No plays yesterday, as the NBA featured a rare game-less night, and we wanted to just take one day to get our bearings on MLB.
This is the first official TWO-SPORT blog, so bear with me while I settle into a rhythm. I'll also try to include whether I have any sort of lean on the baseball games (like I do with NBA), but remember, those are just INITIAL thoughts, and will be first whittled into the LEANTRACKER, the finally, the OFFICIAL PLAYS.
If we're all on the same page, let's make some money!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Raptors @ Cavaliers - Cleveland by 7.5 with a total of 207.5. I know it sounds nuts, but Toronto has actually played Cleveland relatively tough this season. I don't believe it's a match-up thing, since Cleveland had covered 6 straight meetings before this season, but Toronto has covered in 2 of 3, and the only one they did not was due to an overtime situation. And now, Toronto comes into Cleveland and is only getting roughly 7 points? Something seems fishy about this line. The Cavs just got beat in a tough game in Boston, so I imagine the public consensus is that they're all set to bounce back. I'm not so sure. Toronto is coming off an ugly home loss to the Warriors, and they're on the cusp of falling out of the playoffs. This is a Raptors team that should have its claws out, and this line is strongly indicative of that. Everyone knows the Cavs are going to be a huge money draw any time they play, so the fact that this line is coming out this low is as strong an indicator of the game's result as any motivational or match-up angle. Lean to Toronto. Pretty high total, as well, and largely reliant on Toronto making buckets. I actually believe the health of Anderson Varejao plays a large role in the total, and if he's out again, I lean Over, as no one can truly guard Chris Bosh.
Hawks @ Bobcats - This line is OFF. I happen to believe this game means more to Charlotte than it does to Atlanta, though neither is in a dire spot. Charlotte still hasn't clinched a playoff spot, and you know they'd love to surge past the Bogut-less Bucks and into 6th place, so as to avoid playing Orlando or Cleveland in the first round. The Hawks are pretty well-assured of home court in the first round, and either a series with Miami or Milwaukee, or, I suppose, Charlotte is an outside possibility. Atlanta is coming off an eerily tough home win over the Pistons, so they don't appear to be 100% focused heading down the stretch, and maybe it's because they realize that staying healthy is the most important thing right now. Charlotte is coming off a tough, late loss in Chicago, but we all know how much better this team is at home. The home/road splits for both teams and the motivational angles make me think Charlotte is going to be the nice value, here, so I lean Bobcats. The total is worth looking at the Under, since an open-court game strongly favors Atlanta.
Pistons @ Sixers - This line is OFF. This game means nothing to anyone. Zip. With that in mind, I advise just laying off. It isn't worth it - it's a coin flip. In this spot, I think the smart move is to err towards the home team, since visiting clubs in games where neither team is motivated seem to slip into a bit of a daze, and the home team's familiarity with the arena is the only factor at play. So, there's your advice for this "type" of game. For this particular game, Philly has been bad at home, Detroit stinks on the road - just don't risk it. Pass on the side. The total is interesting if only because we've been looking for a trend in these games between two teams that aren't playing for anything, and it's tough to find one. I'd think the Over should come into the mix, since defense will be lacking, but young players miss shots. Probably safer to lean to the Over or nothing at all, but again, why bet your money guessing on these no-relevance games?
Warriors @ Wizards - Golden State by 2 with a total of 219. Contrary to what you might think, this is not a no-relevance game, as the Warriors surge towards the finish line and surge towards the recordbooks. We've talked at great length about how much the Warriors want to get that "All Time Wins" record for their coach Don Nelson, and it has shown. They've played as hard as humanly possible against any team that they feel they can beat, and are coming off 2 straight wins, and are 4-2 in their last 6. They need to win 2 of their remaining 5 games to break the record, and I strongly believe we get top level effort in the next 3 games against weak competition. As far as value goes, the Warriors probably shouldn't be laying 2 points on the road to anyone, and that's what strikes fear into my heart here. This line is a value play on Washington, but do the Wizards really care about playing as hard as Golden State for the full 48 minutes? If the Warriors can eek one out in Toronto, surely they can hang with the one man gang (Blatche) that is Washington. Lean to Golden State, but just a small one, for the value-reasons stated above. Also, lean to the Under, since I don't see Washington trying to push the pace - they don't really have a reliable point guard, and a quick pace would inevitably lead to turnovers.
