Ben Burns Basketball Top Sides Picks
|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|12-21-11||Oklahoma State v. Alabama -8||Top||52-69||Win||100||13 h 4 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ALABAMA. Both these teams are off a disappointing losses. I expect the Crimson Tide to be the team which "bounces back." While this game is being labeled as a "neutral court" game, note that its being played at BJCC (Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex) Arena, which is in Birmingham, Alabama. So, the Tide will clearly have the fans behind them. As Alabama coach Anthony Grant noted: "We hope to get an excellent crowd out to support our team in Birmingham. I think it's a great opportunity for our fans that are in the Birmingham area to get a chance to see us live and in person." With this game being played at Birmingham, note that the Cowboys have just one win away from home this season. They're 0-4 SU when playing on a "neutral" court. Both teams are very capable; both play stingy defense. I feel Alabama is stronger though and believe the stats support that opinion. The Tide hit 45.2% of their shots, including 44.8% away from home. The Cowboys hit 42.1% of their shots but only 39.9% away from home. The Tide allow opposing teams to hit a mere 36.5% of their shots, 39.4% away from home. The Cowboys allow opposing teams to hit 38.7% of their shots. However, that number climbs to 41.6% on the road. While the Tide are outrebounding teams both home AND away, the Cowboys are being outrebounded by a 41.2 to 33.2 margin on the road. Despite failing to cover the spread in a few recent games, the Tide have been excellent in the favorite role the past few seasons. They're 33-9-1 SU and 25-16-1 ATS the past few seasons when laying points. On the other hand, during the same stretch, the Cowboys are a terrible 11-20-1 ATS (7-25 SU) when listed as underdogs. The Tide are 3-1 ATS in "neutral" court games, including 1-0 ATS as a neutral court favorite in the -6.5 to -9 range. Playing in front of the Birmingham faithful and looking to avenge a loss at Oklahoma City last season, I expect them to rise to the occasion with a double-digit victory. *10
|12-20-11||Western Carolina +7 v. Bradley||Top||68-67||Win||100||9 h 21 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WESTERN CAROLINA. The Catamounts have had success against the Braves. Two years ago, playing at Bradley and listed as underdogs of roughly the same size they are tonight, they won outright. Last year, they followed up that 75-67 victory by again knocking off the Braves, a 66-65 "nailbiter." Speaking of "nailbiters," these teams have both been involved in a number of "close" games recently. I often found that teams get in a "habit" of playing close games and I won't be surprised if this one also "comes down to the wire." That said, I feel this number is generously high. The Catamounts have had a bit of a layoff, for exams. Prior to that, they lost by two points vs. Kent State, covering as a +6-point underdog. Their previous game saw them lose by only five points, at Purdue. Naturally, that was an easy cover, as they were heavy underdogs. Prior to that, their previous two games (both victories) were each decided by four points. Meanwhile, the Braves are off a 5-point loss of their own. Prior to that, they won by a single point. Going back further reveals that all five of their SU victories have come by 11 or fewer points, two of them coming by just one. Overall, the average score of Bradley's games has been 66.5 to 64.3, in favor of the opposition. Likewise, Western Carolina has been outscored by a very narrow (and identical 2.2 per game) margin overall, 67.7 to 65.5. Looking more at the "close game" theme - note that these two coaches are very familiar with each other. In fact, Western Carolina's Larry Hunter, in his 32nd season as a college head coach, coached Bradley's Geno Ford for four years at Ohio University. Also, Ford served on his staff for three years as an assistant. Hunter and Ford, teacher and pupil, have faced each other twice - both meetings coming when Ford was at Kent State. Both games very close. The first was decided in overtime, an 89-84 victory for Western Carolina. Ford won the rematch - but only by two points, a 74-72 victory for Kent State the following season. (In both cases, Hunter's Catamounts covered the spread.) The Braves are not in one of their better roles. They're just 9-15 ATS the past few seasons, when laying points. That includes a 0-3 ATS mark as a home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. During the same stretch, the Catamounts have gone 17-13 ATS when getting points, including a profitable 3-1 ATS mark as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. I expect the Catamounts to improve on those stats here, as they take this game down to the wire with a solid shot at the outright upset. *10
|12-15-11||Bradley v. George Washington -6.5||Top||67-66||Loss||-110||10 h 10 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on GEORGE WASHINGTON. Bradley has the (slightly) better record. However, I believe George Washington is the better team. Playing at home, I expect the Colonials to demonstrate that this evening. Yes, the Colonials enter on a losing streak and already have five losses. However, the five teams that beat them (Syracuse, Cal, K-State, VCU and Loyola MD) have a combined record of 38-7. Of those teams, VCU (6-3) has the worse record. So, the Colonials have certainly been facing some tough competition. In fact, the Colonials are the only Atlantic 10 Conference team to have played three true road games against programs from the six power conferences this season - California (Pac-12), Kansas State (Big XII) and Syracuse (Big East). Speaking of the A-10, the Colonials have one of the A-10's better backcourts led by Senior Tony Taylor, a preseason First Team All-Atlantic 10 selection, and junior Lasan Kromah. When matched up against teams currently with five or fewer victories, the Colonials have gone a perfect 4-0. Tonight's game will mark the Braves' fourth away from home in their last five games. That's significant as Bradley has not won away from Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria, going 0-3. That includes one "true road game" and a pair of neutral site losses in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. Going back further finds the Braves are an ugly 6-19 SU their last 25 road games. The Braves are off a win vs. Northeastern, their most "impressive" victory of the season. However, as noted, that wasn't on the road. Their only "true" road game resulted in a 17-point loss and their other four victories (all at home) all came against extremely weak opposition. In addition to playing at home, I like that the Colonials haven't had as long a gap since their last game. They last played on 12/10, a "healthy" amount of time in between games. However, the Braves last played on 12/6, which is a longer break than is ideal. While the Braves are averaging only a mere 50.3 points (38.2% shooting) away from home, the Colonials are holding opponents to 56.5 points and 36.3% shooting here at home. I expect homecourt to be the difference as the Colonials bounce back from the loss at Syracuse with a much needed win and cover. *10
|12-10-11||Michigan State v. Gonzaga -3||Top||74-67||Loss||-128||12 h 6 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on GONZAGA. I successfully played against the Bulldogs when they were facing a Big-Ten opponent in their last game. That was at Illinois though and the Illini are a perfect 9-0 on the season. They're facing another big name team from the Big-Ten conference this week. Back home in the Pacific Northwest, I expect a much different result. Note that the Bulldogs crushed Notre Dame by 20 points in their last game here. The Bulldogs did lose a couple of key players from last year's team. Leading scorer and rebounder Steven Gray is gone, as is point guard Dmitri Goodson. That said, the cupboard is far from bare. Indeed, this extremely well-coached club still brings back one of the best and most experienced frontcourts in the nation, led by Robert Sacre and Elias Harris. With freshman sensation Kevin Pangos leading the charge, they've also got a number of "sharpshooting" guards. (You may have watched Pangos hit NINE 3-pointers on ESPN, in Gonzaga's win over Washington State.) Like Gonzaga, the well-coached Spartans are always tough. However, this year's team suffered several key losses (like #1 scorer Lucas, #3 scorer Summers, to name a couple) and is still quite young. While less experienced, I also believe the Spartans are less talented than last season. The Spartans are off back to back blowout wins. However, those games both came against 1-AA teams and they were both at home - they didnt have a line for those games. Prior to that, they did beat Florida State. That was a solid victory, arguably their only win against a real "quality" opponent. However, it also came at home. While they were beaten by Duke and UNC in "neutral court" games, the Spartans have only played one true road game - and that was against Eastern Michigan. Obviously, this is a MUCH tougher venue. Indeed, the Bulldogs are 120-9 here under coach Few. That includes a perfect 14-0 record when the O/U line ranged from 135 to 139.5. Note that the Spartans are an ugly 3-11 ATS in lined games the past few seasons, when off a game in which they scored 80 or more. During the same stretch, the Bulldogs were 8-4 ATS in lined games, when off a game in which they allowed 80 or more. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion this evening. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-10-11||Davidson v. Charlotte U +2.5||Top||61-84||Win||100||10 h 7 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. The Wildcats are slight favorites here. However, I look for the 49'ers to score the "upset." The Wildcats are off to a strong start, their best since the 2008-09 season. They started off 8-1 that year. However, they're off a close loss last time out and now must go on the road and face a "cross county rival." Off that close loss and with an 8-game exam break to follow, I won't be surprised if they're a little flat here. While not being asked to cover much here, it still worth noting that Davidson has been a horrible favorite in recent seasons. In fact, the Wildcats are a money-burning 12-29 ATS the last 41 times they were laying points. That includes an 0-2 SU/ATS mark, when listed as a road favorite of three or fewer points. On the other hand, the 49ers are on a 3-game winning streak and they're already 2-0 SU/ATS as underdogs this season. Getting +3 points, they won by four at Wright State. Getting +5.5 points, they won by a dozen at East Carolina. During its current three-game win streak, Charlotte has held each of its opponents under 40% shooting. Note the Charlotte's lone home loss came by a single point. While Davidson coach Bob McKillop has had plenty of success overall, he's just 7-17 against the 49ers. Also, note that Davidson has NEVER won here at Halton Arena. Charlotte is a perfect 6-0 SU in six all-time meetings here. Even 32 points from Stepen Curry wasn't enough for the Wildcats to win their last visit here. Davidson does return nearly all of its weapons from a team that beat Charlotte (at Davidson) last season. However, the 49ers also brought back four starters (their top 4 scorers) and they'll be looking for some payback for last season's defeat. While only 10-20 last season, the 49ers are better this season and they were arguably better than last season's record indicated - they had four OT losses and eight losses by six or less. Keep in mind that they beat a Top 10 team last season, while also being the only A-10 team to beat Xavier during the regular season. On a roll and playing with confidence, I expect the revenge-minded 49ers to avenge last season's loss, continuing their homecourt dominance in the series. *10 Best Bet
|12-09-11||Idaho +13 v. Oregon State||Top||74-60||Win||100||11 h 48 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on IDAHO. While the Beavers have gotten off to a great start, I believe this line will prove to be too high. Both teams have shown a tendency of playing fairly "close" games thus far. The Vandals are off a 2-point home loss vs. Washington State last time out. They're 4-4 SU on the season but a closer look reveals that ALL four of those losses came by eight or fewer points. In fact, the four losses came by an average of only 5.5 points. Note that in their last road game, the Vandals won by 20 points. Including that blowout win, they're a perfect 3-0 ATS in their lined road games. The Beavers are off back to back "blowout" wins. Those results have worked in our favor though, as they've helped to drive this line up higher. Their previous three games were all decided by 10 or less though, including a home win over Hofstra. The Vandals are 3-0 SU/ATS on Friday nights the past couple of seasons. Going back further finds them at 11-4 ATS their last 15 lined Friday games. More importantly, they're also 15-7-3 ATS the last 25 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +12.5 to +15 range. I look for them to improve on those stats tonight, as the final score proves closer than most will be expecting. *10
|12-06-11||Memphis v. Miami (Fla) -1||Top||71-54||Loss||-103||11 h 11 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. The Tigers enter tonight's game with a 2-game winning streak and boasting a national ranking. I expect that to change at the BankUnited Center tonight though. The Tigers have faced some tough opponents already, as they've faced the likes of Michigan, Tennessee and Georgetown. However, all of those were "neutral court" games and the Tigers were just 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS. This will be their first "true road game" of the season and it comes at a very difficult venue. The Hurricanes are 5-0 here at the BankUnited Center this season. Note that they were 13-4 at home in 2010-11. Going back further finds that Miami has an 86-31 record at home since joining the ACC for the 2004-05 season and the Canes are 100-44 overall in this arena. Throw in the fact that they're a perfect 27-0 the last 27 times that they hosted a non-conference opponent and this is indeed a very challenging venue. In fact, Miami's last non-conference home loss came against Ohio State, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, way back on Dec, 2, 2008. While the Tigers are potent offensively, the Hurricanes are stingy defensively, particularly here at home. While scoring more than 70 themselves, they're allowing just 60.4 points per game here, limiting opponents to 38.7% shooting. Miami's tough defense caused the O/U line to come out at 139.5 (although its likely to go up) which is worth noting as the Tigers are an ugly 7-17-1 ATS the last 25 times that they played a game with an O/U line in the 130s, including 1-4 ATS their last five road games with an O/U line in the 135 to 139.5 range. While those O/U stats may not prove relevant, if the line climbs into the 140s, it IS relevant that the Tigers are only 7-10 ATS their last 17 against teams which allow 64 or less points per game and just 3-13 ATS their past 16 lined games, after scoring 80 or more in their previous game. Off a win last time out and looking to avenge a loss from last season, I expect the Hurricanes to keep their perfect home record in tact, as well as their streak against non-conf. opponents here. *9
|12-05-11||St. Johns v. Detroit +1.5||Top||63-69||Win||100||10 h 19 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on DETROIT. The Titans are off to a slow 3-6 start and they've got a poor 1-5 ATS mark. I believe they're better than those stats suggest though. That said, with the early results factored into the line, I feel the Titans are providing us with excellent value. True, the Titans have a poor record. However, they've been far more competitive than the record indicates. They lost by five vs. a good Cleveland State team last time out. (The Vikings are 8-1 thus far.) Prior to that, they lost by only three vs. Youngstown State, another team off to a solid (5-2) start. Throw in a pair of six-point losses, one of them on a neutral court and the other at Notre Dame, and this team could easily have a much better record than it does. In fact, the Titans are both outscoring and outrebounding their opponents. One could argue that St. John's has been less impressive. The Red Storm did cover vs. Kentucky last time out - but they still lost by 22, covering by a basket. Prior to that, they lost by 14 vs. Northeastern, a game they were favored by nine points for. The "best" team that they have beaten is William and Mary and that came at home. While Detroit is outrebounding opponents by a 37.4 to 35 margin (39.2 to 31.7 at home) St. John's is being outrebounded by a 38.7 to 34.6 margin. While St John's obviously hails from the better conference, the Horizon League is no joke either. Also, keep in mind that this is a Detroit team which is 24-11 SU its last 35 home games. These teams haven't faced each other since 1998. The Titans scored an "upset" in that one, earning a narrow 66-64 win and cover. I expect history to repeat itself and the Titans, 3-0 ATS their last three against the Big East, to "get the cash" once again. *10
|12-03-11||Gonzaga v. Illinois -2.5||Top||75-82||Win||100||6 h 60 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ILLINOIS. Gonzaga checks in with an undefeated record a Top 20 national ranking. Illinois may not have the Top 20 ranking yet, however, the Illini are also undefeated. Playing on their home floor, I expect the Illini to hand the Bulldogs their first loss of the season. The Illini are almost always tough defensively and that appears to be the case again this year. Last time out, they held Maryland to a 5-for-19 performance from 3-point range, en route to limiting the Terps to just 61 points, at Maryland. For the season, the Illini are holding opponents to just 35.8% shooting, including a mere 32.6% here at home. Note that Gonzaga is a poor 52-65 ATS over the years, when matched up against a team that allows less than 64 points per game. In last year's meeting, the Illini limited the Bulldogs to just 40.7% shooting including a mere 3-of-16 (18.7%) from beyond the arc. The Illini won that one by a score of 73-61. While Gonzaga is certainly a good team, I expect another victory here, with the Illini covering the small number along the way. *10 Personal Fav
|11-30-11||Indiana v. North Carolina State +2||Top||86-75||Loss||-105||9 h 35 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NC STATE. I won with Indiana last game, so I definitely respect the Hoosiers. That said, that was a home game vs. Butler, an "instate rival." I felt that the Hoosiers were sick of playing second fiddle to the Bulldogs in their own state and that they'd make the most of the opportunity to kick Butler while it was down. They did just that, winning by 16. Off to a perfect start, each win coming by double-digits and off that win over a "rival," I won't be surprised if the Hoosiers suffer a bit of an "emotional letdown" here. That will spell trouble as the Wolfpack are perfect at home, outscoring opponents by a 79.2 to 65.2 margin here. They've hit better than 49% of their shots here thus far. The Wolfpack did lose vs. Vanderbilt but responded by beating Texas 77-74 in their next game. Having also beaten Princeton by two points, they've been involved in some close games - unlike the Hoosiers - and that "close game experience" may serve them well here. Note that they followed up the win over the Longhorns by beating Elon by double-digits, their third win by at least nine points. So, they've won some close games but, like the Hoosiers, the Wolfpack have also shown they can win in "blowout fashion." The Hoosiers have only played one road game this season. While they won that one, it came at Evansville. So, it wasn't nearly as tough a venue as this one. While this is an improved team, keep in mind that the Hoosiers have been horrible on the road in recent seasons. Its also worth noting that the Hoosiers are only 3-7 the last 10 times that they faced at team which averages better than 77 points per game. The Wolfpack are only 1-5 in ACC-Big Ten Challenges, when playing on the road. However, they're 4-1 when playing them at home. With a win also getting them a cover, I expect the Wolfpack to remain perfect when listed as the home team. *10
|11-28-11||Xavier v. Vanderbilt -3.5||Top||82-70||Loss||-110||11 h 37 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on VANDERBILT. These are both very good teams. Xavier is off to a 4-0 start while Vanderbilt has dropped a game, checking in at 5-1. Its true that the Musketeers have had plenty of success against SEC teams in the recent past. In fact, they beat Georgia in their very last game. However, the Commodores are a lot better than Georgia and this will be Xavier's first true road game of the young season. Note that the Commodores have won an impressive 38 of 41 home games against non-conference opponents, dating back to 2007. Xavier forward Andre Walker, a Vanderbilt transfer, knows his old team is tough, even without its starting center. He was quoted as saying: "They're a very tough-minded, defensive-oriented team. They like to push the ball in transition and have a very high-powered offense." Also, note that Xavier has lost its last four road games against ranked opponents. The Commodores weren't happy with their effort last time out. I look for them to come out "on a mission," defending their homecourt and covering the small number along the way. *10
|11-27-11||Butler v. Indiana -11||Top||59-75||Win||100||13 h 34 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on INDIANA. I've won with Butler many times the past few years and have ridden the Bulldogs heavily and successfully during tournament action. That said, I've also been successful at picking my spots to go against the Bulldogs. I feel this will be a good spot to do so. While the competition has admittedly been a little weak, the Hoosiers are a perfect 5-0. All five wins have come by 20+ points. Butler, on the other hand, has already lost twice. Granted, one of those losses came against Louisville, so that one's "excusable." Still, the Bulldogs didn't look good. They were a +4 point underdog and lost by 16. Their other loss came by "only" three points. However, that was against Evansville, a team which Indiana hammered by 21 points. Overall, the Bulldogs are 0-3 ATS in their lined games. In addition to Evansville, the Hoosiers and Bulldogs have already had three other common opponents. This is rare this early in the season and is able to give us some insight about the current level of each program. Both teams faced and defeated Garnder Webb. However, while Butler won by only two points, Indiana won by 24! Indiana beat Savannah State by 29 and Tennessee Chatanooga by 25. Butler beat those teams by 15 and 11 points, respectively. As great as story as the Bulldogs have been in recent seasons, keep in mind that they lost their best player, Gordon Hayward, to the NBA draft following their first NCAA Championship game appearance. Then, they lost their two best players in Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard from last year's team to graduation and the NBA draft. Butler does have some solid talent still and the well-coached Bulldogs always play hard. The Hoosiers are also playing hard though and have arguably more talent. The Hoosiers have gone through a down period in recent years but are coming out of it now. They're sick of taking a back seat to Butler in the state of Indiana and I look for them to keep on rolling with another double-digit victory. *10 Big Easy
|06-12-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat -5||Top||105-95||Loss||-105||43 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. In a much win situation, we're having to lay a relatively big number with the Heat here. That will likely cause many to back the underdog Mavs. Not me. I expect the Heat to win this one in convincing fashion.
