Saturday was a productive day, though it ended with a small free loss when the Nuggets blew a 20-point lead. We began the day with a winner on BYU to get the Bowl Season off on the right foot, continuing the CFB beatdown we laid in the regular season.
Sunday, like Saturday, ended with a loss, and began with a much larger win. The Panthers led from start to finish and cashed our 3* NFL GOM, and we went on to split a pair of 1* plays on Cincinnati (W) and Denver (L).
Obviously would have liked the Sunday sweep, but making 3 units is never a bad thing, especially in the ultra-tight NFL.
Also, last week's "Tell-a-Friend" Podcast-contest was less than adrenaline-pumping. Only 3 people reported back to me with new listeners, which, unfortunately, like a 50-50 raffle, means the "pot" is much smaller. Poor participation means smaller prize, and Dub22, our winner, gets 3 Pregame bucks. Hopefully next time, more people will play!
Last week the blog's had no promo due to me being out of town the previous week and due to running in place on the betting ledger.
My Bowl Season Package is only $99, a solid 33% less than most other cappers, and that's because I am a low-volume CFB bettor. If you're looking for fewer plays with the best winning percentage, those 99 clams will not only save you money off others' packages, it'll make us all a goodly handful as the winning tickets pour in.
In addition, the Bowl Season Pass will include ALL THREE of my Bowl Season "Big" Plays, which went on a 10-2, 12-week run in the regular season.
And with that, a blog...
Sports Wagering: NBA
Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
This is an effort to try to choose between two teams that are supposed to be pretty darn good, but each dealing with issues. The Hawks offense seems to be stagnating, as we knew it would once the loss of Joe Johnson started to catch up with the team. But then, all of a sudden, Joe Johnson returned! And, no surprise, he was rusty, and the offense continued to sputter. Atlanta will slowly improve, as will Orlando with their crop of new (and returning) players, but chemistry cannot be overvalued, and I wonder how long it takes for the new Magic to learn the defensive schemes. Sure, Jason Richardson, Turkoglu and Arenas will find opportunities to score, but will they understand how to defend, since Orlando absolutely owned the Hawks defensively last year. Atlanta did finally get some revenge the last time these teams met, so that angle is somewhat wiped off the table, and while a forced lean would be to ORLANDO, this is a game better utilized for scouting the new personnel. In that same vein, I'd lean UNDER due to the continuity issues on offense.
New Orleans Hornets @ Indiana Pacers with a total of N/A;
The Hornets seem to be turning things around a tiny bit. That second half comeback against the Kings got the offense going, at least in the short term, and we'll know more about how the Hornets handle pressure when that contest with Detroit comes to an end on Sunday night. Still, I can't help but feel like the Hornets are destined to have issues scoring, and they can come and go at almost any moment. Meanwhile, the Pacers are starting to round back into some sort of equilibrium after putting together a strong road showing a few weeks back. They lost a couple, Danny Granger missed a game, and now it seems like they're finding a middle ground. I suppose you could argue that because Indiana played earlier on Sunday, they're in slightly better shape, in terms of energy, but outside of that, I'm not sure there's a ton to go on, here. The Hornets are the team with better momentum between these two clubs, and as we know, Paul has a knack for keeping games close with non-elite teams, home or road. I'm pretty curious about the line, though I expect to see Indy as a small favorite. Tiny lean to NEW ORLEANS and the UNDER.
Utah Jazz (-8) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 196.5;
Right up front, let's get this out of the way - I want no part of the side in this one. This is a truly monstrous road favorite line for any team in the NBA, and though I believe I did note back on Friday that the Cavaliers are going to be seeing some hugely inflated lines, I'm not sure I can trust them to keep up with the Jazz. They did a nice job of hanging with the Knicks, who were in a huge letdown spot off games with Boston and Miami, but Utah comes to town in the 3rd game of a 4-game roadie that leads up to Christmas, and we've seen Utah do some serious damage in road games. From a pure line value standpoint, you can probably make a case that this line is maybe a point too high, but that's not nearly enough for me, and without other angles at play, it's a spot to leave alone. Thus, PASS on the side. As far as the total goes, I'm tempted to look at the Over, since we know Cleveland tries to push the pace, and Utah tends to get good looks in the first 14 seconds of the shot clock, but both teams have actually been playing a little slower in the last week or so. Small lean to the UNDER.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Washington Wizards with a total of N/A;
I don't know how Washington does it, but they keep finding ways to cover games at home, even without John Wall. Now, of course, they'll be without Arenas, who got shipped off to the Magic, and instead get the underachieving Rashard Lewis. Al Thornton can likely say goodbye to his playing time, but I suppose we'll see. In terms of non-player-related angles, Charlotte has just 3 road wins on the year, but one of those came here in Washington. I wonder if that translates to them being comfortable here, or if Washington comes out with a sense of purpose. Washington is coming off a tough 1-point loss to the Heat, so there is potential for a letdown. Charlotte got called out by its owner after a lackluster effort in Memphis, and then went on to lose the very next game in Atlanta. Half the Bobcats seem to be on the trading block, too, so I have no idea how that team is supposed to get focused on each game. I'm inclined to lean WASHINGTON, though I'm not sure I can trust them completely, and the UNDER.
