On the gambling side of things, Friday's 4-0 monster sweep was followed up with two rather disappointing small loss days (0-1 Sat, 1-1 Sun). Back to megasweeps this week, says I. I still feel like, for the most part, I'm seeing things relatively well, and that is translating into long term winning, albeit on a somewhat streaky up-and-down pattern. Fortunately, the best fit line is still higher at the end than it was at the beginning.
In terms of sports-related news, how about that Aaron Rodgers? The pride of Chico, California, and former Cal Golden Bear just OWNED the Playoffs. Welcome to eliteness, A-Rodg. See that, high school QB's, Jeff Tedford CAN lead a successful NFL quarterback! And see that, Kyle Boller? That's what you could have been if you weren't dumb as a stump. Go (former Cal) Bears!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Boston Celtics @ Charlotte Bobcats with a total of N/A;
Sometimes there are teams that just dominate a particular opponent, against all situational and scheduling odds. Sometimes it doesn't make a ton of sense (Houston and Memphis, until a few weeks ago), and sometimes, like with this one, it adds up perfectly. Charlotte is a poorly oiled, slower, worse-shooting, similar-tempo, kid brother to the Boston Celtics, and the shamrocks remind the Bobcats of that fact in just about every meeting. Boston just keeps beating Charlotte like a drum, though I will give the Cats some credit in keeping it close with Boston the last time these two teams met. I'm interested to see what sort of line we get, since Boston has been impressively bad on the second half of most road back-to-backs, and have played to the Under in most of those, as well. I'm getting inklings that this line might be near Boston by 4.5, in which case I'd probably leave it alone. I want to fade Boston on the back-to-back, especially against a revenge-minded Bobcats team, but revenge hasn't helped them in this series yet - why would it start now? Small lean to CHARLOTTE, and lean to UNDER.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ New Orleans Hornets (-8) with a total of 201;
I must admit, I'm looking for ways to back the Wolves, but I'm not finding many. The Hornets are coming off a home loss to the Lakers, but Chris Paul appeared to play through his ankle injury just fine. The issue in that game was that New Orleans simply had nothing to slow down Pau Gasol with Emeka Okafor out. Minnesota is not going to pound the rock inside like the Lakers can, since the Wolves are primarily a 3-point shooting team with one solid rebounder (Love) and one scorer (Beasley). The Hornets got plastered by Minny earlier this year, so the better team is on revenge, and the Hornets desperately need to locate a win to snap out of this mini-funk, be it injury-related or not. I do believe the total right around 200 tells us that this game is going to be played closer to New Orleans' preferred pace. I would be much more confident in New Orleans at a number like 6.5 or 7, but even at 8, I still have a small lean to the HORNETS, and just slightly to the UNDER.
Los Angeles Lakers (-3.5) @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total of 195;
Memphis is playing extremely solid ball right now, and the Lakers appear to be struggling a bit. And that, in a nutshell, has brought this line down a few points from where it was not too long ago. Consider that the last time the Lakers visited Memphis, they were laying 5.5, and, similar to this meeting, both teams were rested. So, since then, the Lakers and Grizz have worked themselves 2 points closer in power ranking. Is it time to hop off the fade train? Possibly. The Lakers tend to pull together on these long road trips, and have an interesting knack for finding ways to win the easier road games by 8-to-10, and the tougher ones by 5 or 6. In terms of which team is currently playing better basketball, relative to its own potential, the Grizzlies are far and away the hot club, but in terms of betting value, the Lakers fade train might be running on fumes. Small lean to the LAKERS and the OVER.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Dallas Mavericks (-15) with a total of 204.5;
At this price, I am rather strongly considering the hapless Cavs. To their credit, while they may be losing every game and setting NBA records for futility in the process, they are, at least, competitive in the last week. The only problem? Dallas is steamrolling teams right now. The Mavs are rounding back into Dirk-shape, covering 5 straight spreads while winning 8 straight games, overall. Simply put - the value is squarely on the disaster from Ohio, but I'd rather wait until Cleveland plays a team having any sort of issue as opposed to one of the hottest teams in the NBA. PASS on the side, totals lean to the OVER.
