Recap: No plays on Thursday, as the NBA afforded only minimal value in the two TNT games -- so, in that regard, not a ton to recap, though your buddy Dan is in our Nation's Capital for a couple days, so my base of operations has moved temporarily, and that's always exciting!
Today: First, listen to the SEASON PREVIEW PODCAST HERE:
Next, get the DAN BEBE NBA 2010-2011 SEASON PASS HERE:
If that one doesn't fit, get my first NBA GAME OF THE WEEK:
Finally, read the blog!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Indiana Pacers @ Charlotte Bobcats (-5.5) with a total of 191.5;
Indiana did not play defense in their opener, and that, to me, bodes poorly for their first few road games. Charlotte, meanwhile, stunk in their road opener in Dallas, but that's not really a surprise. We saw, last year, Charlotte make mincemeat of the League at home, and I wonder if they can get right back at it, this year. The total on this game has rocketed up, not surprising given the pace that Indiana tries to play at, and catching almost 6 points means that a close game is probably going to be an Indiana cover. I really think Indiana beats a lot of teams at home, and teams with poor defense on the road, but Charlotte is known for defense and slowing things down, and I just don't think this is a particularly great matchup for either team. Lean to CHARLOTTE and the OVER.
Sacramento Kings @ New Jersey Nets (-3.5) with a total of 199;
The Kings and Nets each play their second game, and each is batting 1,000 so far. That won't last, obviously, but you have to believe both teams are feeling decent about themselves. I still don't trust New Jersey, as I feel like they stole that opener from the Pistons, who outplayed them for 46 minutes. The Kings, meanwhile, held strong in a road game, which is a small triumph, and they get Tyreke Evans back for this second game. On paper, it seems like the Kings should be able to hang tough, especially with their top threat back in the lineup, but as we saw in the Nets opener, if you're backing a dog at less than 4 points, you really have a narrow margin for error. I'm not a believer in Sacramento just yet. Leans to NEW JERSEY and the UNDER.
Atlanta Hawks (-4) @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of 194.5;
The Hawks looked awfully dominant in their opener, a crushing of the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. Now, as a 4-point road favorite (as opposed to a short road underdog), Atlanta heads into Philadelphia, fresh off their own season-opener, a loss to the Miami Heat. I still believe there's a lot to learn about both of these teams. As I suggested in the NBA Season Preview blog, and again, if less intently on the podcast, I believe the Hawks are due to take a step back this year, but not until later in the season. They have the advantage of being largely unchanged, which is a great edge in the first few games of the year, while other teams are trying to develop chemistry. Atlanta doesn't have to worry about that, and even though they might be a hair on the public side, they do have a nice thing going early on. As for Philly, I think they might actually be worse than what we saw against Miami. They clearly got up for that game, and it still wasn't anywhere close to enough, even with Miami struggling to develop chemistry, and LeBron committing 9 more turnovers. I hate to go public with a lean, but... lean to ATLANTA and the UNDER.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Toronto Raptors (-3) with a total of 197;
Two teams starting the post-superstar eras, and getting off to pretty different starts. The Cavs upended a tired Boston team in their home opener to go to 1-0 on the year, and probably looked better than they truly are in the process. Toronto got beat, at home, by the revamped Knicks, though a game that looked like it might get out of hand early was, instead, not a terrible contest. The Raptors are going to have all kinds of problems this year on both sides of the ball, though, so there was no huge surprise in game 1. I wonder here, however, if Cleveland is riding a little too high on that first win. The Cavs, with LeBron, were an incredible home team, but that arena is a good advantage. Now, heading into Toronto, this game is fairly evenly matched, in my opinion, and I can't imagine Cleveland can play much better than they did against the Celts. To me, that makes this opening number all the more interesting - it's a strong one for Toronto. Slight lean to the pathetic RAPTORS and the UNDER.
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics (-8.5) with a total of 198;
Okay, everyone is settled in, now. Boston plays, incredibly, their 3rd game of the young season already, and the Knicks play their second. New York got a road win in Toronto, so a nice confidence boost to open the new year, and Boston got a big home win over a disjointed Heat club, then had nothing left in the tank and got roughed up in Cleveland, a team playing with a chip on its shoulder. Now, home, and off a night of rest, Boston can regroup to get the rest of the season started. To me, the Knicks are a bit overrated, largely because of hype, so that cancels out, at least a little, the normal inflation that comes with a Celtics side. I believe this line is right about where it should be, and if Boston plays their normal lockdown defense, they should win this one by 7-10. Tiny lean to BOSTON, and small lean to the UNDER.
Oklahoma City Thunder (-6) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 195;
I'd love to come before you and say that the Pistons are the super sharp play, but the simple fact is that Oklahoma City is a powerful young team that know what it takes to win, home or road. And that's what makes them scary. If this line was a bit higher, and the inflation was great enough to warrant a pure mathematical play, that would be one thing, but the Pistons are not a team that is going to score a ton of points on a nightly basis, and as we saw in their opener, aren't huge on closing games out, either. I know Detroit is going to be better at home than on the road, but a lot of that is because their opponents are probably going to be worse playing at the Palace. I do like Detroit as an undervalued team this year, but against a club with firepower like the Thunder that can also play defense, it's just not the time. World's tiniest, most microscopic lean to DETROIT, and lean to the UNDER.
