To those of you who took one look at the title and thought, "This Bebe jerk is just trying to get some random hits from people looking for weather updates"....kudos.
A man's gotta make a living!
But jerk or not, SOME of these games may get canceled (word has it Toronto hasn't been able to get out of Indiana), so do consider waiting just a bit before locking in any 9-team parlays.
As far as the blog goes, I really liked the positive responses Friday's blog got, so I'm going to try to model these bigger card blogs after that one - basically, more succinct, and relying a little more on the community to fill in any holes I might miss while typing up my notes or ask questions that get us all thinking about the games.
Sports Wagering: NBA
Toronto Raptors @ Atlanta Hawks (-11) with a total of 200;
With the way Toronto is playing, I'm not sure how you really make an argument to back them. They haven't won a game since January 9, they're finishing up a 3-game road trip (losing SU and ATS in both games thus far), and they have, at last, a winnable game at home after this one (and a revenge game), with Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Hawks are the epitome of inconsistent - they've alternated wins and losses the last 6 games (both SU and ATS), and it seems as if the team can't quite put together a full game. Of course, the hiccup here is that Atlanta has beaten Toronto twice already this year, both times in Canada. Does double revenge make taking Toronto with 11 reasonable? I suppose, tiny lean to RAPTORS, but they're nearly impossible to bet right now. I also would consider the UNDER.
Indiana Pacers (-6.5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 204;
Is triple in-season revenge enough to get Cleveland a win? Doubt it, but it might be just enough to get a cover. Indiana has won by 14, 11 and 9 against the Cavs so far this season, though those meetings occurred before mid-December. Most people know the travesty that Cleveland has become since Anderson Varejao went down, and Mo Williams being shelved doesn't help much, either. That being said, the Cavs have been finding ways to cover a few of the ridiculously large spreads they're seeing on the road. And one thing I can't help but note is that this is Cleveland's shortest spread since January 5, a home loss to Toronto as a 2.5-point favorite. Are oddsmakers trying to tell us this one is going to be closer? I don't think we should read too much into it. Indiana is riding the short high of a Jim O'Brien firing, so most other angles can probably get tossed out the window. To me, the situational notes balance out to about even. I'd give a tiny nod to the CAVS because of revenge, but you'd probably have to pay me to wager on this one. Tiny lean to the UNDER, too.
Philadelphia 76ers (-1) @ New Jersey Nets with a total of 192;
I'm upset. As I sat and watched each of these teams play earlier this week, I thought to myself, "now those are some teams I think we can find opportunities to back." Of course, NBA schedule-makers were laughing, knowing full well that only a fool would back two teams against each other (assuming I can't set up a middle). Jersey is playing excellent basketball at home, Philly is playing pretty darn good ball at home and on the road (though to a slightly lesser extent away from their building), and now we're asked to choose between them? Uncool. In terms of which team is hotter, it's probably a toss-up. I would absolutely say that Jersey's 5-1 home record since mid-January is just as solid as Philadelphia's 4-1 record overall, and 6-1 ATS run. The only separation, for me, comes from Jersey's double revenge, and Philadelphia's fairly home-heavy schedule this month. The last time these teams met, Jersey outrebounded Philadelphia 63-45, but just could not make a shot - this time, I think JERSEY gets it done by a short number and the game squirts OVER the total.
Dallas Mavericks @ New York Knicks (-2) with a total 207;
These two dynamic teams haven't yet faced off this season, so no real strong revenge angles to play, especially since the teams split their meetings last year with the road team winning each. I suppose you could argue that Dallas's upcoming facebook with Boston on Friday is a slight look-ahead, but the Knicks are a big-name team, and I don't suspect a Western Conference team is going to be that concerned with one East team over another. So, without any revenge, without any particularly intriguing scheduling notes, and without much in the way of situational angles, we have only "hotness" to consider, and unfortunately for us, both teams are warm. This line is probably pretty close to right, but if someone were to force my hand, I'd lean just a tiny bit to the KNICKS and NO LEAN on the side.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Detroit Pistons (-3.5) with a total of 186;
This seems like a significant spread, considering Charlotte is playing its best basketball of the year, and Detroit still can't stop anyone. Still, situationally, Charlotte has the arrow pointing down. This is the final game of Charlotte's 6-game road trip, and it hasn't been an easy voyage, either. Sacramento, Phoenix, Golden State, LA, Utah, and now Detroit, all in 9 days, and Miami coming to Charlotte on Friday. Each team has won a home meeting so far this year between Detroit and Charlotte, so no real revenge notes, and each home team dominated the first half before slipping just a tad down the stretch and clinging to a win. Interestingly, Charlotte has shot the ball extremely well in both games, but committed 22 and 23 turnovers to Detroit's 12 and 13. I believe we see both FG% and TO's regress, Detroit takes advantage of a fatigued Bobcats team, and if we can get this line to come down a tad, I'd look at the PISTONS and the UNDER.
