I'd say we're just about back into the normal flow of the season after a couple post-All Star days of going ultra light. Of course, just in time for the tiny TNT Thursday card. At least, for our sake, the teams involved should be hugely entertaining.
NBA has been going well, winning 5 straight NBA cards to keep pushing that unit total up, slowly but surely, and I'd love to take some momentum into a nice Friday card, so let's hop to breaking down the TRADE DEADLINE slate.
Sports Wagering: NBA
Miami Heat (-1) @ Chicago Bulls with a total of 192;
The Chicago Bulls have, time and again, showed how strong they can be at home, but this opening number scares the bejesus out of me. How Chicago could close the first half of the season as a 2-point favorite to the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the best record in the NBA, and, with back-to-back adjustment, open as a 1-point dog and quickly move to a 2-point dog is, well, a little intriguing. It's not an overwhelmingly strong line for the Heat, but I do think it says something that the Bulls are a home underdog. It could, I suppose, have something to do with the return of Joakim Noah, though you'd normally expect that to move the line in Chicago's favor, as opposed to getting adjusted for the normal "disruption" that occurs when an important cog comes back. However you shake it out, Miami lost its previous meeting with the Bulls, here in Chicago, in a game LeBron sat out, so you have to think they'll bring their A game, and you also have to think Chicago plays a better game than they did last night in Toronto. How does that all play out? My assessment is that the Heat's revenge factor probably gets them just a tiny bit of value, but probably not enough to warrant a play, or at least not a full size play. I also think oddsmakers have done a nice job with the total, since a slightly defensive game should put these teams right around that listed mark. Thus, very, very small leans to the HEAT and the OVER.
Boston Celtics (-3) @ Denver Nuggets with a total of 204;
As good as Denver looked in their first game out of the Break, I wouldn't be surprised to see them look that bad, tonight. Denver is going to be introducing a handful of former Knicks, that, independently, are solid basketball players, but in trying to learn a new system, might run into some difficulties. Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari each figure to play some minutes, with Mosgov logging significantly fewer, but trying to get all the pieces in the right spots can be a royal pain, especially against a lockdown defensive club like Boston. And to Boston's credit, they lost 3 of 4 in a mini-slump, but have come right back with wins over the Heat, Nets and Warriors, each decisive in its own right, and the final win (over GS) snapping a skid at Oracle Arena. Boston has had a day off, so the altitude shouldn't be a huge issue, and you can tell they would like to bring home the best record in the East. The only problem, from where I stand, is that Denver is the team on revenge - but really, I believe we can partially toss that angle out the window since the two team leaders on Denver (Melo and Billups) aren't around to rally the troops. The Injured Star Theory COULD carry over for a few games for Denver, but if any opponent can take the shine off, it's the ultra-physical Celtics. Lean to BOSTON and the UNDER.