Recap: It took some moxie from the Blazers, but a man-size 18-1 run to end the game secured a Blazers victory, and a 7-point cover for our first play of the NBA season, and first win. 1-0. 100%? Haha, I kid. So many, many games to go, but it's nice to start up!
Today: First, listen to the SEASON PREVIEW PODCAST HERE:
Next, get the DAN BEBE NBA 2010-2011 SEASON PASS HERE:
If that one doesn't fit, get my NBA Wednesday Follow-Up Slamma-Jamma 2-pack:
Finally, read the blog!
Sports Wagering: NBA
Detroit Pistons @ New Jersey Nets (-4) with a total of 191;
We're only about 10 words into the blog, and already I disagree with a line the oddsmakers set on this game. The New Jersey Nets were an offseason hype machine, getting involved in trade talks for Carmelo Anthony, Russian billionaire owners, an actual trade for Troy Murphy, and a high draft pick. But what, really, changed about this team? Not a great deal. Courtney Lee is gone, which I don't think changes much, they flipped Douglas-Roberts and ended up with Morrow, and when push comes to shove, this team is largely unchanged from the club that won 12 games last year. Detroit, meanwhile, had themselves a pretty darn ugly year, and an offseason that makes the latest Wayans Brothers production seem like an exciting whirlwind ride. But then, how much did Detroit really need to do to get a little better? I'd argue, very little, besides get healthy. Yes, they already lost Jonas Jerebko to injury, so the bug bites again, but Stuckey has proclaimed himself ready to be a leader, Rip is healthy, Ben Gordon is healthy, Tayshaun is healthy (for now), and Austin Daye is emerging as the fantasy sleeper of the preseason. I happen to believe the veterans on this team should be enough to get them a few more wins if, again, they don't lose half the team for the season. New Jersey isn't better than Detroit, and this line, in my opinion, is too heavily weighted on the Nets offseason "moves." -- Leans to DETROIT and the UNDER.
Boston Celtics (-5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of 186;
The feelings on this game weigh very heavily on the results of Boston's home opener against the Miami Heat. Let's wait and see how that one goes, since a win over Miami would do an awful lot to keep this line good and juicy for a tired, older team, going against the team with the worst publicity of the entire offseason....(time elapses, game occurs)...Boston came away with the win, and the emotional letdown is upon us. I know there's the overwhelming feeling that Cleveland can't keep up with anyone, but believe me when I say that oddsmakers aren't giving this team any credit. If this line is low, it's because of money. Just look at the season win total, at 30 games, half of last year's number. Cleveland is very poorly regarded by the public since LeBron left, and I wonder if people have forgotten that Cleveland bought a ton of pieces to put around LeBron, and most of those guys are still there. Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Hickson, and new guys like Ramon Sessions, all playing under a very capable Byron Scott. Cavs are going to come out ready, and while I think Boston should ultimately win, a close game means we cover. Lean to CLEVELAND and the UNDER.
New York Knicks @ Toronto Raptors (-2) with a total of 210;
Does anyone remember what the Raptors did when Chris Bosh was hurt last year? Let me jog everyone's memory -- they went 5-8, including 2 wins to end the regular season against a Pistons team that was without Rip Hamilton, and Stuckey was returning from passing out, and against these very Knicks, who clearly had called it a year. They also beat the Nets on the road, but who hasn't? So, let's call it 4-8, if we eliminate the very last game of the year. They did, however, sweep 4 games from the Knicks last season, so this is a matchup that had worked in Toronto's favor. So, we're left at a cross-roads. Toronto lost its best player, while the Knicks acquired Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton while unloading David Lee. Toronto signed Amir Johnson, which means almost nothing, and right now Reggie Evans is the starting power forward. So these offseason moves warrant the extremely cheap line? I think that, in almost any other game, they do. The Knicks are going to be better than Toronto this year, and oddsmakers know that, but this number reflects the desire of the remaining Raptors to try to win a few games, certainly moreso at home. The Knicks, meanwhile, had some significant turnover, and it might very well take them a few games to get acclimated. The season series sweep last year throws a wrinkle into things, but the Knicks that got beat aren't the Knicks playing this game, at least from a star power standpoint. This is a strong number, and I respect that, since I believe oddsmakers would err on the side of the Knicks if they were less confident. Leans to TORONTO and the UNDER.
Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers with a total of N/A;
We'll get these lines around 8am pacific time, or so, and we'll once again settle into the NBA season's nuances. I was looking at this game as a potential fade spot for Miami off the high-intensity opener in Boston, but given the way the Heat needed 2 quarters just to realize that "hey, if we let LeBron do stuff, we can score," I have to believe they come at Philly, one of the League's worst home teams last year, with a purpose. LeBron did lose the first 2 games last year with the Cavs, but that was a home-to-road. This road-and-road double-header is not going to be particularly fatiguing, and I actually don't think the game in Boston was that emotionally draining for a team that spent most of the game trying to find a rhythm. It's a learning process, but the 2 point line adjustment for a back-to-back might be just enough to get this one into coverable territory. Still, if I must...tiny lean to PHILADELPHIA, and likely to the UNDER.
