Pretty short NBA slate from Tuesday to discuss, though I suppose the news that LeBron wasn't quite at full strength should be the all-time non-shock of the year. What's that? Miami lost a few games and James rushed back? Big deal.
Another 13-game card on the docket for today, so I'm going to shorten up the paragraphs a hair, just for my own mental stability. Streamlining, that's my new goal!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Philadelphia 76ers @ Orlando Magic (-10) with a total of 199;
You could argue this is a revenge game for Orlando, but with half the team dealing with a nasty stomach virus, I'm not sure they even remember that home loss to the Sixers. Orlando comes home off a tough 5-game road trip where the red-hot Magic went just 2-3, culminating with a loss in Boston, and an ATS push. This game could potentially be a tough one, given the huge spread. Philadelphia continues to play games close, though their team defense has taken a step back the last week or so. The angles on this game balance out a little, but I'd weight the first-game-back angle a smidge heavier than the kinda-revenge. Slight lean to PHILLY and the OVER.
Phoenix Suns (-7) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 213.5;
There will come a time when the Cavs lines are inflated far enough for us to play another one, but I simply can't get behind this NBDL team in their first home game off a grueling 5-game road trip through both altitude cities. The Cavs last relatively close game happened to come in Phoenix against these very Suns when they lost 108-100 as a 10.5-point underdog. But, let's be serious. The Suns should have opened as a 4.5-point road favorite based on those numbers. Have the Cavs really gotten 2.5-points worse in a little over a week? Probably not, so there's definitely "value" on that side. My issue is simply that Cleveland isn't hanging within 20 points of anyone these days, and I don't know if they're bettable. Electron-microscopic lean to CLEVELAND, slight lean to the OVER.
Utah Jazz (-6) @ New Jersey Nets with a total of 194;
I realize the Nets have had something of a knack of hanging with better teams, covering some bigger spreads by a bucket or two, but this one is different. Utah is coming off an ugly loss in Washington, a game where the Jazz just simply didn't have energy, or if they had it, didn't show it. Utah has had a couple days to rest up, a couple days to practice, and let's not forget that prior to that disaster in D.C., the Jazz were one of the best road teams in the NBA. The Nets, meanwhile, are coming off a tough 4-game trip out West, and if any of you have taken the coast to coast flight the Nets most recently dealt with, you'll know there's a decent probability that Jersey doesn't put their best foot forward. I'd be surprised if the Nets were competent offensively beyond the usual suspects, and I lean to the JAZZ and UNDER.
Detroit Pistons @ Boston Celtics (-12.5) with a total of 192;
I'd be all over Detroit if they hadn't smacked Boston upside the head the last time they met. Instead, with Boston in a little bit of a "letdown" game after taking some aggression out on the Magic, Detroit on a little 3-game win streak, and Boston will some small modicum of revenge on the brain, this one stinks of pass, at least on the side. I still don't really trust Detroit to score enough on the road, though both teams have been locking horns in higher-scoring games recently. I suppose, if I must...tiny leans to DETROIT and the OVER.
Washington Wizards @ Milwaukee Bucks (-6) with a total of 186;
Will this be the game, at long last, that Washington finally breaks through on the road? The problem with the Wizards is that road lines are getting inflated for opponents that don't normally deserve it, and home lines are actually starting to get a little inflated for Washington, at least against the lower third of the League. Believe me, I'd love to be the guy that bets Washington the day they do finally win on the road, but I don't want to be the guy that bets them every game until that happens. So, by default, lean to BUCKS, and Milwaukee has a way of slowing games down to ugly speed, so small UNDER lean, too.
Memphis Grizzlies @ New Orleans Hornets (-4.5) with a total of 183;
This game is a total wash, in my opinion. These teams split 4 games last year, each going 1-1 on the road. These teams have not met yet this season. Neither club is on a look-ahead, and neither club is in a letdown. Neither team is playing especially well or especially poorly over the last week, and neither is freakishly good or bad at home or road. Absolutely, positively, NO LEAN on the side, tiny UNDER lean on the total.
Toronto Raptors @ San Antonio Spurs (-12.5) with a total of 205;
Somehow, Toronto continues to hang tough with most of their opponents. I'm not exactly sure how they're doing it, but Toronto has lost 4 games in a row, but covered 3 of them. That makes them very dangerous, especially in games where the Raps are catching over double digits. Of course, the Spurs are knee-deep in another 6-game win streak, with the last 2 wins each coming by double digits. To me, this game is pretty close to where it should be. The Spurs have the offensive and defensive firepower to break this thing open. Butterworth alert! Fact is, Toronto hasn't lost by more than a handful since a clunker in Boston 6 games back. Lean to TORONTO and the UNDER.
