We were SO close to leapfrogging "Warm" and getting all the way to "Quite Warm," but the Grizzlies let us down.
A lot to recap from yesterday with 3 plays going (if you can believe this phrasing) a "disappointing" 2-1. The Paid Play on the Memphis Grizzlies was a damn heartbreaker, but looking at it from a pure handicapping perspective, we could not have been any more correct in our assumptions. We knew the Grizzlies would bring their top game for what's basically the last interesting home game of the year, and we knew the Mavs would sleepwalk off the big win over Denver. But Memphis is a bad team, and overtime dealt us a crushing blow.
The earlier of two Free Premium selections was a super-easy winner on Atlanta, and the Lakers looked sluggish and uninterested, basically what you'd expect with a team locked into 1st place and playing a road game against an opponent that feels like they have something to prove. A solid assessment of the action, and that's how it went.
The later Free Play on the Spurs was also quite accurate, as San Antonio took advantage of a tired, banged-up Rockets club, and just out-classed Houston, slowly wearing them down and eventually winning big.
Just the short TNT card, but two very interesting games, so let's tackle them!
Magic @ Mavericks - This line is OFF. With Dallas playing the second half of a back-to-back, though, and Dallas recently listed as a 7-point dog in Orlando, I would expect to see the Magic as a slight favorite on the road here. It's tough to know exactly who is going to get the public love with two hugely marquee teams going head to head like this. The Magic are probably the bigger draw, given that they are running out guys like Dwight Howard, but word is that Vince Carter might sit this game, so that could, in effect, move the line back closer to a pick. Interestingly, both of these teams are coming off wins over the Denver Nuggets, who host the Blazers in the next game on TNT. That wouldn't be quite so interesting, except that these teams are in different conferences, both played the Nuggets, then play each other here. The Mavericks have a game currently in progress against the Memphis Grizzlies, so I'll refrain from finishing this paragraph until that game is over, but here's my take on the impact of that game on this one. If the Mavericks play a tough one with the Grizzlies, the last shot of the game might dictate whether we have a lean in this TNT game. What I mean by that is that if Dallas loses a tough one, they may be inclined to really come back full tilt. If Dallas wins a tough one, they might suffer a bit of a letdown. If it's a Dallas blowout, beware Orlando. If it's a Grizzlies blowout, Dallas would have some value. The Mavericks have been playing strong basketball, and they even came up with a big home win over the Nuggets, but I really want to see how this team does against an opponent that plays defense, and one that isn't struggling like Denver. They beat Orlando by 10 on the road earlier this year, so they know they can compete, but will Orlando come back looking to even up the season series? In the middle of the season I'd definitely give Orlando some revenge edge points, but this late in the year, it's tough to think that Orlando is more concerned with revenging a loss than they are with getting healthy and getting ready for the playoffs. I happen to think it will be a supremely exciting game no matter which way it turns out. Let's finish this write-up after the Dallas game finishes up...(time elapses)...haha, well yikes to the end of that Dallas game. I really did take an hour break in here to see how the Dallas-Memphis game unfolded, and now, with overtime and a win and ATS victory in Dallas's corner, I am suddenly a fan of the Magic. Orlando is a solid road team, and Dallas is neither good nor bad on back-to-backs, but just 1-4-1 ATS when those back-to-back games go away-to-home. I lean Orlando. The total is intriguing, as Dallas seems to play to roughly the same totals when they're fatigued, allowing about 1.5 points more and scoring just a hair less. The last time these teams played, they finished with a total of 180, 25 points under the posted mark, and Orlando really plays something of an underrated defense. I'm curious to see where this line comes out, but I happen to think the Under should have a little value.
Blazers @ Nuggets - Denver by 4.5 with a total of 201.5. Boy, Denver has to be really in bad shape for this line to be this low. Considering Portland had a game with the Knicks late last night in Portland (a game Portland just dominated), and they're playing a back-to-back situation. We know how tough these can be for teams, even though Portland is one of the strongest back-to-back teams in the NBA (14-3 ATS). It's that stat that might eventually keep us off this game, along with a few situational angles that make this one a tough one. Denver will be playing its first game at home in quite some team, returning off a miserable 1-4 road trip SU, and a perfectly awful 0-4-1 goose-egg against the spread. In fact, going back to the homestand before the roadie, the Nuggets are losers of their last 8 ATS decisions, plus that one push. This is a team in complete disarray, and I just wonder if this line is the ultimate value spot for Denver -- since, by all accounts, this number indicates the Blazers are now better than Denver on a neutral court -- or if oddsmakers just realize that to get any money on Denver at all, they need to deflate the heck out of the line with Denver's recent struggles. We know Portland has been having a fine go of it lately, going 13-3 SU in their last 16 games, and posting a nice 5-1-1 ATS mark in their last 7 games. But (and this is a large "but"), despite all those situational and trend numbers, the Pepsi Center has not been kind to the Blazers. They lost there by 12 just a few weeks back, and Denver is 20-6 SU at home against the Blazers over the last decade-plus. Okay, so, first thing, with Portland beating New York into another dimension, this line should actually come down just a tiny bit more because of the public perception that life is just that easy for Portland. I happen to think that with Denver getting pummeled lately, oddsmakers would love to see this string of ATS losses come to an end. Few things hurt the books more than streaks, since folks that don't pay attention see a team that lost 5 in a row and figure they'll just fade them until they win, and that's where we are now with Denver, as they barely drew over 50% of the public's love despite getting 5 points in Dallas, and Portland is one of the hottest teams in the NBA. This might very well be that game where Denver wakes up and squeezes one out. I hate that I like the struggling team in a rather poor situational spot (first game home), but the value is ridiculous with the Nugs, and I can't ignore it - lean to Denver. The total is too low - Portland is playing some solid offensive basketball, and if Denver is going to win and cover, they're going to need to put up some points. Lean to the Over. Sort of a correlated "lean."