New Orleans Hornets @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-6) with a total of 193.5;
This game is heavily dependent on what we see from N'awlins on Tuesday night. I admit, I am scared for the Hornets, since I believe that interior defense goes right down the drain without Okafor, and if New Orleans can't keep Westbrook and Durant from getting to the rim, then they simply have no business keeping pace with the Thunder. That being said, every game in this series has been decided by 6 points or less -- the Thunder won by 6 in November, by 5 in December, and the Hornets won by 2 in January. Something tells me this is the one game where the final score creeps just outside that range, and the THUNDER win by 7-8 (so a very small lean), and the OVER.
Memphis Grizzlies (-2) @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of 209.5;
This is going to be one of those classic "sharp side-square side" arguments, and I want no part of it. Memphis is playing very well, winning 3 straight, and 6 of 7 (including 3 of 4 on the road). Minnesota beat Toronto over the weekend, but that's not much of an accomplishment these days. Memphis hosts Cleveland on Friday, so definitely no look-ahead there, and Minnesota heads to Toronto for a rematch, so not much there either. Memphis won the only meeting this year, but that was in late October, and I'm not even sure either team remembers it. This game is 100% devoid of angles, and I want no part of it. PASS on the side, big time, and total lean to the UNDER.
Portland Trailblazers @ Denver Nuggets (-7) with a total of 203.5;
Two HUGE competing angles highlight a game that I desperately want to bet, but know I shouldn't. Denver comes home off an extended road trip that started out well and ended by circling the drain. As our friend Jeff from Indy has now verified, teams coming home off a long road trip are a very poor ATS play. Of course, Portland flies into altitude off a late home game with the Spurs on Tuesday, another awful spot. So, we have the era-defining battle between sluggish and fatigued! The season series doesn't tell us much, either - Portland won at home, and Denver did likewise. Denver has been pretty solid against Portland over the last couple seasons, winning (and covering) the last 5 meetings at the Pepsi Center. And without any other imbalances in our capping, that's enough to tip the scales: lean to the NUGS and the UNDER.
Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz (-3) with a total of 205;
I have to believe this line is being set as if Deron Williams will not play, and I'm not sure the oddsmakers might be making a mistake. It was reported that Williams participated in the Jazz shootaround before their game with Charlotte on Monday and reported improvement, but decided to play it safe. That makes me think he might very well return for this one, and if so, this line is going to jump to 5 or 6. Of course, it's possible that Williams was getting significant treatment, and we don't know how that shootaround actually went. Just daydreaming a bit. In terms of the two teams, Houston is heading into altitude off a game with the Lakers, generally a bad spot, while Utah has had a day off to adjust to altitude air. The absence of Williams continues to make me a tad nervous, and Houston is on revenge from a home loss suffered to the Jazz on January 8. I just wonder how much the Rockets will have in the tank. I can't go against the altitude angle - lean to UTAH and the UNDER.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Phoenix Suns with a total of N/A;
Andrew Bogut is hurt again, and with him goes a great deal of the Bucks ability to succeed in a slow-down game. Bogut leads the NBA in blocks, is a tremendous rebounder, and scores at a near-50% clip. Yes, Brandon Jennings is working his way back towards his normal minute count, and Carlos Delfino is playing, but without an interior presence, the Suns pair of 7-footers (Lopez, Gortat) might very well be able to continue their recent strong play. In addition, Phoenix has won AT LEAST the last 10 straight meetings at home (possibly more, I just only have data for 10 years). Let's wait and see where this line comes out, but if Phoenix is looking at a number near 4-5, that might very well be a nice place to look. The Bucks play in Golden State tomorrow, as well, and then fly home to host the Pistons, so in terms of travel, life isn't going to be very easy for Milwaukee. Slight lean to SUNS (line depending), and the OVER.
Chicago Bulls (-2) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 192.5;
Chicago heads to LA to play the suddenly-relevant Clippers, and this game seems like a something's gotta give spot. The Bulls have won 5 straight games (all at home). The Clippers have won 9 straight home games, and head out on an eleven-game road trip after this showdown. The problem? Chicago is on revenge. The Clippers shot 51% and beat the Bulls in Chicago, outrebounding the home team by 9 in the process, and I find it hard to believe that Chicago has forgotten that game. Hell, if I can remember it, I'm betting they can. The Clippers are undoubtedly enjoying winning at home, but this might finally be that game that the opponent is awake enough to keep Randy Foye from toasting them, and strong enough to keep Blake Griffin from going nuts. Carlos Boozer, Kurt Thomas and Taj Gibson are all solid rebounders, and while Griffin will get his, he is going to need to carry his team against a tough defensive club, and I'm not sure he's quite ready to do it alone...not when there's a bullseye on his back. CHICAGO ends the Clippers streak by keeping the game slow (yes, an UNDER lean).