Atlanta Hawks @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total of N/A;
I'm not 100% certain why this line is off to start the season, though I suppose it could be the injury situation involving Marc Gasol, who apparently might give it a go. This is an intriguing game, because the Hawks are a team I had pegged as taking a small step back this year, but they're also a team (like the Grizz, too) that should have some preexisting chemistry, and understand what it takes to win a basketball game. Given the public's feelings towards teams that make the Playoffs, I have to think that the value will be with the home Grizzlies, who look to try to make a stride off last season's strong, um, final two-thirds? I don't know if Memphis gets much better this offseason, barring significant growth by the guys already there, but we know for a fact Atlanta won't get much better. I think Memphis has a nice shot to open the season with a win, and given that I believe this line is close to a pick when it opens, Lean to MEMPHIS and the OVER, when it pops up.
Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves (-3.5) with a total of 199.5;
So wait, let me get this straight: the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were already the second worst team in the NBA last year, got rid of their best player, and are a neutral court favorite to the Kings (by a half point, but still)? I know that Mike and I talked at length about Sacramento taking a small step back, or perhaps holding steady this year, and they have long been a team that is far, far better at home than on the road, but the wealth of talent, some of which is actually marginally developed, should instantly make them an intriguing play against a team of misfits like the Wolves. Minnesota brought in Luke Ridnour to try to run the offense, and he'll do a decent job, but for goodness sakes, they're starting Darko Milicic! And if this was the middle of the season, I'd dig for another half hour to try to find out why this line is somewhat strong on the Minnesota side, but right now, I'm pretty content with the idea that oddsmakers think these teams are evenly matched, and gave Minnesota a tiny extra bump because it's the season opener. And they might be right to do so. This is a game where both teams are going to do their best to lose it, so we'll see who actually makes a few plays down the stretch. We have a lot to learn about these teams, so tread lightly early on - leans to SACRAMENTO and the UNDER.
Milwaukee Bucks @ New Orleans Hornets (-3) with a total of 191;
Call me crazy, but I actually think the Bucks are a little overhyped. They made a monster jump last year, winning games with stout defense, clever fast-breaking, and decent execution in the half court, and then nearly advanced past the more talented Hawks without star center Andrew Bogut. And now, they're suddenly the trendy pick to get even better. They signed Drew Gooden and picked up Corey Maggette, which should, in theory, make them deeper and stronger. But something feels odd. My initial thought is that the difference this year is that Milwaukee is more the hunted than the hunter, at least with more than half of the Eastern Conference, and teams aren't really going to be caught off guard by them. Can John Salmons really duplicate what he brought to them? Can Brandon Jennings find a way to shoot better than 35%? Is Bogut healthy? There are more questions with Milwaukee than most would be willing to see. On the New Orleans side, they still have Chris Paul. They might not by midseason, but they do now, and by picking up Trevor Ariza and Jerryd Bayless, and with Okafor and West healthy in the middle, they should be more than able to compete with anyone in the League. And that's the beauty of Chris Paul - there is no player in the NBA better at keeping a game close. He knows when to take over, and sort of quietly will hit an open 3 when his team falls behind by 7, or make a key steal to start a 6-point run. It's remarkable, and I want all of you guys to watch for that aspect of his game, this year. And for that reason, among others (New Orleans being a tough place to play), I think the Hornets are underrated, and the Bucks a little overrated. Both teams will be decent, but the Hornets will win a close one, which this could be. Leans to NEW ORLEANS and the UNDER.
Chicago Bulls @ Oklahoma City Thunder (-6.5) with a total of 194;
If there's another team out there that's getting all kinds of hype - warranted though it may be - it's the Thunder. And for that reason, I want absolutely, positively, nothing to do with this game. The Thunder have a ton of expectations heaped on them, with Durant anointed as the second coming, and everyone looking for them to turn the corner and go deep into the Playoffs. Those types of expectations lead to inflated lines, but at the same time, the Thunder can play some insane home games, and there's no one on the Bulls that can stop Kevin Durant. Derrick Rose doesn't play much defense, either, which means Russell Westbrook should put up some decent offensive numbers. Though, Rose can make Westbrook work on the other end, so that should be a fun battle. When Chicago gets Carlos Boozer back, that will be a nice bump, but for now, I'd leave this game alone. Let's sit tight, watch how each team looks out of the gate, and get a feel for what type of basketball the Bulls are going to play under a new coach, and how the Thunder deal with some chalky lines this year. PASS on the side, slight lean to OVER.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Dallas Mavericks (-7) with a total of 187;
Dallas made a name for itself last year by being the true road warriors of the NBA, and the early parts of the season were no exception. Dallas lost their season opener, at home, to the Washington Wizards, a team that went on to be among the worst in the League. Then, a couple days later, Dallas swept a back-to-back at Staples Center, beating the Lakers and Clippers decisively. Will they make the same mistake twice? Can Dallas follow the Rangers and make the state of Texas proud, or will they go Romo, and disappoint? Over the course of the season, I think Dallas will be fine, and the team that won all those road games is basically all back. They added Tyson Chandler, a weak-boned shot-blocker who can basically do what Dampier did, but quicker, and the slowing of Jason Kidd should be mitigated somewhat by the evolution of JJ Barea and Roddy Beaubois. Why should Dallas be any different, is my question? Charlotte should be a hair worse, still unable to win on the road, and still decent at home, but with a weaker front-court, and that will hurt their team defense. I do think the extra playing time for Tyrus Thomas is going to be a good thing, but Dallas won't lay another egg in game one - they'll win this game, and this line is pretty close to where it should be. Slight lean to CHARLOTTE and UNDER.
