Recap: NBA is starting to hit a stride...one of, hopefully, MANY that we'll have over the course of the year! We've hit the biggest play on every card since Thursday (2* on Thursday, 2* on Friday, only play on Sat, 2* Monday, and 3* on Tuesday), so we're starting to roll up some dollars, and that makes me happy! As far as the actual game yesterday, well, it was a Game of the Week that really fit the mold, with Indiana crushing the Nuggets in an insane offensive show! Indiana made 20-of-21 shots in a nearly unbelievable 3rd quarter, and that put the game away. Sweeeeeet.
Today: It's a new week, and we're over 10 days into the NBA season, so I'll go ahead and remove the Season Preview Podcast from these daily threads. If you want to check out that bad boy, or any of the other shows, visit PregamePodcasts.com.
I am not, however, eliminating the link to my season pass:
And, as usual, a daily package -- off yesterday's 3* winner, and 5 straight "Top" play winners, it's time for a TWO-for-ONE deal!:
If all that hasn't inundated you, here's a blog:
Sports Wagering: NBA
Utah Jazz @ Orlando Magic with a total of N/A;
A pair of the "singular name" teams battle it out on the heels of the Jazz battling with the Heat last night. This is going to be a rough, rough road trip for Utah, and when we do finally see this line, it's going to be pretty large. I'm tempted, right off the bat, to say "pass" on the side, since Utah is going to be a bit winded from last night's game, and Orlando has been winning (and not covering) of late, negative aspects impacting each team. Utah is going to be dealing with some tough competition on this road trip, and I wonder how they approach it. Heaven knows they've struggled shooting this year, for the most part, and the lack of success in back-to-backs just goes hand in hand with their lack of success in general. Which Jazz team shows up is the coin-flip question of the day, but one thing is for certain - Orlando doesn't play as fast with Jameer Nelson out, so his status is pretty important for the total, too. This might be our first official WAIT AND SEE game, where injuries and the results of last night just throw too many wrinkles into pre-line handicapping.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Atlanta Hawks (-6) with a total of 188.5;
A former member of the Pregame community had his eye on this game a few days ago, and Twittered a very good point that Milwaukee has some playoff revenge here...a big reason why we didn't make a play in yesterday's Bucks-Knicks game (results pending). On top of that, Atlanta is coming off a hard-fought loss to the Orlando Magic, a game they were clearly focused on winning, and came up just a hair short. Now, hosting the Bucks, a team struggling out of the gate, unable to get consistent scoring from anyone besides their big center, but more than likely pissed about the game-7 butt-whipping they took from the Hawks last year in the playoffs. This line is rather high because Milwaukee is on a back-to-back, and the Hawks are not, so normally this would be closer to 4. Do not be fooled, just a standard line adjustment. Milwaukee has shown the ability to play strong basketball in back-to-back spots. They play good team defense, don't run much, and really do an admirable job of conserving energy and playing smart. I love that they're getting those bonus 2 points, since they don't really need them. Lean to MILWAUKEE and the OVER.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Toronto Raptors (-2) with a total of 195;
Oh Charlotte, you need help. The Bobcats were so good at home last year, playing stout defense and then running the ball down opponents' throats. Then, they'd go on the road, play solid defense, but fail to convert on offense. This year, with a new point guard running the show and no interior defense, Charlotte can't even do what worked for them at home last season. Instead, they're just firing up bad shots out of isolation plays, and they can't protect the rim. They look awful, and the road isn't going to help much. Toronto, meanwhile, has been doing nice things offensively, but they're not guarding anyone. Luckily, Charlotte makes that easier on opponents by never really running a true offensive scheme. Dump it into the post if you can't run the ball, and hope Stephen Jackson doesn't turn it over. That's a break for the Raptors. Toronto also has a nice size advantage. Bargnani, Evans, and Amir Johnson off the bench are all taller than most of the Bobcats, aside from the stop-gap center known as Nazr Mohammed. This is also home game number two for the Raps off that long west coast trip. We all know how teams struggle in the first game back, but the second game back is usually a nice bounceback performance. Lean to TORONTO and the OVER.