Dallas Mavericks @ Miami Heat (-6) with a total of 191.5;
At a quick glance, I would think a lot of people will back Dallas because of their prowess on the road, but I feel like a couple of other factors are working against them. First, this is Dallas's first road game since December 4, off a 6-game homestand. Second, Miami is starting to show signs of "taking it easy" against lesser teams, and stepping up against the big name teams. That tells me they're confident, and starting to trust that they can win games when they need to. Third, this is a revenge game, as Dallas beat Miami by 11 down in Big-D on November 27th. Dallas is a solid team, and we know Charles Barkley loves them. Dirk Nowitzki is having a downright unreal year, but LeBron and D-Wade are putting the pieces together, and to me, this line is about where it should be. And yes, that loss in Dallas was the last loss the Heat suffered before deciding to win every game from that point forward. Dallas, by the way, has not been playing the world's finest defense the last few games, and that is a point of concern. Lean to MIAMI and the OVER, by about 2 points.
Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs with a total of N/A;
The Suns got some fresh blood, and I happen to think they got a lot better with the trade. In fact, it might have helped both teams. The Suns got a fully competent defensive center in Marcin Gortat, and added some athletes in Vince Carter and Mikael Pietrus. Pietrus feels like just the type of guy that Steve Nash can turn into a superstar, but time will tell. Phoenix isn't going to turn these guys into a championship roster, but they'll score more, that's for darn sure. The Spurs just keep beating teams, sometimes on buzzer-beaters, sometimes in overtime, sometimes just the old-fashioned regulation win, sealed up a few minutes earlier. They haven't been covering machines lately, but I don't think I can bet against San Antonio here, when there are so many question marks on the Phoenix side. This is, however, a revenge game for the Suns, so a few key angles are butting heads once again. Really, the smart play would be to see how Phoenix's new guys gel before betting, or if they're even on the floor (since word has it the new guys won't arrive before Thursday), but if I had to take a shot, I'd lean to the UNDER due to new bodies learning the offense, and a gun-to-head lean on SPURS.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Portland Trailblazers with a total of N/A;
Revenge and injury, the fun combo that we have to sort through in this contest. Portland is likely without Brandon Roy, and Milwaukee is likely without Brandon Jennings -- not a good first name to have, I guess. Portland also spanked the crap out of Milwaukee in Wisconsin back in early November, 90-76. The Bucks have come a long way since then, and Portland has, arguably, gotten far worse. The Blazers do seem to find ways to win games at home, but I'm working on the assumption that Portland is going to be laying a solid 5-6 points (time will tell), and they haven't won too many games by more than a handful lately. Aldridge has turned his game up, but it almost seems like, with Portland, either the offense is working or the defense is working, and rarely in tandem. The Bucks are a tough competitor, but without their engine, I can't see them having much success on the offensive end. Tiny lean to MILWAUKEE, but a bigger lean to the UNDER...unless the line is crazy-low, which it very well could be.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Clippers (-4) with a total of 211.5;
Both teams are in sort of "odd" scheduling spots, so, for me, this match-up is about finding the small disparities. Minnesota is finishing up a 6-game road trip, and though they've lost the previous 5 games, they have covered the last 3. They still don't play a lick of defense, but they had no trouble scoring in any of those 3 games. They also got behind by 20 in Denver before going on an extended run that cut the Nuggets lead under a bucket before finally falling. Minnesota is certainly in a tough spot, finishing up on the west coast after bouncing all over the place, and even though they're playing well, I have to believe that pathetic defensive effort eventually burns them. The Clippers return home off a 3-game Midwest road trip that saw LA shoot the lights out in the final 2 games. So, while this is traditionally a sluggish spot, I can't help but wonder if the Clippers are just brimming with confidence. Covering 4 isn't usually a problem if you're winning, but will Kevin Love explode coming back to LA? Can anyone keep him off the glass? If LA can limit the Wolves to one shot per possession most of the time, they'll take care of business. If you believe Minnesota racks up 15-20 offensive boards, this one comes down to the wire. Slight lean to CLIPPERS and the UNDER.
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors with a total of N/A;
Houston seems to be improving by the day, and the Warriors, well, I'm not so sure. Golden State has had a pretty darn tough schedule the last few weeks, which certainly isn't helping that 4-15 SU disaster. Biedrins remains hurt, so David Lee, still injured, is set to play center again, and Steph Curry seems unlikely to return. I know Monta Ellis is a one-man wrecking crew, and I know Houston hasn't been that impressive on back-to-back spots, but they're a team on the upswing right now, and the Warriors are a team that desperately needs health. Houston got Aaron Brooks back in their last game, too, so suddenly the Rockets are very deep at PG, and the Warriors don't really have any. We should get an interesting line, given Houston's b2b spot, and until the Warriors beat a team better than the Wolves (2 of those 4 wins in the last 19 games are against Minnesota), I don't think I can trust Golden State to get the job done. Lean to HOUSTON and the UNDER.