the Clippers are going to be seeing some pretty sizable spreads in both games, due to venue and tomorrow, due to fatigue. The Clippers are also on home revenge in both games, and I'm sure they'd love to prevent a season sweep at the hands of either ballclub, or both. With Orlando, the Clippers are facing one of the few teams with a player that can legitimately outrebound Blake Griffin. With the Knicks, the Clippers get a chance to go toe-to-toe with a team that I believe they should have beat in LA. The Knicks shot a ridiculous volume of free throws in that game, and despite being completely exhausted, the Clippers let New York escape without forcing them to shoot to win. I'd be most inclined to watch how this one plays out, but I think if we lean CLIPPERS both today and tomorrow, we'll go 1-1 at worst, and I like the OVER.
San Antonio Spurs (-6.5) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 190;
For a while it seemed like Detroit was going to be content to just run up and down the court and try to shoot its way into a few wins, but lately, it seems like the team is taking itself much more seriously. Yes, Charlotte, Jersey and Milwaukee, a trio of slow tempo opponents, has done nothing to push the score of Pistons games higher, but Detroit isn't exactly fighting the plodding pace. That tells us one main thing - Detroit is content to play at the opponent's speed. They have played to Unders against the last 3 opponents, Overs against Denver and New York, and so on. Unfortunately, it's unclear how the Spurs truly want to play. We know they're a much more fluid offense, so that lends itself to the Over, and the Spurs defense isn't quite as strong on the road as it is at home, but at the same time, this is game 4 of the Spurs Rodeo trip, and also the game that marked the flip from the Western half to the Eastern half. Will the Spurs come out sluggish, or will they push the pace and try to jump on Detroit early? It's a very large number to lay on the road after all that travel, so despite how strong the Spurs have been, tiny side lean to DETROIT, and slightly more intriguing lean on the OVER.
Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat (-11) with a total of 199;
Indiana has come out of the locker room under new coach Vogel and rattled off 4 straight wins...but, wait a minute, who did they beat? The Pacers took down the Raptors, the Cavs, the slumping Blazers, and the Nets. I'd go so far as to say that if the Pacers didn't come out of that stretch 3-1 they failed miserably, so 4-0 is good, but it's not that good. The shine is going to come off the not-so-new look Pacers very soon, and it's just a matter of figuring out when. This could certainly be the spot. Interestingly, the Pacers beat Miami by 16 earlier this season as a 9-point underdog. So, a couple months later, a little worse for the wear, the Pacers are catching 11 points. I know Indiana has a tendency to play up for good teams, but Miami's defense, like Chicago's, can absolutely shut down the Pacer offense. Miami has won, and covered, 5 in a row, too, so they're heating back up. I can't believe I'm saying this, but for the second straight game, I actually lean slightly to MIAMI, and I don't think it's a stretch to think Indy's run of 100+ scoring games comes to an end with an UNDER.
Toronto Raptors @ Milwaukee Bucks (-8) with a total of 192;
Isn't this just the ugliest game of the night (or week)? The Bucks, scuffling while trying to just get a damn healthy roster together, host the Raptors, winners of 1 in a row (after losing 13 straight). Someone has to win, thankfully, but that doesn't mean we have to watch it. Maybe we will, though. Toronto and Milwaukee happened to have faced off pretty darn recently with the Bucks picking up a 6-point road win up in Canada just a week and a half ago. Now, Toronto, potentially with some measure of revenge on the brain, rolls into the Bradley Center looking to extend that powerhouse winning roll. All joking aside, this is a bad spot for the Bucks, as they have to deal with a suddenly slightly less upset Raptors team while themselves trying to work through severe offensive issues. Milwaukee should win, but covering 8 is going to take some work. Lean to TORONTO and the UNDER.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-7) with a total of 206;
This line jumped out at me as seeming awfully high, but let's see if we can determine how it got there. (time elapses) After scouring the archives, it seems like 7 is a bit of a cop-out. These teams are 1-1 against each other so far this season, with each club winning on its own court, and each club covering in that spot. The Grizzlies were 1.5-point underdogs at home, and won outright, while the Thunder were 7-point favorites at home in a game they won by 9. That's all fine and good, but if we look closer, the Grizzlies were actually playing the second half of a back-to-back that began in Utah the day before, just like this game. So, the line didn't move at all from meeting to meeting, even though Memphis has been kicking ass and taking names since that last matchup. What kind of game can we expect here? Well, Memphis is, once again, coming off a big game, playing the Lakers last night. However, in the last meeting here in Oklahoma, Memphis shot just 6.7% from 3-point land, just 43% from the field, got outrebounded by 6, and missed the cover by just a bucket. Fact is, even in the loss, Memphis dominated points in the paint, and if we sit on regression, MEMPHIS is looking to squeeze inside that rather large spread, and considering the level of mediocrity both clubs showed from the field, and the total still went over, this might very well do the same, lean to OVER.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Houston Rockets (-9) with a total of 217.5;
For the exact same reasons that I liked Houston last night in Denver, I like Minnesota in this one. The Rockets are just not that strong on the defensive end, but extremely potent on offense, which, as we've seen a thousand times, makes winning big very difficult, but also makes losing big somewhat of a rarity, as well. This is a double-revenge game for Minnesota, and with both clubs playing the second half of a back-to-back, I believe Minnesota's rebounding beast named Kevin Love is going to be a huge factor. There are going to be plenty of clanked jumpers, and if the Wolves can clean the glass and get 10-to-15 second chance points, those are the types of numbers they'll need to keep up with the superior shooting of Houston. Houston also has a handful of days off before hosting Dallas, and I can't help but think that they'd rather just get into the locker room with a win and rest those legs, rather than put on their finest display of team basketball in this game. Winning by double digits isn't easy when you're likely to get outrebounded. Lean to the WOLVES and the UNDER.