Houston Rockets (-2.5) @ Washington Wizards with a total of 213;
This is a step back in handicapping for me, but I'm actually pretty curious how the money comes in on this game. Houston and Washington are both out to equally rocky starts to the season, but Washington is getting significantly more publicity because of John Wall. Wall, though, has been an absolute turnover machine. What that tells me is that Washington is going to be competitive with other teams that turn the ball over, and will probably play better at home by a wide margin. When you're being led by a kid, those road issues get magnified. Of course, on the flip side, I feel like teams that execute well in the open and in the half court can give Washington a tough time. The Wizards don't play much in the way of defense, and whether it's lingering issues from an injury, Andray Blatche isn't taking the ball to the hoop and using his athleticism. I should also add that Houston's 1-5 start is way less damning than Washington's 1-4. Houston lost close games to the Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets, Hornets, and Spurs, while Washington lost to New York and Cleveland, among their 4 defeats. I hate to say it, but these are some winnable games for the Rockets, who are probably a hair undervalued off the slow start. Slight lean to HOUSTON, slighter lean to the OVER.
New Jersey Nets @ Cleveland Cavaliers (-5) with a total of 195;
Not much to say here that we didn't say yesterday. This is the second half of a home-and-home between these two teams that, interestingly, is occurring on back-to-back nights. That's certainly the little change, since usually there's a day off in between these types of scheduling oddities. There's also very little doubt that our play on this game is heavily dependent on the results of yesterday's contest. The Cavs and Nets played a very tough game that was decided late, with Cleveland winning by 2 as a short dog. Now, they come home and have to play the same team. Honestly, yesterday's results were about as unfortunate as possible, in terms of picking a side today. If one team beat the other by 8-10, you go the other way, but a close game just means that each side has about a 50/50 shot of taking a night off in this one. And considering the Cavs won despite an awful shooting night from Mo Williams, that makes them covering 5 points at home seem pretty easy. And that's why we're going to let this line shake itself out a little bit. If it moves up, we might want to grab those extra points, since both teams are going to be a little tired. That might also mean porous defense, though yesterday's game stayed well under the total. A little tougher than I anticipated. Thus, lean to JERSEY, and very, very small lean to the OVER.
Golden State Warriors @ New York Knicks with a total of N/A;
From a scheduling perspective, you have to think the Warriors have a slight edge, but that's about it for Golden State. The Warriors are in the middle of an eastern road trip that saw them take a loss in Detroit, pick up a win in Toronto (against a Raptors team that was, itself, returning from a long road trip in the other direction), and now they take aim at another run-n-gun squad in New York. The reason this line is off is pretty clear - Monta Ellis sustained what appeared to be a pretty serious back injury late in the Toronto game, though tests showed it wasn't that severe, and he should be back soon. I'd be awfully surprised to see him ready for this one, though, and even if he is, he's not going to be at full strength. Stephen Curry is starting to get his legs underneath him, so he'll have a big game, and David Lee should be amped to face his old team, but when the guys take the floor, I believe New York is going to be the superior team. We should see a relatively low line since the Knicks are coming back from Milwaukee, but Golden State's road issues are well-documented, and a stronger Toronto team, or one that wasn't suffering from jet-lag, might have been able to battle them better. Lean to the KNICKS and to the UNDER, as there's no way this total isn't inflated.
