Not much to say about that Paid Play last night - the Magic just hit too many 3-pointers for our Under to come in strong. I still think the tempo was perfect, but Orlando just hit too many shots, and once those guys start playing the game, there's nothing we can do about it.
The Free Play was complete and utter pandemonium in the Golden State, but when all was said and done, the Warriors managed to sneak one out with some help from the Suns flailing at the free throw line.
From a betting standpoint, it's pretty clear from yesterday's results that those road favorites of 3-8 points that almost never cover in January, when the grind of the NBA season is insufferable, are rattling off easy wins these days. They just have the motivational edge, and unless there's a truly obvious reason to avoid these road teams (like Oklahoma City on Sunday, when they had a look-ahead spot in Indiana, or the Suns last night, since we know they're very weak on the back-to-back), they seem like pretty safe bets. We'll take advantage of those moving forward.
Bobcats @ Wizards - Charlotte by 5.5 with a total of 184. This is another of those spots where you want so badly to take the home team, where every ounce of your being wants to grab the points, but I just don't know if the time of the season dictates such a move. The Bobcats are coming off back-to-back losses in Atlanta (in OT), and then in Miami in their 4th game in 5 nights. Now, Charlotte has had 2 comfortable days off, on the road, to rest up, see the lovely sights of, presumably, Miami (since I doubt these guys really wanted to spend extra time in Washington). They know they need this game, since the Bulls haven't quite given up yet, and the Raptors and Heat are right there, fighting with Charlotte for a playoff spot, and then the honor of not having to play Cleveland or Orlando in the first round. Looking at this one from a situational angle, the Bobcats have no reason to struggle. The Wizards, on the other hand, are in a first game home off a tough West coast road trip that they finished with a solid comeback effort against the Lakers, but they had simply fallen too far behind to catch up. I hate to say it, but I lean Bobcats, since the team with the bad situational spot is actually the Wizards here. On the total, both teams have been playing low-scoring games, and the line reflects that. I would have loved to lean Under, but I fear most of the value is gone with such a low line.
Nuggets @ Knicks - Denver by 6.5 with a total of 217. Let's make no mistake, the Nuggets haven't looked terribly impressive in their 6 quarters. They played an awful 2nd half against the Hornets, and played a horrid full game against the Bucks. But, here they are, with a chance to get fat against a team that doesn't play any defense. Still, this doesn't strike me as a good situational spot for Denver. Obviously, I'd prefer if they weren't coming off a SU loss to the Bucks at home, since they'll probably be a little pissed, but at the same time, the Nuggets have a game with the Celtics coming up tomorrow, so this is indeed a potential look-ahead spot. In fact, the rest of this road trip is Boston, Toronto, Orlando and Dallas, a true test for the Nuggets, and it seems like they might wake up on this trip, but unlikely that it happens in the opener. On the Knicks side, New York has been relatively competitive of late, losing a very tough game with Houston on Sunday and missing the cover by a bucket, but they have been doing a decent job of keeping games close until the final few minutes. The question is, can they keep it within 6.5. This is a pretty low line considering the two teams, and it almost looks like a fair line. Just another reason that playing road favorites at this time of year isn't nearly as nuts as it was 2 months ago. But that look-ahead basically tells me not to play Denver. This one is Knicks or nothing. On the total, that number is colossal when you consider the shooting slump the Nuggets have been dealing with - I have to lean Under.
Pacers @ Pistons - Detroit by 3.5 with a total of 205. This is a fun one to cap since it's basically a rematch of a game played less than a week ago. These are always a LITTLE easier to predict, though again, this late in the season, the variables seem a bit more screwball. The Pacers won that home game 106-102, surprisingly close considering they were up 62-41 at halftime, and the Pistons came storming back. This game is a point of pride for the Pistons, I would think, considering the Pacers have actually knocked them off 3 times this year. I hate to say it, but at first glance, it looks like one team just has the other by the throat, though admittedly the Pistons have played the best basketball most recently, if that makes any sense. That is, they got outplayed for the first 10 quarters of this season series, but played better than Indiana the most recent 2, and I just wonder if any of that momentum could carry over into this one. The Pistons got killed in Cleveland since that loss to Indiana, while the Pacers beat the hell out of the Thunder, a very impressive win. But the Pacers just haven't been competitive on the road this year, at least not consistently. Still, Indiana has covered 5 straight games, and 8 of 9, so it's tough to fade them right now. When push comes to shove, though, I think Detroit plays with just enough pride to get past Indiana, and the short line is JUST short enough. Detroit wins this game by 5 is my opinion, and I have a very small lean to the Pistons. The total just keeps getting adjusted, but the Pacers shot 54% in the last meeting with Detroit, and I don't think we see a repeat performance there, so I lean just slightly to the Under.
Clippers @ Mavericks - Dallas by 10 with a total of 205. This is actually the spread with the Mavs on a back-to-back; that's how ugly things have gotten for the Clippers. This game, to me, is like that "Would You Rather..." silly conversation starter that people use in bars? Would you rather bet on the Mavericks, a team that got popped at home by the Celtics, then just got creamed by the pathetic Hornets last night, and has a truly special 8-27 ATS record at home and 0-8 ATS record as a favorite of 10-12 points? Or, would you rather bet on the Clippers (shudders), a team that has clearly thrown in their team towel, soggy with despair, a team that has covered just 2 of 10 games, has lost 9 of 10, and has lost by double digits in 7 of those 9 losses? Hah. That's like asking someone if they'd rather have a paint ball fired up their nose or clean an adult movie theater. Neither team is in a particularly good or bad situational spot, so that gives us no help, and neither team is on revenge or cares a great deal about this game. The immediate thought is that the Mavs are going to bounce back, but they just don't win big at home, so that doesn't help us either. PASS on the side, with authority. On the total, that looks too high to me. The Clippers offense doesn't really inspire confidence, though Dallas just gave up 115 to the Hornets last night. This total might be pretty accurate, but gun to my head lean is to the Under by maybe a bucket.