I successfully played the Heat in Game of this series - they won that one by eight points. At the time, I had this to say: "...with this game being played at Miami, I feel that the Heat need this game more and that they'll be the team which ultimately wins it. Note that the Heat are a perfect 8-0 SU at home in the playoffs and that they've won 10 straight games on this floor. More importantly, note that ALL 10 victories came by more than five points..."
Of course, the Mavs won Game 2 here, so Miami's undefeated streak here is finished. However, my point remains that they've been terrific on this floor.
Miami coach Spoelstra had this to say: "We're going home, and we wouldn't have it any other way than the hard way. This is an opportunity for us. That's why you play a seven-game series. You've got to play it out. And this is where we feel comfortable."
Naturally, the Heat can't be happy with the fact that they gave up 112 points last time out. That was the most points that they allowed since way back in March. The last time that they allowed a team to score triple-digits against them (Charlotte scored 103 against them on 4/8) they responded with a 23-point (100-77) victory in their next game.
The last time that the Heat allowed a team to score 105 or more points against them (Washington scored 107 against them on 3/30) they responded with a 19 point (111-92) victory in their next game.
The bottom line is that I'm not ready to write the Heat off yet. Lebron had this to say: "We'll be better in Game 6..." and I expect that to be the case. *10
|06-09-11||Miami Heat +1.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||103-112||Loss||-111||10 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I had Dallas last game, getting either a win or push, depending on when one played. Playing in a "must win" game, I just didn't think the Mavs were ready to go down without a fight. However, I've also backed the Heat in each of their SU/ATS victories in this series - and I still feel that they're going to prove to be the champions. I look for them to take a big step towards achieving that goal tonight.
Nowitzki is quite an amazing player and its hard not to like him. He lays it all on the line every game and has nearly single-handedly taken his team to this point. Ok, that's not exactly fair to Kidd, Terry and co. Still, its fair to say that Dirk plays a far more pivotal role for his team than either James, Wade or Bosh does for his. If James has a poor offensive game, Wade and James are there to pick up the slack. If Wade plays poorly, James and Bosh are capable of elevating their game. Dirk doesn't have that luxury. If he doesn't have a great game, his supporting isn't necessarily as capable of carrying the load.
Case in point, James managed a mere eight points in Game 4. Yet, the Heat were still up big with 10 minutes left in the game - and they were still within one shot of forcing OT. Just think what kind of shape the Mavs would be in, if Dirk decided to score only eight.
In this case, I feel that Dirk could really use some help. Yes, Wednesday was an 'off day.' Still Nowitzki was visibly exhausted on Tuesday. Dealing with a sinus infection, lack of sleep and a fever in triple-digits didn't help matters. I expect it to catch up for him here and for Miami's "triple-headed monster" to be the difference.
Including their win in Game 3 at Dallas, the Heat are 2-0 when tied in a playoff series. Already 3-0 in Game 5's in these playoffs, the Heat are also 9-1 the last 10 times that they scored 85 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to bounce back and seize control of the series. *10
|06-07-11||Miami Heat v. Dallas Mavericks -2.5||Top||83-86||Win||100||34 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. I'm not surprised by the fact that the Mavericks are down 2-1, as I played on the Heat in each of their victories. That said, I'm also not willing to write the Mavs off. Not in their "last stand." While the Mavs won't get eliminated if they lose on Tuesday, they also know that this is truly a "must win" game. Their chances of coming back from a 3-1 deficit - and needing two win two games at Miami - are very slim. With their backs against the wall, I expect the Mavs to respond with their best effort of the series.
In addition to all the veteran leadership on the floor, the Mavs are very well-coached. That combination rarely sees them get "upset" twice in a row. Indeed, they've been excellent when coming off a SU loss, when listed as a favorite. They're 35-12 SU their last 47 in that situation, going 12-2 SU this season. They were a profitable 9-5 ATS (64%) in those games - and in this case, with such a low pointspread, a SU victory is highly likely to also result in an ATS victory.
The Mavs are still an outstanding 14-4 ATS in the playoffs. That includes a 1-0 ATS mark when trailing in a series - as they bounced back with a victory in Game 2, at Miami.
We've already seen that the Heat can get a bit "cocky," as witnessed in their Game 2 4th quarter meltdown. They'll certainly try and guard against it, but there's a chance that they could again "relax," if only slightly. Regardless of whether or not that proves to be the case, I expect them to see a different Dallas team here - one which comes out "on fire" from the opening tip.
The Mavs are still a highly profitable 25-12 ATS their last 37 games against teams with a winning record. I expect them to improve on those stats here and won't be surprised if they do so in convincing fashion. *10
|06-05-11||Miami Heat +2.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||88-86||Win||100||18 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I had the Heat when they won Game 1. I didn't play a 'side' in Game 2 but am coming back with the Heat again for Game 3.
As you know, the Mavericks are off a very impressive fourth quarter comeback in Game 2. The Heat were up 15 in the fourth and Dallas still came all the way back for the victory. How will the Heat react to that potentially "devastating" loss? Will they hang their heads and come out flat, thinking about what could have been? Or, will they respond like champions and bounce back to reclaim homecourt advantage? I believe the answer will prove to the latter.
I believe that the Heat will have learned a lesson from the Game 2 loss. They should have learned to never let down and to play at 100% the entire 48 minutes - or more, if necessary.
The Heat know how to win on the road. They're 32-16 SU on the road, including 11-4 the last 15. They've won at least one road game in each playoff series thus far, winning at Philadelphia, Boston AND at Chicago. Their last two road games saw them allow 80 and 75 points.
While Nowitzki is certainly a very talented player, in the end, I feel that Miami's "3-headed monster" will prove to be too much as the Heat bounce back and score the minor upset. *10
|05-31-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat -4.5||Top||84-92||Win||100||59 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Mavericks won here in the regular season and they may be the "sentimental" pick to take Game 1. This is a much different Miami team now though, one which has improved significantly since that 12/20 meeting.
Its debatable about which team was more "impressive" in getting here. The Mavs may have had the tougher earlier matchups but the Heat arguably faced a more difficult opponent in the conference finals. Either way, both teams have been very good and one could make a case for either - and find plenty of stats to support it.
That said, with this game being played at Miami, I feel that the Heat need this game more and that they'll be the team which ultimately wins it. Note that the Heat are a perfect 8-0 SU at home in the playoffs and that they've won 10 straight games on this floor. More importantly, note that ALL 10 victories came by more than five points.
The Heat, who held the Bulls to 80 points in the final game of that series, are 20-1 SU and 14-6-1 ATS the last 21 times that they held their previous opponent to 85 or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats on Tuesday night. *10
|05-23-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Oklahoma City Thunder -3.5||Top||112-105||Loss||-108||19 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. Through three games, this series has gone back and forth. The Mavericks won and covered in Game 1. The Thunder bounced back with an upset win in Game 2, temporarily stealing homecourt advantage. The Mavs quickly answered, delivering a convincing wire-to-wire blowout victory in Game 3.
As impressive as the Mavs looked, I still don't feel that they're "unbeatable."
While they're still a young team, they're very well-coached and the Thunder have been at their very best with their backs to the wall in these playoffs. In fact, including the win in Game 2, they're a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS when trailing in a playoff series. That brings them to 6-1 ATS in that situation, since the team came to Oklahoma City.
The Thunder are also a highly impressive 15-1 SU (10-5-1 ATS) the last 16 times that they were coming off a SU loss, when they'd been listed as a favorite. Going back further finds them at 26-8 SU and 22-11-1 ATS in that situation, the past few seasons.
Additionally, we find the Thunder at 24-14 ATS (28-10 SU) the last 38 times that they were playing with "revenge" including a 9-5 ATS mark, when attempting to avenge a home loss. Going back further finds them at an outstanding 73-47-2 ATS in the revenge role, the past few seasons.
As this is now pretty much a "must win" game - and given their success in this situation - the Thunder are currently slightly larger favorites than they were for Game 3. That's not enough to scare me off though. Note that OKC is a profitable 5-1 ATS the last six times that it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -6 range. With their backs against the wall, I expect the Thunder to again elevate their play and for them to even up the series with another solid win and cover. *10
|05-22-11||Chicago Bulls v. Miami Heat -4.5||Top||85-96||Win||100||58 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. This series has pretty much gone as I expected. I had the Bulls in Game 1 and thought they would start the series with a victory. They won by a score of 103-82. I wasn't entirely sure who I thought would win the second game. Instead, as I expected a "defensive battle," I successfully played on the "under." The teams combined for a mere 67 points in the second half and the game stayed below the total by 20+ points.
Even though I didn't play the 'side,' I watched Game 2 very closely. Before the game - and as I was watching the game - I had said to myself that the winner of Game 2 would very likely win the series. If the Bulls had gone up 2-0, I feel that they would have had a fairly strong chance at winning two of the next five games. However, with the Bulls managing only 10 points in the fourth (and 29 in the second half) and with the Heat having earned the "road split," I now feel that Miami has a solid advantage. While it remains to be seen whether or not they can actually win the series, I do expect the Heat to carry the positive momentum from Game 2 into Game 3 and look for that to lead to a solid win and cover.
Winning Game 2 was very important for the obvious reasons that it gave the Heat their first game and that it allowed them to now have homecourt advantage in the series. However, it was also extremely important from a psychological standpoint. The Bulls had beaten the Heat in every previous meeting. Now, the Heat have "exorcised those demons," much as they did in a big win over Boston, late in the regular season. Now, they know that they can beat this team - and it should help to give them in the "confidence" department.
On the other hand, the Bulls may have some doubt - will they be able to score against this team?
It should be noted that the Heat have been at their very best when coming off a dominant defensive effort. In fact, they're 18-1 SU and 12-6-1 ATS the last 19 times that they had allowed 85 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to improve on those stats with another solid win and cover on Sunday evening. *10
|05-15-11||Miami Heat v. Chicago Bulls -2||Top||82-103||Win||100||27 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Bulls aren't getting much respect here. They were the best team during the regular season and they have the league MVP. They're also playing at home. Yet, they're underdogs for the series and are barely favored for Game 1. I'm not making any series wagers/predictions quite yet. However, I do feel that we're getting excellent value on the Bulls on Sunday.
In addition to the "Lebron factor," the primary reason for such a low line is that many people perceive that the Heat have been the more "impressive" team in the playoffs so far. After all, Miami just knocked off the mighty Celtics while Chicago "only" defeated Atlanta. The Bulls didn't choose their opponent though - they earned the right to playing Atlanta, based on their #1 seed. They also closed that series with arguably their best performance of the playoffs, playing outstanding basketball on both sides of the ball.
Indeed, they went into Atlanta - which has been a tough venue for years - and defeated the Hawks by 20 points. They shot 53.2% (41 of 77) while limiting the Hawks to 36.5% (27 of 74) shooting. They also won the previous game, their most recent here at Chicago, by double-digits. In fact, they won four of the final five games in that series by double-digits. That said, contrary to popular opinion, I would argue they've been every bit as "impressive" as the Heat recently.
One of the big reasons that the Bulls had a better record than the Heat is their superior play against top tier teams. While the Heat were 25-18 SU and 21-20-1 against winning teams, the Bulls were 28-12 SU and 26-13-1 ATS against winning teams. That includes a 19-5 SU mark their last 24!
All three regular season games were close. However, the Bulls found a way to win all three of them. I believe they'll also find a way to grab Game 1, covering the small number along the way. *10
|05-13-11||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Memphis Grizzlies -1.5||Top||83-95||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. As most of you know, I won with Oklahoma City (and the 'under') in Game 5 of this series. I had a number of reasons for playing on the Thunder in that game, including the fact that they were off a momentum-building triple-OT win, which I felt would be "deflating" for the Grizzlies. Also, of course, that game was being played at Oklahoma City. Tonight's game sets up much differently though and this time, I'm backing the Grizzlies.
While a triple OT loss can be very difficult to immediately recover from, a "blowout" loss is often much easier to "bounce back" from. Rather than feeling "deflated" and thinking about "what could have been," the team which got blown out is now focused on restoring its image and proving that its much better than it just showed. Note that the Grizzlies are a profitable 9-3-1 ATS when coming off a double-digit loss.
Almost all teams play better at home. That said, homecourt typically means more to these Grizzlies than it does to most teams. With the Game 5 loss, the Grizzlies are only 18-29 on the road. However, they're a terrific 34-12 here at home, going a highly profitable 30-15-1 ATS.
The Grizzlies are also in a couple of their most profitable situations. Not only are they 31-13 ATS the last 44 times that they played with "revenge," but they're also 6-1-1 ATS the last eight times that they failed to score more than 85 points in their previous game.
Even with the triple-OT heartbreaker, the Grizzlies are 16-4 SU and 15-5 ATS their last 20 games here. They've had a great run through these playoffs and I don't think its over quite yet. *10
|05-11-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. Atlanta Hawks -6||Top||72-99||Win||100||11 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. As you're probably aware, these teams were involved in triple-overtime game last time out. I believe that game will prove to be the turning point in the series. Had the Grizzlies been able to pull that one out, they would have had an excellent shot at winning the series. However, they squandered that opportunity and knowing that can be difficult to recover from.
While the teams had yesterday off, they still figure to be physically tired. However, the Thunder have the support of the home crowd to help give them a "boost" and they're also energized by the fact that they won the last game.
As Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said of his team: "It feels much better being 2-2 and Game 5 on our home floor. It would have been a tough mountain to climb being down 3-1. Not impossible, but very tough. We're excited. Guys, there's plenty of energy in their bodies. They're going to have energy."
While the Grizzlies did manage a split in the first two games here, keep in mind that they're still only 18-28 on the road. On the other hand, the Thunder are an impressive 34-12 here at Oklahoma City.
While it was hardly a "wire-to-wire-blowout," the Thunder did end up winning Game 4 by double-digits, obviously a very "big" win. They've been able to build off those type of victories all year. In fact, they're 15-7 ATS (16-8 SU) the last 24 times that they were off a win by 10 or more points. I expect the Thunder to ride the momentum of that victory into tonight's game and look for this to be the most one-sided game of the series, to date. *10
|05-09-11||Miami Heat -1 v. Boston Celtics||Top||98-90||Win||100||9 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I won with the Celtics in Game 3, while also cashing with the 'under' in the same game. Admittedly, that was an impressive second half performance from Boston. However, the win was costly. As you probably saw, (or heard about) Rondo took a hard fall and reportedly dislocated his elbow. Somehow, as you would have also seen, he came back into Game 3 - after trainers popped his elbow back into place.