Dallas Mavericks @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total of N/A;
An opportunity to back the Mavs on the road? Hell, might as well, right? The Mavs just continue to flail, ATS, at home, beating Boston in a tough game, but failing to cover the short home spread. They're now 1-3 ATS at home, and 2-0 on the road, picking right up where they left off a season ago. I suppose it's a winning strategy. You don't have to cover big lines to win at home, and if you can win road games, you're going to be in the thick of the Playoff mix, no matter how things shake out. For Dallas, I like that Tyson Chandler is starting to fit in, and taking the starting center job from Brendan Haywood. Chandler is faster, a better shot-blocker, and gives Dallas a little athleticism at the 5, something they haven't had since...um...ever? In any case, this is also a revenge game for the Mavs, who lost to Memphis a little over a week ago, at home. Memphis just got done avenging their own loss to Phoenix, and this game has all the makings of one that Dallas is going to take down to the wire. I'm curious to see how the line opens, since Dallas was a 9-point home favorite, but I'd be surprised to see them any higher than a 2.5 points road fave. Honestly, I don't really know how they lost that game to Memphis - Dallas shot 9% better from the field, but hey, if it sets us up for a lean, so be it. Lean to the MAVERICKS, and the UNDER.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Oklahoma City Thunder with a total of N/A;
Another game with no line, but again, some injuries are in the mix. Jeff Green may or may not play on the Oklahoma side, and Andre Iguodala is not expected to go for the Sixers. How do those losses impact the game, and the line? Minimally, I'd say. The Thunder are the better team here, and oddsmakers are going to make sure we're well aware of that. The Sixers are one of the worst teams in the NBA, though they've shown the ability in the last year and change, to play about as bad at home as they do on the road. That creates value backing Philly away from their arena, and fading them when they get back. They're in the middle of a weird road trip, though. Philly played in New York on Sunday, had 2 days off before this one, play Friday and Saturday in Dallas and San Antonio, then have 2 more days off before one final road game in Cleveland. What? Terrible scheduling, and that makes it very tough for us to get a read on them. The Thunder have been a bit of a disappointment so far, but Durant is always 3 open looks away from catching fire and going for 45 points. Microscopic lean to PHILADELPHIA, and slightly more reasonable totals lean to the OVER.
Los Angeles Clippers @ San Antonio Spurs with a total of N/A;
I assume this line is off because of Eric Gordon, though that's giving him a lot of credit. In any case, the Clippers are playing the second half of a back-to-back that started last night in New Orleans, and this is part of a very difficult road trip that started with losses in Denver and Utah. Are the Clippers going to be gassed? Probably. I know they're playing better, but this is a tough, tough spot against a team that has just owned the Clippers for the past decade. The big concern is that this line is going to be through the roof. I don't like laying the chalk with a double digit favorite, but if the Clippers use up their energy in New Orleans, and we all know how a few days off in the Big Easy can take its toll on a team, this game could be a complete disaster. The Spurs look good in the early going for the first time in a few years, and until we get a read on when they're going to win by 15, and when they're going to win by 4, they're a tough nut to crack. Still, history, combined with scheduling, I can't help but give a smallish lean to the SPURS, and to the OVER.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Sacramento Kings with a total of N/A;
I actually hadn't heard about any big-time injury concerns, so if you guys know why this line is off, please feel free to clue me in. Alright, to the game. Hear me out on this...I think Minnesota gets their 2nd win of the season in this game. True, Minnesota is shooting about 18% on the road, but this game fits into an interesting mold, I believe. First, Minnesota lost their home opener to the Kings, so there's a little revenge in the air. Second, the Kings don't really play much in the way of defense, so Minnesota should be able to get a few open looks and get their confidence going. Third, Sacramento still isn't as good as people seem to believe. Their team defense is abysmal, and while they can get going on runs, a "streetball" game is going to give Minnesota a chance to stay in it. Then, if Minnesota doesn't win the game outright, as my ballsy claim indicated, the line is going to be inflated thanks to Minnesota's terrible start to the year and the back-to-back 2-point line adjustment. We need to remember, though, that Minnesota, among their blowout losses, fell to Orlando, Miami, Memphis, Houston...all teams that can execute well on offense. If Minnesota forces a few turnovers, or grabs some long rebounds, this one could really come right down to the wire, and I believe Minny understands this is a rare chance to try to get a win. Lean to the WOLVES and the OVER.