Our play on the Warriors last night was a loser that I like to affectionately refer to as a "Sh*t Happens Loser." The Suns shot 58% for most of the game, Andris Biedrins left the game to barf and did not return, and the Warriors couldn't make free throws. Put it all together, and it just wasn't meant to be. Movin' on!
This week it's time to point our earphones towards the NFL Weekly MegaCast
, the biggest podcast in the history of Pregame. Are you missing out?
Pro Features: Things were rolling when the profile focused on the Weekly Package, so we'll go back to that. Last week was all bad luck. It's cheap, it's relatively short term commitment, it's the 7-day package!
And, of course, the daily package -- we haven't had a Game of the Week in the NBA in about 9-10 days, which means that I wanted to really wait until I found a truly JUICY one. Here we go!
Now, read the damn blog...
Sports Wagering: NBA
New Jersey Nets @ Charlotte Bobcats with a total of N/A;
This line is likely off because of the injury to Devin Harris, though his loss didn't seem to hold Jersey back all that much in a 3-OT insane battle with the Thunder. Still, if you're going to apply the Injured Star Theory here, Jordan Farmar overperforming in that first game could instead become a letdown game here. The Bobcats have some serious problems, but they're still a mostly capable team, especially at home. In fact, I'd just go ahead and say that this team completely stinks on the road, and they are generally who we thought they are at home. The Nets, meanwhile, are actually half-decent, and health has played a big part. So, without Harris, I can't help but wonder if that takes a hit. This one comes down to the line, for me. Since neither team is in a particularly strong scheduling or situational spot, I think Charlotte takes this game by a handful, so if the line is short, consider them. If not, probably a pass. So, averaging those thoughts, I guess that leads us to a tiny lean to the BOBCATS, and given the style these teams play, it'll be a low, accurate total, so likely a PASS there.
Portland Trailblazers (-3.5) @ Washington Wizards with a total of 194;
Talk about a team completely falling apart, what has happened to the once-proud Trailblazers? Portland has lost, now, 5 straight games, including all 3 games on this current road trip. Normally, on the 4th and final game of a roadie, I'd be looking to fade that team, since the team's focus would probably be on getting home and getting fat. Instead, I feel this road trip for Portland has taken on the opposite form. The Blazers lost all 3 games, 2 of them against very beatable teams, and now, I have to believe they want to snag a victory before heading home and not return "empty-handed", so to speak. My concern with Portland in this particular game is three-fold. First, they're in a slump, no doubt about that. Second, Washington returns home off a fully embarrassing loss in Toronto. And third, Washington hasn't actually been all that awful on their home floor. This line is about where it should be, I think, so the public road team might actually have more value than usual, but I'm not sure it's enough. Washington has quietly covered 4 straight home games, winning 3 of them and losing to Orlando by just a single point. Microscopic lean to PORTLAND, but there are probably better spots out there, and lean to the UNDER.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
Will Durant, won't he? More late-breaking injury news will probably decide how this one plays out. And, in my opinion, it's not worth taking a chance. You guys know I tend to pull back on the throttle in games involving significant injury risk, and this is definitely one of those spots. Toronto has been playing pretty well, though they're trying to find some more rebounding with Reggie Evans out for a while. The Thunder are playing a little better of late, but defensively, something still isn't quite right, and that makes covering bigger numbers tough. Here, though, I don't expect a huge number. This one is a total coin-flip in my opinion, especially since Durant's back-and-forth injury announcements in, already, 3 or 4 games this year, makes me think this game is best avoided. So we'll stop talking about it. PASS ALL AROUND.
