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NBA Previews: Dwight Howard's Return, Griffin on Parquet (3/9/11)


I realize this space of the blog is often reserved for content to get everyone excited about another day of NBA, but today, it's for a tiny oddsmaker-directed rant.
Why can't you post more than 3 out of 11 lines the day before??

Come on, man!

Thus, today's blog is going to be heavy on the theory and rather light on actual line analysis - I'm not one to pass the buck, but today, blame it on the bookie...or was that blame it on the boogie?

Sports Wagering: NBA

Chicago Bulls @ Charlotte Bobcats with a total of N/A;
After Chicago tackled some serious competitors on a recent road trip, they averted a letdown spot with a win (but ATS loss) at home against the Hornets. Now, back on the road just for a game, the Bulls take aim at a Bobcats team that holds a 2-1 season series edge over Chicago. Of course, this could be considered kicking a team when they're down. The Bobcats have lost 5 straight, a few in extremely ugly fashion, and though Ty Thomas and Captain Jack are both due to return for this game, I'm still not sure that the Bobcats can compete with anyone on the offensive end. Keeping this one simple - until Charlotte shows any level of competence, I can't back them. Very small public lean to BULLS and the UNDER.

Utah Jazz @ Toronto Raptors with a total of N/A;
Toronto got a nice little 3 day layoff after playing back-to-back games in London (the second of which went to 3-OT), and the status of some key players on both teams remains in limbo. Kirilenko and Millsap are both banged up for the Jazz, and the Raptors, who are supposed to get Reggie Evans back (to do some rebounding) had Andrea Bargnani come down with the flu on the flight home from Her Majesty's arena. Who is going to play, and does it matter? Utah is a mess, Toronto is a mess, and since the scheduling angles don't help, and these teams haven't played since early November, we have almost nothing to work with. Someone has to win, I guess. PASS on the side, and theoretically, we should have some value on an UNDER, but let's see on the line.

Golden State Warriors @ New Jersey Nets with a total of N/A;
The Nets are the other half of that London-layoff set mentioned above, and just like the Raptors, they are dealing with some personnel confusion. Deron Williams has left the team to be with his wife as they expect a child, so the Nets are going to have to rely on Jordan Farmar to run the show. He's not terrible, but he's also not Deron Williams, who could have pushed around the likes of Stephen Curry. This is a relatively bad spot for Jersey off the crazy travel and long layoff, but it's an even worse spot for the Warriors as they play the final game of a 7-game East Coast swing. Yes, the Warriors have actually played well in this type of bad spot before, so my desire to fade them isn't as strong as it might have been otherwise, but I think we'll get a favorable line without Deron, and I think the Nets should be able to control the glass. Lean to JERSEY and the UNDER.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Philadelphia 76ers (-1) with a total of 208;
This line surprises the hell out of me. The Sixers are playing a back-to-back and still laying points to the Thunder. This is either the gift of the century on Oklahoma City, or the screwball line of the year on the Sixers, and either way, I'm not sure I want anything to do with it. I've spent the better part of 15 minutes trying to find a reason why the Thunder are considered neutral court equals with the Sixers, and I'm struggling to do so. Oklahoma plays Detroit next, so it's not a look-ahead, they've won 3 of 4 in the month of March, and both superstars are playing. I guess we can wait and see how Philly's game in Indiana turns out, but I'm inclined to let this fishy one slip by. Lean to PHILLY because of the line only, and slightly to the OVER.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Boston Celtics (-10) with a total of 193;
The Clippers are a perfect 3-0 in March, and while I think that zero will likely become a one at the end of this game, I'm not so sure that the Clips won't stay competitive for 44 minutes. The question is, when Boston finally decides to turn up the heat, will they go up by 12 or by 8, and will LA make that one bucket in 4-5 tries that we'll need to cover. I think I'd be willing to take that chance with the underdog. The Clippers were 8-point home underdogs to the Celtics in LA and Boston took that game by 7. I think the Clippers are getting some confidence back even without Eric Gordon healthy, and with Griffin doing the rebounding and the Celtics not nearly as formidable inside as they were 2 weeks ago, LA could get a few 2nd chance points and that might be enough. Chris Kaman is getting closer to full strength, Mo Williams is more of a threat from the outside than Baron Davis, and the decent play of Eric Bledsoe and Randy Foye is helping make up for Gordon's loss. And something still isn't quite right with Boston's defense. If the Celtics keep having to run D-Leaguers out there for the second unit, I think they'll struggle to pull away. Lean to the CLIPS and the OVER.