Rondo's courage/toughness, seemed to help inspire the Celtics to play even harder in Game 3. Also, Rondo is expected to play again in Game 4, at least he has anything to say about it. He was quoted as saying: "Don't ask me how I feel. I'm going to play regardless. You may see me hold my arm, but I'm not going to use it as an excuse."
As admirable as that may or may not be, emotion can generally only carry a team or player so far. The reality is, if he plays, the Celtics' pointguard will be playing with an arm that's less than 100%. He was never the best shooter to begin with - with an arm that's less than 100%, the Heat won't have to respect his shot - at least until he proves he can knock shots down from the outside.
Rondo being in the game won't ignite the same kind of passion that it did for the Celtics in the last game. Now, I expect his injury to prove to be a liability.
James and co. are well aware that the Celtics won't have their starting pointguard at 100% and I expect them to aggressively attack and try to exploit that situation.
The Heat were 5-1 this season, after scoring less than 85 points in their previous game. That includes a 1-0 mark in the playoffs. They know this is their chance to really take control of the series and I expect them to bounce back and do just that. *10
|05-08-11||Los Angeles Lakers +2 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||86-122||Loss||-110||5 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. Down 0-3 and playing on the road, most teams wouldn't think they had any kind of chance. The Lakers aren't a "normal" team though. They've got a superstar and a coach who would both love nothing more than to add to their legacy by "doing the impossible." While I won't go as far as to say the Lakers are going to come back and win the series, I do expect them to find a way to score the upset this afternoon.
In addition to being talented, unlike other teams in this situation, the champs may actually believe they can still do it. Kobe Bryant put it this way: "I might be sick in the head or crazy or thrown off or something like that, but I still think we are going to win this series..."
Kobe would eventually go on to say: "...My teammates are fine. When you think about it, it makes sense. I will explain it to them and it will make sense. Win the next game, go to L.A., and they're not going to beat us in L.A. to close it out. Than we come back here and see what happens."
The Lakers won here in March and they very nearly won here in Game 3. They'll have Artest back today which should help improve their 3-point defense. They're still 61-22 SU the last 83 times that they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting and I don't think they're ready to go home yet. *10 (Main Event.)
|05-07-11||Miami Heat v. Boston Celtics -3||Top||81-97||Win||100||21 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. I didn't play a side in Game 2 of this series. I did have the Heat in Game 1 though and am not surprised that they won both games at Miami. However, the series has now shifted to Boston and I fully expect the battle-tested Celtics to respond accordingly.
Although they didn't cover in Game 2, the Celtics have been at their best when trailing in a playoff series. Indeed, they're now 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS their last eight in that situation.
The defending Eastern Conference Champions are also typically very tough to beat when they're coming off a bad loss. Over the past few seasons, they've gone 19-9 SU and 18-10 ATS when coming off a double-digit loss.
In addition to this game now being at Boston, I like the fact that there's been a longer gap in between games. The Heat were building some momentum and this gives them a chance to 'cool off.'
While James and co. have now broken through at Miami, the Celtics have still dominated the Heat here at Boston. In fact, Boston is a perfect 10-0 the last 10 meetings here. While the Celtics went "only" 7-3 ATS in those games, the last nine wins here ALL came by a minimum of three points and they came by an average of 11.2 points. In what is essentially a "must-win" situation, I expect the Celtics to continue their homecourt dominance in the series and covering the small number along the way. *10 (Main Event)
|05-03-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. Oklahoma City Thunder -6.5||Top||102-111||Win||100||10 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. After dropping Game 1, I full expect that we'll see a different Thunder team tonight.
The Thunder never trailed in the first round but were 3-1 SU/ATS when trailing in a series in last year's playoffs. That goes hand in hand with the fact that they've been excellent at bouncing back, off an upset loss. Over the past few seasons, the Thunders have gone a terrific 21-11-1 ATS (25-8 SU) when coming off a SU loss as a favorite.
The Thunder have also excelled when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. They're a profitable 69-47-1 ATS in the 'revenge role' the past few seasons. That includes a 20-14 ATS (24-10 SU!) mark the last 34.
While the Grizzlies are just 9-15 ATS the last 24 times that they were off a double-digit win, the Thunder are 31-21 ATS the past few seasons, when coming off a double-digit loss.
While the Grizzlies have certainly been playing week. Keep in mind that they're still 18-27 on the road. On the other hand, the Thunder are still 33-12 at home. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats, covering the reasonably low number along the way. *10
|05-02-11||Atlanta Hawks v. Chicago Bulls -8.5||Top||103-95||Loss||-104||21 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. The fact people feel the Bulls "struggled" to beat Indiana has helped to keep this line lower than it could have been. I feel that it will prove to be too low.
Each series is different. The Hawks matched up well vs. the Magic and the Pacers matched up (relatively) well vs. the Bulls. The Pacers were able to compete with the Bulls in large part to the fact that they were physical. The Hawks aren't that type of team though.
Another factor which I feel will be significant is that the Hawks will be without Kirk Hinrich. The former Chicago guard got hurt right near the end of Atlanta's final game vs. Orlando. Considering that he averaged nearly 29 minutes per game in the Orlando series and that he scored at least six points in every game and double-digits in three of Atlanta's victories - his loss should be noticed.
Looking at the regular season series and we find that the Hawks did manage a 3-point win in the first meeting. That was at Atlanta though. The next meeting came here at Chicago and saw the Bulls win by a convincing 94-76 margin. The final meeting saw Chicago win by 33 points!
Including the earlier victory vs. the Hawks here, the Bulls are 8-4 ATS (10-2 ATS) the last dozen times that they were home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range.
Its also worth noting that the Bulls are 10-3 ATS the last 13 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games. On the other hand, the Hawks are only 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games.
Additionally, note that the Hawks are a dismal 2-14-1 ATS (1-16 SU) their last 17 games in the second round of the playoffs, including 0-7-1 ATS their last eight.
With a total in the high 170s, this is expected to be a fairly low-scoring game. That type of tempo suits the Bulls just fine. They're 6-1 ATS (7-0 SU) when playing a game with an O/U line in the 170s. I expect them to improve on those stats by starting this series off with a double-digit victory. *10
|05-01-11||Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat -5||Top||90-99||Win||100||27 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Celtics were arguably more impressive in closing out the Knicks, than the Heat were in closing out the 76ers. While that will likely cause a lot of bettors to back Boston, its important to keep in mind that this is an entirely different matchup and series.
Also, while Boston did sweep the Knicks, keep in mind that Miami's four victories over Philadelphia actually came by a greater margin than Boston's four victories.
After winning a pair of very close games to start the series, the Celtics were seemingly able to break the Knicks' will. It didn't help matters that New York wasn't healthy. The Celtics won't be able to break the will of the Heat though. At least, not for Game 1, at Miami.
The Celtics had a recent history of dominating the Heat. That changed in the last game though. I had a "Main Event" on the Heat for that 4/3 game and therefore thoroughly enjoyed watching them dismantle the Celtics by a 100-77 margin. With that result, any psychological advantage that the Celtics may have once enjoyed, is no longer.
While the Celtics did close out the series with NY with back to back big wins, note that they're still an awful 36-62-1 ATS, when coming off a double-digit victory, the past few seasons. That includes a horrible 7-24 ATS mark in that situation this season.
Its also worth noting that the Celtics are just 8-12 ATS the last 20 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games and 1-3 ATS the last four times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 180 to 184.5 range.
Including the blowout victory over Boston three weeks ago, the Heat are 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were favored by six or fewer points, including 4-2 ATS in that role since mid-March. I expect them to improve on those stats on Sunday afternoon, as they start things off with a convincing victory. *10
|04-29-11||San Antonio Spurs +3 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||91-99||Loss||-100||11 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. I'll be the first to admit that Wednesday's win on San Antonio was "rather fortunate." If you watched the game or saw the highlights, you'll know what I'm talking about. The Spurs were down and out and needed a game-tying 3-pointer with less than two seconds left in regulation, just to force overtime. Then, they even managed to win by seven points in OT, enough to cover (some late bettors pushed) by half a point.
Knowing that the Spurs "got a little lucky" just to survive Game 5, many bettors will likely be quick to back the Grizzlies here. Often, however, giving a good team a "second chance" with a "lucky" win is like waking up a sleeping giant.
Coach Popovich was quoted as saying: "We hung in tough. That's all about character, and I never doubt that our guys have that, for sure."
In this case, I expect the veteran Spurs to know they were fortunate and to appreciate the significance of having a second life. On the other hand, it would only be natural for the younger Grizzlies to feel a little "deflated" and for them to be thinking about the opportunity which they squandered.
While the Grizzlies are admittedly tough at home, the Spurs are highly capable on the road. They're now 26-16-1 ATS on the road this season. That includes a 9-6 ATS mark as road underdogs and an 8-1 ATS record when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 190 to 194.5 range.
In a game that could come down to the wire once again, I'll grab the points. However, I look for the "rejuventated" Spurs to step up and score the outright upset. *10
|04-27-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. San Antonio Spurs -6.5||Top||103-110||Win||100||10 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. Clearly, the Spurs have their hands full in this series. Not only are they down 3-1 in games, but they've failed to
cover the spread in all four games. That said, I successfully backed the Magic yesterday, who were also down 3-1. I said that "I wasn't counting them out" and they rewarded me with a 101-76 victory. I'm not counting out the Spurs either and I expect them to also reward me with a convincing win and cover.
As Tim Duncan noted: "We put ourselves in this position. We gotta stay alive."
True, the Spurs lost both games at Memphis. The Grizzlies have been very tough there all year long though. However, they're not nearly as good on the road. Indeed, the Grizzlies were an excellent 30-11 at home but a poor 16-25 at home.
The Spurs, on the other hand, were 36-5 at home during the regular season. While they split the first two playoff meetings here, they're still 15-2 the last 17 times that they were a host in this series.
Duncan and co. know that their time is running out and that they can't afford to squander all this year's hard work. Ginobli had this to say: "We got a lot to lose. We had an unbelievable season. We were the No. 1 seed in the league for 65, 70 games, playing unbelievable."
The Spurs are 35-14 SU the past few seasons, when off an upset loss as a favorite, including 8-3 their last 11. They're also 23-10 SU (19-13 ATS) the last 32 times that they were off a double-digit loss. That includes a 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS the mark their last nine in that situation.
Just as we saw from the Lakers and Magic last night, I expect the veteran team in a "must win" spot to respond with flying covers. Look for the Spurs to record a double-digit victory, making a statement that this series is far from over. *10
|04-26-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Los Angeles Lakers -10||Top||90-106||Win||100||12 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. Ok. The first four games have been "fun." Now, its time for the Lakers to get serious. I expect them to respond like the champions that they are and for tonight's game to result in a double-digit blowout.
While the Lakers are typically a team that the betting public loves to back, with Kobe banged-up and Chris Paul "lighting it up," many have been abandoning ship here - and siding with New Orleans. That's kept the line (relatively) reasonable, at least in my opinion.
Many bettors tend to have short and/or selective memories. Those backing New Orleans are forgetting (or choosing to ignore) that the Hornets were 18-23 on the road this season and that the Lakers were 30-11 at home.
They're also forgetting that the battle-tested Lakers have been in similar positions many times and typically thrive on them. In fact, almost exactly one year ago to the day, they were in practically an identical situation.
The date was 4/27/2010. The Lakers were tied 2-2 with the Thunder, a young and talented team. The Thunder had covered three straight games and many felt they had LA on the ropes. I stepped out with my biggest play of the first round on the Lakers though and they rewarded me with a 111-87 destruction.
As Phil Jackson noted of his players: "They certainly play better when they're in a desperate mode, there's no doubt about that. They were somber. They understand the nature of we to have to do with this ballclub."
While the Hornets are only 2-3 ATS (1-4 SU) during the same stretch, the Lakers are an outstanding 20-8-1 ATS the last 29 times that they were tied in a playoff series. That includes an 8-3 ATS (10-1 SU) mark their last 11 in that situation. I expect them to "bring their A-Game" and improve on those stats here. *10
|04-23-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Portland Trail Blazers -4||Top||82-84||Loss||-103||6 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. I've gone 10-1 the last two days. The lone loser was Portland on Thursday, although hopefully some were able to 'push' on that game. The Blazers won by five points, but that wasn't quite enough for a cover. A five point will be more than enough today though and I'm willing to give the Blazers another chance.
Many will be reluctant to play against the Mavericks. The feeling is that the Mavs are so good that they can't lose two in a row. Dallas has been a very "streaky" team all year though and it hasn't been uncommon for a loss to be followed up with another loss.
While the Mavs will surely try and "dig deep" and respond to the Game 3 loss, the Blazers have regained their confidence and I believe that they'll be even better than they were on Thursday. (They could have easily won that one by more than they did.)
After all, after two losses at Dallas and with some "grumbling" from Brandon Roy, the Blazers may not have been entirely sure how they were going to react to being down 0-2. They came through, at least from a SU perspective, as they usually do here at Portland.
Here's an excerpt from my Thursday writeup, which specifically referred to the Blazers player here at Portland: "...While the Blazers were just 18-23 on the road, (now 18-25) they were an outstanding 30-11 here in Portland. Playing at home, desperate for a victory, I expect them to elevate their game. Playing better at home is nothing new for the Blazers. They were 26-15 here in 2009 and 34-7 here in 2008. That's a 3-year record of 90-33. They're 10-1 their last 11 here. The Blazers also have a 46-18 edge at home in the regular season against the Mavericks, and they're 6-1 in playoff games here against them..."
Roy, in particular, was far better at Portland than he was at Dallas. He had 16 points, after doing nothing in the first two games. He was quoted as saying: "Last night I went out there and just played and had fun. And that's what I
|04-22-11||Boston Celtics +3.5 v. New York Knicks||Top||113-96||Win||100||8 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. The first two games have both been very close with the visiting underdog covering in each. In each case, the playoff-tested Celtics found a way to win in the end. While a change of venue can sometimes bring a change of "tempo," I don't expect it change the ultimate outcome. I feel the Celtics, who watched Miami go up 3-0 at Philadelphia last night, will be highly motivated to "take care of business" tonight and that they're more than capable of doing so, regardless of venue. That said, with the line having climbed from its opener and with the first two games having been so close, I'll gladly grab the "generous" points.
The Celtics are a solid 35-24-3 ATS (59%) as underdogs the past few seasons, including 13-7 ATS (65%) their past 20 in that situation. They've been particularly successful as small road underdogs recently, going 7-2 ATS the last nine times that they were underdogs of four or fewer points. Six of those resulted in outright victories.
The Knicks clearly have a lot of talent. However, they're still not "clicking" as a team and they're also playing at less than 100%. I expect both to play, but Billups and Stoudemire are each banged-up.
I also don't think a couple of questionable shot-taking decisions by Anthony probably sit too well and that the Knicks could be "hanging their heads" a bit, thinking about "what could have been" if they'd just managed to grab one of the first two games.
Even Anthony acknowledged the following: ..."I think it was more like a mental exhaustion, just knowing how hard we played, how close we were in both of those games for us to not win any of those games..."
The Celtics have dominated the Knicks on this floor for years and will be inspired to do so in front of the various celebrities in attendance for the first game here in years. They're 35-12 SU (27-17-3 ATS) the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games, and I feel they're providing us with plenty of value here. *10
|04-21-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Portland Trail Blazers -5.5||Top||92-97||Loss||-105||12 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. Most teams are better on their home floor than they are when playing on the road. That's particularly true of Portland. While the Blazers were just 18-23 on the road, (now 18-25) they were an outstanding 30-11 here in Portland. Playing at home, desperate for a victory, I expect them to elevate their game.
Playing better at home is nothing new for the Blazers. They were 26-15 here in 2009 and 34-7 here in 2008. That's a 3-year record of 90-33. They're 10-1 their last 11 here.
The Blazers also have a 46-18 edge at home in the regular season against the Mavericks, and they're 6-1 in playoff games here against them.
As Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged: "We know that they are a very good home team so we wanted to hold home court here and go up there with a 2-0 lead but this series is far from over. They play well at home, they make shots, and they play tough D so we've got to be prepared for a tough game on Thursday."
The Blazers are 8-4 SU/ATS the last dozen times that they had played their previous three on the road, going 25-13 their last 38 in that situation.
The Blazers are also 6-1 SU/ATS the last seven times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range. Looking back further finds them at 12-4 SU/ATS their last 16 in that situation.
One of those victories came the last time that the Blazers hosted the Mavs, a game here on 4/3. I had a big play on the Blazers in that game and they won by eight points. I'm backing them again here and expect them to win by at least that much once again. *10
|04-20-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Los Angeles Lakers -11.5||Top||78-87||Loss||-105||21 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. I didn't play the first game of this series. I felt, as most do, that the Lakers were the superior team. However, I wasn't entirely sure whether or not they'd "bring their A Game." It turned out that they didn't. Tonight, however, I expect the Hornets to have the Lakers' full attention.