Orlando Magic (-7) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 187;
How much do we value revenge, when one team is so far superior to the other? The Pistons are coming off back-to-back losses in Orlando and Miami, with the latter half being the uglier of the two, though one could definitely argue the Pistons stunk it up in both games. Detroit lost by 11 to the Magic, basically pushing on a spread that hovered between 10.5 and 11.5 most of the day. I know most of us probably have no faith in Detroit, and for relatively good reason, though they do show signs of life every now and again, and coming home off a 25-point loss to the LeBrons probably will get the team a little irritated. I'd also like to point out that we should have seen a 6-point line adjustment for home court, and any potential revenge shift on top of that. Instead, the Magic-Pistons line 3 days ago had Orlando as, roughly, an 8-9 point neutral court favorite, and this one has the Magic as a 10-point neutral court fave, and zero adjustment for revenge. I might argue the Pistons are actually a 2-3 point value, but are they good enough to break 80 points? Lean to DETROIT and the OVER.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks (-7) with a total of 194;
I'm not sure the Hawks could play much better offensively than they did against the Grizzlies, and yet, somehow, Memphis just hung around all game. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is playing markedly better with Andre Iguodala back in the lineup, especially on the defensive end. They have a long, long way to go to be a considered even a decent team, but small steps are definitely being taken. I would note, though, that the Sixers, who were one of the worst home teams last year, seem to be balancing that out this year. They are much better at home (to be expected), and have gone back to the NBA norm of being a young team that stinks on the road. The Hawks have won 4 in a row since their players-only meeting, BUT are going to be without Joe Johnson for a month. That raises another Injured Star note - the Hawks won the first game without him (didn't cover), and while most folks would immediately go against the Hawks, I tend to think that when a star goes down for a longer stretch, other guys step up for a week before falling off. I wouldn't fade Atlanta on the I.S.T. angle just yet. Seven is a fair number of points to cover, and while I do believe Atlanta wins the game, I'm not sure about the cover. Tiny lean to ATLANTA, and the UNDER.
New York Knicks @ New Orleans Hornets (-6.5) with a total of 203;
I'm inclined, just from an initial glance, to like the Knicks in this game. The Hornets played lock-down defense on the Bobcats in their last game, a nice win for a New Orleans team that had been having some severe offensive issues in their previous few games. Offense won't be a problem against the Knicks, but defense is going to be much more difficult. The Knicks have shown an ability to win on the road, and they seem to just find ways to stay in ballgames, even if they're getting completely dominated. And that's really the key to this one, I think. the Knicks are a very, very tough team to stop if they're making threes, but they're finding ways to compete, and win, even when they're not hitting from outside, and I'll admit, I'm surprised. New York has won 7 of their last 8 games, and their 2 most recent losses have come by a combined 11 points. They have only been blown out in one game all season long, and I can't see New Orleans shutting down all of the Knicks options. Lean to KNICKS and the OVER.
Houston Rockets @ Memphis Grizzlies (-5) with a total of 204;
I've fallen into this little divot before. The Grizz keep teasing me with decent play, and then collapsing when we expect better. Is this one of those games? Memphis has had issues with Houston in the past. In fact, the Rockets beat Memphis all 4 times last year, and decisively. That was without Yao, so we can't argue that had any impact. There is just something about the way these two teams match up that the Rockets seem to play the Grizzlies very, very tough. It could be Shane Battier's defense on Rudy Gay. It could be tempo, or just bad luck. Regardless, the Grizzlies were 5 point home favorites to the Rockets in April of last season, the Grizzlies were fighting for a playoff spot, and the Rockets were falling apart, and Houston rolled into town and won by 10. The Grizzlies were a 5-point home favorite to the Rockets the previous time they met in Memphis, too, and the Rockets won that one by 18. You could argue "season sweep revenge" but Houston is widely regarded as the worse team between these two. I just can't back the Grizz against the Rockets until they get over that hump. Lean to HOUSTON and the UNDER.
Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics (-6) with a total of 190;
Normally, I'd be inclined to look at the underdog in this matchup, since, from a scheduling standpoint, the Bulls are back in a decent spot after a very ugly homecoming against Orlando, but situationally, this isn't the greatest spot for Chicago. The return of Carlos Boozer is creating a little bit of discontinuity in the Chicago offense, and we all know how Boston can lock down on a team not playing its best basketball. Yes, these teams met in early November, here in Boston, and the Celtics won an OT battle by 5, so there might be a little revenge on the brain, but I don't want to back Chicago until they show me they're developing chemistry with their full roster. And it very well might take a couple games, which means it's going to have to be almost all Derrick Rose in the interim. And Chicago hasn't really looked all that special on offense even before Boozer's return. I'm not sure if they're just tired, but the field goal percentage has taken a bit of a dip lately, and Boston is the best FG shooting team in the NBA. I hate to lean square on this one, but I like the CELTICS to squeeze by the cover, and just slightly slip UNDER.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ San Antonio Spurs with a total of N/A;
I suppose you could argue that this is something of a look-ahead spot for the Spurs, or that they're in position to potentially be a tiny bit sluggish, coming home off a quick trip west, but I'm not sure I buy it. The Spurs are absolutely going to be overrated, so that might be enough logic to keep me off that side, but I don't like Minnesota at all, here. The Wolves had a nice run a week or two back where they caught teams a tad off guard, and Kevin Love and Michael Beasley were going nuts, but let's face it, this team is not that good. They're not deep, at all, and if Beasley and Love don't blow up, they're going to be turnover machines without any consistent scoring. Plus, the Spurs nearly stumbled in Minnesota, so I don't expect them to make that same mistake at home, even though they did eventually win in extra time. This one is probably going to be a pass, since we'll likely see a line well into the double digits, but I do think that if the line drops far enough, the Spurs might not be that terrible a choice. Very, very, very, very small tilt to SPURS, and lean to OVER.
