An NBA play that I am straight up angry about. I know it's just one loss, and I should say something like, "Moving on," but I truly believe this was a loss that we could have avoided, and that falls on me. As I said yesterday, Thursday's card will be 100% free, but there's still one more day between now and then.
Despite doing some nice work, the "new" Season Pass didn't inspire any buyers, so we'll head back to a more familiar promo --
$79, every play for the week -- usually $140 for each play individually, so you might as well save 60 bucks right off the bat. Hell, you're probably going to buy 7 plays, why not save enough money to buy 3 more?
And, as always, the daily stuff -- just because I'm irritated by yesterday's oversight doesn't mean we can't just fire back the next night! I want this one, and I'm going to have it. Join me if you're feelin' it.
Sports Wagering: NBA
Atlanta Hawks (-4) @ Toronto Raptors with a total of 207;
Atlanta is coming on strong, and I'm wondering how this line adjusts to the Hawks having their Tuesday game canceled. You have to think that with Atlanta NOT playing the day before, the line ought to move up at some point. My best advice with this game is to avoid it altogether. It's unclear exactly how the Hawks are going to react to a scheduling anomaly like the one the freak southeast snowstorm has created. And, in an effort to keep these writeups relatively brief (on such a huge card), I see no huge reason to go into a ton of detail. Toronto is playing exactly how the oddsmakers expect, Atlanta is overachieving at the moment, but the team is in a weird travel spot, and Toronto, you could argue, is on revenge, but do they care? PASS ALL AROUND.
Chicago Bulls (-2.5) @ Charlotte Bobcats with a total of 185;
The Bulls are turning into one of the League's more predictable teams - they play down to poor competition on the road, can usually hang with better teams on the road but tend to lose, they play tremendous defense in the second half at home, and that's often enough to beat any team in the NBA. This game, as you can see, is on the road against a lesser team. Chicago's last road jaunt was a 2-gamer that saw them drop games to teams they should beat, the Nets and Sixers. Now, Chicago has to go head-to-head with the improving Bobcats. They're getting healthy, they're starting to understand the Paul Silas offense, and the Bobcats have always had the strength to play a little defense (though, admittedly, Augustin is just too small to defend the point guard spot). My one situational concern is a small one, but Charlotte does have Boston on Friday, a team that always dominates them - will Charlotte be focused on Boston a game too early? I still think this is another danger spot for Chicago, so I lean CHARLOTTE, and just a hair to the OVER.
Dallas Mavericks @ Indiana Pacers with a total of N/A;
Don't look now, but the Pacers won their first road game since November last night. The problem is that, in my eyes, that was a flash in the pan, not a sign of a long run. Sure, the Pacers had a very hot shooting night, and confidence does tend to carry over on these back-to-back spots, so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them shoot well again here, but I'll point to the one big (both in stature and importance) problem - Roy Hibbert. Even while all his teammates were draining every shot this side of half court, Hibbert continued to short arm everything. Without easy buckets, the Pacers are still going to get owned by better teams. They'll put together freak shooting performances and beat teams they shouldn't from time to time, but they have zero consistency without their big man. And that, one day too late, is a good enough reason for me to mostly avoid Indiana in games like this one. PASS on the side, total lean to the OVER.
Memphis Grizzlies (-2) @ Detroit Pistons with a total of 192;
Memphis has looked pretty bad on this short road trip, which is a shame considering how good the Grizz were playing before they left their building. I fear, though, that this line is not necessarily indicative that Memphis is going to get beat, but rather, that we're going to get a competitive game. Detroit has been surprisingly solid at home, and a bit of a home-heavy recent schedule has left them a hair undervalued. Is Memphis really 5 points better? Well, maybe. This line, as noted above, is probably pretty close to where it should be. The one unbalancing factor has got to be revenge. Detroit lost by 21 in Memphis earlier this year, and you have to believe that they'd love to grab one at home. Believe it or not, Detroit is only 3 games out of the final East playoff spot - this season is not lost, by any means, and they need home wins over middle-tier teams. Slight lean to DETROIT and the OVER.
Sacramento Kings @ Boston Celtics with a total of N/A;
Sacramento went into overtime with the Wizards before losing, Tyreke is probably still out, Garnett might very well play, and we don't even have a line? Haha. Yeah. This one could come out anywhere between 9 and about 15, depending on who plays. Sacramento, to their credit, is covering games on the road, but Boston is just the sort of stifling defense that can make Sacramento look bad. The Kings have been able to score because opponents aren't taking care to stop them, but if Boston is even a shade upset about the back-to-back losses to Chicago and Houston, this one could get ugly early. One thing to note about this monster spreads, though - the Lakers 55-point blowout last night can actually inflate lines in games other than the Laker game. People that won money on LA last night are going to be doubling up on giant favorites today, so I'd be very careful before laying 15. Microscopic lean to SACRAMENTO on the side, UNDER on the total.