Normally, the Lakers would be considerd quite a "public" team. In a situation like this, where they'd lost the first game of a series, one would expect everyone and their dog to be backing the Lakers here. However, thanks to the Lakers having struggled down the stretch, many are "wary" of them here - and that has caused the line to be pretty much the same as it was for the opener. Given that the Lakers' backs are now against the wall, I feel that's offering us excellent value.
Lets not forget that the Lakers are a playoff tested team - with arguably the game's best player and its best coach. Also, keep in mind that these are the defending champs and that they destroyed the Hornets during the regular season. The Lakers were 4-0 during the reg. season, most recently a commanding 18-point victory here on 3/27.
Even with the Game 1 victory, note the Hornets are still just 1-5 ATS their last six playoff games.
The Lakers are 2-0 SU/ATS the last two times that they were trailing in a playoff series and they'e a profitable 16-9 ATS (20-5 SU) the last 25 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|04-18-11||Indiana Pacers v. Chicago Bulls -12||Top||90-96||Loss||-104||18 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. Remembering that Indiana very nearly pulled off the upset in Game 1, many bettors will likely be tempted to grab the big points here. I feel that Game 1 will serve as a "wake up call" for the Bulls and that their big finish in that game will allow the Bulls to carry some positive momentum into tonight's contest. On the other hand, having squandered a golden opportunity, the Pacers have to be feeling rather deflated.
While the line may seem high, keep in mind that there was a major gap between these teams this season and the Bulls are also by far the "hotter" team. The Pacers have now lost three in a row. The Bulls have won 10 straight.
The Bulls are 37-5 here at Chicago, outscoring teams by more than 10 points per game here. Conversely, the Pacers are an ugly 13-29 on the road. Prior to the Game 1 loss, each of their previous three road losses came by a minimum of a dozen points.
With the O/U line having climbed a bit from the opening game, not that the Pacers are a poor 3-7-1 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 190 to 194.5 range.
The two regular season meetings here saw Chicago win by 19 points and by 21 points. I expect another convincing victory here. *10
|04-17-11||New York Knicks v. Boston Celtics -6||Top||85-87||Loss||-105||16 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. The Knicks are a talented team and they've got some players with postseason experience. However, the Celtics are arguably more talented and they've got even more postseason experience. Perhaps most importantly, they've got plenty of experience playing together, as a team. Of course, playing on their homecourt should also provide them with a significant edge. I expect that to be evident today and feel that the current line will prove to be too low.
These teams just met here on the final day of the regular season. The Celtics won that game by a score of 112-102. That result doesn't mean all that much - as the stars for both teams, or at least most of them, were given the game off. However, it does show that the Celtics second stringers are more than capable of holding their own (and then some) with the NY second stringers.
A look at this season's other three meetings reveals that the Celtics also won all three of those. The first two meetings were in the fall, prior to the Knicks big trade. However, the 3/21 meeting at New York featured the current NY lineup and the Celtics won that one by double-digits.
The Celtics aren't always that great in the favorite role. That's often because they're being asked to lay very large pointspreads though. When favored in this range, they've actually fared quite well. In fact, they're a profitable 15-9 ATS (17-7 SU) the past few seasons, when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
The Celtics may not have been great down the stretch. However, this is a team which is capable of "flipping the switch" and taking its game to another level. I expect that to be the case here as the Celtics homecourt advantage and playoff experience (as a team) proves to be too much for the Knicks to handle *10
|04-13-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Dallas Mavericks -9.5||Top||89-121||Win||100||9 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. In addition to being among the best teams, as I've pointed out several times this season, the Mavericks continue to be among the league's "streakiest" teams. Indeed, this is a team which has had several medium-sized losing streaks to go along with numerous large winning runs.
The Mavs have lost three or more games in a row four times this season and four or more on three separate occasions. Recently, they closed out March and began April on another 0-4 SU/ATS skid. However, they've since responded by winning three straight, both SU and ATS. They're certainly capable of making it four straight - and I believe they'll be motivated to do so.
Given its "streaky nature," its not all that surprising to learn that Dallas is an outstanding 26-6 SU this season when having won its previous three games. The Mavs were a highly profitable 21-10-1 ATS in those games.
While the Mavs have won three straight, two by double-digits - the Hornets have dropped two in a row, each by double-digits. A 22-point home loss at Memphis was followed by an 11-point loss vs. the Jazz, at New Orleans.
Don't expect the Mavs to show their struggling guests any sympathy. The Hornets have won each of the last two meetings and that should provide Dallas with some added motivation.
Jason Terry had this to say on the Mavs delivering some payback: "They've got our number right now from the last couple of times we played them in New Orleans. So, we're really looking forward to this game."
Perhaps more importantly, the Mavs need a win to improve and/or maintain their playoff seeding. They have a shot at catching the Lakers for second overall, although that would require LA losing vs. Sacramento, so probably isn't likely. However, they do need a victory to make sure they don't fall all the way to fourth.
Rick Carlisle was quoted as saying: "On the one hand, it's exciting, there's a possibility to move up if we keep winning and if the Lakers lose. On the other side of it, there's a lot of different possibilities. I've been in this position many times before, and very seldom does it look like you're locked into something."
A loss should ensure the Hornets the 8th seed, or at least give them a good shot at getting it. They'd never say it, but that's actually probably better for them than finishing 7th. That's because they'd face the Spurs, instead of the Lakers (or Mavs.) The Hornets were 2-2 vs. San Antonio but 0-4 vs. the Lakers. I certainly don't expect them to "tank" the game - yet, at the same time, I won't be surprised if Dallas is the team playing harder in the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks averaged 100 points per game this season, 101 at home. That's typically bad news for the somewhat offensively-challenged Hornets as they're an awful 54-83-2 ATS the last 139 times that they faced a team that averages 99 or more points per game.
While the pointspread may initially seem a little high, note that the Mavs are 5-1 ATS the last six times that they were listed as home favorites in the -9.5 to -12 range. I expect them to pad those stats with a double-digit victory here. *10
|04-10-11||Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat -6||Top||77-100||Win||100||5 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. With the #2 seed on the line, this is a huge game for both teams. However, I would argue that its bigger for the Heat. I say that as they've lost all three games against the Celtics. As much as they could use homecourt advantage against the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, they also need to beat them for psychological reasons. They really don't want to go into the playoffs thinking that they can't beat Boston.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was quoted as saying: "We think we're a different team than the last three times we've played them, but until we prove it in between the lines, it doesn't matter."
Adding even further fuel to the fire, keep in mind that Boston knocked Miami out of the playoffs last season AND that Boston knocked out Lebron James' Cavaliers. In other words, Miami badly wants to win this game - for many reasons.
Lebron was quoted as saying: "We're going against a team that we haven't beaten this year, that we kind of looked at before the season as needing to get to that point as far as chemistry, as far as what they do as a team. There is not one guy on their team that you have to pay attention to
|04-06-11||Phoenix Suns v. Minnesota Timberwolves +3.5||Top||108-98||Loss||-105||10 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. While they may not have Kevin Love, I like how this one sets up for the T-Wolves. Both teams lost close games on the road yesterday. While they're both now in a back-to-back spot, the T-Wolves had the previous two nights off, having not played since 4/2. Meanwhile, the Suns played on 4/3. That means that they're playing their third game, all on the road, in the last four days.
Neither team will be making the playoffs. The T-Wolves have known this for ages though, while the news is still relatively recent for the Suns. With Phoenix off back to back games against top tier "playoff teams" (San Antonio and Chicago) and with games vs. the Hornets and Mavericks on deck, it may be easy for them to "go through the motions" a bit against a "non-playoff team" which they have dominated.
The fact that they've been dominated by the Suns in recent years should provide the T-Wolves with some added motivation here. Playing at home, I believe this game will mean more to them than it does to the Suns. Note that the teams play again at Phoenix on 5/11. That's more likely to be the game that the Suns really care about and it means the T-Wolves better "hold serve" on their homecourt, or likely get swept in the season series, once again.
The T-Wolves covered the spread in the game at Phoenix and are now 2-0 ATS the last two in the series. I look for them to be the "hungrier" and "fresher" team here and for that to lead to at least another cover. *10
|04-05-11||Milwaukee Bucks v. Orlando Magic -8||Top||72-78||Loss||-105||9 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. Recent results have provided us with a very reasonable line on the Magic. I believe it will prove to be too low.
I like the Bucks and have won with them many times in recent weeks. In fact, I won with them when they played the Magic a few weeks ago. That was at Milwaukee though, where the Bucks are a much better team. The Bucks were getting +6.5 points for that game and given their strong play on their homecourt, I felt that was too high. That proved to be the case. Orlando won by four points, in overtime, but Milwaukee covered.
Again, that was at Milwaukee though, where the Bucks are above .500. Now, the Bucks are on the road, where they've gone a dismal 11-26. Also, while the Magic have been mediocre on the road this season, they're 27-11 at home.
The Magic have been frustrated with their play of late and they weren't pleased with their effort at Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Van Gundy ripped into his team for a loss last time out and is demanding a better effort. A big "blowout" win would go a long way in "restoring order" and I look for that to be the goal for Van Gundy and co. here.
The Bucks came up with a big overtime win to stay alive last time out. That was at home though and, realisitically, losses in two of their previous three games (all on the road) pretty much killed their chances. The players know that they're very likely out of the race. As Brandon Jennings noted: "It's still about finishing strong. That's part of being a professional."
"Finishing strong" is easier said than done when a team doesn't truly believe it has a chance though, (the Bucks play at Miami tomorrow night and the prospects of "sweeping Florida" must seem pretty unlikely) particularly against an opponent set on blowing them out.
Note that the Bucks are 3-6 ATS off an "upset" win and 5-11 ATS when playing with two day's rest in between games.
The Magic are a perfect 10-0 the last 10 times that they hosted the Bucks. The Magic were 7-3 ATS in those games with eight of the victories, including each of the last four, coming by double-digits. (Note that they were laying -11.5 points when they hosted the Bucks in January.) I expect them to continue that dominance with another double-digit win here, helping to officially "put Milwaukee out of its misery." *10
|04-03-11||Cleveland Cavaliers v. New York Knicks -11||Top||107-123||Win||100||7 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW YORK. I won with the Knicks when they beat Orlando recently. I didn't play on them in their next game, as I wasn't sure how they'd react and thought a small emotional letdown might occur. That proved to be a good thing, as the Knicks failed to cover. They did earn a SU victory though, beating New Jersey by four. Now, on their first "winning streak" in recent weeks and with plenty of "motivation" for a big win, I expect them to follow it up with a blowout victory.
I say the Knicks should have "plenty of motivation" for a couple of reasons. For starters, though they've won their last could of games, both have been "close" victories. This is a team which could really use a "blowout" win to build confidence and to officially serve notice that "this team is back."
Perhaps more importantly, the Knicks have bigtime "revenge" on their minds. It was bad enough that the Cavaliers used to beat up on them when Lebron James played in Cleveland. However, its completely "unacceptable" for the Knicks to have dropped all three meetings with the Cavs so far this season.
Two of those losses came since the Carmello Anthony trade, which prompted the former Denver star to note how important this game is. Anthony was quoted as saying: "That
|04-01-11||Atlanta Hawks v. Portland Trail Blazers -2.5||Top||91-98||Win||100||12 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. These teams have met three times this season, most recently at Oklahoma City on 3/27. The Thunder won that meeting by nine points and are 3-0 in the season series. (The first two games were decided by a combined three points.) I expect the revenge-minded Blazers to bounce back and avoid the season series sweep.
The Blazers find themselves in one of their best roles. They're a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they were listed as home favorites of -3 or fewer points.
The Blazers are fighting to try and improve their playoff positioning. They're currently tied with New Orleans for sixth place, one game ahead of Memphis.
On the other hand, although they've admittedly been playing well, the Thunder don't have much to play for, in terms of improving their playoff positioning. They're not going to catch either the Lakers or Spurs for the #1 or #2 seed - however, they're pretty much a lock to win their division - regardless of what happens tonight.
While the Thunder have been very solid on the road, the Blazers have been even better at home. They're 26-10 here this season and are now 89-35 here the past few years.
Even including the 1-point loss here back in November, the Blazers are still 6-2 the last eight times that they were a host in this series. All six victories came by a minimum of four points. Playing with "triple-revenge," I expect the Blazers to be at their best - as they cool off the Thunder and improve to 27-13 the last 40 times that they were off a SU loss when listed as a favorite. *10
|03-31-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Lakers -6||Top||82-110||Win||100||12 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. While the Spurs are still holding down the best record, these are arguably the top two teams in the West (and perhaps the league) right now. The Mavericks have admittedly been excellent on the road - however, with the schedule in their favor, I expect the red hot Lakers to have the advantage.
Among the (many) reasons that the Lakers fare so well in the playoffs is that they don't have to play back to back games and get two and sometimes three day's rest in between games. Give this well-coached and talented team the chance to prepare and to come in "fresh" and they typically dominate. Looking at the past few seasons and we find the Lakers at 19-4 SU the last 23 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games, going a profitable 15-8 (65.2%) at the betting window. Having not played since 3/27, the champs will be testing that record tonight.
While the Lakers are very well rested, the same cannot be said for the Mavs. Dallas was tested by the Clippers last night. While they'd hoped to give their stars some rest, Terry, Kidd and Nowitzki were forced to play 32:05, 29:25 and 36:58 minutes, respectively.
In addition to playing the second of back to back games, the Mavs will now be playing their fourth road game in the last six nights. Looking back further and we find that this will be their 9th game since March 15th, six of those coming on the road. Conversely, this will be the Lakers 6th game since the middle of the month, all of those coming at home.
The teams have split the two meetings this season but both of those were at Dallas. The Lakers have gone 16-4 the last 20 times that they hosted the Mavs. The most recent meeting here (January, 2010) saw the Lakers win by 35 points, as -6.5 point favorites.
The Lakers have won seven straight overall and nine straight at home. They're also 9-4 ATS the last 13 times that they were listed as favorites of eight or fewer points. They should be the "fresher" team and I expect them to improve on those stats with another win and cover. *10
|03-30-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Clippers +5.5||Top||106-100||Loss||-108||12 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. The Mavericks are clearly a very good team, one which is capable of winning at any venue. A big part of beating the NBA pointspread, at least in my opinion, is taking advantage of situations though and grabbing value where it is offered. In this case, I believe the Mavs' overall record, along with the the reputations of the two teams, has created a generous line on the home underdog Clippers. Perhaps more importantly, I also feel that the Mavs are in a very difficult scheduling spot.
As they had the last two nights off, some might wonder why I'd refer to this as a difficult scheduling spot. The reason that I'm calling it that, is that the Mavs are off a big (and hard fought) road win over Phoenix, which essentially eliminated the Suns from the playoff race. More importantly, the Mavs have a huge showdown vs. the Lakers on deck, tomorrow night. The Mavs have been talking/thinking about that game for some time and I feel it will be easy for them to look past the lowly Clippers, a team they've dominated over the years.
Note that the Mavs are 3-4 ATS as road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range, 3-5 ATS after allowing 85 or fewer points in their previous game and 3-6-1 ATS when playing with two day's rest in between games. They're also just 14-19-1 ATS against teams with a losing record.
The Clippers have dealt with a number of injuries again this season. However, they're far more healthy now. They're also well-rested and coming off a solid victory, where they closed out the game on a 20-8 run.
The Clippers played the Mavs very tough at Dallas in the most recent meeting. They were winning that 1/25 game by a score of 62-54 at halftime and eventually lost by seven, getting +6.5 points. We're getting nearly the same line to work with here, despite the game being at Staples Center. Again, that goes back to my original point about "value."
The Clippers, 5-3 SU/ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range, have won three of their last five games. Both losses came by single-digits and both were in difficult scheduling spots for them. One was off a win and playing the second of back to back games vs. the Suns - the other was vs. the red hot Lakers, a game in which they covered the spread. I'll take all the points I can get. However, with the Mavs thinking about tomorrow night, I won't be surprised if the Clippers score the outright win. *10
|03-29-11||Houston Rockets v. New Jersey Nets +7.5||Top||112-87||Loss||-110||9 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. The Rockets are likely going to be a "popular" pick here. After all, they're battling for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West, while the Nets are "playing out the string" in the East. With the Nets also expected to be without Deron Williams, many will be all too happy to lay the points with the visiting Rockets. I believe that sentiment is providing us with excellent value on the Nets though and that this line will prove to be too high.
For starters, while many tend to focus strictly on overall numbers, let's not forget that New Jersey's "home" record (16-18) is actually better than Houston's road record of 16-21. Yet, here we're getting a "touchdown" or so extra on the home team. A closer look reveals that Houston is laying more points than the Bulls or Celtics were, in their recent visits here.
Also, just because a team is out of the playoff race doesn't mean that it can't "get up" for a home game against a team which is. This it the Nets chance to play a part in the playoff race and to do some serious damage to Houston's fading playoff hopes. (The Rockets are currently in 9th, 2.5 games back of Memphis and 3.5 back of New Orleans.)
Additional motivation should be provided for the Nets by the fact that the Rockets blew them out (123-108) at Houston just one month ago. Note that Houston was only -8 for that game - not much of a difference in pointspreads - despite the fact that New Jersey is horrible on the road, yet competitive at home.
