I can't pick my nose the last 4 days. Seriously, I tried, and I jabbed myself in the cheek. After 3 straight months of winning, we're now in the midst of a rather ugly week. Trust me when I say that I'm using every ounce of energy trying to yank this plane out of its tailspin...
Staying with the theme of podcasts, this week's feature is the College Football Weekly Show
(with guest Pro, Sac Lawson) -- the College Football season is starting to wind down, and folks not taking a listen for late-season strategies are missing out. Monday through Wednesday I'll be featuring last week's show as a teaser, then we'll switch it up for this coming weekend on Thursday.
Pro Features: The Weekly Package got the spotlight last week, but this week I want to point everyone's attention to the ultra-cheap FLEX ACCESS PACKAGE -- just $195 for a full month of all sports. And don't tell, but you can actually switch Pros 3 times!
And, of course, the daily package -- the last few days have been a bevy of emotion -- frustration, anger, sadness, acceptance. Now it's time to MAN UP and kick the bookie back in his damn groin. Payback is only fair.
Now, read the damn blog...
Sports Wagering: NBA
Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of N/A;
This line is off because of Andrew Bogut's questionable status for the game. All indications are that he will MISS this contest and play later in the week, but oddsmakers would rather play it safe and put out the line a little later. If we've learned anything about Milwaukee, though, it's that these guys are resilient as hell. They lost Bogut before last year's Playoff appearance, and very nearly upset the Hawks. They've been dealing with injuries this year, already, with Carlos Delfino missing time, and Michael Redd hasn't been healthy since 2005. The line is going to look a little inflated, but some of that will be because Cleveland played last night in Indiana. To me, this is a tough game, and I'm betting oddsmakers are really going to try to nail the line as close as possible. I like the Bucks to bounce back off an ugly game, but I happen to think the Cavs are going to play relatively tough. NO LEAN on the side, UNDER on total.
New York Knicks @ Charlotte Bobcats (-4.5) with a total of 206;
Without even knowing what happened last night, there are already a few things wrong with this line. First, the total is a half-point higher than last night's opening mark of 205.5. Charlotte isn't a high scoring team, and the second game of a home-and-home is usually a little more chippy, a little more physical, and the totals usually end up lower, barring a hell of a shooting night by a couple players. Also, yesterday's opening mark of Knicks -3 is 7.5 points away from this one. No one even knows who won yesterday's game yet, so to adjust by an additional 1.5 points is downright silly. Which line is the true line? Both teams are playing their best ball of the season, and neither is going to want to lose both games of this home-and-home, but based on the opening numbers, it would look to be a value on the Knicks and Under. Let's wait and see how Tuesday's game goes, since that is going to play a colossal role in how we bet this one, but at first glance, as noted, KNICKS and UNDER.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors (-5) with a total of 201.5;
This line might look a little high, but it's standard back-to-back adjustment on the Sixers, who are absolutely no better than Toronto. This line, to me, makes sense, in that it basically tells us that oddsmakers have these teams as equals. So, the simple question becomes, "Does Philly deserve the 2 extra points for fatigue?" I happen to think they do not. I know they played last night, but prior to that, the Sixers hadn't played a game since the 19th. They rested the 20th, 21st and 22nd, so back-to-back games shouldn't be that huge of a deal for a pretty darn young team (outside of Brand). The Sixers got Iguodala back, too, who we can only assume will get better with every rust-shaking trip to the court. I'm also a small fan of the revenge angle, though that didn't help us with a play on Philly when they went to Cleveland earlier this year. Still, Toronto beat Philadelphia on the 16th, so it's fresh in everyone's mind, and Philadelphia was a 3-point favorite in that contest. So, there has been no power ranking adjustment for revenge. Does that mean we have a tiny bit of value? It's debatable, but for our purposes, that's enough to get a little lean to PHILADELPHIA and microscopic OVER lean.