San Antonio Spurs (-3.5) @ Milwaukee Bucks with a total of 187;
Is last night's easy win over the Wolves a sign that the Spurs are starting to care again? I don't really think so. Last night's game was merely the logical ending to a very weird season series with Minnesota. Now, San Antonio, happily rolling along and beating teams by 4-6 points instead of 10-15, will likely continue to play A-minus basketball. My concern with this game isn't so much on the Spurs side as it is on Milwaukee's. The Bucks were, of course, set to play in Atlanta last night, but due to the snow issue, never played. How much did they travel? How much treatment did the banged up Bucks receive? Are they rested or not? Is this line adjusted for the Spurs playing and Milwaukee missing a game? Too much goofy questions, in my opinion. To Milwaukee's credit, they fought like hell when they played in San Antonio and lost by only 2 points, and that's just sort of how Scott Skiles teams play, even when they're getting destroyed by injury. Probably a PASS on another weird side, and total lean to the UNDER.
Orlando Magic (-3) @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of 191;
I'll keep this breakdown simple. I'm not stepping in front of Orlando until they hit a bump in the road. I know this line is basically telling us that New Orleans is going to be right in this game and one big shot from Chris Paul will get them the outright win, but I want no part of it. In fact, this is probably a game where I'd look at the money line long before I'd look at the spread. I happen to think Emeka Okafor's giant torso could be just the type to give Dwight Howard some bother near the rim. Butterworth alert! Lean to NEW ORLEANS and the OVER.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets with a total of N/A;
Right up front, I like Houston. The Rockets are coming off a nice win in Boston, the type of win that can wake up a team from a bit of a slumber. Houston still allowed 102 points, and the defense continues to be a total disaster, but with Aaron Brooks getting his game back, and if Kevin Martin comes back, Houston might very well have one of the most potent guard combos in the League. Oklahoma City is coming off a pair of revenge wins over Dallas and Memphis, and a 3-day hiatus. They beat Houston twice at home, and lost their only previous game here. Interestingly, the Thunder have shot a better percentage from the field than Houston in each of the 3 previous matchups, so it certainly follows that if Houston could even keep FG% in a dead heat, they should have a decent shot. Lean to HOUSTON and the OVER.
New York Knicks @ Utah Jazz (-6.5) with a total of 210.5;
Scheduling alert. The Knicks head into altitude on the final game of their road trip, on a back-to-back off a solid win in Portland. I hate that Utah isn't playing all that great, but they've looked a bit better the last two games. We know what we're going to get from New York, and a team that relies as heavily as the Knicks do on the outside shot would, you might think, be a little more impacted by the altitude than a team that gets points at the rim. The Knicks catching 6.5 looks way too good to be true, so this game has all the trimmings of what we'd normally look for in an altitude play. New York falls into a few bad situational spots, Utah is coming home off a win (at last), and not that it makes a huge difference, but Mehmet Okur is due to play. And the crowd goes wild. Lean to UTAH and the UNDER.
New Jersey Nets @ Phoenix Suns with a total of N/A;
Phoenix is just a total mess. They head home off a 30+ point debacle in Denver, and while I'd normally love to back a team in that sort of "embarrassed" spot, but Phoenix isn't showing too many signs of competence. Fortunately for the Suns, the Nets aren't, either. This is a team waiting for its hero. The current crop isn't playing well, and who can blame them? Brook Lopez is having an awful year, Devin Harris is likely to be traded, and the team is buried in the cellar yet again. The one edge they have here is that they're rested. New Jersey hasn't played since the 8th, so this cross-country trip isn't going to be too grueling. Phoenix, as we noted, played last night, or what some might call "playing." I must admit, I'm not completely sure where we'll see this line. I have to think somewhere in the neighborhood of 8, and if that's the case, I'd take a small peak at JERSEY and the UNDER.
Miami Heat (-7.5) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 193.5;
It seems like oddsmakers are catching up with the Heat. After Miami rattled off a monster ATS win streak at the beginning of December, and while they have continued to win games straight up, the ATS numbers are leveling off, or at least beginning to. Miami is still covering more games than not, but the 100% mark is a thing of the past. The Clippers, meanwhile, have played two very solid games at home leading up to this one, beating down on Golden State and Denver. This is a huge stage for the Clips, Miami is now starting to get teams' best shots, and 7.5 is a pretty tough number to cover on the road. Miami has an even tougher game in the altitude of Denver tomorrow, so this is an intriguing spot. I can't help but lean to the CLIPPERS and slightly to the OVER, since both of these teams have been scoring lately.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Golden State Warriors with a total of N/A;
I suppose I should say something insightful like, "No team is as good as their best game," and based on what we saw from the Lakers, they probably won't win by 55 again any time soon. Do I think Golden State is going to win this game? No, I don't. The Lakers are in one of those surges when they'll liable to crush anything in their path. The interior defense has been devastating in the Lakers most recent home wins, and forcing teams to beat you from the outside is generally a method for success. But, on the other side, Golden State has been completely blown out in both games with LA this year. But both of those games were in Southern California. Golden State is vastly superior at home, and as David Lee continues to improve, health-wise, the Warriors continue to improve as a team. They are going to be overmatched on the glass, but if Andrew Bynum shows any sort of fatigue from playing 3 full quarters last night, that might give the Warriors the looks they need. Lean to GOLDEN STATE on double in-season revenge, and the UNDER.