Thursday Recap: We had just one play yesterday, and it was a small one by design. A very tough Thursday card resulted in an 0-1 mark for us, and we dropped 1 unit. The Suns were just completely overmatched, and while the loss looked ugly, it counts just the same. After making almost 20 units in 2 weeks, giving 1 back shouldn't hurt too badly.
Today: This section will change on a weekly basis, for the most part, with a couple interesting things profiled, a Pro note or two, and then the daily package information. So, like last week, we'll give a few more days of promo space to Pregamepodcasts.com - home of all things podcast!
I'm going to take the season pass down for a week, and instead feature the weekly pass! A great deal in itself, since you get all THREE sports!
And, of course, the daily package - I went back and forth quite a bit with this one, but seeing as many value spots as I do, I have no choice but to release my first ever...3-for-1!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Boston Celtics (-7.5) with a total of 201;
This should be a good game. Something about it just makes me feel like we're in for a treat. The Thunder are scoring points in big-time bunches lately, putting up at least 104 points in each of their last 5 games, and winning 4 of those. The last team to hold them under 100? These very Boston Celtics, when they came into Oklahoma City and dominated the Thunder to the tune of a 92-83 final score. The Thunder are still having some defensive issues, and someone with the sheer size of Shaq should give them some issues with rebounding, but the Thunder can get Shaq in foul trouble quickly, and get themselves into the penalty. You do not want to let the Thunder shoot free throws, and getting to the line is going to be a top priority for OkC in this contest. Boston's team defense is going to try to keep that from happening. I do think the revenge angle will come into play a little, though Boston is really focused this year on stepping on other teams' throats when they get ahead. So, the simple question - can the Thunder keep this game close? If so, I think Boston will tire a little more quickly, and as the game progresses, the teams will get closer to each other in intensity. If that's the case, you have to like the Thunder. If you believe Boston gets out to an early lead, this is a team that plays well from ahead. For my sanity, I lean to the THUNDER and the OVER.
Milwaukee Bucks (-3.5) @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of 187;
The Sixers are pretty terrible, and they're even worse without Andre Iguodala. I'll admit, I didn't think Iguodala's injury would completely take this team out of their gameplan, but it seems like his mere presence on the court gives everyone else confidence, or at least puts them in a better position to succeed. So, while they may be the "sharp" side in this game as the short home dog, I'm just not in a position to back Philadelphia until they show they can play a complete game and get some easy points. The only thing pushing me towards the Philly side is that Milwaukee is coming off a home loss to the Lakers, and after this one, they go right back home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder. So, to some degree, this game could be considered a sandwich affair, but I'm not buying it. The Bucks have taken on the mentality of their coach, and they go out and play their butts off every single night. They will control the pace of the game, they will make fewer mistakes, and they will win. Will they cover? That's where the confusion sets in. Tiny lean to MILWAUKEE, and better lean to the UNDER.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Washington Wizards with a total of N/A;
This game, to me, comes down to John Wall's health, and so the lack of early line is completely understandable. We saw Washington step up and play the "Injured Star" game, completely trouncing the Raptors. Then, the next night, the lack of John Wall became all too evident as the "other" guys got shut down entirely by a solid Boston Celtics defense. Now, back home and playing a team that has a level of defensive intensity that probably falls a bit closer to Toronto's end of the spectrum than Boston's, Washington is going to try to put up points. But, if neither team plays defense, and John Wall isn't around to make the exciting plays, Memphis should out-talent the Wizards. Hoooooweeeeeeeverrrrr, and this is a biggie...the Grizzlies HOST the Miami Heat tomorrow. This is a look-ahead spot, and Memphis doesn't even have a day to think about it. My initial reaction is to watch this game and then play the Memphis-Miami game accordingly, but we might very well see an unfocused Grizzlies team. If they're laying too many points, think about the WIZARDS, but a short line is a pass, and if Memphis isn't paying attention, this one could sneak OVER.
