No new blog today, just 2 games, and an All Star Break approaching, so I'm just adding 2 writeups to the existing blog. Sweet 2-0 sweep on Wednesday, and we've hit all 3 paid plays this week en route to some nice profits, winning back what we dropped over the weekend. I like where we sit; I like it, a lot.
San Antonio Spurs @ Chicago Bulls (-2) with a total of 190.5;
The Spurs have been nearly immune to scheduling, situational, and all other angles that we can throw at them, but it would take the willpower of a beastmaster to overcome the letdown that has to come with the final game of a 9-game road trip, and the final game before the All Star Break. Then again, maybe not. I decided to do a little digging, and checked out the Spurs last few seasons of Rodeo-ness, and as it turns out, their road trip usually continues on the other side of the Break. This is a rarity, that the trip ends as the Break begins. The last time that happened was in 2008, and they won and covered the final 2 games of their trip that season. In 2009 the Spurs lost their game before the Break, but won the final game of the Rodeo trip, which ended a few days after the Break. In 2010, the Spurs won the final game before the break, but lost the last game of the trip. So, what we're finding is that there's almost zero consistency. It seems like the Spurs rarely win both letdown games, but often win one. But here, they only have one, and it has both angles rolled together. Chicago is on revenge, so they're in the better situational spot, and are also at home, which, as we're seeing, is a decent angle going into the Break. I know Coach Pop isn't going to let the Spurs take a night off, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if they weren't fully focused. Truth be told, this game isn't a great value either way, but given the info, or lack thereof, I lean to the BULLS on the side, and the OVER.
Dallas Mavericks @ Phoenix Suns (-1) with a total of 207;
Don't look now, but the Mavericks just got a pretty intriguing player back from injury, and he's flying way, way below the radar. His name, Roddy Beaubois. I think people forgot how skilled a scorer this kid is, and in 20 minutes of garbage time in his first game back all season, Beaubois put up 13 points, 6 dimes, 3 steals, and banged in a three. If not for the Caron Butler injury, which, by the way, he's now saying he can return for the Playoffs, the Mavs might really be in business. And here, on the second half of a back-to-back, Dallas has the depth to deal with potential fatigue. I'll admit, with Phoenix playing better basketball, on revenge, and beating good teams lately, this isn't really a game I want to bet. The Suns are hot, the Mavs are hot, and you have to figure both teams want to head into the Break with good feelings. Unfortunately, only one team can. More interestingly, at least in my estimation, the Suns are playing significantly improved defense. The Suns are still playing high scoring games, but they're holding opponents to under 47% shooting. What's causing the change? Is it a renewed interest in defense? I'm inclined to believe that because the Suns are more content running a half-court offense, it's just simply easier to play transition defense, and teams aren't going to get as many easy buckets. Regardless, the Suns are playing to the Under. Only problem here is that Dallas is going the offensive route. When it all gets boiled right down to the nubs, this game is a perfect no-play all around. Of course, I know that answer doesn't satisfy many of you, and you're still going to ask my opinion on this game. So, for you junkies who won't take my pass in stride, slight lean to Dallas and the Under. Don't do it.
A night of guzzling orange juice, advil, tylenol, robitussin, matzo ball soup, and rest definitely did a body good. Those old milk commercials didn't know what they were talking about.
The NBA is drawing awfully near to the All Star Break, and you know darn well I'm going to be perched in front of my TV all weekend long, ready to scream at the awesomeness that is Saturday. We'll definitely get some prop bets going to make the weekend a little more interesting, and I'd love to have the weekend thread PACKED with shouts of madness. Until then, let's try to pick our spots and make sure we don't miss any weird angles in the days leading up to the break.
Sports Wagering: NBA
Washington Wizards @ Orlando Magic (-11) with a total of 200;
So far this year, Orlando has beaten Washington 3 times, blowing them out twice, and sneaking by with a 1-point win the other time. Both teams are off until after the All Star Break after this game, so no real scheduling edge. Orlando is coming off a solid win over the Lakers, which makes me think they could get going in the right direction, but Washington is coming off getting their first road win of the year. Do they play with the monkey off their back, or suffer a letdown? I don't want to try to call it. PASS on the side, slight totals lean to the OVER.
Miami Heat (-9.5) @ Toronto Raptors with a total of 202.5;
It's a double revenge game for the Raptors, and you can bet the fans are going to come out to boo Chris Bosh, but to some degree, I just don't care. The more important note on this game is that Miami played in Indiana last night, and are still laying 9.5 points on the road. Would Miami really lay 17.5 points at home to the Raptors? The Heat went 16-of-26 from long range in a win over Toronto a few weeks ago, at home, and though I feel strongly Miami wins this game, LeBron hasn't been shy in the past when he would prefer to be in LA, partying with Kenny Smith. Lean to the RAPTORS and the OVER.
Indiana Pacers (-1) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 198;
Detroit is a MESS. Mess, mess, mess, mess, mess. Do not bet on teams that are in turmoil, simple as that. I'm not saying that we should be laying points with a resurgent Pacers club coming off a home game with the Heat, but I certainly wouldn't bet the Pistons. Coach Kuester appears to be hanging by a thread, his rotations all over the map, and his players no longer listening. The team is being sold, the management is in as much trouble as the players, and there's no telling when this team will wake up and play a good game. I can't back a team with that many problems behind mostly closed doors. Slight lean to INDY and the UNDER.
