November came to a close with a win. Rajon Rondo (the title is a music joke) carved the Cavaliers to pieces in Cleveland's LeBron look-ahead game, and brought us a nice cover and 2-unit victory. Let's just keep rumbling along into the year's final frame, putting both the colossal win streak and epic losing skid in the rear view - both, amazingly, came in November!
This week it's time to point our earphones towards the NFL Weekly MegaCast
, the biggest podcast in the history of Pregame. Are you missing out?
Pro Features: Things were rolling when the profile focused on the Weekly Package, so we'll go back to that. Last week was all bad luck. It's cheap, it's relatively short term commitment, it's the 7-day package!
And, of course, the daily package -- Wednesday's monster NBA card means it's time for, yep, you guessed it...the mighty TWO-for-ONE!
Now, read the damn blog...
Sports Wagering: NBA
Memphis Grizzlies @ Atlanta Hawks with a total of N/A;
I'm not 100% positive why this particular line is off, since I don't really believe the domestic issues surrounding Hamed Haddadi and his lady are keeping this one off the board. The best info I can find is that Joe Johnson is day-to-day, so kudos to the oddsmakers for being giant vaginas with this one. In any event, I think we can fairly well predict how this game is going to go based on how Memphis handles the Lakers on Tuesday night. That's the huge home game, and this is the potential letdown road game. Memphis has been playing awfully bad away from home, as evidenced by their ugly loss in Cleveland over the weekend. Will playing a better team wake them up, or will Atlanta keep rolling, looking very strong since a players-only meeting held a little less than a week ago. Without a line, and without Joe Johnson, the Hawks change a bit, but Al Horford would become a bigger focal point, and Jamal Crawford can certainly step in and score 25 in a pinch. I feel like, to some degree, the Hawks are just like the Grizzlies, but better at almost every position. Lean to ATLANTA and the UNDER.
Washington Wizards @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
At least with this one, we can put the blame on John Wall's legs. The youngster has run into some early-season, and early-career injury issues, though so far, none seem all that serious. The nagging problems, though, definitely cut into his explosiveness, and Washington has been forced to shut him down for a few games here and there to make sure that when he plays, he's right. In the meantime, Gilbert Arenas has actually done a decent job running the team, and some young big men (Blatche, McGee) look like nice pieces, if they can get healthy, too. And that's really the issue here. Both of these teams have some bruises, but with Wall and McGee out, that certainly sets Washington back a bit more than Toronto's loss of Reggie Evans. Prior to a weak performance against the Hawks, the Raptors had actually started to look borderline functional, and though rebounding is going to require a team-wide bump in effort, Toronto is probably the better team right now, and we'll take a peek when this line comes out. The lack of Wall might push the spread up to 5, though, and that might be too much. Microscopic lean to TORONTO if the spread is low, and to the OVER.
Oklahoma City Thunder (-5) @ New Jersey Nets with a total of 197.5;
Starting with a pure energy breakdown, you have to think the Thunder should have the slight edge. The Nets are coming off a game last night in New York against an up-tempo opponent, so they're not, presumably, going to be returning off a slower game where they can keep the legs a little fresher. Of course, the Nets have actually been playing decent basketball of late, and covered in all 4 of their back-to-back spots in the month of November, even if barely in a few of them. But saying "barely" actually proves a point that Jersey doesn't necessarily need the 2-point bump from playing in a fatigue spot. It is interesting to note, though, that all 4 of those previous ATS wins came on the road, and only 1 of the 4 was a SU win. Would this line really be at 3 if Jersey hadn't played the previous night? On Oklahoma City's side, they're coming off a dominant defensive final quarter against the Hornets, and this game starts a stretch of 5 road games out of 6 total. It isn't really a look-ahead or letdown spot, in my opinion, so I don't see any strong indicators that we should stay away from either side. This one, ultimately, comes down to whether you think Jersey will tire out or the 2 points are a bonus line value. I lean just slightly to the NETS until they show otherwise, and the UNDER, if the Thunder are truly starting to consider defense.
Detroit Pistons @ Miami Heat (-11) with a total of 192;
It's not necessarily a look-ahead spot for the Heat, but it sure seems like one for LeBron. The King returns to Cleveland tomorrow night on TNT, and as a warm-up, gets to pick on Detroit's complete lack of interior defense. Will he be focused and angry, or will he float around on the perimeter and pop 15 jump shots with his head in the clouds? Detroit in the midst of a brutal 3-game stretch that sees them play Orlando on Tuesday, Miami tonight, and then Orlando again on Friday. Going 1-2 in that stretch has to be Detroit's goal. Thus, my advice would be to watch how Detroit's game with Orlando goes on Tuesday night. If they get pummeled, I might consider backing them here in some sort of bounceback spot. If they just look lethargic and disinterested, I would be fearful that Detroit would care any more in this one. On Miami's side, they are coming off a strong defensive game against the hapless Wizards, and I can't quite decide if I think that is going to be a jumping off point for them, or if beating up on a weak team is giving them a false sense of satisfaction. How will the players-only meeting's effect dwindle over time. WAIT AND SEE on the side, and consider the UNDER.
