Photo by Cameron Browne of NBA.com
I almost feel like we need someone playing bagpipes when we talk of Greg Oden's career. Portland's big man crumpled into a heap of pain and agony last night early in the first quarter, and he would not return. A broken patella will likely sideline Oden for the rest of the '09-'10 campaign, and while Portland did manage to squeak out a 1-point victory, the Blazers just continue to be decimated by long-term injuries. If Andre Miller is indeed on some sort of trading block, Portland might just be looking to get healthy bodies in return, or some sort of pain meds.
In better news, we've managed to nail 8 of our last 9 official NBA wagers, a monster step for an NBA season that did not get off on the right foot.
- Knicks by 5 at home with a total of 201. This is a great value play on the Nets, just taking a peek at the line, but that's why we do a full handicap every day; a peek is not enough. That being said, you just have to love the value with the Nets, who just won their first game, but there's almost zero chance the public is going to think this team can win ANOTHER. The gut reaction from most folks is to think that New Jersey will lose 15-20 more before their next win, but momentum (and pressure) rarely work that way. This New Jersey team is actually decent -- they have an All-Star point guard, a future All-Star center, and as I've said before, some pieces that complement the two stars quite well. There isn't much I can write to enamor folks with the Nets, but given the way these teams have played, I think this is a nice spot to get some points with the team that is no longer towing an anchor. What's more, the Knicks are coming home off a big road win over the Hawks. This team is almost equally bad at both home and road venues, so we can't think much of them playing at home, and it doesn't hurt that New York is hosting Portland the following night. Lean to the Nets, and the world's tiniest total lean to the Under.
- Bucks getting 7 points on their home court with a total of 195. This write-up may serve to confuse, but trust me, there's a point, a method to my madness. The Cleveland Cavaliers are 14-5 this season, including a solid 11-2 run since early November. They have covered each of their last 3 games, as well, each as a pretty big favorite. The Cavs have scored over 100 in all 3 of those games, and they have held their opponents to 95, 90 and 87 points, chronologically. So why oh why am I going to tell you I'm leaning to the Bucks? Well, because Milwaukee is a robust 7-2 at home, with BOTH home losses by just 2 points (to Orlando and to Dallas). I just love how well the Bucks shoot the ball on their court, and I think we might see them lose by 2 points again, but that would still be an easy 5-point cover. I also think with Milwaukee's devolving defense (in some part due to injury), this game has a nice shot of going Over the total. People still seem to think Unders when the Cavs are involved, but they have been scoring easy buckets lately, and Lebron looks happy to be doing so.
- Detroit by 3 at home with a total of 189. This might be an interesting game, believe it or not. Both teams have been significantly hurt by injuries this year, but both are slowly getting healthy, and both are slowly developing a little chemistry. The Pistons might very well get another piece of the puzzle back soon, in Rip Hamilton. Rip or no Rip, though, this team is actually fairly tough to play in Detroit. They've won their last 2 home games, one over the Hawks and one over the Bucks, and despite all the injuries and the complete lack of firepower, the Pistons are 5-4 in their building. A lot of that has to do with Ben Wallace, who, as I mentioned in the fantasy notes a week back, collects about 4 extra rebounds per game at home, and almost a steal and a block more per game, as well. Curious who the 4 home losses are against? Going backwards from this moment, the Clippers (with no Rip, Villanueva, Tayshaun or Ben Gordon), Cleveland, Dallas, and in the second game of the year, the Thunder. So really, when this team has even SOME of the pieces healthy, they're a bit of a load at home. The Wizards are all over the place, losing their last one at home to Toronto. There is a revenge issue, though, as Detroit beat Washington in Washington 106-103 back in mid-November. That angle does concern me slightly. Both teams have plenty of rest days after this one, so there's no look-ahead. I lean SLIGHTLY to the Pistons, no lean on the total.
- A pick, total of 205. I have to say, I am REALLY curious which side the public takes on this one. Should really give us a strong indicator of how the public feels about these two teams. My guess is that we'll see the general folk backing Dwyane Wade coming off that heartbreaking loss in Los Angeles. That being said, I usually like to fade a team coming off a ridiculous loss in a game that for all intents and purposes, the Heat should have won. If Sacramento wasn't playing the second half of a back-to-back off tonight's 8-point loss in Phoenix (a game they covered), I'd jump on the Kings in a heartbeat, since I still don't feel Miami has turned the corner. The Heat are playing a bit better on this road trip, taking a game in Portland before getting blown out in Denver, but that loss to the Lakers is the type of defeat that can lead to a very poor performance in the next game. There's just something psychologically when you put every ounce you've got on the line like the Heat did in LA and still come up short, it's tough to get back up for the next game. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the Kings have covered 5 straight, and have won 4 consecutive home games and 7 of 8. More to come on this one tomorrow, in terms of the side, though you can see the lean to the Kings. The total seems awfully high, and it may be inflated because of some high-scoring games from both teams, but I expect the Kings to be a step slow, and I expect the Heat to try to win with defense. Slight lean to the Under.
- Lakers by 9.5 with a total of 223. This game is a rematch of a game in Los Angeles that occurred on November 12, a game the Lakers won by 21 points. The public is going to look at that game, and go apeshit for LA, or at least that's the impression I get. I see this one going a bit differently. As I noted in the write-up above, I like fading teams coming off devastating losses, but I also like to fade teams coming off miracle wins. There is, in my opinion, something of a false notion that a team can really build momentum from a 3-point bank-shot at the buzzer, but I feel the emotional letdown that comes in the early stages of the following game outweighs whatever so-called "good feelings" a team might garner from the 25-foot fling to win a game. In this case, perhaps even moreso, since we're talking about the Lakers, who should have beat Miami by a handful to begin with, if they had played an even half-decent game. We may be able to catch the Lakers at inflated lines here, as they covered 5 of 6 large favorite lines, and now suddenly the lines are getting even larger despite the Lakers failing to cover in two straight. The Suns bounced back from some tough road losses to beat the surging Kings tonight, and I think we'll see a nice effort from the Suns tomorrow. I don't think they get blown out like last time. Slight lean to Phoenix, slight lean to the Under, since I don't see the Lakers playing that great of a game.
- With Greg Oden going down for the season, the Vanilla Gorilla is in line to pick up the bulk of the minutes at center, yet again. He should be a pretty consistent source of rebounds and blocks, and considering the great majority of his shots will likely be dunks and layups, one would figure a very high FG% might get in the mix, as well.
- Was not able to post yesterday due to time constraints, but Duhon double-doubled for the first time in about a decade. This might be a nice time to grab him and hope for the best, then try to spin a trade if he stays hot for a week or two. If you recall, last year Duhon was an assist monster the first half of the year, then hit a wall. Here's hoping he finds that form, even if it's only for a month.