Holy crap, that was close! It shouldn't have been, though. We had the Under between Charlotte and Washington last night, and the game "ended" 19 points under the number we had. Unfortunately, the game also "ended" tied. Five extra minutes of stress for your buddy, Bebe.
When all was said and done, we STILL covered the Under despite overtime, and that's a damn good sign you've got the RIGHT SIDE, when you can hit an Under in 53 minutes of basketball. That's like spotting your kid brother 8 points in a one-on-one game to 10.
This week has brought us some winners so far, hitting 2 of 3 Paid Plays and our only Freebie for a nice little 3-1 start to the week. Let's hope that's just the beginning of the grand turnaround!
Timberwolves @ Bobcats - Charlotte by 10.5 with a total of 196.5. This is a ton of points for Charlotte to be laying on the second day of a back-to-back, and this number is going to come down because of OT last night. Still, Charlotte has shown the ability to play on back-to-back days, most likely because they rely on defense to win and not running and gunning. They don't need to hit 50% of their jumpers to take home the "W", and the question I have is whether they'll be able to cover this huge number. Charlotte is 13-5 ATS on back-to-backs, so that's a strong number in our favor, but this game just doesn't jump out at me as a good one to bet on. The Wolves appear to have just about called it quits on this season, and the road hasn't been kind to them, lately. Charlotte isn't in a look-ahead or letdown, and when we get into a game where there just aren't really any situational angles to bank on, it's probably best to skip the side. These teams played a little over a month ago, and Charlotte squeezed by Minnesota 93-92 in a game where the Bobcats clearly dictated the tempo, but again, off the overtime game last night, I just wonder if Charlotte's defensive intensity might be just one hair off from their norm. I lean to the Under again, but Minnesota definitely wants to run run run, so maybe avoiding this altogether might be the wise choice.
Jazz @ Raptors - Utah by 3 with a total of 214. This Jazz team is pretty deadly right now, and I'd be hard pressed to find a really good reason to go against them. I guess the only truly tangible reason to go against Utah would be the idea of a letdown off the Boston win at home. For Toronto, they're coming off two much-needed road wins in Jersey and Minnesota -- games they should win, and did so, even if the second one wasn't by a mighty large margin. It was just a two game trip, and to a certain degree Toronto needs this game more than Utah, but I'm just not sure it quite works that way when we're talking about two teams both headed to the playoffs. There are a ton of games being played tonight, so I'm going to try to keep the write-ups a little briefer today, and those are the main situational notes. In terms of previous games, they played in Utah back in November, and not surprisingly, the Jazz won (and covered). I wouldn't call it a revenge spot, and Utah is really like an ultra-upgraded version of Toronto, so I have no idea how the Raptors are really going to beat the Jazz - it's going to take a hell of a shooting night, which is possible, but not probable. We don't work in possibilities, I lean Jazz, but weakly. I also lean to the Over, but again, very weakly.
Nuggets @ Celtics - Boston by 4.5 with a total of 206. This line looks all kinds of crazy, to me. I realize the Nugs are slumping a bit, and are also one of the NBA's poorer teams on back-to-back spots, but are they slipping so far as to be considered a half-point favorite to the Celts on a neutral court? Also, when Boston played in Denver a little over a month ago, they were 5 point dogs, or 2-point dogs on a neutral court. So, what we're seeing is either a screwball line, or oddsmakers moving the Celtics 1.5 points in the power rankings. I guess that's not all that many, but sure seems like a goodly jump for two marquee teams that don't tend to move all that far in the rankings. I know the Nuggets, roughly a .500 team ATS on the season, are 6-10 ATS on back-to-back nights, but would books really move the line an additional 1.5 points because of that? I doubt it - they know Boston's been hotter, and the Celtics draw money like nobody's business, but I'm very curious to see how this money comes in. The Nuggets appear to be the value play, but Boston has been playing very strong ball at sea level of late, but not terribly impressive ball against the best in the League. No lean at the moment on the side, but some line movement could sway me. The total of 206 looks too high, since Denver really hasn't been playing good all-around basketball, and maybe a lean to the Under is the stronger of the plays available in this game.
Magic @ Hawks - Atlanta by 1 with a total of 195.5. Here's another line that leaves me a little confused. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised to see the Hawks laying a point against one of the best teams in the NBA, but I suppose it's pretty close to fair, and just LOOKS odd. Still, they could have easily brought this line out differently, given the way the season series has gone this year. Atlanta has been absolutely killed in all 3 games with Orlando to this point, although two of those came on the second half of a back-to-back after beating Boston the night before. The first meeting, the one in Atlanta, was off 4 days of rest, so Atlanta has just been steamrolled no matter the situation. I find it very hard to believe the Magic are getting a point in a game against a team they've beaten so senselessly so far this season. And I'd say it's a sucker bet, but Indiana has beaten Detroit all 3 times before last night, and they were getting 4 points on the road (and, as I type this, they're up 11 on the Pistons), so it's just tough to know if this line is really that bad, or if the Hawks are magically in some situational spot that I'm not seeing. I'd love nothing more than to back Atlanta on triple revenge, but the manner in which they've lost the previous 3 games doesn't give me a ton of confidence. This might be another game to watch some line movement, because right now I'm grasping at reasons to like the Hawks, and not finding enough yet. That total of 195.5 is probably about where it should be, but I feel like we got a very strong offensive effort from Atlanta in this one, and I lean just slightly to the Over.
