Milwaukee Bucks @ Indiana Pacers (-2) with a total of 194.5;
The Pacers were lifeless and flat in their last game, a demoralizing and embarrassing 25-point loss to the previously winless Philadelphia 76ers, who, themselves, were coming off an OT 1-point loss in Washington. It's the kind of zero-effort, completely head-scratching performance that can lead to either of 2 conclusions -- (1) the Pacers are garbage, and the first week of the season was a total fluke, or (2) the Pacers just weren't in that game, mentally, and it can be tossed out. I'm actually a fan of option 2. I still think the Pacers are a team with some nice upside, and the Bucks are a team that plays solid team defense, but continues to have issues finding the right guy to go and get them points. I'm interested to see how folks bet this game, since Milwaukee, in my mind, is still the "playoff team", and Indiana is a team that just got their butts kicked, and has been for a few years now. Situationally, there isn't a ton to speak of in this one. Milwaukee played a very tough game with Boston, so I suppose you could argue there's a little letdown, but it's very, very minor since the Bucks did, in fact, lose that game in OT. Put it all together, and it's going to be a battle of tempos, with the home team usually doing the dictating. Lean to INDIANA and to the OVER.
New Jersey Nets @ Orlando Magic (-16) with a total of 196.5;
With Devin Harris and Brook Lopez both dealing with nagging injuries as a result of a very hard-fought loss to the Bobcats a couple days back, I find it nearly impossible to see where the Nets get their points in this game. If Lopez isn't healthy, he's going to get pushed around by Dwight Howard, and really, he's the Nets only shot. The Magic play tremendous team defense, and moving Ryan Anderson into the starting lineup has given Rashard Lewis free reign at the "3", where he probably should have been the last 3 years. The Magic look like a scary offensive team with Rashard back at his natural position, and Pietrus, Q-Rich, Brandon Bass rotating through the 2, 3, and 4 spots off the bench. With that in mind, this game could be another 35-point win, or could end right on the number. Total PASS on the side! The total is interesting, if only because you'd figure if the Magic are going to win by 20, they'll probably score 110. I suppose it comes down to how much garbage time gets involved. Very slight lean to the UNDER, and I mean VERY slight.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Philadelphia 76ers (-5.5) with a total of 187.5;
Well, Philadelphia got in the win column at long last, picking up an easy cruising victory over an Indiana team that just had no interest in playing a basketball game. It was weird. However, I do generally like bad teams in spurts, and Philadelphia fits that mold. They broke through for one, so why not a couple? The Cavs are a very beatable team, and one that has to rely entirely too much on the mid-range jumpshooting of J.J. Hickson to succeed. From a matchup perspective, I actually think Elton Brand should be able to do a decent job on Hickson, or at least a better job than some of the PF's he's seen so far. And I have to admit, I'm impressed with Brand so far this year. If he keeps up this type of production for a month or two, I guess that'll prove he really was hurt all those years. Time will tell. The Cavs come in to Philly off a home loss to the Atlanta Hawks, and Cleveland looks like they may have very well shot their metaphorical load in the first game of the season. The reality of "no LeBron" is slowly setting in, and while the return of Mo Williams (who should need another week or so to get his legs back) will help, Antawn Jamison is banged up, and the rest of those ballers were brought in as guys to fill roles around the King. Philly should win, but covering 5.5 is another story. This line is close to correct, though I would offer a small lean to the home SIXERS, and a slightly bigger lean to the UNDER.
Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks (-5.5) with a total of 206.5;
Another team that recently got off the snide, the Wizards take their traveling circus to Madison Square Garden (land of asbestos) to try to get #2. But, we're presented with one of two teams playing the second half of a back-to-back. And, as we'll get in the habit of doing, we'll approach this one dependent on the results of the previous day. So, for Washington, no huge situational angles to address, and I think we can expect a pretty standard output from the Wiz. That makes our lives a little easier. The Knicks, on the other hand, return home to finish a b2b that started last night on TNT in Chicago. So...if the Knicks beat the Bulls outright, this line will probably climb a hair, and we'll get a little value on the Wizards. If the Knicks lose but cover, my guess is that they'll win and fail to cover against the Wizards. If the Knicks get completely creamed by Chicago, we'll have to check on the stats (anomalies, etc.), but that would give me reason to move my lean over to the Knicks side. Lean CONTINGENT on Thursday on the side, and slightly to the UNDER.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Detroit Pistons (-1.5) with a total of 184.5;
Distress signal sent, Motown awaiting response. Things went from bad to awful in Detroit in their last game, a 9-point loss to the Hawks, marred by yet another second-half meltdown. What the heck is going on with this team? Well, some will try to complicate it, but I believe it's quite simple. Detroit has veteran players that are sick of losing, but too old and not skilled enough to do anything about it. It's time to cut bait. Just let the kids learn, try to get some draft picks and money for Tayshaun, Rip, Big Ben, and anything else that moves, really, and see if the team can't maybe have a little fun. Instead, Head Coach "Kue" called his team out for a lack of leadership, Rodney Stuckey ignored his coach and refused to re-enter a game, Tayshaun Prince got in a verbal fight with a hometown fan, and the wheels have officially not only come off the wagon, but rolled off into the distance. I'd love to back Detroit in the hopes that they have a team meeting and figure out some way to co-exist, but until something changes, the Pistons are not bettable. Lean to CHARLOTTE and the OVER.
Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics (-7) with a total of 193.5;
Let's just hope this one is as fun as some of the other Chicago-Boston games have been over the last 2 years. It probably won't be, but hey, a man can dream. In terms of betting angles, the Celtics were off yesterday, and picked up a very difficult home OT win over the Bucks on Tuesday. I know Boston has made a point, this year, of trying to post a better home record, and they're a nice 3-0 at home so far, but I haven't been completely convinced of "dominance" in the process. They beat a flailing Heat team by 8, the Knicks by 5, then it took OT to sneak past the Bucks. Is Boston gearing up to break out in this one? Tough to say. Certainly, Chicago is going to be in the tougher situational spot, playing at home last night, taking on the Knicks on TNT, so once again we have to wait a bit and play our hand a little closer to the vest. Once we get some results from that Chicago-New York game, we can reapproach this one. I don't think it's as linear as some, but certainly if Chicago lays an egg against the Knicks, we can probably expect them to come roaring back in this big one. WAIT on the side, decent lean to the OVER on the total.
Atlanta Hawks @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of N/A;
Our buddy Guevones sent me a note that the Timberwolves should have been a Morrison System loser on their current road trip, but that wily scam artist claimed that the computer screwed something up, and despite the T'Wolves getting repeatedly bent over and spanked on their short roadie, it wasn't a system loss. I must ask you all, how many times have you blamed a mistake on the computer? And as a follow up, what percentage of those times were you just hoping the person you were talking to was too stupid to realize computers don't make mistakes? That man needs to have his "career" ended, so feel free to go out and create havoc, and let him try to defend himself without b.s. and lies. I dare him. This game doesn't have a line yet, so I decided to just toss my first JM-rant into the blog for everyone's enjoyment. In terms of the teams involved, you could argue the Wolves are in a first game home spot, but they simply can't look any worse than they did on the road. The Hawks have had one of the weakest schedules on the planet so far, so they shouldn't hesitate to just beat up on another worthless opponent. I can't back Minnesota until they show any sign of life. NO LEAN on the side, OVER on the total.