New York Knicks @ Houston Rockets (-2.5) with a total of 218;
Houston is heating up again. They knocked off Atlanta on the road, then Milwaukee at home, and they're getting production from Jordan Hill that might be the biggest reason they can compete on a nightly basis. Certainly his defense is much-needed. The Knicks have lost 3 in a row, though you have to think they'll get it back in gear shortly. This line is giving the Rockets an awful lot of credit considering the Knicks have actually been a very solid 12-9 SU on the road. This line is also an exact duplicate of the number the Knicks were catching in Phoenix at the start of their last road trip, a game New York dominated from start to finish. I lean NEW YORK, though likely I'll pass, given the Knicks struggles of late, and I believe this one sneaks UNDER.
Los Angeles Lakers (-3) @ Dallas Mavericks with a total of 190;
Make no mistake, this is a big game for both teams, and we're seeing a pretty motivated bunch of Lakers over the last couple weeks. Dallas has lost 6 games in a row for the first time since the year 2000, and it's perfectly evident that Dirk isn't quite healthy. Yes, he's playing, and that helps Dallas, but Tyson Chandler's flu, Caron's Butler's season-ending injury, and Dirk's banged-up knee have combined to take a devastating toll on the Mavs. I hate to say it, but while I'd love to go right back to fading the Lakers, I just can't advise it. I believed strongly that the Thunder would man up on Sunday, but I don't have that confidence in Dallas. And given that the Lakers beat the Thunder, my hopes for the Mavs aren't too high. Lean to LA and the UNDER.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Denver Nuggets (-3.5) with a total of 218;
I'll admit, I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this one right off the bat. Denver continues to be incredibly impressive at home and fairly pedestrian on the road, and Carmelo Anthony could disappear at any moment, which makes them tough to back anywhere. The Thunder are very good off SU losses, and they suffered such in Los Angeles on Sunday, but at the same time, this could be a bit of a letdown spot, it's not an easy place to play, and Denver is on revenge from a pretty sound defeat at the hands of the Thunder back in December. I suppose when I talk it out like that, I like DENVER a little, and first team to 120 wins.
Portland Trailblazers (-2) @ Sacramento Kings with a total of 195.5;
This looks like the fishiest line on the planet, but I'm actually trying to talk myself out of the public side, if you can believe that. Sacramento returns home off a difficult 6-game eastern road swing where the Kings went just 1-5 SU but a remarkable 5-1 ATS. It's not easy to "slip under" the spread in every game and still fail to come up with a win, but Sacramento found a way. Still, I can't help but think that the travel will finally catch up with the Kings, and even the not-so-great on the road Blazers will find a way to sneak past. Lean to PORTLAND and the UNDER.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Clippers (-6) with a total of 213;
This darn line is already on the way up, and I'm not surprised given the fanfare the Clippers are getting for their short-term success. Don't get me wrong, I actually find the Clippers to be incredibly entertaining, and Blake Griffin is relentless in his efforts to rebound and score, but are the Clippers worthy of laying 6 to 7 points to other teams in the NBA yet? I'm thinking probably not quite yet. The Wolves are going to bring some scoring punch, and Kevin Love is one of about 3 or 4 guys in the entire NBA that can have some mild success boxing out Griffin. Of course, the other 4 Wolves on the court probably can't. This line is about where it should be, though the Clippers are playing with a new sense of purpose, and I think they make that one big bucket to win by 8. Very small lean to the BLAKESHOW/Clips and the OVER.
Indiana Pacers @ Golden State Warriors (-4.5) with a total of 213;
This is another line that's probably about where it should be, but again, when push comes to shove, I'm trying to find a way to back the team that's hotter. This spread, unlike the Clippers game above, is coverable even in a close game, and that's a little comforting. Indiana has stopped playing much defense even though it was working nicely earlier this year, going instead to a small-ball lineup that can't compete with the bigger, stronger teams in the NBA. The Warriors aren't particularly large, but they can definitely out-run the Pacers, and at home, probably outgun them. The Warriors also realize they need to win these home games to get back into the West's mix, and the Pacers are vulnerable. Lean to the WARRIORS and the UNDER.