WEEKEND THREAD! - feel free to ignore the old blog below, though I don't want to delete it (since I like to have record of all my writeups)
Sports Wagering: NBA
Detroit Pistons @ New Jersey Nets (-2) with a total of 190.5;
Situationally, this is a much better spot for the Nets, who are set to play their 2nd home game of a 5-game stretch in Jersey. Detroit is playing its 2nd of only 2 road games, but the loss to Boston 2 days ago was a true energy-buster. Kudos to the Pistons, though, for playing some tough basketball of late, and actually picking up a win every now and again, but I'm not sure they've got the right mix of players to take on the slow, defensive-minded Nets. For Detroit, it all comes down to whether or not they're making shots. This is a battle of two bad teams, and while I think Detroit is probably the slightly better club, I don't like the spot they're in. Tiny lean to JERSEY and the UNDER.
Toronto Raptors @ Orlando Magic (-11.5) with a total of 205;
The Raptors have, somehow, lost all 3 games on their current road trip, but have managed to cover all 3. They just find a way to hang around, and hang around a little longer, and these big numbers give them a chance to remain in the game just long enough to get some ATS action. Interestingly, Toronto has won its last 2 trips to Orlando straight up, so this isn't an arena that scares the Raptors, and you have to think this team is just going to keep giving more and more effort until they grab a win. It might not happen with Orlando and Miami on the docket to finish the road trip, but Orlando hasn't impressed me since their win streak snapped, and they're overvalued right now. Lean to TORONTO and the OVER.
New Orleans Hornets @ Atlanta Hawks (-3.5) with a total of 186.5;
I think we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Hornets - they're going to cover a lot of underdog spreads, and they're going to stink to high heavens when they're a favorite. And the reason is pretty simple - they play close games. Getting just 3.5 isn't much against a pretty talented offensive team like the Hawks, but some of this short line is likely due to Al Horford being out for 2-3 games. The Hawks desperately need those inside presences even if, perhaps, they might not realize it, and being forced by a good Hornets defense to take a ton of outside shots makes scoring much less predictable. Atlanta is, however, coming off a nice road win over the Heat, so the confidence is back, and this is a revenge spot. I think this line is actually pretty close to where it should be. Lean to ATLANTA to win by 4-5 and barely cover, and slightly to the UNDER.
Utah Jazz @ Boston Celtics (-6.5) with a total of 196;
Well, we know one thing - this line isn't coming down because of Utah's recent play. If it's coming down, it's because someone truly thinks Utah "gets up" to play a big bopper on the road. Utah has looked downright awful against both Washington and New Jersey, so I believe that backing them here is taking a bit of a chance, but they're definitely skilled enough offensively to overcome even the smartest of defenses. The question is, will Utah put the pieces together at the right time? Boston has been getting locked into a number of close, tough games, so covering 6 or more points might be tough. With that in mind, I'm not really sure I'm too fond of either team. I will say this - if this line drops enough, I might look back at the favorite, but as it stands, I don't like the side at all, and I'm peeking at the UNDER.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of N/A;
I have to believe this line is off because Andrew Bogut has now gone to see a specialist about a lingering respiratory infection that he's been battling for the last month. Hell, if he gets better at some point, he'll really go on a blocking spree, considering he's leading the League while sick. Either way, I'm not that opposed to him missing this game, since it'll deflate the line, and might make Milwaukee worth a look. Carlos Delfino is expected back at some point, soon, and Brandon Jennings is on schedule for a return in a couple weeks. Milwaukee needs some damn health, because really, they're a pretty fun team to root for, but not when they're playing at half strength. You guys know my feelings on Cleveland - they're too unbelievably bad to back, and Mo Williams is out a few weeks with his lingering hip issues (take some Geritol, Mo!). I guess if I had to pick a lean, it'd have to be to Milwaukee and the Under, but I didn't even capitalize the words to show how little I care.
Phoenix Suns @ Washington Wizards (Pk) with a total of 213;
This line is giving a ton, ton, TON of credit to the Wizards at home, and I guess it makes sense - Washington has won its last 4 games at home to improve to 12-8 on their own court. Meanwhile, the Wizards are still 0-20 on the road. What a shame - this team could be in the Playoff hunt with even a 33% winning mark on the road. In any case, Phoenix is quietly playing a little better, too, winning 4 straight against some weaker competition. I don't consider the Wizards tough competition, but I also wouldn't make too much of Phoenix's short winning streak. They could rattle off a few more, since I don't see Washington being disciplined enough defensively to guard the Suns, but Phoenix, right now, is firmly in the lower part of the middle of the pack. In this one, I have to ride the team that just wins at home and lean to the WIZARDS, but I actually think it's a close game that just barely stays UNDER.
Houston Rockets @ Memphis Grizzlies (-4.5) with a total of 202.5;
This one is easy. Houston possesses Grizzly Bear kryptonite, whatever that is. For some reason, Memphis just matches up terribly with Houston, and cannot solve the Rockets. Memphis will get the better of Houston eventually, but there are simply teams in the NBA, or any sport for that matter, that just own other ones, and this seems to be that type of matchup. It's most likely the public side, but hell, Houston is playing well right now, Memphis is a little hit-or-miss of late, and I don't see why this time should be any different. Lean to HOUSTON and the OVER.
New York Knicks @ San Antonio Spurs (-9) with a total of 212;
The Knicks are struggling on offense right now, and when those long range bombs aren't dropping, they look pretty pedestrian. Amar'e is slowing a tad, though there was almost no way he could keep up his earlier pace, and the injury to Gallinari took away New York's most versatile player. Yes, Gallo is back, but he's not quite at full strength, and the rest of the starters look a little listless to me. A big game with San Antonio might be just what the doctor ordered, though that doesn't guarantee anything. The Spurs lost by 13 to the Knicks in New York earlier this month, so they would, presumably, be a team looking to take out some revenge, and the fact that the Knicks had only 6 turnovers in that entire game was a pretty strong indication of just how well they played. Covering 9 is never easy against as skilled an offensive team as New York, but I think the SPURS might be able to just barely able to squeak by, maybe win by 11, and keep this game UNDER.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets (Pk) with a total of 211.5;
The Lakers played some downright poor defense against Dallas, but anyone that watched the game probably noticed that the Lakers tendency to fire from outside was probably their biggest problem. The long rebounds led to disjointed defensive sets, and Dallas shot the lights out. Here's my issue with the Lakers - that was not a one-time thing. They don't stay focused on the road against good teams, and I believe they're a disastrous 1-5 against winning teams when playing away from Staples. A veteran team should be better than that. Denver beat the Lakers in the Mile High City once already this year, and I don't believe revenge comes into play, since, really, most teams want to beat L.A. more than the Lakers want to avenge some stray loss. This series has been fairly well dominated by the home team, and with the way the Nugs play in their building, I have to think they can snatch a SU win, which ought to be enough - lean to NUGS and the UNDER.
Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors (-7) with a total of 216;
Call me crazy, but should the Warriors really be laying 7 points to anyone? Maybe Cleveland, but as we saw against Jersey, 7 is pushing it. Yes, the Warriors covered that game with a nice little surge to push a lead up to 13 (and hang on to win by 9), but the Kings are quietly covering almost every night. They played Portland tough before falling in OT (thank goodness), and the Warriors spanked the Kings in Sacramento in late December, so there may be some small tinge of revenge on the brain. The Warriors find ways to win games at home, as evidenced by their win over the Pacers, but they still don't play consistently enough to warrant laying big numbers, and the Kings, while clearly still not ready to win in the 4th quarter, are getting closer. Lean to SACRAMENTO and the UNDER.