Atlanta Hawks @ New York Knicks with a total of N/A;
It seems Stoudemire and Gallinari are both dealing with some nagging injuries, so this line might not pop up until pretty late. Regardless, I'm trying to find a way to back the Knicks. The Hawks have taken down New York twice this year, each time by 9 points, most recently at the tail end of January. But let's remember, that game came on a back-to-back for the Knicks after they beat the Heat at home. A letdown spot, if ever there was one. If the Knicks are healthy, they have a perfectly reasonable shot to win this game. The Hawks are hugely inconsistent, and a win over Detroit probably felt nice, but doesn't say much about them. Lean to the KNICKS and the UNDER.
New Jersey Nets @ Boston Celtics (-12) with a total of 184;
This one is a toss-up, to me. Boston is coming off a big win over the Heat, but they don't tend to suffer letdowns unless it's a back-to-back and the Celts just get tired. Jersey, meanwhile, has lost to Boston twice this year to no one's surprise, and while they managed to keep one of the two games close, it seems almost like both teams are just going to spin the wheel, and if it comes up "max effort" they'll cover. I want no part of a giant spread game like this one where the road team isn't playing that well. PASS on the side, totals lean to the UNDER.
Los Angeles Lakers (-11) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 204;
I almost can't believe what I'm about to say...I love the Cavs. Not in general, but in this game, for sure. The only problem, from what I can see, is that the Cavs have been so bad that they've been getting a ton of attention, and ESPN is going to be rolling highlights of the Lakers beating them by what felt like 200 points a couple months back. Simple as that. Cleveland got a win, then they had a letdown game, lost to Washington, and now it's time to avenge one of the ugliest losses I've ever seen on an NBA court. Lean to CLEVELAND and the OVER.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of N/A;
The Clippers are sputtering, big time. Losses in Cleveland and Toronto have, hopefully for them, bottomed out LA, but then, they have this one more game before the All Star Break, and you have to think they're looking forward to a few days off from this horrendous road trip. Meanwhile, the Wolves have been stinking up the joint themselves, and after beating the Clippers on opening night, they've been blown out by LA, in LA, twice. So, there's a little revenge for Minnesota, the Clippers are clearly exhausted, and as we've noted before, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin cancel each other out, to some extent. Lean to MINNESOTA and the OVER.
Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks (-11) with a total of 201;
So many garbage lines on this card, and here we have Dallas laying double digits to a team they've defeated twice in Sacramento, and each time by just 2 points. The line is crazy, the matchups are unpredictable (especially with the Kings internal issues), and Sacramento is coming to Dallas on a back-to-back from a game in Oklahoma City. To be quite frank, I don't really know what to expect, though with the Kings heading into the break after this one, and Dallas still with a game to play, that might be a tiny edge for the Mavs. I'd rather leave another of this monster lines alone. PASS on the side, totals lean to the UNDER.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Houston Rockets (-4) with a total of 204;
This is another tough game to handicap, even though the line is significantly more workable than the double digit Goliaths above. Houston is coming off stomping Denver for the second time in as many tries, and the Sixers are playing the second half of a back-to-back that started last night with a revenge game in Memphis. Do we think Houston can win? Do we think they can cover? This line, to me, looks about right, though I suppose the Rockets, one could argue, "need it more." That expression doesn't make a ton of sense, especially since Houston has a tendency to play very close games. Tiny, tiny lean to HOUSTON, but likely a pass, and totals lean to the OVER.
Denver Nuggets @ Milwaukee Bucks with a total of N/A;
Denver has been a total disaster lately, winning an odd game here or there, but for the most part, the team defense has been epically bad. I would have more confidence in fading them if I had more confidence in Milwaukee's offense, but considering the Bucks are on revenge, and trying to make some sort of push now that a few of their previously injured bodies are coming back, I can't help myself. Carmelo is day-to-day with an injured shoulder, so that could derail any plans we might have of betting this game, but if everything shakes out in a normal fashion, I can't expect the Nugs to win on the road - lean BUCKS and the UNDER.
Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz (-6) with a total of 207;
Golden State is playing pretty solid basketball, but they haven't really been on the road in ages. The Warriors have played 15 of 17 games at home, so heading into altitude on the second half of a back-to-back is sort of the "trial by fire" road test. Add to that the Warriors and Jazz are both heading into the All Star Break off this game, and you have to think the home team is going to have both the adrenaline and energy edge. On top of that, the Jazz were held to just 37% shooting when they traveled to Oakland a few weeks back, and scored only 81 points. I hate asking a slumping team (Utah) to cover 6 points, since a win is rare enough, but I don't think I can back the Warriors here as they try to do anything on the road, and nearly a mile high to boot. Lean to JAZZ and the OVER.
New Orleans Hornets @ Portland Trailblazers (-4.5) with a total of 183;
Portland is hot right now, and you can tell the team is excited by the returns of Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy, though the offense will, as Coach McMillan has noted, continue to be run through Aldridge. I'm not a huge fan of Portland's scheduling situation, considering they had a pair of 3-game road trips around a home game with the Bulls, but over the Blazers 5-game win streak, scheduling spots haven't really mattered. They're scoring, they're defending, and they're taking momentum into the Break. New Orleans, on the other hand, has very little momentum, and are coming off a sprint-fest in Golden State. Portland should win this double revenge game, but covering is another story. I think PORTLAND does get it done, but it could be closer than people expect, and the total is spot on.