Wizards @ Pacers - Indiana by 6 with a total of 200. This is another line that's going to move before the morning comes, so if you want to try to set up a nice little overtime-related-middle, take the Pacers at -6, and take the Wiz tomorrow right before tip, since this line will probably continue to move throughout the day, assuming folks bet the Pacers like it seems they will. Indiana has been rolling, though, so if you're actually looking to make a true play on this game and not middle it, be careful with the Wizards. The Pacers have covered 6 straight, 9 of 10, and they've actually won 3 straight games. Took them long enough, right? Way back in October, I thought the Pacers were going to be a bit of a sleeper team, but they've just stunk, and now all of a sudden they're undervalued and actually winning games and playing some small amounts of defense. Indiana has beaten Washington twice this season, covering both as well. I don't know about trusting the Pacers to cover 7 or 8 points at home, which is probably where this line is headed, and I hate to do this again, but let's wait and see where this side heads. Pacers might be able to win by double digits if Washington plays as tired as you'd expect. The Wizards haven't been good on back-to-backs, so I guess we will wait the line out, and see if a play on the Pacers ever gets juicy enough to grab our interest. That total looks awfully high for a Washington team that couldn't even break 86 in overtime last night, and a Pacers team that actually showed signs of life on defense last night. Indiana also plays to the Under on back-to-back games, since they just don't like to run quite as much, and get bogged down more often on offense. I lean Under.
Kings @ Nets - Sacramento by 1.5 with a total of 196. Jersey looks like they're just about done for the season, but I'm not sure I can get behind the Kings without Tyreke Evans. I know they've been playing better, and in all likelihood the Kings still have enough offensive firepower to dispose of the lowly Nets, but with Boston on the horizon and being forced to fly cross-country to open the season's final long road trip, I just don't know if either team shows any sort of spunk in this game. This total is pretty high for two teams either unable to score (Jersey) or missing their most important offensive piece (Sacramento). The loss of Evans, in my opinion, makes the Under doubly enticing, since his replacement in the starting lineup is the defensive-minded Francisco Garcia, so it's not only an offensive downgrade, but a defensive upgrade. I loathe the side - this line isn't big enough to make Jersey look good to me, but also requires Sacramento to be focused and actually give a crap about winning these end-of-the-season road games. This one isn't a "wait and see" on the side, this one is a true recommended PASS. On the total, we already discussed the injury situation - on top of that, Jersey has been mired in a pretty ugly offensive slump - I lean Under.
Rockets @ Thunder - Oklahoma by 7 with a total of 206. Sometimes you get a play in your mind, and you want to try to find a way to pull the trigger on it, but you just know it's not perfectly wise. That, again, is the case here. On the one side we have the Thunder, slumping somewhat in losing 3 of their last 4 games, but playing their second game back home off a tough road trip, and with the Lakers coming to town in 2 days. That's a TON of angles, and they mostly balance out, in my opinion. On the other side, the Rockets finishing up a short 3-game road trip, and coming off a loss in Chicago on the back-to-back, a spot they've been absolutely terrible in this year. They also lost Shane Battier for a little while, and I just wonder if they have any gas left in the tank, since the recent wins by the Blazers and Spurs have all but eliminated the Rockets from playoff contention. Do we want to take the chance that the Rockets are done and make a play on the Thunder to blow them out? Houston has won all 3 games with Oklahoma this season, so that's certainly a point of concern. Do we want to hope that the Rockets still care about this season, play on them, and hope the Thunder are in a little bit of a look-ahead spot with Kobe on the horizon? Too many angles, if you ask me. I can't help but think the Rockets own the Thunder right now, so if forced to make a play, I'd lean Houston, but they could have given up and we won't know until that ball tips. The total of 206 is higher than any game these teams played yet this season, so I have to think oddsmakers have something up their sleeve, but I'm just not sure. I guess tiny lean to the Over, but I'd think skipping this total might be smarter.
