That was my cheap shot at how poorly the Nuggets have played when the big boys started pushing back. We'll get to that in today's blog, below.
We picked up yet another NBA Playoff winner with a 2* selection on the Dallas Mavericks, as the general feeling was that the Mavericks would play with desperation, and they absolutely did. Will that carry over into game six in San Antonio? Tough to say, but they played with abandon, sped up the game, and got some easier buckets.
Baseball continues to just plain stink. This is arguably the coldest I've ever been in baseball, dropping both baseball plays last night (barring a miraculous Phillies comeback), and now falling to 2-9 in our last 11 MLB sides. I had a 7-game baseball losing streak last year, so we're right on par with that, but here's the good news. Despite that cold spell last year, I still turned a profit, and I'm going to do so, again. Baseball is a GRIND, there is a LONG way to go, and we're going to get this ship righted.
As I wrote in last night's blog, though -- thank goodness for NBA staying hot, or I'd be in real trouble!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Bucks @ Hawks - Atlanta by 8.5 with a total of 191. No one is happier with this change of venue than the Hawks, who crushed the Bucks twice at home before going on the road and just getting outplayed for all 96 minutes. This Atlanta team just seems like the same old story, yet again. Very strong at home, and can't win on the road, even against a completely out-classed opponent like Milwaukee. I'm curious to see how the world feels about this series, now. The Bucks dominated the Hawks in those games in Wisconsin, and just shot the heck out of the ball. The question is whether some of that confidence they built rolls over into these road games. I'm inclined to think Atlanta gets the juices going again, and they win this game, but 8.5 is a huge number. The dilemma we face when making a call on this one is whether this line is high because Atlanta is going to really dominate, or if it's high because folks assume Atlanta is going to dominate. Tough call, but I happen to think the Hawks squeak by with a low double-digit win. It won't be an easy cover, but we'll see 10-11 points. The total of 191 is intriguing, if only because the last game hit 215 on a posted mark of 189.5, and only got adjusted by a point and a half. That has to make you think the oddsmakers are expecting a poorer shooting night, and I'll run with that little tip of the hand. Lean to the Under.
Jazz @ Nuggets - Denver by 6.5 with a total of 215. This is another desperation game, and we might get some additional value on whichever side we like after we see how a team like Dallas plays last night in a similar spot. I'm a little surprised at how high this line came out, but a lot of that is because of the desperation spot being factored into the line. Denver has been positively embarrassed in each of the last three straight by the Jazz, and they just showed almost no heart in trying to fight from behind. Honestly, this series is similar to the Dallas series if only because one team is up 3-1. Beyond that, I'm not sure there's all that much in common. Dallas has been IN just about every game, but seemed to hit one cold spell that cost them games. Denver just seems to give up the moment Utah goes on a little run, showing no heart, and now the Nuggets locker room is getting called out by its superstar, Carmelo Anthony. So, can the Nuggets "man up" and get a home win? Well, they certainly shoot the ball better at home, but they're just not playing any defense, so it's tough to see them covering 7 points even if they win. We also know Denver is going to want to bring the fireworks here, since their best shot of winning the game is opening things up. Utah is going to be the team that fights harder, and pushes you around a little bit more, so if Denver can open up the game, make things wild, they can win, and could potentially even cover. If you like Denver, you have to like the Over. If you like Utah, you don't necessarily have to like the Under. Thus, no real lean on the side yet, but slight lean to the Over. Potential notes on these leans could be updated in due time.
Sports Wagering: MLB
Padres @ Marlins (-110) with a total of 9; K. Correia vs. N. Robertson;
David Eckstein is 3-for-5 with a HR and 3 RBI off Robertson;
Hanley Ramirez is 4-for-12 with a HR and 2 RBI off Correia;
Cody Ross is 3-for-8 off Correia.
Correia has been a model of consistency with the Padres, and Robertson has been a nice little breath of fresh air for the Marlins to start the season. However, both have struggled mightily with this opponent. Correia is 1-2, 6.89 ERA against Florida, and Robertson (though it wasn't recent) is 1-0, 7.50 ERA against San Diego. This game is basically a Pick, and it should be.
Dodgers @ Mets (N/A) with a total of N/A; J. Ely vs. J. Maine;
Ronnie Belliard is 9-for-15 with a HR and 3 RBI off Maine;
Rafael Furcal is 6-for-11 with a HR and an RBI off Maine;
Casey Blake is 2-for-4 with a HR off Maine and 3 RBI.