The Nets may not have the playoffs to shoot for, but they haven't quit playing hard. They've covered the spread in two of three games. Last time out was a tough scheduling situation, as they were playing the second of back to back road games and their third road game (one of which to OT) in the previous four days. While they didn't cover, the Nets didn't quit either.
Coach Avery Johnson said of his team: "They never quit. Our second half was something to behold, to come from way back on the road. The guys were battling..."
Now, the Nets return home, where they've been very competitive. In fact, they've gone 5-2 SU when listed as the home team since the beginning of March. Only one of the two losses came by more than four points - and that was by 11 vs. the Bulls, the top team in the East. True that includes the Nets' results from London, where the Nets were listed as the home team - still, the point is that they've only lost by more than four points here once since mid-February. They even beat the Celtics outright here.
Note that the Nets have had a couple of day's off to recover from the road trip. They're a respectable 5-4 ATS when playing with two day's rest in between games and a profitable 5-1 ATS after playing three straight on the road.
The Nets are 18-10 ATS against teams from the West and they've quietly gone 22-12 ATS against teams with a winning record overall. I expect them to give the Rockets all they can handle here and won't be surprised if they score the outright upset. *10
|03-28-11||Orlando Magic v. New York Knicks +1.5||Top||106-113||Win||100||10 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW YORK. These teams just met here on Wednesday. You'll probably recall that the Magic won that game by a score of 111-99. I expect tonight's rematch to have a much different result though.
Yes, the Knicks are mired in a long losing streak. Yes, they've struggled since the big trade. Yes, they've had trouble with Orlando. All that said, this is still a team which is loaded with talent - and this is still a team which will be making the playoffs.
Stars like Stoudemire and Anthony have a lot of pride and they have to be sick to their stomachs about the current skid - and the fact that Orlando is almost acting "sorry" for them.
Dwight Howard's recent comments (after Wednesday's win) were well-meaning but I won't be surprised if they help to provide some added motivation in the Knicks' locker-room, particularly for Stoudemire. The Orlando center was quoted as saying: "Right now, I understand that team is under a lot of pressure, and sometimes a guy like Amare, he wants to do as much as he can to bring the team out. I encourage him to stay patient and stick with it."
One potentially big difference between tonight's game and Wednesday's game is that Jameer Nelson might not be available for Orlando. Nelson hurt his knee on Friday and didn't come back for the second half of that game. Howard had this to say about his teammate: "Hopefully he's OK because I saw what happened and it looked kind of bad..." As of this writing, he's listed as doubtful.
Note that Nelson played a big role in Wednesday's game. He had 19 points and was 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Overall, he's averaging 18.3 points and shooting 56.8% against New York this season. Naturally, if he can't play (or can't play at 100%) it should benefit New York.
While Orlando has been winning, the Magic are still only 4-9 ATS in the month of March. It should also be noted that Orlando is more or less locked into the 4th spot, which will likely mean a home date vs. Atlanta. Given that they play at Atlanta next, they may not be entirely "hungry" tonight.
The Knicks, on the other hand, should be highly motivated to get back on track. They've got a good coach (D'Antoni) and he's isn't about to panic. He was quoted as saying: "There is a little anxiety and there is a little 'oh my gosh,'
|03-27-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Phoenix Suns +2||Top||91-83||Loss||-104||12 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. The Mavericks are a very good team - capable of beating any team on any given night. That said, the Suns need this one more. Given that fact and given that they're also playing with "double-revenge," I expect them to be the "hungrier" team. More importantly, with the schedule and venue in their favor, I expect them to come away with the victory.
While the Suns had last night off, the Mavericks were busy playing at Utah. The final score of that game (94-77) makes it appear that Dallas coasted to an easy victory - the type of game where starters might get some extra rest. However, that wasn't the case, as the game was actually close right up until the fourth quarter. The mean Nowitzki, Kidd, Marion all saw at least 30 minutes of playing time, Kidd and Marion both topping the 33-minute mark. While the Mavs aren't generally bothered too much by playing the second of back to back games, this will also be their third game in the past four.
The Mavs could also be looking ahead to Thursday's game vs. LA. As Marion commented: "If we got a statement game, it's probably when we play the Lakers. We're 1-2 against them right now. They're the defending champions. That's the statement game."
The Suns stumbled in their last game - as the triple-OT game vs. the Lakers may have finally caught up with them. They had yesterday off though and they're still 5-1-1 ATS their last seven overall. It appears that they won't make the playoffs - but, at 3 games behind 8th place Memphis, they're not quite done yet - which makes this a "must win" game.
The Suns are also an outstanding 29-12 SU the past few seasons, when coming off an "upset" loss. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|03-26-11||Chicago Bulls v. Milwaukee Bucks +6||Top||95-87||Loss||-109||10 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. Most know that the Bulls have been on a major roll. The Bucks have quietly started to play well too, though. Both teams won last night. The Bulls beat Memphis. The Bucks won at New York. I feel that Bucks, who should be extremely motivated, are again offering excellent value.
Note that the Bucks are an impressive 38-23-2 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. That includes a 12-7 ATS mark this season. Most recently, on 3/16, the Bucks covered vs. the Magic. At the time, they were playing their second of b2b games (and also their 4th game in 5 days) and they lost by four, getting +6 points.
The last time that the Bulls played the second of back to back games was on 3/18. They were road favorites at Indiana but lost outright. They're a mediocre 9-8 ATS in that situation, for the season. Also, note that the Bulls are only 5-7 ATS the last 12 times that they were road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
The Bucks have now won three of their last four. While last night's victory came on the road, they're generally a much better team at home. They're 6-1 ATS their last seven games here. They were 'only' 4-3 SU in those games but ALL three losses came by seven or fewer points.
Both teams should have plenty of motivation. The Bulls are trying to finish as the #1 seed. They've got a small cushion to work with (in the East) now though. The Bucks, on the other hand, have no margin for error. They're in 9th and are still two games back of Indiana, for the final spot in the East. Throw in the fact that they're playing with "triple revenge" and I expect them to be "hungrier" than their guests.
While they lost to the Bulls here exactly one month ago, the Bucks are still 3-2 the last five times that they were a host in this series. All five games were decided by single digits, two of them by three or fewer points. In each case, the line ranged from the Bucks being favored by as many as -4.5 to the Bulls being favored by up to -4. Now, we're getting even more points to work with. In a game that could easily come down to the wire once again, I'm grabbing all those generous points. *10
|03-26-11||Butler v. Florida -3.5||Top||74-71||Loss||-101||16 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA. I didn't play against Butler once during last year's magical tournament run. I did successfully play on the Bulldogs in each game that they covered thougzh, save for the final game against Duke, when I stayed off them and successfully played on the "under" instead. The Bulldogs only failed to cover one game in last year's tournament (3/20 vs. Murray State when they won by 2 as -4.5 point favorites) and that was the one I stayed off them for. This season, I've been correct on all three of their games, playing on them against Pittsburgh and on the "under" in each of their other two games. In other words, they've treated me quite well and I'm also well aware of what an excellent "tournament team" they've been. All good things must come to an end though and I feel that the Bulldogs 2011 will come to an end here.
Playing in a far more difficult conference, the Gators had more victories than the Bulldogs this season. They scored an identical number of points per game (72.1) and allowed even less (63.1 compared to 64.2) than the Bulldogs. The Gators hit a higher percentage of their shots (46.6% to 44.5%) while also holding opponents to a lower-shooting percentage. While the difference in the numbers isn't that great, the difference in level of competition was.
While Florida was facing the likes of Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas in the SEC, Butler was taking on teams like Cleveland State, Valparaiso, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Wright State in the Horizon.
The Bulldogs did play a few tough non-conference opponents, Duke, Louisville, Florida State and Xavier. Three of those resulted in losses though, two by double-digits.
While the Bulldogs lost at Xavier, the Gators went into Xavier and beat those same Musketeers. Both teams beat Florida State, but the Gators win came on the road while the Bulldogs beat them on a neutral court.
As good as the Bulldogs have been in recent weeks, I still don't believe that they're as talented as last year's team. I look for it to finally catch up to them here as the Gators prove to be the more complete team and improve to 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they were favored by four or fewer points. *10
|03-25-11||Virginia Commonwealth v. Florida State -4||Top||72-71||Loss||-103||11 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA STATE. *10 As you're probably aware, neither of these teams was expected to make it this far. The Rams have been the bigger surprise and have been arguably more impressive in the tournament thus far, at least on the offensive side of the ball. That said, I feel that the Seminoles are favored for good reason and that this will prove to be a good matchup for them.
As impressive as the Rams were last time out, keep in mind that they're still only 11-14 ATS against winning teams. They're also only 7-11 ATS against teams which allow 64 or fewer points per game.
Of course, the Seminoles boast one of the stingiest defenses in the country. They're allowing a mere 61.7 points per game. Additionally, opposing teams hit just 36.1% of their shots against the 'Noles.
Check out Florida State's last three games. The Seminoles held Notre Dame to 57 points on 31.7% shooting. Prior to that, they held Texas A&M to 50 points on 31.4% shooting. Before that, they limited Virginia Tech to 52 points on 31.5% shooting.
While the defense has been outstanding, the Florida State offense got a major boast last week when Chris Singleton recently returned from injury, after missing five weeks. He is the Seminoles best player, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. While he didn't play/do much in the first two games, he's getting healthier by the day and he should be able to contribute more this evening.
The Seminoles are far more "battle-tested" than the Rams. Not only do they play all the very tough teams in the ACC (they beat teams like Duke, Clemson, Boston College and Miami and came within two points of beating UNC and V-Tech) but they also have faced the likes of non-conference teams like Florida, Butler and Ohio State, all of which are still in the tournament.
On the other hand, VCU plays in a much "softer" conference and their toughest non-conference games, prior to this tournament, were arguably vs. Richmond and Tennessee. Solid teams - but not in the class of Ohio State or Florida. Note that the Rams were 0-2 SU/ATS in those games.
In the end, I look for the Florida State's defense to again be the difference as the Seminoles advance to the next round and improve to 6-0 ATS along the way. *10
|03-25-11||Detroit Pistons v. Cleveland Cavaliers +4||Top||91-97||Win||100||9 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. As you're probably aware, wins have been few and far between for the Cavaliers this season. They've still been playing hard lately though, as evidenced by their recent 3-2 ATS record their last five. Last time out, they came up just short, losing by four, in OT. Looking at the remaining schedule and tonight's game offers one of their best chances at a victory. After this, they host the Hawks and Heat - both better teams than Detroit - before hitting the road. Knowing this and knowing that the Pistons already beat them in both this season's meetings, I expect a highly motivated effort from the revenge-minded Cavs.
While the Pistons have the better overall record, some might be surprised to learn that Cleveland's home record is actually (slightly) better than Detroit's road record. Yet, it was the Pistons who opened as favorites and the line has been going up since it came out. I feel that provides us with excellent value on the home underdog. Keep in mind that the Cavs were the favorite, when they hosted the Pistons last month.
The Pistons, who are off a disappointing loss vs. Miami, have lost seven straight on the road - and they haven't won away from Detroit since before the All Star Break, when they last played here. I expect the Cavs to do a much better job in tonight's rematch, as they bounce back and improve to 14-7 ATS the last 21 times that they were a host in this series. *10
|03-24-11||Connecticut v. San Diego St +1.5||Top||74-67||Loss||-110||57 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO STATE. The Huskies almost always have a strong team and that's been proven to be the case again this season. Off an impressive win vs. Cincinnati last round, many will probably expect them to have their way with San Diego State, a lesser known team from a lesser conference. These Aztecs are a lot better than many people realize though and I expect them to be the team which finds a way to advance.
The Aztecs only lost two games this entire season. Both losses came vs. BYU and they avenged those losses by crushing the Cougars in the Mountain West Tournament. In other words, this is a team which knows how to win and is used to doing so.
Naturally, the Aztecs' conference schedule wasn't as tough as U'Conn's schedule. However, they still did have to take on the likes of BYU and UNLV. They were also undefeated in non-conference play, earning victories over the likes of Gonzaga and St. Mary's.
While both teams are currently rolling, keep in mind that the Huskies have lost seven games since 1/29. In other words, they're hardly "undefeatable."
As for the "mighty" Big East, note that the Mountain West still has just as many teams playing in the Sweet 16 - and that the two Big East teams which are left, both beat other Big East teams last round to get here.
Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse all finished with better records than Uconn and all three are gone. Other teams like Louisville, West Virginia, St. John's, Villanova and Cincy have all been knocked out. In other words, the Big East may not be quite as "mighty" as most thought - certainly, not "undefeatable."
I like that the Aztecs "survived" a close game (OT) last round. Not only has it worked in our favor in terms of line value, but I feel the recent "close game experience" will serve them well here.
Additionally, I believe that the fact that the game is being played at the Honda Center, in Anaheim, figures to be provide the Aztecs with a solid edge. I look for them to show the nation that they're "the real deal" and that their 34-2 record was no fluke. *10
|03-23-11||Toronto Raptors +7.5 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||106-114||Loss||-110||11 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. I always pay extra close attention to NBA teams which are playing the second of back to back games. Depending on the team (some teams perform a lot better than others, when playing their second game in two days) and the "situation," (not all b2b spots are created equally) I often choose to play on or against the team, which is in the back to back spot. In this case, I believe that the situation calls for a play "against" the team, which is playing its second game in two nights.
As noted, not all back to back spots are "equal." In many cases, the first game will be a blowout - and the team which is winning (or, in some cases, the team which is getting blown out) gets to give its starters some extra rest. Also, in many cases, prior to playing the two games in two days, the team had an extra few day's worth of rest. None of that applies for Phoenix here though.
In this case, not only are the Suns playing the second of back to back games, they're also playing their third game in four days and their 7th game in the last 11 days. Making matters much worse, last night's game was a "triple-OT marathon," which saw all the starters log far more minutes than normal. Five Phoenix players logged at least 40 minutes, including Nash with 49 minutes, Gortat with 53 and Frye with 57.
The fact that the Suns had to fight so hard to get back in the game and then only to lose in the third overtime period, figures to make them that much more "exhausted."
Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry noted: "We had a chance to do something special, and we didn't quite get it done, so obviously it hurts."
Also, keep in mind that was a very emotional and nationally televised game vs. the defending champs, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Off that "heartbreaker" (and with a "revenge" game vs. the Hornets, a team that beat them last week, on deck) it should be easy to overlook lowly Toronto.
While the Suns were "leaving it all on the floor" last night, the Raptors had the day off. They did get blown out at Denver last time out - however, in that case, they were the team which was playing the second of back to back games. Prior to that, they'd won two straight, including an impressive 95-93 win at Oklahoma City.
The Raptors gave the Suns all they could handle here last season, losing by only one point. Playing with "revenge" from last month's loss at Toronto and with the schedule in their favor, I expect at least another cover here. *10
|03-23-11||Orlando Magic v. New York Knicks +2||Top||111-99||Loss||-115||10 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW YORK. The Knicks have dropped three straight and six of their last seven. I haven't played on them once, during that slide. However, I've gone 2-0 by playing against, successfully doing so when they lost at Dallas and again when they lost at Milwaukee. Tonight, they're back home and playing with "double-revenge." With a chance to "get back on track" on National TV, I expect this talented team to "put it all together" tonight.
Yes, the Magic have won three straight. None of those were against teams with this type of talent though and Orlando was 0-3 ATS in those games. Looking back further and we find that the Magic are now an ugly 1-8 ATS their last nine games.
Van Gundy would like his team to play better. However, the fact is that they're likely locked into the fourth position. They're unlikely going to catch Miami and Atlanta won't be able to catch them. Therefore, winning tonight isn't entirely "urgent" for the Magic.
Note that Orlando, which beat Cleveland by 11 last time out, is just 12-15 ATS off a double-digit win and only 13-21 ATS on the road. That includes a money-burning 2-6 ATS mark as road favorites of three or fewer points.
Unlike their guests, the Knicks should be extremely motivated, mostly as they really need to snap their skid. They're also fighting for the 6th and 7th spot with Philadelphia - although its hard to say which is a more dangerous first round opponent, Chicago, Miami or Boston. In my opinion, they'd probably want to avoid Boston the most - (again, thats debatable) and sixth place would likely mean a date with the Heat - a team they're 2-0 against in 2011.
Additional motivation for the Knicks come from the fact that they blew a big lead in their last loss to the Magic and that they also did so in their most recent game, vs. Boston a couple of nights ago.
Recent struggles notwithstanding, keep in mind that New York's home record is nearly identical to Orlando's road record. The Knicks have still won six of nine here and 12 of 20.
The Knicks are also 29-16-2 ATS the past few seasons, when off three straight losses. That includes a 6-3-1 ATS mark their last 10 in that situation. They're 23-9-2 ATS as underdogs and I look for them to bounce back with an important victory tonight. *10
|03-21-11||Duquesne +1.5 v. Oregon||Top||75-77||Loss||-105||10 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on DUQUESNE. Playing at home and hailing from the "bigger name" conference, Oregon is a "popular" pick here. As a result, the Ducks are now slight favorites. However, I believe that the Dukes will prove to be the better team. Note that while the Dukes are now a respectable 19-12, the Ducks are still only 17-17 on the season. Note that Oregon is a terrible 22-41 ATS in lined games against teams with a winning record, the past few seasons.