Houston Rockets @ Toronto Raptors (-1) with a total of 206.5;
This game features a situational/scheduling angle worth noting, as Toronto returns home off a marginally successful road trip that opened with a win in Orlando, a competitive loss in Miami, a bad loss in Washington, and an ugly win in Philadelphia. Now, back home, where Toronto actually hasn't looked much better than they have on the road, the Raptors host a banged up Houston team looking for consistency, health, and a few wins against lesser teams. Houston doesn't play again until next week, while Toronto hosts a division opponent in Boston, though a team as bad as the Raptors doesn't really have any reason to look ahead. So, in terms of just scheduling and situational spots, you have to think the Raptors are at a bit of a disadvantage. In terms of matchups, these teams aren't that different. I happen to think the Rockets are better coached, and can play better defense if they care to, but either team could beat the other on any given night. This night, I like HOUSTON and the UNDER, if but barely.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Miami Heat (-12) with a total of 194;
Confound it. This Heat team is going to be playing with lines that are just insane all year long, but I'll admit, I'm having trouble deciding if this line is just wildly inflated because of public hype, or because Miami is about to go on a run, and oddsmakers want to make sure there's sufficient money coming in on the opposite side. This is the final game of a 6-game homestand for the Heat, so you know darn well they're going to want to head out on the road with a good taste in their mouths. For Charlotte, we can be pretty certain they'll be giving max effort in this one, but it remains to be seen if that's going to be enough. Charlotte does not have the type of team that's been giving Miami problems - that is, a quick, healthy, skilled point guard and/or a big man. Charlotte's skill is at the wing positions, and those guys could very easily get dominated by LeBron and Wade. I do like that Charlotte appears to be, at least beginning to play a little better, but this game doesn't have enough reasons for me to take either side. NO LEAN on the side, and I have to think we see a possession game, this total is close to correct, tiny lean to the UNDER.
Los Angeles Lakers (-10) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 218;
Well, last time these teams played, the Wolves kept it nice and close with L.A., but I'm not sure that just wasn't a spot where the Lakers were playing with zero passion and were in a letdown off their big win over Portland. This time around, the Lakers are finishing up a short road trip that they've dominated, so far, and the next game is back home against the Warriors. This isn't a look-ahead spot, a let-down spot, or anything in particular, and I can't help but feel like the Wolves kind of shot their Lakers bullet down in California. The line is probably pretty close to correct, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Lakers take this one by about a dozen, so miniscule lean to LAKERS, and medium lean to the OVER, since I can't imagine we'll see 50 turnovers between the 2 teams again.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ New Orleans Hornets (-10.5) with a total of 192.5;
Amazingly, I happen to think the Cavs might be a better road team right now. Maybe it's the pressure of playing at home without LeBron, maybe it's just coincidental that injuries seem to occur on homestands, but the Cavs have actually shown some signs of life under Byron Scott, if only their impact players could get healthy. Of course, from this line, we can see that oddsmakers are now making the adjustment for the Hornets hot start. This is a big number. This looks like even a bigger number considering the Hornets are coming off a home-and-home series with the Mavs that was referred to as "similar to the playoffs" by some of the players involved. Is this a little bit of a letdown game? Maybe, but the Hornets really are pretty darn good, and if the Cavs aren't healthy, this might be a bit much for them to overcome. The Cavs play tomorrow in San Antonio (the Spurs get ANOTHER team on the second half of a back-to-back...don't get me started on that preferential scheduling), so if we get a strong effort from Cleveland here, maybe they're a fade tomorrow? Today, I think the CAVALIERS sneak under the spread, and I like the UNDER.
