I suppose we could go even farther back, given the Winter Meetings occupying your friendly blog host for the majority of last week. It has been, basically, a treadmill the last few days. Up a little, down a little, multiple pushes - just sort of one of those weeks where we have to enjoy the games, since money really isn't changing hands.
It's not what we're here to do, and that will get fixed when a few of those key plays start going back in our favor. Until then, it's some damn fine entertainment!
And yes, I like silver linings.
In any case, it's time to get back to a slightly more normal routine - blogs every day, podcasts as often as humanly possible, and enough free content to choke a horse.
I also rarely address notes that I'm seeing from places outside of Pregame, but I did see that people were talking about the leans in the NBA blog not always matching up with the final plays. Please remember, whether you're actually trying to learn or just looking for a reason to hate me, that these NBA thoughts are constructed around 5pm ET the day before the games occur. Often, there aren't even lines out, and the leans are based on what I expect the line to be. If the line is wildly different or moves violently, or an injury pops up, it's important to react.
In 'capping, as in life, staying the course at all costs is what fools do who can't process new information.
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
New Orleans Hornets @ Miami Heat (-9.5) with a total of 184.5;
Situationally, this is a terrible spot for Miami, but with the way the Kings are playing, I don't think I could ever really advise stepping in front of that locomotive. Miami comes home off a 4-game west coast road trip, so this is a trademark sluggish spot, but New Orleans is struggling big-time on the offensive end, and they're going to need to score 95 points to beat the Heat. It's really that simple. I don't think they do. So, the question here isn't really whether the Heat win, it's in what range of scoring. This is also a revenge spot for Miami, so you know they're going to be focused, and New Orleans is playing the second half of a back-to-back that started with a truly hideous performance in Philadelphia yesterday morning. That total of 184.5 is the most telling part, to me. You could try to bet that things will regress to some sort of juicy mean on the Hornets side, and they can't possibly shoot around 30% again, but I tend to think that momentum often carries over in b2b spots, and New Orleans has had offensive issues for a couple weeks, now. I really wish that total had been up in the high 180's, since I was eying an Under, but at the current number, that doesn't leave a ton of wiggle room. Slight lean to MIAMI and the UNDER.
Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls with a total of N/A;
It took me all of 30 seconds to figure out that this line is off because Danny Granger tweaked his knee in the final quarter of Indiana's game with the Hawks a couple days back. Obviously, his presence is a huge factor for Indiana, since he is not only their most dynamic offensive player, but has stepped up his defense in a big way. Last season when Granger missed time, Indiana took giant leaps backwards. I happen to believe that with the development of Roy Hibbert and the acquisition of a point guard that can actually run an offense, they should be able to withstand his loss a little bit easier. Still, Chicago is starting to round into shape with Boozer back in the lineup, and the more I watch that Bulls team, the more I think that Tom Thibodeau might be a bit of a basketball savant with his defensive ideas. Chicago is really getting it done on defense, and Indiana's defense is better than people realize. If we get an inflated total, that might be the place to consider starting our handicapping on this one. Small lean to CHICAGO and maybe a slightly more relevant lean to the UNDER.
Portland Trailblazers @ Memphis Grizzlies (-2.5) with a total of 192;
Portland remains, almost to the point of head-scratching, almost better on back-to-back games than in most rested spots. Alright, so that's a bit of an exaggeration, but they had such a strong performance in Phoenix in their most recent b2b, then came back after a day of rest and got creamed by the Spurs. Now, the next night, Portland gets to tackle the Grizzlies, who have quietly rattled off a little 4-game ATS win streak, also covering 6 of 7. Unfortunately for Memphis, a few key notes are pointed against them. First, Portland's strength in supposed fatigue spots. Second, Memphis is set to play its first home game in 10 days off a 4-game west coast (and altitude) road trip. Third, Memphis, despite being 13-10 ATS on the year, is just 3-5 ATS as a favorite, so you can see they've been doing most of their best work as an underdog, including all 4 road games. They even began to look a tad tired at the end of the road trip, but the Clippers lack of any interior game kept them from holding off the Grizz. Can Memphis sneak by with 84 points again? I doubt it. Portland is too clever. Lean to the BLAZERS, and just barely to the OVER.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Dallas Mavericks (-8.5) with a total of 186;
I really thought we had isolated a nice spot to fade the Mavericks in that last game, but netted ourselves a Push with the Jazz. And really, Dallas is just showing no signs of letting up. Even DeSean Stevenson is getting into the act, and I believe he now ranks in the top-5 in the League in 3-point percentage. Dirk, despite firing from all angles and while falling away from 18-feet on a bunch of shots, is actually hitting well over 50% on the season, too. This team is just clicking, and it starts with fantastic defense. The Bucks look way, way better with Andrew Bogut back, but you can quote me on one key note - until John Salmons gets his act together, Milwaukee isn't a legitimate opponent. They'll win games at home by hitting some shots, but I think people forgot how bad they looked on the road before this recent 4-game homestand. With that in mind, and much like with the Heat above, I'm not going to advise trying to put the brakes on Dallas. Tyson Chandler has healed up from his stomach ailment, and though he did apparently pass it along to Brian Cardinal, the key pieces are healthy (for now), and Milwaukee is going to have all kinds of trouble scoring and keeping up. The big number leaves the back door open, but that's a bad premise to use when making a wager. Lean to DALLAS and the UNDER.
Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz (-11) with a total of 210.5;
Yikes - lines just got ugly for the Warriors, who haven't looked at all right since David Lee hurt his elbow. He's been quoted as saying that he can't straighten the arm even still, and his shooting percentage has taken a terrible hit...and, along with that, his team's FG% has dropped like a stone. Stephen Curry is likely out for a bit longer, so the team is without its starting point guard, and this is, amazingly, a revenge spot for Utah. The Jazz went into Golden State and put on one of the ugliest shooting performances that I've seen from any team this year. It's not like the Warriors are playing staunch defense, Utah just kept missing. I don't expect that to be a problem at home. This line is big and beefy for a reason, and that's because Utah is on revenge, the Warriors can't seem to score consistently, and Utah has been manhandling the Warriors for quite a few years now. If Golden State covers, it's going to be a backdoor job, and I would imagine that doesn't happen as often as Utah just putting the knife in. Lean to JAZZ and the UNDER.