This is an interesting spot, with a Dodgers starter potentially making his Major League Debut (unless LA decides to go a different way between now and first pitch). You can usually get some value on a guy making his debut since no one has faced him, and no one knows what to expect. John Maine has been awful so far this year, and I'm inclined to think the Dodgers have a shot to score a few, and maybe even take this afternoon tilt.
Pirates @ Brewers (-160) with a total of 9.5; P. Maholm vs. C. Narveson;
Ryan Braun is batting .381 off Maholm with a HR and 8 RBI before this season;
Corey Hart is 11-for-34 with a HR and 3 RBI off Maholm.
Interestingly, Prince Fielder is batting near .100 against Maholm, so that's the only reason the Brewers didn't score 30 (yeah, I know). Chris Narveson gets the start for Milwaukee, and he's a -160 home favorite against an established starter. That just goes to show the type of full-on ownage the Brewers have over Pittsburgh. I can't go against this level of complete beatdown, but I also don't think I can lay 160 with this Narveson joker.
Nationals @ Cubs (-200) with a total of N/A; L. Atilano vs. R. Dempster;
Adam Dunn is 3-for-10 with a HR off Dempster since '05;
Ryan Zimmerman (if he plays) is 5-for-10 off Dempster.
Luis Atilano had a typical debut with a strong 6 innings against the Dodgers, and again those scouting reports (or lack thereof) can really go a long way. Now, he gets to face the Cubbies, who have a little information on him, though still not much. Dempster is a perfect 6-0 against the Nats throughout his career, with an ERA around 3, so I'm not sure fading him is wise, but if the wind is blowing in, maybe an Under might be worth a look?
D'backs @ Rockies (-150) with a total of 10.5; K. Benson vs. G. Smith;
Jason Giambi is 4-for-11 off Benson with 2 HR and 4 RBI since '05.
There isn't much experience in this game, either, which makes that 10.5 total look exceptionally high. Still, the difference between these guys and Atilano in the game above is that there's plenty of scouting on both of these pitchers. Greg Smith has been in the League long enough to give guys some prep material, and Kris Benson has been out of the League almost as long as he'd been in it. Pass you very much.
Phillies @ Giants (-175) with a total of 7; C. Hamels vs. T. Lincecum;
Ryan Howard has homered twice off Lincecum;
Jayson Werth is 3-for-6 with a HR off Lincecum.
The current Giants have done absolutely nothing against Hamels, despite his struggles. Edgar Renteria bats under .200, as does Mark DeRosa and Eugenio Velez. Lincecum is destroying teams so far this season, and it seems like he could do it again with Philly. If he keeps Howard in the yard, and pitches carefully to Werth, Lincecum could get win #5. Probably a pass, as I just can't trust Hamels to keep his team in it, even against a club that he's beaten 4 of 5 times.
Reds @ Astros (-125) with a total of 9; M. Leake vs. F. Paulino;
Jay Bruce is 3-for-8 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Paulino;
Laynce Nix is 5-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Paulino.
Mike Leake came back to Earth in his last start, getting ripped apart pretty good by the hot-hitting Dodgers. I don't think that means his time is up. The kid has good stuff, and the Reds still feel he's strong enough to stay in the Bigs. Here, as an underdog to one of the worst starting pitchers in the Majors over the past 2 seasons, I think you have to at least take a look at Cincinnati to score some runs. Paulino is 1-3 against Cincy, ERA of 5.86. Lean to the Li'l Red Machine.
Braves @ Cardinals (-165) with a total of 8; K. Kawakami vs. J. Garcia;
Between the two teams, there is a grand total of 1 AB against these pitchers, and surprisingly, it's Nate McLouth against Garcia. Go figure. In any case, we're going off momentum here, and barring a big upset (as I'm typing this before Tuesday's game), the Braves have none. The Cardinals have consistently strong pitching, and Kawakami, like many Japanese pitchers, has that battler mentality, but the Braves just continue to play ugly baseball, and that will lose you games every single time. This is too steep a price for me to pay for Garcia, who isn't really established, but unless the Braves start cleaning up their act, it's a definite pass.
Mariners (-115) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; R. Rowland-Smith vs. G. Meche;
Chone Figgins is 9-for-27 off Meche;
Jose Lopez is 6-for-17 with 3 RBI off Meche;
Ichiro is 9-for-14 with a HR and 4 RBI off Meche since '05;
Billy Butler is 4-for-8 off Smith;
David DeJesus is 3-for-9 with 4 RBI off Smith.
Gil Meche shouldn't be close to a Pick against any Major League pitcher right now. His ERA of 11.37 is actually pretty accurate, since he's not getting anyone out, and his career 5.77 ERA against the Mariners means he hasn't really "dealt" against them, either. Rowland-Smith hasn't been great so far this year, but he hasn't been awful, either, and I think people still have no idea who this guy is. Lean to Mariners.