Dallas Mavericks @ New Orleans Hornets with a total of N/A;
I'd be surprised if Chris Paul returned this quickly from a mild concussion, but that's most likely why we're without a line, here. Tyson Chandler is slated to come back for Dallas, so that helps the already insanely-deep Mavs up front, and outside of that, we have a Dallas team that got a win up in Minny (but a failed ATS effort) to start a new winning streak, and a Hornets team that was just starting to show some signs of life before Paul went down. We also have two rivals that haven't played since a home-and-home back in November, and we have Dallas hosting the Knicks and Lakers after this game. And finally, we have Mardi Gras in New Orleans and a Hornets team coming home from a 5-game road trip (because of said party) - you have to think the home team might be a little anxious to snag a few beads in their day off. Small lean to DALLAS if the number is decent, and the UNDER.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Milwaukee Bucks with a total of N/A;
Isn't this the game we've all been waiting for? Can't win versus can't score. Hooray. The season series is tied at 1 game apiece, so no real strong revenge angles. Neither club is good enough to worry about a look-ahead to some sort of rivalry, so nothing there either. And both teams are playing the second half of a back-to-back, so that doesn't help us pick a side, either. You know what? Screw it. When a game just isn't interesting, we can't manufacture angles. PASS on the side, OVER lean on the total from both teams playing tired.

Indiana Pacers @ Minnesota Timberwolves with a total of N/A;
Kevin Love's knee is a genuine concern, and though a missed game for the rebounding menace might not be a bad idea for his health, I can't see the Wolves making up for his skills. Fact is, they don't have the guys on the bench that can step up and rebound like Love can, so the Injured Star Theory, to me, doesn't really apply. It's not like losing a scorer, where someone else can usually can a few shots - this is the one guy on the Wolves that consistently gets second chance opportunities and makes sure the opponents don't. Without him, the Wolves are a jump-shooting, poor-rebounding team. They're Toronto, but younger. Indiana is slumping too, so they're not exactly a tempting play, but I can't back the Wolves without their only rebounder. Tiny side lean to the PACERS, and the OVER, since this one could turn into streetball.

New York Knicks @ Memphis Grizzlies with a total of N/A;
From an entertainment perspective, I like this game quite a bit. The Knicks are retooled, showing signs of playing some defense, and looking poised to be "that team" in the Playoffs, and the Grizzlies are using their superior strength to beat teams into submission with quality offense out of the half-court. The problem is that, from a betting standpoint, we don't have a whole lot to stand on. The Knicks play in Dallas tomorrow, and the Grizzlies play in Miami in 3 days. I suppose you could argue the Grizz have a look-ahead, but the long layoff nullifies that, to some degree. In addition, these two teams play again, in New York, in about a week. I'd rather just watch this game and see how the two teams attack one another, then make a move in the rematch. This should be a damn good game, though. Miniscule lean to the GRIZZ and the OVER.

Related: Knicks Bench Steps Up [NY Mag]

Detroit Pistons @ San Antonio Spurs (-12.5) with a total of 203;
A pretty high total is the first thing I notice about this game, but then, maybe it's not so crazy. Okay, yeah, it's pretty crazy. These two teams played each other in Motown on February 8th and the posted total was 188.5. The final total? 189. You'd think oddsmakers might feel inclined to, oh, I dunno, leave it pretty close to the same, but instead we're seeing a number 15 points higher? Mind-boggling, and possibly a hand-tip. Yes, Detroit has been playing a faster tempo since the player boycott (and subsequent roster shuffle), but 15 points? Detroit happened to be a 6.5-point home underdog in that game and lost by 11, so the venue adjustment is about right if we disregard revenge...which we're not. I think there's a little bit of value on the Pistons side (even though the Spurs might want to beat up on someone after that Lakers mess), and I think the high total is telling us that the teams are going to put some points on the board. Lean to the PISTONS and the OVER.

Orlando Magic @ Sacramento Kings with a total of N/A;
And finally, we arrive at the very last game on the board, yet another contest without a line. Why? Who the heck knows. I don't believe Tyreke Evans is expected back just yet, and we know darn well that Dwight Howard served his one game suspension. Oddsmakers, time for you to take your balls and remove them from the tea-cozy. Maybe they're all tired of getting beat like bongos, courtesy of a few red-hot Pregame peeps. Anyway, angles: Orlando is playing the first game of a 5-game trip, so they may very well put a nice effort out there; Orlando lost at home to the Kings only a couple weeks back, and that loss started the Magic on their hot run that took a hit with an exhaustion-aided loss to the Bulls and a suspension-aided loss to the Blazers; Dwight Howard will likely return to the lineup with a certain level of anger; the Kings got creamed by the Rockets in their last game, and DeMarcus Cousins turned an ankle late in that contest. Supposedly the sprain wasn't that bad, and if that's really why this line is off, I think I might have a tantrum. Either way, squares get the vote here - lean to the road MAGIC and the UNDER.

Related: Fran Vazquez, the One that Got Away [Business Insider]

  • Expect all things equally.

A Former Molecular Biology Buff and Current Sports Play-by-Play Broadcaster and Fantasy Sports Guru Turning an Electron Microscope on the World of Handicapping!

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