Celtics @ Knicks - Boston by 5 with a total of 208.5. Situationally, this game favors no one. The Knicks return home off a long west-coast road trip where they actually showed more fight than I expected in hanging with a couple of the teams they played, and picking up a rare win. But this is still a tough spot. New York just played in Los Angeles on Sunday night, so a coast-to-coast flight is not going to leave them fresh. The Celtics aren't going to be spry, either, off a narrow win over the Cavaliers on Sunday morning NBA on ABC. This game is basically the debate of what matters more - the letdown or the jetlag? I wouldn't bank on either. Boston is the obvious public side, but at the end of the season, it's not really that important to get into sharps and squares, since lines are so soft that both sides are taking home bacon pretty frequently. Boston has also shown the ability to fight through letdown spots, but they're not really in jeopardy of losing any playoff position, and the difference between 3rd and 4th in the East isn't all that important. No lean on the side as of yet, perhaps more as more information becomes available. Boston has been scoring a ton of points, and all 3 games with New York have featured a decent pace, but man, look at that crazy-high total. The thought occurs that it might be "high for a reason", and it might also be absurdly inflated. No lean on the total yet, either.
Bucks @ Bulls - Chicago by 5.5 with a total of 187. This line crazy, and it is largely crazy. The question that needs to be answered is whether this line adjustment is fair for the Bucks losing Bogut. I also happen to think this line is adjusted for the pressing need of this game for Chicago, as the Bulls are just a single game out of the playoffs, and they're playing with passion and to a certain degree, reckless abandon. This is almost like the playoffs already, and Chicago is stepping up, big time. These two teams have played all extremely close games this season, which makes it so tough to back Chicago, but in this spot, you just have to look at them as the team that needs the game, badly. The line has been preadjusted, but Milwaukee is in a bit of a depression right now, and I'm just not sure they bounce back well from the loss of Bogut. Without him, they're ALL jump-shots, and Chicago's swarming defense could potentially cause problems. I think you have to look at the team that's playing with desperation at home - lean to the Bulls. That total is extremely low, but without Bogut, we might be seeing a ton of pick and roll basketball with perimeter guys, and potentially a great many jump shots. It just comes down to whether guys are making them, and I think this one just barely squeezes Under.
Rockets @ Grizzlies - This line is OFF. I like the Grizzlies here for the same reason I liked Indiana on Sunday. The Rockets are just about done for the season, they're playing absolutely no defense at all, and matching up against a team that looks like they care a little about taking good feelings into the offseason. However, I dislike the Grizzlies because they've been clubbed in all 3 games this year by Houston, just matching up poorly for some reason. The loss of Shane Battier hurts Houston on defense a great deal, since the combination of Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo should be seeing a ton of daylight, but boy, I don't know what it is in this series - Houston just understands how to beat Memphis. Believe me, I want to take Memphis, but I'm not convinced. I'll offer a tiny lean in their direction (Grizz), but this is going to be one of the first leans off the table if any bad line moves or other indicators surface. Basically, I'm looking for a reason to pass. These teams just keep playing to the under again and again, but will the lack of Battier ruin that? Let's see where this line comes out, but we might finally have some value on the Over.
Thunder @ Jazz - Utah by 6 with a total of 210.5. This seems like a lot of points for Utah to be laying against one of the hottest teams in the NBA, doesn't it? And considering Oklahoma has actually won all 3 games with the Jazz this season straight up, it seems like even a few more too many, if that makes any sense. Why is the team that won all 3 meetings getting 6 points? Are we being suckered into taking the Thunder? Both teams are playing for positioning in the playoffs, with Utah in a 4-way tie for 2nd place, and Oklahoma just 1.5 games back of that tie. It's tough to see a huge advantage either way, so I have to lean to the team getting the points, the Thunder. This total looks like a lot of points, and it's not a great value, but both teams have been executing beautifully on offense and making shots. I suppose the concern is that the Thunder are saving something for the game with Denver tomorrow, but that seems silly. Tiny, tiny lean to the Over.