Indians @ Angels (-175) with a total of 9; J. Westbrook vs. E. Santana;
Mark Grudzielanek is 4-for-9 with an RBI off Santana;
Andy Marte is 3-for-5 with a HR and 2 RBI off Santana;
Hideki Matsui is 3-for-5 off Westbrook.
Jake Westbrook has had surprising success against the Halos in his career, firing a 3.11 ERA against them (though bad teams have led to a 3-5 record). Santana hates Cleveland, going 0-6, 6.03 ERA lifetime against the Indians. The current crop hasn't seen a ton of him, but this is a heck of a value on a guy that has never...I repeat...never pitched well against Cleveland.
Twins @ Tigers (-115) with a total of 8.5; S. Baker vs. M. Scherzer;
Miguel Cabrera is 7-for-21 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Baker;
Johnny Damon is 3-for-8 off Baker;
Magglio Ordonez is 19-for-42 with 2 HR and 7 RBI off Baker since '05;
Ramon Santiago is 6-for-17 with 2 RBI off Baker.
Max Scherzer is extremely hit-or-miss, and he throws a ton of pitches, but when he's on, his stuff is as devastating as almost anyone in the Bigs. Scott Baker is the classic Twins starter, throwing strikes, hoping the defense comes through, and needing at least 2-3 line drives hit AT people to have a great game, and maybe 1-2 for a good one. I think the Tigers take care of business here, as Detroit can hit Baker.
Yankees (-215) @ Orioles with a total of 8.5; C. Sabathia vs. J. Guthrie;
Curtis Granderson is 4-for-11 with a HR and 2 RBI off Guthrie;
Derek Jeter is batting .306 off Guthrie since '05, but no real power numbers to speak of;
Nick Swisher is 9-for-19 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Guthrie;
Adam Jones is 4-for-9 off Sabathia;
Nolan Reimold is 4-for-8 off Sabathia;
Ty Wigginton is 7-for-19 with a HR off Sabathia since '05.
C.C. is a career 9-1, 2.55 ERA pitcher against the Orioles, so while Guthrie has actually been notably "okay" against the Yanks in his career, I can't bring myself to fade C.C. anywhere other than Oakland. The Yankees are the better team, with the better starter, the better offense and better pen. This is a monster price to lay with a road favorite, but Baltimore isn't a live dog. Pass.
Red Sox (-160) @ Blue Jays with a total of 9; J. Lester vs. B. Cecil;
J.D. Drew is 2-for-2 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Cecil - yikes;
Mike Lowell is 2-for-5 with a HR off Cecil;
Jason Varitek is 2-for-2 off Cecil, also with 2 HR;
Jose Molina is 5-for-11 off Lester.
Jon Lester has owned the Jays, but he's started 2010 very slowly. Cecil has an ERA of 12.00 against the Sox, and his one start this year was, well, alright, I guess. This is a steep price to pay for a struggling starter on an underachieving team, but if indeed the bats come out for Boston, as they have been over the last week or so, this might be our first candidate for a RL. If they win, Boston would seemingly win by a handful.
Athletics @ Rays (-165) with a total of 8.5; D. Braden vs. J. Shields;
Ryan Sweeney is 3-for-10 off Shields;
Gabe Kapler is 3-for-7 with 2 RBI off Braden;
Ben Zobrist is 4-for-6 off Braden.
Braden has pitched well against Tampa, and Shields has pitched well against the A's. I suppose if Shields continues to give up "a couple" runs just about every time out, the A's would actually be a live dog, here. I'm not saying it would be an easy one, but if Braden continues to pitch as well as he has been, and if the A's pen continues to pitch to their current level of mild success, this one could be decided late, and that means we've got a 50/50 shot. At this price, that's a deal. The Under is also a possibility.
White Sox @ Rangers (-120) with a total of 9; J. Peavy vs. R. Harden;
Matt Treanor is 3-for-8 with 3 RBI off Peavy;
Josh Hamilton is 2-for-4 off Peavy.
Not much exposure in this one, so we're working off trends. Rich Harden continues to throw way too many pitches to get through 4 innings, and should probably be an overpaid setup man at this point, or maybe a closer. Peavy seems to continue to fight to get back to health (or maybe there's a psychological issue), so you have to think Texas will get at least a couple runs. This low spread, to me, seems to say that folks don't really know who's going to pitch well. I'm inclined to go with the hotter team, and that was, arguably the Sox. I don't want to back Peavy, so add those factors up, and you get to a Pass.