Orlando Magic @ Miami Heat (-4.5) with a total of 184.5;
Flat out, this game means more to Orlando. We've heard all offseason about how Stan Van Gundy wants to make sure the East isn't just handed to the Heat, and how he feels about the top 2 free agents both signing with the same team. We also saw what Orlando was doing to teams throughout the preseason, and then again in their opener. This is a team on a mission, and if the look-ahead to Miami isn't reason for them to take Washington lightly (at all), then surely they're going to be ready to make a point of beating on the Heat. Miami got a cover in their second game, beating Philadelphia by 10 points for a narrow ATS win, but things still aren't even close to right with the Heat. Bosh was mostly ineffective, or I guess we could say played a "decent" game, but not what 20 million is worth; LeBron is turning the ball over, and an heroic effort from Dwyane Wade was enough to get by a pretty bad Sixers team. If it wasn't clear by the way these teams are approaching this particular game...Lean to ORLANDO and PASS on the total.
Milwaukee Bucks (-4.5) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 200;
The Bucks were a 3-point road dog to the Hornets in their opener, and dropped that game by 4, a narrow ATS loss. The Wolves were a short home fave to the Kings, and lost the game outright. Most know how I feel about the Bucks, so I'll keep that side of things short - Milwaukee is among the "hunted" this year, and they are a team with something to prove - namely, that they weren't a flash in the pan. The Wolves are a slightly improved team, but they still stink, and the loss of Al Jefferson leaves them with Darko Milicic starting at the 5, a disaster waiting to happen. Milwaukee is going to want to snag a win in their second game, and I expect a strong, workmanlike effort from a Scott Skiles team. I do think Minnesota can hang with them for most of the game, especially if the long range shots are falling, but Milwaukee should win this one late. Covering 4.5 isn't easy, though. Still, tiny lean to MILWAUKEE, and UNDER.
Denver Nuggets (-1.5) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 205;
Denver has a lot to prove this year, and the more people talk, the more likely it seems Carmelo isn't going to last the season. But that's all speculation, and something happening down the line. For today, the goal is to show that Denver can win on the road. Honestly, I'm not sure they can. Denver played a beast of a game against the Jazz, but Utah's inability to make a shot played as big a role in that game as Denver's solid game. New Orleans, meanwhile, played yet another close game (I say "yet another" because of how many close ones they had last year), and as I've written repeatedly, Chris Paul has a knack for keeping games close, and winning them late - and quietly, since he doesn't necessarily hit the "game winner," but hits a few big shots when the Hornets need them, and the team goes on to play well. This short line tells me oddsmakers aren't sold on Denver, either, since the Nuggets blowout win over the Jazz could have probably led to a slightly higher line. Chris Paul will make sure the Hornets have a chance, and that's all you can ask as a home underdog. Lean to the HORNETS (ML, maybe), and the OVER.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Dallas Mavericks (-10) with a total of 199;
I wonder if this line is extremely high for a reason, or if it's just getting inflated more and more by preseason hype combined with the results of game 1. Let us recall, Memphis got creamed by the Atlanta Hawks in their opener, and the Mavericks, an awful ATS home team last year, picked up a nice win, and cover, against the road-clunker Bobcats. But, we must remember, the Mavs lost their home opener last year to the Wizards, and seemed pretty bent on making up for that this season. Also, the Bobcats inability to play on the road might have made the Mavs look better than they actually are. Dirk had a monster shooting night, and Jason Kidd turned back the clock. Memphis looked about as bad as any team in their opener, and I can't imagine they play that poorly again, or play no defense again. There's some value with the road team here, and with the line moving to reflect that perception, lean to MEMPHIS and the OVER.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State Warriors (-4.5) with a total of 219;
Two teams on the rise get to square off early in the year, and based on what we saw in the opener, the Warriors were definitely the more impressive team. The Clippers played the Blazers tough for 3 quarters, and then, like the Suns before them, couldn't penetrate the Portland defense in the final quarter. They won't have that issue with Golden State, who will just look to outscore its opponent. Can the Clippers keep up? The Clippers, last year, could count on a size advantage against the Warriors, and they probably still have a minor one, but with Biedrins healthy and able to focus on mostly rebounding, and David Lee doing some of the dirty work in Golden State, the Warriors can actually clean the glass. These games always just come down to which team is going to shoot the higher percentage, so with that in mind, I'd prefer the team with the point guard that can shoot. Lean to WARRIORS and the OVER.
Los Angeles Lakers (-4) @ Phoenix Suns with a total of 212;
Doesn't this line seem eerily low, considering the Suns played last night in Utah? To Phoenix's credit, they're playing with some big-time nuts so far this year, but the second night of a back-to-back, and going against the defending Champs, who, for the same reason as always, took a team lightly in their home opener. The Lakers didn't seem to take teams all that seriously on the road, either, and the notion that this line would be -2 if Phoenix hadn't played yesterday is a pretty interesting thought. That means the Lakers are just 5 points better than Phoenix on a neutral court, which is also roughly how that game with Houston opened. Hm...so, are oddsmakers saying Phoenix and Houston are the same? Something doesn't add up. The Lakers needed an opening-night comeback to beat the Rockets, and I wonder if Phoenix doesn't just keep scoring. When the Lakers are focused, they can severely outmuscle the Suns, but I don't think they're focused. Lean to PHOENIX and the OVER.