San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz (-2.5) with a total of 203.5;
Those darn Spurs have really come out of the gates strong, haven't they? As I mentioned above, it was awfully kind of David Stern and co. to give San Antonio a bunch of teams on the second day of a back-to-back, while rarely playing any themselves, but I guess when the League wants to keep a team around for another season or two, the League gets what it wants. This will be a nice test for the Spurs, going on the road to play a strong team playing good basketball, and to me, this line is about right. The Spurs have shown an ability to win both at home and on the road, though I might not take as much away from that win in Oklahoma City as others might. The Spurs just have the Thunder's number. The opposite might be said for this series, as Utah beat the Spurs into submission last year. Yes, San Antonio has better health this time around, and Richard Jefferson is useful, again, but Deron Williams is too strong for Tony Parker, and with a game that's pretty close to a pick, I think you have to consider the home team in the high-energy environment. Lean to UTAH and the OVER.
Chicago Bulls @ Dallas Mavericks (-5) with a total of 195;
Fade the Mavs at home, back them on the road, it just keeps holding true. Even in the most improbable of situations. Dallas beat the Hornets at home, but failed to cover, then lost to the Hornets on the road, and managed to cover the spread. It's just insane, at this point. The Bulls, here, continue the Circus trip, having won in Houston with a nice effort, and then lost in San Antonio, once again playing a back-to-back against a rested Spurs team. I can't even believe how many times that concept is coming up in this blog, but the Spurs' scheduling is just irking me today, I guess. In any event, Chicago will tire out at some point on this trip, but in Dallas doesn't seem like the time. They have a few days off after this game, too, to catch their breath, before starting the rest of the long roadie. For Dallas, as we talked about with New Orleans above, this could potentially be viewed as a letdown game, off those 2 hotly contested battles with the Hornets. The Mavericks also play in Atlanta tomorrow, and while I wouldn't call it a look-ahead, the schedule certainly lends to a 90% effort from the Mavs. Can they win and fail to cover yet again? Leans to CHICAGO and the UNDER.
New Jersey Nets @ Sacramento Kings (-3.5) with a total of 196;
I'll come right out and say it...I like Jersey in this one. Some of that is because the Kings have no consistency in their rotations on offense (a new small forward gets 25 minutes every night), and some of that is because of the coaching advantage already showing up (sorry Paul Westphal), but mostly, it's scheduling. The Kings have admitted that they're anxious to get a win after losing quite a few games in a row, but the harder they play, the more pressure they put on themselves, and the more mistakes they make. New Jersey plays a slower, defensive-minded game, just the type of basketball that could cause Sacramento to turn the ball over and take bad shots. And who is even going to play? We've seen it in baseball - there's absolutely something to be said for having a bullpen where each player knows his role. Well, in Sacramento, no one knows if they're going to play, or when, and outside of Tyreke Evans, who might be going through some sophomore year growing pains, it's a total mess. Over on the Jersey side, they still stink, but they're competitive pretty consistently, and they're beating bad teams by playing smarter. This has that feel, and on top of that, Jersey plays in Denver tomorrow, with altitude following travel, as the last game of the 4-game roadie. Terrible spot tomorrow, which makes me think Jersey will work a little harder tonight. The one concern? Sacramento did lose in Jersey way back at the beginning of the season. I wonder how much they care... Lean to the NETS, and the UNDER.
New York Knicks @ Golden State Warriors (-3) with a total of 221;
This looks too easy to take Golden State, doesn't it? Just laying 3 points? The Warriors are a solid 7-4 on the season, and the Knicks are just 4-8, and yet, they're ranked the exact same on a neutral court? Something fishy, there. So, digging through the numbers and dates to figure out why, I have to think it's a combination of the Knicks finally starting to hit some shots (2nd half in Denver, last game in Sacramento), revenge (Warriors beat New York at MSG), and Golden State on a potential look-ahead to their game in Los Angeles, a revenge game for Golden State. In addition, the lack of David Lee has reared its head pretty considerably so far. They don't have that all-around worker grabbing offensive rebounds, hitting mid-range shots, defending, and of course, putting up bonus effort against his old team. A lot of signs point to the Knicks being a stronger than expected play in this game. Also, the Knicks play their 4th in 5 nights against the Clippers tomorrow, so like the Nets in the game above, this is a nice spot for New York to grab a win before they tucker out. Lean to the KNICKS and to the OVER.