Indiana Pacers @ Phoenix Suns (-2.5) with a total of 212;
I can't quite read if this line is just disrespecting the Pacers, or if Indiana is going to be drugged in the pregame meal, and oddsmakers already know it. This game does fit into the bad situational spot for Indiana that it's the last game of a successful 4-game trip, so they might be a little sluggish, but in reality, I might be more inclined to think that, after a rough one in Utah, they could come out ready to beat up on someone. Plus, Phoenix is on the 2nd half of a back-to-back, so this line is already deflated by a tad. It's a very weird line, for sure, and the handicap of this game comes down, in my opinion, to whether you feel Indiana is going to have energy. They got outrebounded by 16 in Utah despite both teams shooting right around 45%, a sure sign that Indiana just didn't have any life in their legs on the trip into altitude. I really like the Pacers' progress this year, but the somewhat odd line, combined with the Pacers finishing up a road trip concerns me. The Suns, though, lose an hour heading to Arizona (thanks to the state that doesn't obey Daylight Saving Time), and should get home very, very late. Tough call. Small lean to PACERS despite the last game angle, and slight lean to UNDER.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Denver Nuggets (-10) with a total of 211;
Those crazy Clippers got a win over the Spurs, and now head into the Pepsi Center for a game with the wildly hit-or-miss Nuggets. Denver has somewhat quietly won 5 games in a row despite Carmelo Anthony suffering from a flu bug in one, and getting ejected in the other. I imagine he'll play the entire game here, and he can get whatever he wants against the mostly-zero-defense Clippers. Blake Griffin will probably get what he wants, too, so this one, to me, comes down to line value. And honestly, I'm just not sure the Clippers are getting quite enough to get me to play this one. The Nuggets are, despite a lack of offensive flow, at times, a very strong team in sheer bulk. Nene is a load, and Melo is the biggest 3 or fastest 4 in the NBA, and they can board. Blake Griffin is a highlight reel, but let's face it, the Clippers beat the Spurs because San Antonio shot 35% from the field in a very weird display. The Nuggets won't miss that many shots. Another very small lean, this one to NUGS, lean to UNDER.
Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers with a total of N/A;
Maybe the Sinkcom System v2.0 is the way to go? Hehe. Seriously, we've talked over and over about how the Lakers just win and lose in waves, and right now, they're struggling, but there's nothing quite like a game with the Kings to help a team get fat. Literally every team in the League can beat Sacramento by 12 points if they want to, right now, but the question, I suppose, is whether the Lakers feel like caring yet, or if they're content to slip by on partial efforts, and hope to go back to squeaking out wins at home. We're actually almost at that point where people are going to start betting against the Lakers, so I would say be on the look-out for a Lakers ATS win streak coming up, but I wouldn't bet on them until they show that first truly strong defensive effort. I'd argue this game means more to Sacramento than it does to LA, but the Kings are so far out to lunch, it doesn't really register as a motivational spot. So, until LA gets it kicked into high gear, play the SINK SYSTEM, and the UNDER.
Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz with a total of N/A;
This could very well be the best game on the card. In fact, there's no question it's the best game on the card, and I expect it to live up to the names on the jerseys. The Mavs are playing their best basketball of the season right now, and I might argue the Jazz are, as well. Utah plays so damn hard for all 48 minutes, that I almost feel like they can handle the road warrior Dallas Mavericks. Honestly, though, it's tough to step in front of either of these freight trains. Dallas has won 7 straight, and have gone 6-1 ATS in that run. The Jazz have won, and covered, 7 in a row. Yes, someone has to lose, but really, why try to predict which team will have the hiccup? It seems like Utah has been almost indefensible over this stretch, too, while Dallas has been playing outstanding defense. So, the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. I'm interested to see where this line comes out, but I have to think it's Utah by a couple, and in that case, another very small lean to UTAH, and if you like the Jazz, you have to like the OVER, no?