New Jersey Nets @ Boston Celtics with a total of N/A;
This is going to be a pretty hefty line, I would imagine, though the health status of Rajon Rondo is still hanging in the air. We saw Boston had no trouble pounding the Atlanta Hawks, but one thing to remember about handicapping is that no team is as good as their best game, and Boston just buried Atlanta early and never looked back. The Nets are playing a back-to-back, and against Boston's suffocating defense the worst offensive team in the NBA might run into some troubles. On top of that, Boston has Shaq patrolling the paint, which should, if nothing else, force Brook Lopez to do a lot of his work a few feet away from the bucket. Devin Harris might give Boston some issues, but I'm not sure what else the Nets can do. Problem is, this line is likely to be way too high to back Boston, and the back door would more than likely be perched open. Without getting any more wordy, I want no part of this game. NO LEAN on side, tiny OVER lean.
Miami Heat @ Orlando Magic with a total of N/A;
How much do we think revenge plays a factor in this one, and once we answer that question, how much do you think oddsmakers have already accounted for it? I desperately want to find a way to back the Magic, but, truth be told, neither of these teams has impressed me much. The Heat are coming off a terribly ugly effort against the Pacers, featuring turnovers by the handful, and just seemed to be out of focus and out of sorts. The Magic return home somewhat humbled by the surging San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio might be playing the best basketball in the NBA and despite the great record, are still slipping under the radar just a tiny bit. In any event, the Magic are playing slightly better defense, but they're vulnerable, and they got manhandled by the Heat in a meeting earlier this year. This is a high-profile showdown, and the Heat are now without Udonis Haslem for, potentially, the season. Let's see where this line comes out, because that can tell us quite a bit, but based loosely on the revenge angle and the idea that the Magic won't miss all their open looks (and the Heat won't make all of theirs) in this rematch, lean to ORLANDO and OVER.
Detroit Pistons @ Memphis Grizzlies (-7) with a total of 194;
This line strikes me as somewhat low. Considering the Pistons were 10 points underdogs in Dallas last night, and now, on back-to-back, they're just 7 point dogs to the Grizz, well, that caught me a little by surprise. But really, looking back at lines from earlier this season, that adds up about right. In any event, the Pistons continue to be a team that finds ways to cover quite a few games, so like usual, we can start with the underdog and work from there. The question is, how much will Detroit have in the tank after the Mavericks game last night. The Grizzlies haven't played in quite some time, so they're likely to be far more energized than the Pistons, and I hate to say it, but that might be enough for me. The Pistons have shot the ball incredibly poorly on the 2nd half of their back-to-backs so far this year, and have somehow found ways to cover a few of those games. It's almost mind-boggling. If they shoot around 40% again in this one, they're going to get steamrolled. The Grizzlies are underachieving so far this year, but they're coming off a nice home win over the Heat, which snapped a 5 game losing streak, and you all know that I like to back decent teams off a long losing skip (or fade them off a long winning run). Lean to MEMPHIS and the OVER.
San Antonio Spurs (-8) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 213;
The Spurs are straight rolling. They're a spectacular 12-1 on the season, and an even more impressive 9-3 ATS. I only call that more impressive because it's tough to be a big name team and post a winning ATS mark. San Antonio has covered 6 straight, and they're not even letting teams stay close at the end of games. They won with Duncan sick, they crushed with him healthy, and now they take their show on the road and lay a pretty damn big number in Minnesota. I have absolutely zero clue how Minny is coming off an ATS loss in Oklahoma City. In terms of what games in the NBA look "rigged", that was about as close as we've seen so far this year, with the Wolves turning a 2-point deficit into a 10-point loss in the span of about 1 minute of fouling. Just insane. In any event, this game, from a situational angle, screams sandwich for the Spurs. They're coming off a big home win over the Magic, and their next two games are with division rivals Dallas and New Orleans. Sure is tough to go against a team on a 6-game ATS win streak, though. It might be best to just stay out of the Spurs' way and let this thing play itself out. We probably missed the best time to back them, which was against another big name team like Orlando, because laying 8 on the road is tough to do. Pulling out the gun, and putting it to my head, I'd lean MINNESOTA and the OVER.
Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-4) with a total of 199;
I don't mean to sound like I'm ditching out on a writeup, but I happen to think this line is right about where it should be, all things considered. The Mavericks are playing a back-to-back, which hasn't really phased them a ton, but the line got its customary 2-point move, and overall, we're being told that Dallas is about a single tally better on a neutral court. I agree. In terms of situational angles, there aren't many. This is a big game for both teams, as I'm sure each would like to establish itself as slightly higher in the Western Conference pecking order. There isn't any big revenge angle to worry about, either. Oklahoma City has won and covered 5 games in a row, though they got a gift against Minnesota, and Dallas continues to play their butts off when they're on the road. Add all that mess together, and you've got yourself a Thunder short home favorite line. Based just on what we've seen from Dallas on the road, I think you have to start with that side and work from there, and much like the concept of Brownian Motion, we then take about 100 steps in random directions, and our net movement is...yep, zero. Lean to DALLAS and the UNDER.
Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets (-5) with a total of 216.5;
This line strikes me as pretty high, but then, the Warriors have gone right down the toilet without David Lee. I mean, I thought they'd struggle, but this is ridiculous. This is a revenge game for Houston, and they have the rare opportunity to pick on a team when they're down. I suppose the question is, what's going to wake up the Warriors, if anything, or do we just have to wait until Lee gets back for this team to start clicking again? Houston has been a bit of a disaster, too, so it's not like laying 5 points with a 3-10 team is easy. Still, the line has to be a small indicator of what to expect. Golden State is shooting outrageously poorly without Lee, and if they roll into Houston and shoot under 43%, they're going to get drilled. The effort is definitely there, the guys are playing hard, and they could explode on any night, but it just doesn't seem like the guys have that hop in their step they had to start the year. This game doesn't feature any particularly interesting scheduling notes, so we'll just roll with the revenge note. I'd say we're fading the slumping team, but that would be mean we couldn't play either club. Tiny lean to HOUSTON and the UNDER.
Chicago Bulls @ Phoenix Suns (-3) with a total of 211;
This could potentially be a tough back-to-back spot for the Bulls, who head to Phoenix off a big-time showdown with the Lakers. I do believe the results of that game with LA will play a role, but not a huge one. Phoenix is clearly a whole heck of a lot better with Steve Nash healthy, but the defense that Phoenix is playing right now is just embarrassing. They've allowed 123, 105, 123 and 116 points in their last 4 games, and opponents are pretty consistently shooting over 50%. It's actually difficult to play such little defense that you can regularly give up 55% shooting nights and it's not considered out of the ordinary. The Bulls have a player that can get points even against good defenses, and that's scary. There are a lot of guys that could potentially put up huge games. I know Chicago might be tired, and this road trip is potentially wearing on them, but unless Phoenix drains 22 threes like they did against the Lakers, I have trouble seeing how that team beats anyone with a competent offense. Let's relax for a few hours and see how Chicago fairs in LA, and reassess. Early on, though, I can't help but think the BULLS are game, and the OVER is in play.
New Orleans Hornets @ Utah Jazz (-4) with a total of 192.5;
Wait, seriously? The Hornets, who only just suffered their 2nd loss of the season, are 4 point underdogs to the Jazz? Something is absolutely a little funny about this. That means the onus is on us (punny) to determine if this line is where it is because Utah just gets respect quicker than New Orleans, or because the Hornets are due to regress a tiny bit? New Orleans has not looked good on this road trip so far, barely winning in Sacramento, and then putting forth a truly lackluster effort against the Clippers in LA. So, which Hornets show up? The one thing that I preached about this team from opening night is that Chris Paul has a way of keeping every game pretty close until the last few minutes. Usually, they win those games, but scores of Hornets games aren't going to be blowouts all that often. That doesn't help us, here. Utah is hosting the Lakers next, so they're going to be on red alert for this homestand, and as I keep bouncing back and forth with these notes, I just have to settle on the idea that maybe these teams are going to basically play to a stalemate. Someone is going to have to win the game, and falling under 4 points means minimal late-game free throw shooting. I have to think this game has a nice shot of coming down to the final minute. You won't win every underdog play in that spot, but you'll win over 50%. Lean to NEW ORLEANS and the OVER.