The Dukes saw five players score in double-digits in their first round blowout of Montana, shooting an impressive 54% from the field. On the other hand, the Ducks only shot 41% from the field in their win over Weber State.
For the season, the Dukes outscored opponents by a 78 to 67.7 margin. Conversely, Oregon only outscored teams by a 69.5 to 69 count.
Yes, the Ducks have homecourt advantage. The Dukes were a profitable 8-4 ATS in road lined games though, while the Ducks were only 8-11 ATS in home lined games. The Dukes are 6-2 ATS in non-conf. lined games and 8-4 ATS after having scored 80 or more in their previous game.
The Dukes are a team that won 11 in a row earlier this year. They "got back on track" in the win vs. Montana and I look for them to build momentum from that win as they "shock" their hosts and make it two in a row here. *10
|03-21-11||Golden State Warriors +11 v. San Antonio Spurs||Top||96-111||Loss||-105||10 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. As you know, the Spurs are having a much better season than the Warriors. Duncan and co. have been particularly tough at home. That said, given the way they've been playing recently, I feel this line will prove too be too high.
The Spurs are off back to back victories. Those came by only six and 11 points though. The 6-point victory was impressive enough, as it came at Dallas. However, the 11-point win resulted in a (narrow) pointspread loss, a game they were laying -12.5 against Charlotte for. Now, they'll face a far more "offensively capable" opponent. (While the Bobcats are one of the weakest offensive teams in the league, the Warriors can score points with the best of them.)
Looking back further and we find that the Spurs are only 4-10 ATS their last 14 games. They haven't won a game by more than 11 points for 17 days. In fact, of their last 14 games, only one has resulted in a victory of greater than 11 points, the "statement" game vs. Miami on 3/4. Facing an opponent that they've dominated, one which isn't going to the playoffs, the Spurs aren't likely to be as "fired up" for this game, as they were for that one. In fact, they may give some additional rest to one or more of their stars. (Duncan got last game off, Ginobli played only 19 mins.)
Having lost four straight and playing with "triple revenge," the Warriors should have plenty of motivation. While they did get blown out at Dallas last time out, note that the previous three losses all came by 11 or fewer points. In fact, that loss vs. the Mavericks was the only time in the Warriors' last 13 games that they lost by greater than 11 points.
The Warriors were only +8.5 point underdogs for last night's game at Dallas - now, facing an opponent which is similar in talent level (and which hasn't been blowing teams out very often lately) the Warriors are getting extra points to work with. I believe that provides us with excellent value.
True, this is a back to back situation. The Warriors 2-2 SU the last four times that they played the second of back to back games though and the losses came by an average of only seven points, both by 10 or less. In fact, the Warriors are a profitable 30-19 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games.
Last night's 73 points was the second lowest scoring output the Warriors have had this season. Note that they won and covered after scoring 72 earlier.
Golden State forward Dorell Wright noted: "It was just an off night for guys. Guys couldn't find their shot. I feel like shots that we usually make were going in and out, and we were just missing it. It's like that at some times. So, we've just got to let this one go and get ready for tomorrow."
While they admittedly have had very little success at San Antonio over the years, I look for a highly motivated effort from the Warriors tonight. Even with the loss at Dallas, they're still 3-2 ATS in 2011, as underdogs of greater than eight points. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-20-11||Marquette +5 v. Syracuse||Top||66-62||Win||100||10 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on MARQUETTE. I had the Golden Eagles in their opening round "upset" of Xavier. I believe that they're more than capable of delivering another "shocker" here today.
Here's an excerpt from my opening play on on Marquette, as its still relevant today:
"Xavier hasn't had to contend with many teams with the offensive firepower that the Golden Eagles bring to the table. The Golden Eagles are athletic and can score with the best of them. They average better than 76 points per game and make a healthy 46.8% of their shots. Those offensive stats are superior to the Musketeers' offensive numbers.
Note that the Musketeers were destroyed by 20 points vs. Cincinnati, the lone Big East opponent they faced this season. That was their worst loss of the season - yet, that's the type of competition that Marquette sees regularly.
Marquette has beaten the likes of UConn, Notre Dame, Syracuse while sweeping West Virginia. With Marquette now "getting points," note that the Golden Eagles also had 1-point losses vs. Louisville and Vanderbilt.
The Golden Eagles are an outstanding 98-59 ATS the last 157 times that they were listed as underdogs. That includes a profitable 20-9 ATS mark the past few seasons..."
Of course, the Golden Eagles are now getting points again and now they're facing a familiar opponent, one which they're 1-0 against on the season.
True, Syracuse has plenty of talent - and is off an easy win in the first round. However, that was against a fairly 'easy' opponent and the Orange are far from unbeatable. In addition to having lost vs. UConn in the Big East tournament, note that the Orange lost six of seven at one point this season.
Even with the cover in the opening rd, the Orange were still 11-14 ATS when laying points.
Since 2009, all three meetings between these teams have been decided by seven or fewer points, with the Golden Eagles covering the spread in each of the last two. I expect another close one with Marquette earning at least another cover. *10
|03-20-11||Virginia Commonwealth v. Purdue -9||Top||94-76||Loss||-110||9 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on PURDUE. Give the Rams credit for making it this far. Not only did they beat USC but they followed it up by blowing out Georgetown. Clearly, they're a capable team, one which is currently playing with some confidence. That said, USC simply wasn't that good a team and Georgetown was struggling. (The Hoyas finished their season on a 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS run.) Today, however, the Rams will be matched up against a powerful team, one which has been playing well for many weeks and which is off a confidence-building blowout win in the first round.
Also, keep in mind that the Rams were just 3-5 SU (2-6 ATS) their previous eight games, prior to this tournament. Note that a couple of those losses came by double-digits, too.
Yes, Purdue lost a couple before entering the tournament. The Boilermakers will still 26-7 on the season though, including 8-2 their last 10. Note that ALL eight of those victories came by a minimum of eight points, including a 22-point win in the first round and a 13-point win over Ohio State. Unlike Georgetown, this team should have plenty of confidence.
Having played the "play in game" may have given the Rams an early advantage over Georgetown. They had a win under their belts. In addition to being "warmed up," they were no longer "nervous." In addition to being on a losing streak, the Hoyas hadn't played in nine days. Now, however, the Rams will be playing their third game already and they'll face a Purdue team that is brimming with confidence and loaded with talent.
These teams have contrasting styles and the team that can dictate the tempo should have an advantage. I believe the well-coached Boilermakers will be fully ready. Coach Painter was quoted as saying: "Any time somebody presses you, you've got to be able to attack when it's there and be under control and take good shots. When it's not there, be able to run half-court offense. But that is the theme of a pressing team. They're trying to get you to get at a speed you're not used to. You've got to play fast but under control."
With the first round cover, the Boilermakers are now a profitable 9-4 ATS the last 13 times that they were favored by greater than eight points. With stars JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore leading the way, I expect another double-digit victory. *10
|03-20-11||Washington +5.5 v. North Carolina||Top||83-86||Win||100||2 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. The Tar Heels have the "bigger name" and they'll get to play this game in front of a "Tar Heel-friendly crowd" in Charlotte. I believe this Washington team is better than people realize though and I expect them to show it on Sunday afternoon.
The Huskies have played (and won) a number of close games lately. They beat rival Washington State by two points in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament. After blowing out Oregon in the next round, they beat Arizona in OT, at the buzzer. Then, in the first round of this tournament, they beat Georgia by three. I feel that recent "close game experience" will serve the Huskies well here.
The Tar Heels won big in the first round - yet, they still didn't cover. They're now 1-4-1 ATS their last six.
"Surviving" a close game in the first round can often be helpful in covering the spread in the second round against a team that won its first round game in blowout fashion. Butler comes to mind as a recent example. The Bulldogs won at the buzzer in the first round - Pittsburgh blew out its first round opponent. Yet, Butler beat them when the two faced off in the second round.
Including the win vs. Arizona, the Huskies are 3-1-1 ATS the last five times that they were listed as underdogs. I expect them to improve on those stats here and in a game that I expect to come down to the wire, I'm grabbing all the points that I can get. *10
|03-19-11||Philadelphia 76ers v. Portland Trail Blazers -5.5||Top||101-110||Win||100||12 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on Portland. I've backed the Blazers in each of their last two games. They've played very well in both games. After "upsetting" Dallas, they stepped down in class and blew out Cleveland. Normally, I don't continue to "ride" a team that I've been winning with. However, in this case, I feel the situation calls for another Portland win and cover.
While the Blazers had last night off (and the Thursday game against Cleveland was hardly "taxing" at all) the 76ers figure to be feeling some fatigue. Philadelphia is off a late win at Sacramento last night and will now be playing the final leg of a 5-game road trip. Note that the 76ers are an awful 19-40 SU the past few seasons, when playing the second of b2b games.
Its worse than just a regular "back to back" spot though. I played against the 76ers on 3/12, at Milwaukee, when the 76ers were playing the second of back to back games and fourth game in five days. (The Bucks crushed them.) They haven't had a chance to properly rest since. The 76ers will now be playing their 8th game in the past 12 nights. After tonight, they get a few days off - but that won't help them here.
While the 76ers will be playing their eighth game since 3/8, the Blazers are playing just their sixth game, during the same time period. That's a significant difference, particularly with the 76ers so far away from home.
Even when not dealing with such a brutal schedule, the 76ers have trouble winning away from Philly. They're still 14-22 on the road. The Blazers, on the other hand, are 23-10 at home.
With the schedule and venue in their favor and playing with "revenge" from an earlier loss at Philadelphia, I expect the Blazers to keep on rolling for another day, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|03-19-11||Gonzaga v. Brigham Young +1.5||Top||67-89||Win||100||9 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on BYU. Off an impressive win over a Big East opponent and with a recent tradition of success, Gonzaga is favored here. I expect BYU to "shock" the Bulldogs here though and for the Cougars to be the team which advances to the next round.
As you probably know, the Cougars have a "superstar" player in Jimmer Fredette. All Fredette did was lead the nation in scoring at 28.6 points per game, scoring more than 1000 of them on the season. ("The Jimmer" had 32 in the opening round.)
Teams led by a single superstar don't often win the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are more than just Fredette though - and we're not asking them to win the entire title here - merely to beat Gonzaga and to advance to the next round. We've seen plenty of teams led by a single superstar advance to the Sweet 16 - Gonzaga's Adam Morrison led team being one of them.
BYU was outstanding away from home this season, winning 17 of 20 games. This is a team with wins over the likes of Arizona, UNLV and a pair of wins against San Diego State. When matched up against St. Mary's (a WCC team which finished with an equal 25-9 record as Gonzaga) the Cougars came away with the victory.
The Cougars are 15-1 SU their last 16 non-conference games. With Fredette "doing his thing," I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-19-11||Butler +8 v. Pittsburgh||Top||71-70||Win||100||9 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUTLER. The Bulldogs are at their best when every one is writing them off. They were (slight) underdogs in their opening game but "found a way" to get it done. With that result, they're now 15-5-1 ATS the last 21 times that they were listed as underdogs, including 5-0-1 ATS the last six. Eleven of those 15 ATS wins also resulted in outright victories. Today's opponent is certainly a powerful and talented one. However, I don't believe that Butler, which is "peaking" at the right time, will be intimidated.
While they didn't dominate during the regular season the way that they did last year, the Bulldogs are currently playing their best basketball. Indeed, they're now a perfect 10-0 their last 10 games.
They did lose a couple of keys from last year's team - but obviously the cupboard was hardly left bare. This is a very well-coached Butler team and last year's tournament and "big game" experience has served them well in recent weeks. They're now 6-0 SU/ATS in "tournament play."
With a #1 seed, Pittsburgh is clearly "loaded." That doesn't mean that the Panthers blow everyone out though. In fact, they've been playing a large number of close games for some time now. Prior to the their blowout win in round #1, the Panthers had seen 10 of their previous 11 games decided by 13 or fewer points. Seven of those games were decided by five or fewer points.
Unlike the Bulldogs, the Panthers haven't been that profitable in tournament play, these past few seasons. In fact, they're just 7-11 ATS their last 18 tournament games, 2-5 ATS in the NCAA tournament.
Butler has really been playing well defensively of late. The Bulldogs have allowed less than 70 points in all 10 games during the win streak. Over that stretch, opposing teams have averaged only 58 points. That type of defense makes every possession important and makes getting this many points very attractive. The Bulldogs were 14-5 ATS against teams with a winning record this season. I look for them to take the Panthers down to the wire and improve on those stats here. *10
|03-18-11||Marquette +2.5 v. Xavier||Top||66-55||Win||100||8 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on MARQUETTE. The Golden Eagles aren't getting a whole lot of respect here and most seem to expect an Xavier victory. While I respect Xavier, I feel Marquette will prove its the better team.
Xavier enters with 24 wins. Marquette has 20. Those win totals are among the biggest reasons that Xavier is favored. However, one could easily argue that Marquette's 20 wins were more impressive than the Musketeers' 24. Obviously, the Big East has far more quality and/or elite teams than the A-10. Also, Marquette played arguably the tougher non-conf. schedule. Both teams played Gonzaga - both lost. The Golden Eagles also played the likes of Duke, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt though - Xavier faced Florida, Iowa and Cincy.
Xavier hasn't had to contend with many teams with the offensive firepower that the Golden Eagles bring to the table. The Golden Eagles are athletic and can score with the best of them. They average better than 76 points per game and make a healthy 46.8% of their shots. Those offensive stats are superior to the Musketeers' offensive numbers.
Note that the Musketeers were destroyed by 20 points vs. Cincinnati, the lone Big East opponent they faced this season. That was their worst loss of the season - yet, that's the type of competition that Marquette sees regularly.
Marquette has beaten the likes of UConn, Notre Dame, Syracuse while sweeping West Virginia. With Marquette now "getting points," note that the Golden Eagles also had 1-point losses vs. Louisville and Vanderbilt.
The Golden Eagles are an outstanding 98-59 ATS the last 157 times that they were listed as underdogs. That includes a profitable 20-9 ATS mark the past few seasons. I expect them to improve on those stats, scoring the minor upset along the way. *10
|03-18-11||Denver Nuggets v. Orlando Magic -6||Top||82-85||Loss||-110||8 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. I successfully played against the Magic last time out. Orlando won but didn't cover. That was on the road though and the Magic were facing a Milwaukee team which was desperately fighting to try and stay in the playoff race. Today's opponent is also in the playoff race, but may not be quite as "desperate." More importantly, the Magic are now back home and they've got a "score to settle."
I say that the Magic have a "score to settle" as they were blown out at Denver in mid-December. Note that they're 59-29 SU the past few seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. During that stretch, the Magic have also gone a profitable 13-7-1 ATS (17-4 SU) when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
Since beating the Knicks here on 3/1, the Magic have only played two home games. The fact that they lost both (and knowing that they're back on the road again after this) should provide the Magic with even further motivation here.
Off four straight wins, the Nuggets may be patting themselves on the back a bit. They could also have tomorrow's showdown at Miami in the back of their heads. Note that the Nuggets are just 4-7-2 ATS, when on a winning streak of three or more games. Also, note that the Nuggets are only 2-8 ATS (1-9 SU) the last 10 times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range.
The Magic are 19-3 all-time at home against Denver, including 15-1 (11-3-2 ATS) the last 16. Thirteen of those 15 wins, including each of the last five, have come by a minimum of six points. I expect another solid win and cover as the motivated Magic cool off their guests and avenge the earlier loss. *10
|03-18-11||Villanova -1.5 v. George Mason||Top||57-61||Loss||-105||7 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on VILLANOVA. The Wildcats struggled down the stretch and therefore aren't getting much respect. This is a dangerous and talented team though, one with something to prove. I expect them to rise to the occasion and to advance to the next round.
Yes, George Mason was a far more profitable team this season and comes in with a much better record. Obviously, there's a massive difference in the quality of opposition though. The Patriots "split" games with Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth, the two other top teams in their conference. Outside of those games, there next two toughest games were vs. Dayton and Duquesne. Clearly, the Patriots aren't "battle tested" in the way that Villanova is.
While they've got talent, the Patriots lack the type of dominant inside game that often gave the Wildcats problems in Big East play.
While a long layoff can sometimes cause some rust, I feel that it will be helpful for Villanova. The Wildcats were struggling and the time off should allow them to "get their heads right" while also becoming fully healthy. Note that Villanova is 18-5 SU the last 23 times that it played with seven or more day's rest in between games, including 4-0 its last four in that situation.
Note that the Wildcats are 16-6 SU and 14-8 ATS the last 22 times that played in a first round tournament game. During the same stretch, the Patriots were 3-6 SU and 4-5 ATS when playing in a first round tournament game.