Portland Trailblazers @ Boston Celtics with a total of N/A;
This just isn't right. We know exactly who is and is not hurt on both teams, so just put out a damn line! Ah, the frustration is starting to build, and we're only in early December. Another line-less breakdown...the Blazers and Celtics are both playing on back-to-back days, and, to me, that's about all you need to know for this game. Portland is coming off a game in Jersey, and Boston is returning home off a revenge game in Cleveland. The Blazers have been one of the League's better teams at dealing with fatigue spots over the last year and change, and Boston has been one of the League's poorer. Why overcomplicate things? Of course, the one huge drawback to taking a shot with the Blazers in a game that, I imagine, will feature a Boston line of somewhere in the 4-5 range, is that Portland has not been playing well. Still, I think they have the pride and the depth to at least keep this game close, so, without a line, I give the slight nod to the BLAZERS, and thanks to both teams playing slower when slightly tired, the UNDER, as well.
Orlando Magic @ Chicago Bulls with a total of N/A;
Word on the street is that Carlos Boozer is actually getting closer to returning, though I doubt he makes an appearance in this one. Taj Gibson is banged up, Derrick Rose's neck is sore, Vince Carter is expected to play for the Magic, and yet again, we have no line. The Bulls come into this one feeling confident about a hugely successful 4-3 circus trip through some of the toughest cities in the Western Conference. The 3 losses came in San Antonio, in Denver, and to the Lakers in LA, while Chicago collected wins over Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Sacramento, those last two in dramatic comebacks. And, after a 7-game, 2-week road trip, Chicago comes home for the first time and has multiple days off to prepare for Orlando. To the naked eye, that might look like Chicago is in a good spot to get ready, but to me, I believe this is the perfect sluggish letdown game for the Bulls. They got what they wanted on the road trip, and the next game is back out on the road against Boston, so other than crowd noise, this home game probably feels a little like still being on the road, except with a bunch of outside responsibilities. Orlando is playing the second half of a back-to-back, so thats's something to consider, and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau certainly has a few recipes to throw at the Magic, but in a close game, I think Orlando prevails. Lean to the MAGIC and the UNDER.
Charlotte Bobcats @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of N/A;
Seven games profiled so far, and 5 have been without lines. This is annoying, and a little boring. I'll try to keep it interesting. Stephen Jackson is a maniac! There we go, there's some spice. He is likely suspended for this game following a verbal explosion at an official in the Bobcats' last game. He was ejected from that one, and really, it seemed like he had been one bad call away from losing it all season long. Is it because the Bobcats aren't very good this year? Maybe. Is it because his somewhat slow-developing offense just isn't clicking? Also a possibility. No matter how you look at it, he's out, and the line will reflect that. The Bobcats did have 3 days off prior to this game, though, so if nothing else, they should be rested. New Orleans, meanwhile, seems to be coming back to Earth a little bit. They got out to a crazy-hot start, and now have lost 4 of their last 5 games. They still have Chris Paul, which means they're not going to get blown out very often, but they do seem to be slowing a tad on offense, in particular. What I'm not sure of, though, is whether other teams are adjusting, or whether the Hornets are just going cold. That, to me, makes this game hard to bet. Based on what I expect will be a line slightly too high, I'm expecting a lean to CHARLOTTE, but it's purely a numbers thing, and also the UNDER.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Dallas Mavericks (-11) with a total of 203.5;
Don't look now, but the Dallas Mavericks have covered 2 straight home games. I suppose we could argue that one was against the overrated Heat, and the other was against a completely exhausted Houston Rockets team, but a cover is a cover, and they have 2 in a row. The Rockets' lack of depth is a story for another paragraph. This game, though, strikes me as Dallas's one potential letdown spot in a long stretch. Before today, they had played in Oklahoma, in San Antonio, at home against the Heat, at home against the division rival Rockets, and afterwards, Dallas heads up to Utah. What is the motivation to keep blowing out teams like Minnesota? Dallas is rolling, but this big of a number is too much for me to buy. Minnesota, meanwhile, just keeps hanging tough, but finding ways to lose. They lost in Oklahoma after leading for large portions of that game, then lost at home to the Spurs in bonus time. Golden State delivered a good punch to the Wolves' teeth, but this team has the rebounding ability to stay in most games. I'm not sure about defense, though, and making scoring easy for the Mavericks is a bad idea. Gun to my head, I take the WOLVES and the UNDER, but, I dunno...