Houston Rockets @ Denver Nuggets with a total of N/A;
I'm not 100% sure why this line is off, and I've been looking for answers. Hopefully, we'll learn more in the morning. My best guess is that Aaron Brooks is going to get suspended for abandoning his team, and Melo's elbow is sore, but neither may impact the game...In any event, Houston heads back out for one more road game after playing 4 on the road and 1 at home. This is a double-revenge spot for the Rockets, who, as a team, seem somewhat unaffected by the location of a game. Not so much that they'll win at any spot, but they'll shoot 60% on the road just as easily as they'll shoot 40%, and the same story goes for home games. That makes me think this game could go in a ton of directions. One thing you have to give to Houston: when they lose, they sure do fight their tails off to keep the game relatively close. Outside of an ugly loss to Orlando at home, and a late-game flop in San Antonio, the Rockets seem to find ways to lose by 4-to-7 points. Let's wait and see where this line opens up, but if the 7-point underdog line Houston was afforded in Denver earlier this year is any indication, it will likely open between 5 and 6.5 (since Houston is rested this time around). Denver, meanwhile, is still looking for a defense, and winning when they feel like it. Lean to ROCKETS and the UNDER.
Chicago Bulls (-1.5) @ Portland Trailblazers with a total of 183;
This line is begging me to take the Bulls, and I can't help but feel a bit tempted. Considering Portland is coming home off a 3-game road trip (shorter than our usual limit of 4), is playing its 5th game in 7 days, and, simply put, just isn't playing that well, it's hard to see a great reason to back Portland. There are a couple small reasons to handle Chicago with an oven mitt, though. First, Portland is on revenge from a butt-kicking they took in Chicago back in November. Second, the Bulls loss in Golden State was a sluggish effort, the kind of game that might mark a short stretch of tired play. Third, the Bulls loss to the Warriors snapped a 6-game win streak, and I tend to look to fade teams off a long winning stretch. The scales of handicapping justice are having issues weighing out the angles. If we just look at regression, the lean is to PORTLAND, since the Blazers shot 0-for-14 from 3-land in that game in Chicago, the Bulls shot 60% from the field, and Portland only lost by 12, and I can't help but peek at the UNDER.
Utah Jazz (-2) @ Sacramento Kings with a total of 199;
The Kings have played the Jazz pretty tough over the last couple of seasons, despite the apparent gap in team talent. That may partially explain the low line. Certainly, Utah's lackluster play over the last month combined with Sacramento's ability to cover spreads is also pushing the line down. Still, Utah hasn't been less than a 7-point favorite to the Kings in quite some time, and that this line is an entire handful less than that, and neither team is on a back-to-back or missing a superstar tells us all we need to know. Utah is playing inconsistent, at best, and though Deron Williams is back, I'm wondering if his performance in Denver was more about adrenaline than health. Kings bounce back from the Spurs loss by taking out aggression against a less skilled team that, in general, seems content to trade buckets. Lean to the KINGS and the OVER.
Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors (-3) with a total of 221;
I want to go straight to the revenge factor, but the home-and-home scheduling spot supersedes all of it. These teams play again, in Phoenix, on the 10th, so this game is merely a precursor to the second showdown. And, for those that have been reading all season, you know how we generally handle these spots. Wait out the first game, hope for an intriguing final score, and react accordingly. In terms of taking this game in isolation, then yes, we can look at Golden State's revenge from losing to Phoenix, at home, back on December 2. However, I would argue that Golden State has stepped up its defense - not to the point that they're a juggernaut, but they're actually trying to stop people, and it's working out nicely. Phoenix is in the midst of a very home-heavy portion of their schedule, so I'm curious to see how the Marcin Gortat Freight Train looks on the road. Something tells me it won't be quite as pretty. Phoenix shot a powerhouse 55% the last time they came to Oakland, and I'm inclined to think the Warriors are going to be focused on keeping that from happening again. Lean to GOLDEN STATE and the UNDER.