Corey Fisher spoke of the Wildcats' mindset: "Stay positive. Can't get down on yourself. Things will turn. Just like our (2009) Final 4 team. We lost five games in a row. Not comparing us to that team, but we had doubters, too. If we go out and make a run, all the doubters will become fans. Just got to continue to play." I expect Fisher and co. to "win over some doubters" this afternoon. *10
|03-17-11||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Portland Trail Blazers -13.5||Top||70-111||Win||100||11 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. I won with the Blazers in their last game. Facing a talented Dallas team, that was playing well, Portland elevated its game and earned an important victory. It was particularly encouraging for Portland and its fans to see Brandon Roy playing like a "superstar" again. Taking a significant step down in class and with the schedule in their favor, I expect the Blazers to follow up Tuesday's win by delivering a "blowout" tonight.
While the Blazers had last night off, the Cavaliers are off a late game at Sacramento. Give them credit for winning that one - but don't expect them to do it twice in a row. The Cavs are still an ugly 5-28 on the road - and they've been outscored by an average score of 107.9 to 94.4 in those games. Obviously, they're no strangers to blowout losses.
Note that the Cavs are just 6-10-2 ATS the last 18 times that they played the second of b2b games. Also, note that they're still an ugly 9-18-1 ATS (4-24 SU) against teams from the West, including 0-8-1 ATS (0-9 SU) against teams from the Northwest.
While the line might seem high at first glance, note that the Blazers are 5-3-1 ATS (9-0 SU) the last nine times that they were listed as home favorites in the -12.5 to -15 range.
The Blazers are also 18-9-2 ATS (21-8 SU) the past few seasons, against teams from the Central. That includes a 7-2 SU and 5-2-2 ATS mark their last nine.
The Blazers know the importance of "taking care of business" against bad teams, at this time of the year. Indeed, they're a profitable 28-15-1 ATS (38-6 SU) the last 44 times that they faced a team with a losing record, during the second half of the season. With a number of much tougher games coming up, I expect the Blazers to make the most of the opportunity for an "easy win" by blowing out the hapless Cavs. *10
|03-17-11||Gonzaga v. St John's -1.5||Top||86-71||Loss||-110||11 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. John's. We don't normally find a West Coast Conference team getting "more respect" and having more NCAA tournament experience than a team from the Big East. Of course, Gonzaga isn't a "normal" West Coast Conference team - as the Bulldogs have made a habit of getting here. Meanwhile, St. John's still doesn't getting get much recognition, despite a truly outstanding season. I believe the Red Storm are (slight) favorites for good reason though and I look for them to step up and advance to the next round.
Gonzaga enters the tournament playing well and the Bulldogs should have an advantage in the paint. The Red Storm have been playing well for many weeks though and I believe they'll have the advantage in the backcourt. Guard Dwight Hardy is arguably the best player on the floor.
Yes, Gonzaga has been here often. The Bulldogs are also only 1-4 ATS their last five NCAA tournament games though and this year's team arguably isn't as good as some of their previous editions.
True, the Red Storm are missing DJ Kennedy. Admittedly, his loss is significant. However, its not something that can't be recovered from. Keep in mind that his replacement (Sean Evans) is a senior that started each of the last two seasons.
Many still don't want to believe but the Red Storm have been getting it done for weeks. Since 1/30, when it crushed Duke, St. John's has beaten the likes of UConn, Cincy, Marquette, Pittsburgh and Villanova - to name just a few. Earlier in the season, the Red Storm knocked off the likes of West Virginia, Georgetown and Notre Dame. In other words, they won't be "intimidated" by "big bad Gonzaga."
The Red Storm are 4-1 SU their last five games played on a neutral court, going 9-3 their last 12. I expect the rest of the Red Storm players to rally around Kennedy's injury and for their strong guard play to help lead them to the second round. *10
|03-17-11||Princeton +13.5 v. Kentucky||Top||57-59||Win||100||4 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on PRINCETON. Kentucky is a "big name" program and its just coming off a "high profile" blowout victory in the SEC tournament championship game. That's caused what would have already been a high line to be even a little higher. I believe that it will prove to be too high.
While always talented, keep in mind that this is still a relatively young Kentucky team. The recent success could easily have the young Wildcats "patting themselves on the back" a bit, while looking past their lightly regarded first round opponent.
That will prove costly though, as I believe Princeton is better than many realize. The Tigers are a far more experienced team and they're thrilled to be back in the tournament, after a 6-year absence.
As Princeton coach Sydney Johnson noted: "It's our moment against Kentucky and we're not going to spoil it. I can't tell you if we're going to be perfect out there ... but we're not going to waste this opportunity. I won't allow them to do that."
The Tigers, once "famous" for "scaring" elite teams, are 19-10-1 ATS the last 30 times that they were listed as underdogs, including 5-2 ATS their last seven. They're 16-9 ATS their last 25 lined games against teams with a winning record.
Once known for slowing down the pace, the Princeton offense can be difficult to prepare for. This team is far more athletic than Princeton teams of the past, prompting Kentucky coach Calipari to note: "It's Princeton on steroids..."
The Wildcats were only 12-13-1 ATS when laying points and that includes a 0-1 ATS mark as a neutral court favorite in the -12.5 to -15 range. They're 12-18 ATS the past few seasons, after allowing 60 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to have their hands full the entire way here. *10
|03-16-11||Orlando Magic v. Milwaukee Bucks +5.5||Top||93-89||Win||100||10 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bucks sure didn't look too good their last two games. Those were both on the road though, each at difficult venues. Winning on the road has long been a problem for the Bucks. They're far more competitive at Milwaukee though and they're back home for tonight's very important game.
Some might be surprised to learn that the Bucks home record is very nearly as good as Orlando's road record. The Magic are 18-15 on the road. Milwaukee is 17-16 at home. Looking back further and we find that the Bucks are 69-49 here the past few seasons, while the Magic are 80-54 away from Orlando. This season, the Bucks are outscoring opponents by an average of 1.9 points per game (91.4 to 89.5) on this floor while the Magic are outscoring teams by 1.4 points (99.2 to 97.8) points on the road.
In other words, Orlando's road numbers are very similar to Milwaukee's home numbers. Yet, we're getting a fairly large number of points to work with. I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
Note that prior to the 2-game road trip, the Bucks were off three consecutive double-digit victories and had covered the spread in four straight games.
True, this is a rather difficult scheduling spot for the Bucks - however, no starter played more than 31 mins. last night and at Boston, nobody played more than 27 minutes. So, they haven't logged as many minutes as might normally be the case.
Also, note that the Bucks are a profitable 37-22-2 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of b2b games. That includes an 11-6 ATS mark their last 17 in that situation.
The fact this is is such a "big game" should help in keeping the Bucks energized. Even with the road losses, they're still in 10th place and only 2 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They know they're running out of time and that they absolutely need to take care of business at home.
The Magic, who are playing the fifth leg of a 5-game road trip, haven't played well recently and they're only 1-5 ATS their last six games. Note that they're also now 1-5-1 ATS after playing their previous three on the road.
The Bucks beat the Magic here earlier this season and they were 2-0 ATS (one blowout win and one 2-point loss) against them here last season. I expect them to bounce back with their best effort and for them to earn at least another cover here. *10
|03-16-11||Nebraska v. Wichita State -4||Top||49-76||Win||100||8 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on WICHITA STATE. The Huskers are very capable on their home floor. They're not the same team away from Lincoln though. They were only 2-10 on the road this season, averaging a mere 62.6 points in those games. The Shockers, who finished at an impressive 24-8 overall, were 12-4 at home. They oustscored opponents by a 73.7 to 60.9 margin here.
Looking back further finds Nebraska at 6-25 its last 31 road games. During that stretch, Wichita State was 43-9 at home.
Both teams are off a loss in their conference tournament - the reason they're here. Note that Nebraska is only 11-21 the past few seasons, when coming off a conference loss. During that stretch, Wichita State was 16-6 when coming off a conference loss, going 4-0 (3-1 AT) in that situation this season.
Over the past few seasons, the Huskers have gone 4-6 ATS (3-7 SU) in their tournament games. During that stretch, the Shockers were 12-6 ATS in tourament play.
Yes, the Shockers are disappointed with themselves that they didn't make it to the NCAA Tournament. However, they're a team loaded with seniors and juniors and I don't expect them to hang their heads about it. They've had plenty of time to "get over" the fact that they're in the NIT and I look for them to respond with their very best effort. Playing at home against a Nebraska team that struggles on the road, I look for that to be enough to lead to the win and cover. *10
|03-15-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Portland Trail Blazers +1.5||Top||101-104||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. I won with the Mavericks when they blew out the Knicks two games ago. In their most recent game, I came back and successfully played on the Mavs (vs the Lakers) to finish below the total. Tonight, I feel the value lies in going against the Mavs.
These teams have played twice this season. The Mavs won both games. Those were both at Dallas though. Tonight's game is at Portland, where the Blazers are a much stronger team.
While the Blazers are only 16-19 on the road, they're a much better 21-10 at home. They're now 84-35 here the past few seasons. That's significantly better than the Mavs' 70-53 road record, during the same stretch.
The Mavs, 3-5 ATS the last eight times they played with two day's rest, may still have the loss to the Lakers in the back of their minds. That was a big "statement" game for them and they failed to come through. Note that the Mavs are now just 1-5 ATS their last six games, including 0-2 ATS on the road.
The Blazers return home after four games on the road. The trip started very well with wins at both Orlando and Miami. They wore down a bit in the next two games though, losing at Charlotte and Atlanta. I wasn't surprised to see them lose those games though - I had a play on the Bobcats when the Blazers lost at Charlotte and the game vs. the Hawks was the second game of a back to back spot.
Still, the road trip was fairly respectable. As Portland guard Wes Matthews noted: "The road trip was not as good as we wanted, but we will take two wins over nothing any day, especially against high-caliber teams such as Miami and Orlando. Those wins give us confidence knowing we can play with everybody."
In addition to being better at home overall, the Blazers typically fair quite well when returning home from a road trip of three or more games. The last time (2/16) that they returned home from a trip of three or more games, they won and covered vs. New Orleans. Prior to that, the previous time (2/7) that they returned home from a trip of three or more games, they won and covered vs. the Chicago Bulls.
The Blazers are 8-4 SU/ATS the last dozen times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 184 to 189.5 range. Playing with double-revenge, I expect them to step up and improve on those stats this evening. *10
|03-15-11||Dayton v. College of Charleston -5.5||Top||84-94||Win||100||8 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLESTON. Dayton hails from the bigger conference and is arguably the "bigger name" in this contest. However, this is a tough spot for the Flyers and I believe that the Cougars are favored for good reason. Not only did the Flyers come up just short in their bid for the NCAA Tournament - but they're also fresh off three difficult games in three days. Even with a day off on Monday, they still figure to be rather exhausted here.
Like the Flyers, the Cougars also played three conference tournament games in three days. However, unlike the Flyers, they've had a full week off in between games.
In addition to having the schedule in their favor, the Cougars also have the venue in their favor. They're 12-1 SU at home - 7-3 ATS in home lined games. They outscored teams by a 80.5 to 64.5 point margin here.
The Cougars, 37-20 ATS the last 57 times they were off a conference loss, are 8-1 ATS their last nine first round tournament games. I expect them to be both "fresher" and "hungrier" and look for that to lead to a solid win and cover. *10
|03-14-11||Golden State Warriors v. Sacramento Kings -1||Top||119-129||Win||100||11 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing with SACRAMENTO. The Warriors won the first two meetings against the Kings this season. Both meetings were close most of the way (one was tied at halftime, the other was a 1-point game) but in each case, the Warriors pulled away. Tonight, I expect Sacramento to get some "payback."
The Warriors won big vs. Minnesota last night. That was an impressive victory and it wasn't all that "taxing." However, they still had to play. Now, in addition to playing the second of back to back games, the Warriors will be playing their fifth game in the past eight days, the first three of those coming in the East. Going back further and we find that this will already be their 9th game through the first 14 days of March, seven of those coming on the road. That's a fairly gruelling stretch.
By comparison, the Kings, who had yesterday off, are only playing their seventh game in March. Only three of their March games were on the road and all were against Western Conference opponents.
In other words, the Kings have done far less traveling/playing these last two weeks.
As for last night's big win, note that the Warriors are 0-4 SU ATS the last four times that they allowed 85 or fewer points in their previous game. They're also 2-7 ATS (3-6 SU) the last nine times that they were off a double-digit win. Looking back further finds them at 13-22-1 ATS (9-27 SU) in that situation, the past few seasons.
While the Kings have struggled to win at Oakland in recent seasons, they typically fare well as a host in this series. Even with this seasons' earlier loss, they're still 13-7 SU the last 20 times they faced the Warriors here, going 20-8 SU the last 28 meetings here. That includes a 2-0 sweep here last season. Playing with "double-revenge" and on "fresher legs," I expect them to improve on those stats tonight. *10
|03-14-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Memphis Grizzlies -5.5||Top||82-105||Win||100||10 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. The Grizzlies won this season's earlier meeting, a 1-point win at LA. Playing at home and catching the Clippers playing the final leg of a road trip, I expect the Grizzlies to have the advantage once again.
The Clippers had yesterday off. However, this will still be their fifth road game in the past eight days. Having won three of the first four games, they've already had a successful road trip, regardless of what happens here. As a result, I don't expect them to be particularly "desperate" and I feel that it will be easy to get caught thinking ahead to the return trip home.
Off back to back losses and with a number of tougher games coming up in the second half of the month, the Grizzlies know they can't afford to lose this one. Not at home against a "non-playoff" team like the Clippers. Note that they're 8-4 ATS (10-2 SU) the last 12 times that they faced a team with a losing record.
The Grizzlies, 22-10 at home on the season, haven't lost three in a row in all of 2011. They weren't happy at all with their performance against the Heat and should be much more aggressive here.
The Grizzlies are also 6-2-1 ATS the last nine times that they were off a double-digit loss and 5-0-1 ATS the last six times that they scored 85 points or less in their previous game. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|03-13-11||Penn State v. Ohio State -9.5||Top||60-71||Win||100||5 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on OHIO STATE. These teams met twice during the regular season. The Nittany Lions managed to keep things close in the first meeting, losing by only three at Ohio State, easily covering the massive (+17.5) number. However, the Buckeyes "outclassed" them in the rematch. Laying -6.5 at Penn State, the Buckeyes won by 21. They were up 15 by the break and never looked back. I expect them to "flex their muscles" and for them to deliver another dominant effort here.
The Buckeyes' domination in this series extends a lot further back than this season. Indeed, Ohio State is 18-1 the last 19 meetings, including 15-0 the last 15. Five of the Buckeyes' last six victories in the series came by a minimum of eight points, four of those coming by double-digits.
One could argue that this game is more important to the Nittany Lions. They're still trying to guarantee a spot in the Big Dance, while Ohio State should have a #1 seed locked up. This is a championship game though - and the Buckeyes don't want to "back their way in" to the NCAA tournament. Rather, I believe that they'll want to make a statement. They've had their "wake-up calls" the last couple of days, now its time to deliver a blowout.
After a number of close games, note that the Buckeyes closed out the reg. season by earning four consecutive double-digit victories.
Coach Matta said of his team: "We're going to prepare like it's the next game on the schedule because it is and the thing that I love about this team, that's sort of how they want it. It's another opportunity to play a game. That's how I've seen their minds work all year."
Note that the Nittany Lions will be playing their fourth game in four days, the Buckeyes will be playing their third in three, but had that fourth day off. That can be significant.
In addition to getting dominated by the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions are an ugly 0-12 all-time against #1 teams. I expect the "class difference" to be evident as the Buckeyes continue their domination in this series by delivering a double-digit victory. *10
|03-12-11||Philadelphia 76ers v. Milwaukee Bucks -2||Top||74-102||Win||100||10 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. These teams have met twice this season. The 76ers won both meetings. The first was back in November, a 90-79 Philly victory. The rematch in mid-January was far closer. The 76ers won that one, but by only one point. Both those games were at Philadelphia though.
Now, the Bucks get to face them at Milwaukee. Playing on their home floor, in front of their home fans, playing with "double-revenge" and with the schedule strongly in their favor, I expect them to have the advantage.
While the Bucks had the past two days off, the 76ers were playing a big game vs. the Celtics last night. This is more than a back to back spot though. It also represents their fourth game in the past five days. As they don't play five games in five days, that's as gruelling as it gets. Throw in the fact that last night's was a "huge win" and that their previous one (vs. OKC) went to OT, they should be ripe for a "letdown" here, mentally and/or physically.
The Bucks, who are off back to back double-digits wins, have dominated (at the betting window) vs. teams from the Atlantic. They're 31-13-2 ATS against Atlantic Division teams the past few seasons. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-11-11||Portland Trail Blazers v. Charlotte Bobcats +4.5||Top||92-97||Win||100||7 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. The Blazers come in on a red hot roll. They blew out these same Bobcats recently and followed it up by winning at Orlando and at Miami in their next two games. On the other hand, the Bobcats have been struggling. With that being the case and with former Bobcat Gerald Wallace returning to his "old stomping grounds," most bettors are likely going to back the visitors. However, I feel the value lies with the home underdog.
Yes, the Blazers crushed the Bobcats last week. However, that was at Portland. The Bobcats are MUCH better at home. Even with losses in their last two games here, the Bobcats have still won four of their last seven here. (Two of the three losses came by 5 pts or less.) In 2011 alone, they've defeated the likes of the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls here, to name a few. In other words, they're capable of beating any team on this floor.
