Sports Wagering: NBA
Philadelphia 76ers @ Cleveland Cavaliers with a total of N/A;
I'll remind you all the beginning of these writeups that I'm fighting a miserable head-flu, and thanks to a nice cocktail of cold meds, antihistamines and an advil/tylenol pairing, my head's in a bit of a haze. So, with that in mind, we'll kind of "bullet-point" these writeups for the next couple days. Here, Philadelphia is on the 5th game of a long road trip, which would normally be a "down" game, but I feel like because of multiple days off between games, and coming off an ugly blowout defeat in San Antonio, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Sixers play a decent game. This is also a revenge spot for Philly, who fell to Cleveland, at home, about 10 days ago. The Cavs are coming off a loss to the Pacers, and are struggling with some injuries. Varejao's ribs, Mo's groin, Antawn's knees - you name it, it's banged up. Cleveland, to me, just doesn't have the firepower to run their up-tempo offense when guys are hurt, and I think we'll get a decent line on the Philly side. Lean to the SIXERS and the UNDER.
Toronto Raptors @ Washington Wizards with a total of N/A;
There isn't a ton to take away from this game. Neither team is in a particularly interesting scheduling spot, good or bad, and neither team has a particularly strong motivational edge over the other. There isn't really any bad blood - just sort of two pretty weak teams, one with intense star power, and the other with, um, a guy named Demar. It's not really a look-ahead, it's not really a letdown. It's just...nothing...really. PASS on the side, tiny lean to OVER.
Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers (Pk) with a total of 204;
This is a pretty strong opening line for the Pacers, though I'm not sure they have done quite enough to deserve it. I mean, I've been saying since day one that I like Indiana, and I think this team will continue to improve over the course of the year, but the Hawks are like a slightly more talented version of a similar team. They have a nice center, some solid athleticism, a good scorer, though I suppose Darren Collison is a better young PG than Mike Bibby (hah). However you slice it, this line is a Pick for a reason -- because it's going to come down to the team that makes a couple big plays. From a scheduling perspective, there isn't much to discuss - both teams are coming off wins, the Pacers on the road, and the Hawks at home, but both played against relatively weak competition. Just based on momentum, I lean to the PACERS, and NO LEAN on the total, as I just can't quite get a feel on whether the Hawks will try to run, too, or if one team will try to slow the other.
Portland Trailblazers @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total of N/A;
This game is interesting, if a bit challenging to break down. The Blazers are suddenly just a 6-5 NBA team after getting off to a tremendous start, and the health of Andre Miller, Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy is at the forefront. This team is already dealing with their 2 missing centers (Vanilla Gorilla and Oden), so 3 more injuries just starts the "same old story." The Blazers are, however, a good team, and a good road team, and with proper motivation, they should have no issue competing with a Memphis team that doesn't play much defense. The Grizzlies come home for this one off a game in Orlando last night, so they're actually the more fatigued club, and depending on how that game in Orlando goes, we might very well have a nice situational angle on our hands. This isn't a rivalry game or any sort of revenge, but Portland is in danger of going 0-3 on this short road trip, and I have to believe they'll be giving max effort. Lean to the BLAZERS and to the UNDER.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks with a total of N/A;
The Bucks have, somewhat quietly, started to get things going. They've won 4 of their last 5 games, and covered 4 of 6 after starting the year very slowly. And, let's not forget, the Bucks seem to play the Lakers pretty tough on a yearly basis. I like Milwaukee, and some of the new pieces are starting to fit together, especially on defense. Milwaukee hasn't allowed 100 points in a regulation game all season long, and in their last 3 games, they've given up an average of just a shade over 80 points. The Lakers will score more than that simply because they're the Lakers, but Lamar Odom is dealing with a foot injury, and in my opinion, he has been a huge key to the Lakers' early success. Pau Gasol is going to be playing against one of the biggest opponents he's seen this year, so we'll see how that goes, but I expect a hotly contested game, where Kobe will have at least one shot to ruin Milwaukee's night. But Brandon Jennings can run circles around Derek Fisher, Bogut is strong enough to get his, and I love Milwaukee's depth, which should counter the Lakers' better bench. Lean to MILWAUKEE and the UNDER.
Chicago Bulls @ Houston Rockets (-1.5) with a total of 207;
Houston comes home off a productive 2-1 road trip, but this is not going to be an easy game. The Rockets were only returning from a 3-game road trip, so I'm not sure it's a letdown spot, and Oklahoma City tomorrow isn't a true rival, so I don't know if it's really a look-ahead either, but Houston is pretty undersized, and I'm not sure they have the tricks to stop a loading team like Chicago. However, and I nearly put that in caps, the Bulls have a game tomorrow in San Antonio on the horizon, so we might get a nice angle for that game from the results of this one, and Houston is going right back out on the road, so this isn't a "settling in" sluggish spot for them. I actually think oddsmakers are relatively close on this one, since Houston is scoring the ball well, and Rick Adelman always has something up his sleeve. I do believe Chicago's star power will get them through, but I think it's close than people expect. The total of 207 is 100% a Houston number, since Chicago is going to win by forcing turnovers, scoring on the break, and making opponents work hard. That number screams Houston, which makes me want to pass all around, but in our once-daily gun to my head spot, I lean HOUSTON and the OVER.
New York Knicks @ Denver Nuggets (-8) with a total of 216.5;
My oh my, how the world has turned on the Knicks. Lord knows Hook and I tried to tell folks they weren't going to be that good on the season preview podcast, but a couple early-season wins fueled a pro-Knicks fire that has officially been extinguished. I have to give credit to Mike on calling Ray Felton's uselessness in the D'Antoni offense. He's not the answer. He's a mild upgrade over Chris Duhon, and while his "okay" all-around game fit nicely into Charlotte's plans for a slow-it-down, half-court game, he's not fast enough to be a D'Antoni point guard, and doesn't pass or shoot well enough to be a star. Of course, as soon as we start saying things like this in the mainstream media, that's when the value is back on them. Knicks getting nearly double digits is a solid deal, especially with Denver flying back into their altitude off a run-n-gun game with Phoenix. Lean to KNICKS and the UNDER.