Miami Heat (-6.5) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 186;
How long can the Heat and Lakers keep crushing betting lines? It's a truly ridiculous situation that the two most hyped teams in the NBA are covering machines, and it's only a matter of time before these teams fall flat on their faces, ATS. They'll be laying nearly double digit numbers on the road, winning by 5-8 points, and racking up the SU wins and ATS losses. This game is getting there. The Hornets are undefeated so far this year, and Chris Paul looks like he's back, or getting there, to where he was a few years back, when he could completely dominate the game from the PG spot. I think a lot of people forgot just how good CP3 really was, and with a new coach, some new toys around him, the Hornets are playing smart basketball, and winning games. This is going to be a heck of a show in the Big Easy, and I expect a good game. Miami is coming off two supremely easy "warm-ups" against the Nets and Wolves, so this will be their first test in almost a week. And while the Hornets aren't the Magic, I think that actually works in New Orleans' favor, since this isn't the type of opponent that teams are "getting up" for, at least not yet. Lean to the HORNETS and to the UNDER.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Phoenix Suns (-6) with a total of 221.5;
What the heck is wrong with the Grizzlies? They got the crap beat out of them in their home opener, went into Dallas and looked better, came home and crushed the pathetic Wolves, and since then, they've been outplayed considerably, twice. How is this game any different than the game with the Warriors? Phoenix, now without Amar'e, is an awful lot like Golden State. They're going to run, they have solid wing players, and don't play much defense. Steve Nash is a better distributor than Stephen Curry, but David Lee is a better inside presence than Robin Lopez. Memphis is just going to continue to fire up shots and not play defense, and that is not a recipe for winning. Of course, off 2 ugly road wins, the Grizzlies are catching quite a few points, here. Phoenix got beat at home by the Spurs in a close game, and that 4th quarter just continues to plague the Suns, as they look for offense in crunch time. I don't know that I have the gall to get back on the Grizzlies, since I'd like to see them look good again beforehand, but that's where the value is. Tiny lean to MEMPHIS, and similarly small lean to the UNDER.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Denver Nuggets with a total of N/A;
This line is going to be pretty hefty when it comes out. Considering the Thunder were laying 9 in LA, that's like saying Oklahoma City would have been putting 15 points on the floor at home. Denver isn't ranked quite as high, but this line should be in the double digits. I'm not sure if it's warranted, though. The Clippers finally woke up in their last game, and as discussed earlier in this blog, some of those poor teams can get things going for a couple games at a time. And in the case of Denver, this is a team that doesn't really have its heart completely in the game. They lost to the Mavericks at home, which isn't really anything out of the ordinary, but a solid all-around game can definitely beat the Nuggets. Let's wait and see where this line comes out, but with Denver playing the second piece of a home-and-home with the Mavericks tomorrow, they might very well be giving a little bit of their attention to getting down to Dallas and exacting revenge. Lean to the CLIPPERS on the side, and the UNDER on the total.
Utah Jazz @ Golden State Warriors (-1) with a total of 223;
Golden State has had issues with the Utah Jazz for a long time, but a lot of that stemmed from a wild size disadvantage, a good deal of which the Warriors have covered with the acquisition of David Lee. A healthy, confident Andris Biedrins isn't hurting the cause, either. Make no mistake, this is a winnable game for the Warriors, but probably not without Stephen Curry. Monta Ellis put on a show against the Grizzlies, but Memphis really doesn't have any sort of shot-blocking presence (let's face it, Marc Gasol is not a "leaper"), so Ellis was free to attack the rim repeatedly. Deron Williams, if indeed he's matched up with Monta, is bigger and stronger than Mike Conley, and the Jazz have Al Jefferson hanging around in the paint. He's not a huge defensive presence, either, but Utah can also turn to Andrei Kirilenko to leave his man. Also, David Lee's best attribute is his ability to stay active and rebound, and Paul Millsap is just a slightly shorter version of that - maybe a little stouter, but equally rebound-friendly. Utah has flipped the switch, and the Warriors are going go be very hard-pressed to keep them down. Lean to the public JAZZ and very slight lean to the UNDER.
Toronto Raptors @ Los Angeles Lakers (-13) with a total of 211;
I asked it above, but how long are the Lakers and Heat going to blow teams out to start the season? The Lakers seem like a team on a mission, and that mission, so far, has been to completely dismantle opponents. It doesn't hurt that they're shooting an unbelievable percentage from beyond the arc, and it also doesn't hurt that Pau Gasol is taking more shots than ever, and that 53% FG number can impact the team just a hair more. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that Steve Blake and Matt Barnes are both making a big-time impact off the bench. The Lakers are just frighteningly deep, and just pouring it on opponents so far. I will say, though, that one of these games the Lakers are going to take their foot off the gas. And when that happens, we're going to be right there waiting. I'd love to see Toronto cover in LA then go up to the Rose Garden on the last day of the road trip and get shellacked. I guess we'll see. Fact is, I can't lay 13 with the Lakers - that team is just itching to give up a few back door covers. We'll back the Lakers at some point this season, but it'll be in bigger games, where we can get some shorter lines. NO LEAN on the side, and slight lean to the UNDER.