Also, note that the Bobcats have been playing without Steven Jackson, their top scorer. They're hoping to have him back tonight. They could also get Tyrus Thomas and/or Matt Carroll back tonight.
While they lost vs. the Bulls last time out, coach Silas was still pleased with his team's effort. After the Chicago game, Silas was quoted as saying: "I told them if they play that way and we get our full complement of guys, then I like our chances..."
True, Portland's Gerald Wallace should be highly motivated to have a big game against his former team. After all, he felt snubbed by Charlotte and wasn't happy with the way he was traded. That said, he's only one player - and this game doesn't figure to be that "big" for the rest of the Blazers. In fact, off their huge wins at Orlando and Miami (both very "big" games) and with a "revenge" game vs. Atlanta (the Hawks recently beat them at Portland) on deck tomorrow, I feel it will be easy for the Blazers (not including Wallace) to look past this game and/or to take it for granted.
Also, keep in mind that Wallace's return could also fire up the Bobcats and their fans. They don't want to see a former player come here and dominate them. Note that Gerald Henderson, Wallace's replacement in the Charlotte lineup, is averaging a very solid 18.7 points on 56.5 percent shooting in his last three games.
Even with their recent struggles, note that the Bobcats are still very much alive in the Eastern Conf. playoff race. In fact, they're still just one game back of the Pacers for the final playoff berth. Given that their next four games are on the road, this one is extremely important.
The Bobcats are an extremely profitable 66-40-2 ATS the last 108 times that they were off a double-digit loss, including 29-20 ATS in that situation the past few seasons. Playing with recent revenge and with much on the line, I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-11-11||St. Joseph's v. Duquesne -9.5||Top||93-90||Loss||-110||5 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on DUQUESNE. While some may initially feel this line is too high, given the disparity in talent, I believe it could easily be higher.
St. Joseph's has had some strong teams in the past. This year's team hasn't been very good though. The Hawks are just 10-21, the second worst overall record in the A-10. They did close out the season with a victory over Charlotte (the last place team) which allowed them to sneak into this tournament. They also won their opening game in OT. However, their overall body of work was not impressive. They're still 5-13 in 2011.
On the other hand, the Dukes have enjoyed a very solid season, finishing with 18 victories. They failed to cover a few in a row to end the season, which has helped to keep this line lower than it could have been otherwise.
For the season, St. Joseph's was 10-13 ATS (4-19 SU) when listed as an underdog. Duquesne was 12-7 ATS (13-6 SU) as a favorite.
Looking at the regular season series and we find that Duquesne won by double-digits (75-63 on 1/5) in the only game - and that was at St. Joseph's.
Sure, St. Joseph's would love to avenge that loss. However, wanting to do something and actually doing it are two entirely different matters. Note that the Hawks are an ugly 5-10-1 ATS (2-14 SU!) the last 16 times that they attempted to avenge a home loss.
The Dukes have dominated "bad" teams all year. They're 9-1 SU (6-1 ATS in lined games) against teams with a losing record. They outscored teams by an average of greater than 10 points per game on the season and I expect another double-digit victory here. *10
|03-10-11||Washington State v. Washington -5.5||Top||87-89||Loss||-110||13 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I had the Cougars in this season's first meeting. Playing at home and badly needing a victory, I felt that they would play their best game. That proved to be the case, as they stepped up and scored the upset. I'll have to admit, I thought the Huskies would likely win the rematch. However, I also felt that they were too heavily favored and that the "under" offered better value. That proved to be the case as the game stayed below the total. The fact that the Cougars also won that game has the Huskies playing with "double-revenge" here. I still believe that they're the superior team and I expect them to respond with their very best effort.
With Washington State having won the first two meetings, we're getting a very reasonable line on the Huskies. That puts them in one of their best roles. Indeed, they're 7-1 SU/ATS the last eight times that they were listed as neutral court favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
As impressive as the win at Washington was, keep in mind that the Cougars are still only 2-5 ATS their last seven games and that they managed only 54 points last time out. Also, note that they're only 8-19 ATS the past few seasons, after scoring 60 or fewer points in their previous game.
The Huskies average 84 points per game. They're 13-5 SU (10-6 ATS) the past few seasons when coming off a conference loss. I expect them to bring their "A Game" here and for that to result in a blowout victory. *10
|03-10-11||New York Knicks v. Dallas Mavericks -5.5||Top||109-127||Win||100||11 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Both these teams could be feeling the effects of fatigue. Both were involved in a hard-fought game last night and both will now be playing their fourth game in the past five nights. I expect that to favor the home team. When feeling "worn down" during the game, they should be able to draw some energy from the home fans.
It should also be noted that the Knicks will be playing their 7th game already in March (its only March 10th!) and that the Mavs will be playing their sixth. Prior to tonight's game, both teams played on March 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th. However, the Knicks had an extra game in there, as they also played on March 2nd. In other words, while its a difficult scheduling situation for both teams, its even worse for the Knicks.
Note that the Mavs are 31-19 SU the last 50 times that they played the second of back to back games. During that stretch, the Knicks are 19-32 SU when doing so. This season, the Mavs are 10-4 SU (9-5 ATS) when playing the second of b2b games.
The Mavs already blew out the Knicks at New York last month, 113-97. That puts NY in the "revenge" role and will likely have many bettors backing the Knicks, who are suddenly a very "popular" team. That's helped to keep this line generously low.
The fact that the Knicks won last night and the Mavs lost, should make Dallas a little extra hungry here. Even with a loss here last season, the Mavs are still 9-1 the last 10 times that they hosted NY, six of those victories coming by double-digits. I expect another win and cover here. *10
|03-10-11||Los Angeles Lakers v. Miami Heat +2.5||Top||88-94||Win||100||9 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Lakers come in as the much "hotter" team. The champs have been "on fire" while the Heat have been stuck in a slump. Given that they're also playing with "revenge," many will be quick to back the Lakers here. In my opinion, that's created excellent value with the Heat.
Looking at the line from the earlier meeting and we find that the Lakers were favored by -3.5 points. (The line went from -3 to -2 to -2.5 to -3 and to -3.5.) Once again, the Lakers are small favorites. Only this time, the game is being played at Miami. That means were getting nearly the same line on the Heat as we were at LA. Once again, the point that I'm trying to establish is that I feel we're getting very fair line value.
True, the Heat have been in a real funk. However, with the type of talent that they bring to the table, they're fully capable of breaking out at any time. A visit from the Lakers figures to provide plenty of motivation and I expect them to elevate their game. After all, there would be nothing like a victory over the defending champs to quiet the critics, if only temporarily.
While the Lakers have certainly been rolling, note that this isn't one of their better roles. In fact, they're only 9-14-1 ATS the past few seasons, when listed as a road favorite of -3 points or less.
The Heat "upset" the Lakers here in early March last season. I expect them to do it again tonight. *10
|03-08-11||Los Angeles Lakers v. Atlanta Hawks +5.5||Top||101-87||Loss||-110||9 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. I won with the Lakers on Sunday. The champs came through with one of their best performances of the season. Playing at San Antonio, where the Spurs were 29-2, they delivered a blowout victory. Scheduling situations play a big part in beating the NBA pointspread though and this one doesn't set up well for the Lakers. Off the blowout win at San Antonio, the champs could easily be ripe for a "letdown." After all, the Spurs had beaten them in both meetings and were the #1 team.
Additionally, the Lakers have a game vs. Miami on deck. Recent struggles notwithstanding, the Lakers know that the Heat are still a potential opponent that they'll see in the Finals. Also, the Heat hammered them (at LA) on Christmas Day. so, that makes that game a little extra "special." With this game "sandwiched" in between those two big ones, the Lakers may not be fully focused on the task at hand. (After Miami, they face Dallas and Orlando, two more "big" games.)
Off Sunday's dominant defensive effort, note that the Lakers are just 14-20 ATS the past few seasons, after allowing 85 or fewer points in their previous game.
The Hawks are off back to back losses and should be highly motivated to salvage a split of their current 4-game homestand. They did beat a good Chicago team here to begin the homestand, before losing the next two. Additional motivation should come from the fact that the Hawks were blown out at LA recently, a 104-80 victory for the Lakers on 2/22.
The Hawks are in a couple of their better roles here. They're an impressive 16-6 ATS (17-5 SU) the past few seasons, when having played their previous three games at home. During that stretch, they're also a profitable 5-1 ATS when listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range.
The Hawks are 3-0 ATS the last three seasons, when hosting the Lakers. (All three were outright wins.) With the "situation" in their favor, I expect them to rise to the occasion once again and earn at least another cover. *10
|03-07-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Charlotte Bobcats +1.5||Top||92-87||Loss||-110||9 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I won with the Clippers in their last game. They beat Denver by a score of 100-94 on Saturday. However, that was at home, where they're a much better team. They also started that game with leading scorer, Eric Gordon. At the time, I mentioned how important he was to the team. Gordon got re-injured in that game though and he's now out again. Additionally, the Clippers are now on the road. Also, on Saturday, they were facing a Denver team which may have been "patting itself on the back" a bit. Now, they'll face a "revenge-minded" Charlotte team which is desperate for a victory.
While they did manage to beat Denver without Gordon (he got injured in the 2nd quarter) the Clippers are an ugly 4-16 in games that Gordon doesn't start.
The Clippers' recent wins have both come at home. They've lost four in a row away from LA and are an awful 5-25 on the road for the season.
True, the Bobcats will also without their leading scorer, as Stephen Jackson is out. His absence is certainly significant. With much to play for and back on their home floor, I believe that his teammates can pick up the slack, at least for a game against a team as dismal on the road as the Clippers.
Like the Clippers, the Bobcats have struggled on the road recently. They're 4-1 SU/ATS their last five games here at Charlotte though, including a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS their last three here. All three victories came by double-digits. Two of their recent four wins here came against the likes of the Celtics and Lakers.
The Bobcats are 3-0 here against the Clippers the past few seasons, winning by 34 combined points. Last season, the Bobcats beat the Clippers by eight here, but were laying -10 points. With the line having fallen from its opener, we don't have to worry about having to cover a large number here.
While the Clippers have been "playing for pride" since practically the beginning of the year, the Bobcats are fighting for their playoff lives.
They're currently in 9th place in the East, one game behind 8th place Indiana. If they truly want to challenge the Pacers for that spot, they absolutely can't afford to squander an opportunity like the one they'll have tonight. I expect Silas to have them ready and look for them to bounce back with an important victory. *10
|03-06-11||Boston Celtics v. Milwaukee Bucks +7.5||Top||89-83||Win||100||10 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. I lost with the Bucks a couple of nights ago. They played the Suns tough for a half but fell apart in the second half. I'm going to give them another shot here though.
The Bucks are an excellent 11-5 ATS the last 16 times that they were off a double-digit loss. They're also 16-8 ATS the past few seasons, after having played three straight home games. That includes a 3-1 SU/ATS mark their last four in that situation.
While the Bucks are a somewhat respectable 4-3 ATS the last seven times that they were home underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range, during the same stretch, the Celtics are only 8-13 ATS as road underdogs in the -6.5 to -9 range.
The Bucks nearly won at Boston (lost by 3) in this season's only meeting. Including that cover, they're an impressive 30-13-2 ATS their last 45 games against teams from the Atlantic, going 8-1 ATS their last nine. Note that they've won 17 of the last 25 home meetings in this series and that they've gone 7-1 ATS the last eight games in the series overall.
If they want to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive, the Bucks desperately need victories. They know they play on the road after this and they know they play at Boston next week. That makes playing well here that much more important. I expect them to do just that, picking up the cover along the way. *10
|03-06-11||Los Angeles Lakers +3 v. San Antonio Spurs||Top||99-83||Win||100||5 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. Beating the Spurs at San Antonio is no easy task. Indeed, the Spurs have been outstanding (29-2) here all season long. That said, the Lakers are still the champs and I feel that they're still the team to beat in the West. This afternoon's game offers them the chance to prove that to themselves, the Spurs and to the rest of the national audience.
The Lakers have the added motivation of playing with "double-revenge," having lost both previous meetings with the Spurs. The first game was here, back in December. The most recent was in February, a 1-point Spurs victory at the Staples Center. Note that the Lakers are 18-4 SU the last 22 times that they faced a team which defeated them at home in the last meeting. Overall, during that stretch, they're an outstanding 55-19 SU in the 'revenge' role.
The Lakers are currently playing some of their best basketball of the season. Since the 1-point loss to the Spurs, they've won 10 of their last 13. That includes a perfect 6-0 (5-1 ATS) record over their last six games.
Even with the loss here earlier, the Lakers are still 8-5 ATS their last 13 trips here, including 4-2 ATS their last six.
Looking back to last season and we find that the Lakers got blown out in their first trip to San Antonio, as they did this year. However, in their second trip here, listed as small underdogs, the Lakers won outright. I expect "more of the same" here. *10
|03-05-11||Denver Nuggets v. Los Angeles Clippers -1.5||Top||94-100||Win||100||11 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. These teams have met three times so far this season. In each case, the home team has come away victorious. I expect that to be the case again this evening.
While the Nuggets have fared very well since the Carmello trade, they're still only 11-19 on the road. That's not nearly as good as LA's 17-15 mark at home.
True, the Clippers had been really struggling for some time. Much of that had to do with the fact that leading scorer Eric Gordon had been out for the past 18 games. Gordon finally returned on Wednesday and the Clippers promptly snapped a 5-game losing streak by beating Houston 106-103. It was the first time they topped the 100 point mark in nine games. Gordon led the way, scoring 24 points.
Afterwards, he was quoted as saying: "I just started shooting the ball about a week ago, but I've been staying in shape. That's all I've been doing. I've been running every day. The toughest part was just sitting there, knowing that I could have been out there helping the team in some way. It was good to finally come back and help the guys get a win."
Note that Gordon hit four "3-pointers" and scored 28 points when the Clippers beat the Nuggets by 13 here in January.
True, the Nuggets seem like they can still score. The Clippers are a healthy 20-13 ATS against teams that score 99 or more points though. They're also 5-1 SU the last six times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|03-05-11||Nebraska v. Colorado -4.5||Top||57-67||Win||100||9 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on COLORADO. The Huskers won by double-digits when these teams faced each other earlier in the season. That was at Nebraska though, where the Huskers are very tough to beat. They're not nearly as good on the road. In fact, they're just 1-6 SU and 3-4 ATS in "true" road games, 2-8 away from home overall. They're now an ugly 6-24 on the road the past few seasons.
Like their guests, the Buffaloes have had real trouble winning on the road. They're 4-10 away from Colorado. However, they're excellent here at home. They've only played two home games since 2/12. Those resulted in victories over Kansas State and Texas. Both those teams are ahead of Nebraska in the standings, both are better on the road than the Huskers. They're now an impressive 14-2 at home, going 8-3 ATS in lined games.
While the Huskers are off a home win, the Buffaloes are off a road loss. That shouldn't stop us here though. Nebraska is 6-11 ATS (5-12 SU) the past few seasons, when off a conference win. During that stretch, Colorado is 20-12 ATS when coming off a conference loss, including 5-2 ATS its last seven in that situation.
The fact that the Huskers won the earlier game is significant, as Colorado is typically a very profitable team when playing in the "revenge" role. In fact, the Buffaloes are 18-8 ATS the last 26 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. That includes a 6-2 SU/ATS mark their last eight in that role. Laying -2.5 points, the Buffaloes beat the Huskers by 12 points (72-60) here last season. I expect another win and cover here. *10
|03-05-11||Oklahoma State v. Oklahoma +1||Top||61-64||Win||100||5 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA. The Cowboys are slight favorites in this game, based largely on the fact that they've got the superior overall record. However, the Cowboys have built up their overall record up by winning at home. Winning on the road has been a different story. Likewise, the Sooners have struggled on the road but are far more respectable at home. In fact, despite a recent skid, Oklahoma's home record (11-5) remains far superior to Oklahoma State's poor 1-8 SU (2-7 ATS) mark on the road.
While the Cowboys' lone road win came at La Salle, way back on 12/4, the Sooners have earned home victories against the likes of Baylor, Texas Tech and Colorado.
While admittedly a young team, the Sooners should have plenty of motivation. Not only are they playing with "revenge" from a loss at Oklahoma City, but this is also their final regular season home game. Perhaps every bit as importantly, this game will be a "Salute to Bob Barry." The longtime voice of the Sooners has been involved in Oklahoma sports broadcasting for 50 years and this will be his final home radio broadcast. Naturally, the players would like to avenge the earlier loss and send Barry out with a victory.
More importantly, the Sooners just want a victory. They didn't play well at Texas Tech last time out and it didn't sit well with coach Capel. He was quoted as saying: "I'm really embarrassed about our performance. I really felt that we would have come out ready to fight, desperate for a win. We came out the opposite, and Texas Tech came out that way and knocked us back early. We were never in the game."
The Sooners are 2-0 ATS the last two times that they were listed as home underdogs in the pick'em to +3 range. They played the Cowboys tough at Oklahoma City (were winning at halftime and lost by 6) and they're 10-3 SU the last 13 times that they were a host in the series. They're also 5-2 ATS the last seven times that they attempted to avenge an earlier road loss. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10