Spurs @ Kings - San Antonio by 6 with a total of 193. There's no great play in this game, that's the honest truth. The Spurs are playing with desire, so you know they're going to bring another strong game, but to be laying 6 in a hostile road venue is never an easy spot. I believe San Antonio's got a decent shot to cover just because of the motivational issue, but the big public money on Spurs is going to make sure this line isn't a good value. No lean on the side. The total of 193 seems awfully low for two teams that can really make some noise on offense, and two teams that have played 3 games with totals set up over 200, and all 3 went over. Something outrageously fishy about this line. I think you have to look at the Under or nothing.
Sports Wagering: MLB
Orioles @ Rays (-170) with a Total of 8.5
Adam Jones is 6-for-15 off James Shields;
Miguel Tejada is 7-for-20 off Shields;
James Shields, though, is 6-2, 2.92 ERA lifetime against the O's.
Don't much care for the side, though the value is with Baltimore. With starters on a pitch counts early, and less-than-intimidating bullpens here, folks should be thinking about taking Overs or nothing.
Yankees @ Red Sox (-140) with a Total of 9.5
Derek Jeter is 9-for-24 career off Jon Lester (but that's about it for the NY regulars).
Both starters have decent numbers against their opponents, so I think you have to lean to the dog. The high-scoring opener on Sunday might create a little value on the Under.
Twins @ LA Angels (-125) with a Total of 9
Nick Blackburn is winless against Anaheim (0-3) with an ERA of 5.72;
Joe Mauer is 0-for-8 lifetime off Joe Saunders, a huge bat to silence, to be sure;
Orlando Hudson and Denard Span are combined 7-for-13 off Saunders, but have just 1 RBI between them;
Bobby Abreu is 7-for-13 off Blackburn with 1 HR and 4 RBI;
Howie Kendrick is 5-for-10 with 3 RBI;
Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera are each .500 hitters off Blackburn, too.
At a decent value, lean to Angels behind a (hopefully) resurgent Saunders. Both teams can score, but this total is accurate, maybe tiny lean to Over.
Mariners @ Athletics (-150) with a Total of 8.5
Chone Figgins is 7-for-13 lifetime off the A's Dallas Braden;
In limited action, Franklin Gutierrez (2-for-5), Casey Kotchman (2-for-2), Ichiro (3-for-10), and Mike Sweeney (3-for-4) have all done some mild damage off Braden;
Ian Snell is 2-0 against the A's with a 2.45 ERA, surprisingly;
Kurt Suzuki is 3-for-6 off Ian Snell with 3 RBI;
Rajai Davis is 2-for-2 off Snell, and Daric Barton is 2-for-4.
The value is squarely with the Mariners here, but can we trust Snell? A pitcher's park, but this one could sneak Over with both starters likely gone after 5.
Giants @ Astros (-145) with a Total of 8
Edgar Renteria is 3-for-5 off Wandy Rodriguez, but 2 of those hits are HR;
Wandy Rodriguez is 0-1, 14.73 ERA against SF, but largely different batters.
This line is probably pretty accurate, though Wandy's struggle in his brief pitching against SF is a head-scratcher. Crapshoot on the total, too.
Rockies @ Brewers (-140) with a Total of 8.5
Ryan Spilborghs is really the only Colorado player with consistent success against Randy Wolf, at 3-for-10 with 2 HR.
Very little information about Rockies starter Greg Smith, and I doubt he goes more than 5 innings. Definitely looking at the Over, and maybe a glance at Brewers, but at that price, a little steep.
Padres @ Diamondbacks (-170) with a Total of 9
Adrian Gonzalez hit a 3-run HR in his only AB off Edwin Jackson;
Stephen Drew is 4-for-10 off big Chris Young, and Justin Upton is 3-for-8;
Edwin Jackson had a nice first half last year, so watch him closely.
The Padres have almost no exposure to Jackson, so it makes this one tough to call either way, side or total.