Sixers @ Bucks - This line is OFF. You want to talk about a team that has just about given the finger to this season, that's the Sixers. They bailed on this year right around the All Star Break, and it's been a complete mess there ever since. Specifically they've won 4 games since the Break, and lost 15, and the ATS record hasn't been much better, at 6-13. It's tough to get points on most nights and still cover just 6 times. Of course, they've been a better bet on the road than at home, so it's certainly not a sure fade, but in terms of teams on a mission, Milwaukee appears to be that team. They managed to hang on against the Hawks in their first game back home off a successful West coast road trip, and that's not easy, and now, in their second game home, they get a Philly team ripe for the picking. The Bucks are pretty firmly in 5th place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, so I don't know that this game is a must-win or anything of that sort, but if they can beat the bad teams down the stretch, Milwaukee will get to face Atlanta in the first round, and that's a much more enviable spot than drawing the Celtics, Magic or Cavs. I fear the Sixers might be getting 8 or 9 points here, which is not easy to cover, but if anyone can do it right now, it's Milwaukee, even though a lot of their recent wins have been by single digits. This isn't a strong lean either, but I don't see how anyone can back the Sixers right now - lean to Milwaukee. I like the Under without even seeing the total - the Sixers aren't scoring, and they're playing a slower game than usual. Additionally, Milwaukee has been really forcing teams into a half-court game, feeling that they can simply out-execute opponents.
Cavaliers @ Hornets - Cleveland by 6 with a total of 202. Well, we saw the Hornets come out and just stomp on the Mavericks in their last game, and Chris Paul didn't even have to do much. It just seemed like a team that had given up on the season got a second wind and felt like, hell, maybe we should play and try to have some fun. I don't think New Orleans is going to be playing a ton of defense, but they shot the crap out of the ball, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them shoot it well for the next few games. Wisely, they didn't throw Chris Paul back into the mix for 40 minutes and hope for the best, he got worked in slowly, got some time to get acclimated, and got some nice run alongside up-and-coming guards Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton. The Hornets, as usual, seem to have a promising future, but didn't really amount to much this year. I like the heart they showed with Paul coming back, and it makes me think if there's any bad team worth backing today, it's probably the Hornets. Doesn't mean I like them - the Cavs have been known to open up a 12-point lead in the final minute of a game, and the Hornets did surprise Cleveland by hanging tough on the road, so I don't know that Lebron is going to look past this team, so it's a tough one again. All that being said, I lean Hornets - this line is right about where it should be, though. I like the Over on the total - I'm not convinced the Cavs want to really crush teams with the season all but wrapped up, and I feel like Paul has inspired his team to make some buckets. Still, this is another of my weaker leans.
Lakers @ Spurs - San Antonio by 1 with a total of 196.5. Tough set of games for San Antonio: at Miami, at Orlando, vs GS (that was the easy one), at Atlanta, at Oklahoma, home for the Lakers, home for the Cavs, and then at Boston after that one. Impressively, without Tony Parker, the Spurs have gone 3-2 over the first 5 games of this painstaking stretch, and I'm sure would be elated with 2 more wins, and probably content with 1 more. This line is interesting, seeing the Spurs favored over the Lakers with both teams rested is probably going to draw some colossal money on the Lake Show. It actually reminds me a fair amount about the Orlando-Atlanta game earlier. I'm really looking for ways to back the Spurs here, but without Tony Parker, it makes it quite a bit tougher. Both teams have won their home game so far this season, so that backs a play on the Spurs, but when it comes right down to it, this line is fair. This line is spot on where it should be, and unless it moves significantly in one direction, I don't think there's a ton of value. I happen to think the Lakers win the game, since it's not really a great idea to take an opponent to beat the Lakers and not get more than 2 points. We all know what a last second Kobe shot can do. But, at the same time, oddsmakers know the Lakers are going to be a draw, and they probably could have gotten away with bringing the line out at Pick or even with the Lakers favored by a point. For that reason, I lean Spurs, and I happen to think they just want it more. We all know how the Lakers play in marquee games - lean to the Under.
Grizzlies @ Warriors - A Pick with a total of 235. Another monster of a total in Oakland, but the real question here is whether the Warriors can bounce back from another tough defeat on their home floor. Yes, they got the cover, but the Warriors just pour everything out there every night, and always seem to come up just short because of a lack of size or depth. These teams just faced off a couple days ago, and the Warriors were getting 9 points in Memphis. If we switch courts and factor in that the Warriors are rested for this one, the Grizzlies should probably be a 1-point favorite, and really, when the line is hovering around a Pick, the -1 to +1 transition is pretty negligible. So, the Warriors got murdered in Memphis, but we've seen how they play when fatigued - they just don't have the bench to play hard in 2 games in 2 days. The starters play almost the entire game, so trying to go 2 straight days just isn't happening. This time, the Warriors are rested, but they're also coming off that crazy game with the Suns. If the Warriors are going to win, they're going to need to outplay the competition by a ton. The Grizzlies are an outstanding rebounding team, so look for Memphis to dominate the offensive glass, and they could score on almost every possession. I don't really like the side, yet again, but I guess with a gun to my head, I'd think the Grizzlies win it late. The total is interesting if only because the last meeting went under the mark (courtesy of a crazy low-scoring 4th quarter), and the line on this game is exactly the same as the last one. I like the Over, though I hope the Warriors last game isn't killing the value here. I also hope the Memphis game in Sacramento is helping keep this total low enough to keep the value.