Indiana Pacers @ San Antonio Spurs (-9) with a total of 200.5;
Let us not forget two key words...Slow Start. Yet again in 2009-10, the Spurs got out to a slow start, working the old limbs back into NBA season warmth, and after starting the year 4-6, sure enough, they slowly turned it around. First, it was a .500 stretch, then it was a slightly better run, then that rodeo road trip came around, and the Spurs kicked ass. Same old story for this team that can always create problems in the postseason, if/when they get there. And all we keep hearing is that Popovich is going to continue cutting minutes of his top guys, really trying to preserve health throughout the year. So, we have a Spurs team that is focused more on eking by with their health than on crushing opponents. On the other side, a Pacers team that needs Darren Collison to figure out the offense quickly, cut down on turnovers, and they'll be solid. Can they take it to San Antonio on the road in the opener? I will say, I loved how Indiana finished last year, actually focusing on playing some defense, so all those points they were able to score at home actually translated into some wins. The road is a tougher spot, but this line is just huge, and I can't believe how high it really is. Again, middle of the season, I tip my hat to the oddsmakers a little on a line like this one, and assume that the Spurs are more motivated than I realize, but given how slowly San Antonio has started almost every year since the first time Duncan got hurt in a game, I have to think this one stays closer than 9. Lean to the PACERS and OVER.
Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets (-3.5) with a total of 205;
This is a great Northwest division rivalry game to kick off the season for each club. The Nuggets, who still have Carmelo Anthony, for now, but also have injury issues coming out of the preseason. The Nuggets have 2 guys coming off the bench that can each fire up 5-10 terrible shots in a quarter in J.R. Smith and Al Harrington, and this team definitely has some questions to answer off a disappointing effort in the Playoffs last year. And that brings us to point number two - playoff revenge. The Jazz took the Nuggets out of the Playoffs last year, and blame it on Adrian Dantley if you want; blame it on immaturity, I don't care. Fact is, the Jazz were just so much more professional in the Playoffs than the Nuggets. While the Nugs were whining and screaming about tough defense, the Jazz just kept scoring, over and over, and Deron Williams had an unreal series before getting blasted in the next round by the Lakers. I'm very curious how the public reacts to this game, since this line is pretty darn low on what is still a loaded Denver team. Are the public so soured on Carmelo Anthony that they have no faith left in Denver? I suppose it's possible, but as it stands, despite Utah's workmanlike ability to execute Jerry Sloan's offense, and despite Deron Williams' leadership, I think Denver responds well to George Karl, and they've got a bad taste to wash out. Lean to DENVER and the UNDER, but only because that total is so darn high.
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors with a total of N/A;
This game, like the next one, features a relatively young team (aside from Yao's busted ass) playing a back-to-back to open the season. Guess what, Houston did it last year, too! They lost in Portland to open the 2009 season, then went to Golden State and beat the Warriors, like they always seem to do. The reasons are pretty simple. Houston has, for the last couple years, been a slightly bigger, slightly stronger, far better coached version of the Warriors. They have a quick guard to handle the ball, and a shooting guard that does mostly that. They had solid outside shooting and a quick tempo. The difference has long been that Houston can just push Golden State around under the hoop. I'm very, very interested, this year, in seeing if David Lee can help squeeze that gap, grab some of those tough boards, and give the Warriors close to the same number of shot attempts as the Rockets, or if it's going to be the same old story. Either way, I'll be watching, since Stephen Curry is the most incredible ball-handler in the NBA. World's tiniest lean to WARRIORS, if the line is right, and the OVER.
Portland Trailblazers (-3) @ Los Angeles Clippers with a total of 193.5;
Okay, this game brings us to that idea that a team off a home opener, playing a back-to-back, might be in a tough spot, and in general, I'd agree, but there's also something to say about a team that has had a game to shake off the jitters. The Blazers head south to play a much-improved Clippers team, but these second day back-to-backs aren't always that bad for the team that has already played. Of course, Marcus Camby was sucking wind by the 3rd quarter of that game with Phoenix, and playing the Clippers off running, running, and running some more to keep up with Steve Nash can take its toll on a team. I feel like, to some degree, the benefits to being "warmed up" are probably counterbalanced by the fatigue from playing 2 in 2. So, in that respect, the 2-point line move is probably unwarranted, or too much, and might even create a hair of value on the Blazers. PASS on the side, UNDER on the total.