Los Angeles Lakers (-6) @ Houston Rockets with a total of 208;
This is a hefty price on LA, considering they played last night in Memphis. I mean, I know Houston stinks, but they do like to play the Lakers tough, and for whatever reason, guys like Chase Budinger seem to step up in games like these. Also, when you consider that the Lakers were just 8 point home favorites to the Rockets back on opening night, and are now 6-point favorites on the road on the second half of a back-to-back, that's a 6-point power ranking adjustment. My main concern is that road games seem to be the situations that can sometimes wake up the Lakers, and they always have the ability to put the clamps on, and beat anyone by 25. Still, this line is claiming the Lakers are 11 points better than Houston on a neutral site, and I just can't let that fly. Plus, Houston has actually won 2 straight home games, so maybe there are some signs of life, there? I sure would hope so, given I lean to the ROCKETS and just barely UNDER.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Denver Nuggets with a total of N/A;
This line could be off for any number of reasons. The Bucks are likely without Andrew Bogut yet again, and Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden remain questionable. The Nuggets might be without Carmelo Anthony, who apparently got his paws on the same diarrhea soup that got Tim Duncan a couple weeks back. Delightful. In any case, J.R. Smith came alive in the Nuggets last game, so at least we know what Denver would have to do if Melo decided to disappear from the city forever. Believe it or not, I actually kind of like the Nuggets more without Carmelo, at least in the short term. He's an unbelievable talent, and he's absolutely the guy you want on your team when you need to go and get a bucket, but in the normal half-court offense, he's a ball-stopper. I haven't seen much passing from Melo, and, I might argue, a little less lane-driving, too. His assist numbers don't bear that out, but his 2 fewer free throw attempts per game certainly do. I think his absence for a couple nights might actually force the Nuggets to use some penetration and ball-movement (that sounded bad) to get shots, and might help them when he returns. The Bucks are reeling right now, but Denver has a way of letting teams hang around. If this line is huge, stay away. If it seems low, I might still look at the public home team. Eency, weency lean to DENVER and the UNDER, since let's face it, Milwaukee can't score right now.
Indiana Pacers @ Utah Jazz (-8) with a total of 194;
This game falls into that category of plays where the visiting team has to travel late into the night, landing in altitude, and then try to get up and play the Jazz the next day. And Utah knows it. I might argue the Jazz, because of their unrelenting nature, probably do a better job than the Nuggets at exploiting the fatigue of the opposition. Denver used to be that team, since they could run you out of the building, but the Nuggets just run isolation plays now. Utah, meanwhile, has added a big man in Al Jefferson, and Paul Millsap as a stocky, undersized power forward is a scary body for tired teams to contend with, too. Indiana's recent success has come because of their increased effort on the defensive end. With tired legs, you're not going to outshoot the Jazz. Indiana's only hope of winning or covering this game is to try to turn it into a slugfest, with each team trading body blows, since, at least in that type of contest, 8 points becomes tougher to get. I just don't think Indiana is going to have the energy to do it. Utah is putting up monster offensive numbers and defending, winning their last 6 straight games by an average of almost 13 points. Utah is very, very good right now, and I wouldn't step in front of that freight train. I like the JAZZ and I barely like the OVER.
San Antonio Spurs (-7) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 204;
Wow, this line is high as hell. I mean, I know the Clippers are terrible, but the Spurs are on the second half of a back-to-back that started in Golden State, and this line is suggesting the Spurs are 12-point neutral court favorites here. San Antonio is a great basketball team that has completely owned the Clippers this decade, but we can find value in numbers, and this one looks screwy to me. Looking at the previous two meetings this year, we find that the Spurs were 8-point favorites here in LA in the first, and 13-point favorites at home in the second. However, the Clippers were the team playing in back-to-back spots in those two games, and the Spurs were rested for both. Thus, the Spurs were ranked as a 9-point neutral court favorite in the first game, and an 8-point neutral court favorite in the second. And now, all of a sudden, they're a 12-point neutral court favorite? Neither team has really changed much since the last meeting - the Spurs are still winning, the Clippers are still getting production from Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon and no one else. Chris Kaman is due back soon, but not yet, so what changed? Regardless, if the books are going to give us 3-4 points of line value just from doing some simple arithmetic, I lean CLIPPERS and the OVER.