Ben Burns NBA Top Sides Picks
|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|02-23-12||New York Knicks v. Miami Heat -9||Top||88-102||Win||100||10 h 59 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. The Knicks have been on a great run since Jeremy Lin showed up and they sure looked good in beating up on Atlanta last night. They're in the wrong place at the wrong time tonight though. Last night's game may have been "easy," but the Knicks still had to play. Miami had the day off. The Knicks aren't just playing a back-to-back here though. They're also playing their fourth game in the past five days. When they played the second of b2b games earlier this week they lost outright by eight (at home) vs. lowly New Jersey. Going back further finds them at 18-32 the last 50 times that they played the second of back to back games. Now, they'll be taking on a Miami team that is arguably playing better than any team in the league right now. The Heat have won seven straight - all seven wins have been by at least a dozen points. Yet, its Jeremy Lin who has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in back to back weeks and its the Knicks who continue to get the lion's share of the media coverage. That can't sit too well with Lebron and co. As far as Lebron is concerned, he should be the one getting the attention. He knows that Lin and the Knicks already beat Kobe and he's surely going to be determined not to let them same thing happen to him - not with numerous celebrities in attendance and the whole world watching. Sure, the Knicks defense was great last night. The Heat have scored 105 or more points in six of their last seven games though, including 120 last time out. Plus, note that NY is just 1-4 ATS after allowing 85 or fewer points in its last game. The Heat beat the Knicks by 10 here last month. They're playing better now and I expect them to be be even more motivated. With the schedule in their favor, I expect an even more lopsided result. *10
|02-22-12||Indiana Pacers v. Charlotte Bobcats +6||Top||102-88||Loss||-110||11 h 51 m||Show|
Reason: on CHARLOTTE. Its true that the Bobcats have been bad. Ok. Really bad. That doesn't mean that they can't provide us with strong value. With the schedule and situation in their favor, I believe that's the case this evening. These teams just faced each other on Sunday, at Indiana. The Pacers won that 2/19 game by a score of 108-73, simply running the Bobcats out of the building. That should provide the Bobcats with some added motivation here, as will the fact that Indiana also did the same thing to them (also at Indiana) back on 1/7. The Pacers won that game by a score of 99-77. A closer look reveals that the Bobcats were in a very tough scheduling spot for that 1/7 game here though. Not only were they playing the second of back to back games, they were also playing their fourth game in five days. Tonight's game sets up far more favorably. This time, the Bobcats haven't played since Sunday's loss at Indiana. On the other hand, the Pacers are off an OT game vs. the Hornets last night. The Pacers did pull away in the extra session but the game was hard fought the entire way. Indeed, ALL five starters saw at least 39 minutes of action, including Granger with 41 minutes and George with 44. Note that the Pacers failed to cover the spread last night and are now an ugly 1-9 ATS their last 10 games. They're also 0-5 ATS the last five times that they played the second of back to back games. Even with the wins over Charlotte, the Pacers are now just 8-13 ATS when laying points and 6-8 ATS against teams with a losing record. The Bobcats are 11-8-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. Off Sunday's loss, Charlotte coach Paul Silas noted: "We just have to put this behind us and continue to grow. Anytime a team wins the way they did, they'll think that they can come back and do the same thing. So hopefully we will come with more effort and energy ... " Playing with double and recent revenge, I expect a highly motivated effort from Silas' crew here, as they take this game down to the wire with an excellent shot at the outright win. *10
|02-21-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Portland Trail Blazers -3.5||Top||97-137||Win||100||12 h 30 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PORTLAND. The Spurs handed me a tough loss at Utah last night. Laying -3, they rallied for a 4-point win. They're at an even tougher venue against an even better team tonight though. They've been "living on the edge" recently and I expect their winning streak to come to an end here. The Blazers fell behind early at LA last night and lost 103-92 vs. the Lakers. They're much better at home though and they're already 2-1 SU/ATS off a double-digit loss. They've also dominated the Spurs here in recent seasons. I expect them to bounce back in a big way tonight. While they have come up just short in that situation a couple of times lately, note that the Blazers are still an outstanding 31-20-1 ATS (31-21 SU) the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. Its also worth noting that they've already 4-2 ATS (5-1 SU) as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range this season. While the Blazers are 15-5 the last 20 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range, the Spurs are a poor 7-14 when playing a road game with an O/U line in the same range. Its been a great road trip already for the Spurs, who will still be without Ginobili here. However, this is now their eighth stop on that trip and I expect them to be getting road weary. Any type of fatigue figures to be very costly against a Portland team which has already defeated the likes of OKC and the Lakers. The Blazers, who are playing with "revenge" from a 1/13 loss at San Antonio, are a perfect 6-0 the last six times that they were a host in this series. They're also 7-5 ATS the last dozen times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion as the Spurs winning streak comes to a crashing halt. *10
|02-20-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Utah Jazz +3.5||Top||106-102||Loss||-110||10 h 29 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on UTAH. The Spurs have been on a very impressive roll. I expect it to finally come to an end tonight though. Yes, the Jazz are playing the second of back to back games here, having lost at Houston last night. This is still only their third game in the past six days though, so its arguably not as difficult as some b2b situations. Also, in regards to last night's game, note that the Jazz are 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS the last eight times that they were off a double-digit loss. The Jazz won their last home game by double-digits. They're 12-5 SU and 10-6-1 ATS here, continuing years of strong homecourt play. They're now 68-36 on this floor the past few seasons, 479-191 the past 10+ years. The Spurs are off a rather fortunate win over the Clippers. The Spurs were down three in the closing seconds and LA had the ball. Yet, they managed to force OT and go on to earn the victory. Give them credit - however, they could have easily been beaten. Its definitely very important to look at how teams handle the second of back-to-back games. However, its also important to consider how teams fare when playing the front end of b2b games. That comes into play here as the Spurs have a big showdown vs. Portland on deck tomorrow night. I played against the Spurs exactly one month ago (on 1/20) when they were playing the front end of back to back games, at Sacraemento. At the time, I noted that the Spurs were 0-4 ATS their last four in that situation. They went on to lose outright, falling to 0-5 ATS. Since that time, the Spurs have gone 2-1 ATS in that situation. However, it should be noted that one of the ATS wins was a 1-point SU loss, which wouldn't get it done here. Last time that they played the front end of b2b games, the Spurs failed to cover at Detroit. They're now 2-6 ATS their last eight in that situation. Note that the Spurs, who will be without Ginobili here, are just 8-12 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as road favorites of -3 or fewer points, going 1-3 ATS their last four in that situation. Playing with revenge from a blowout loss on New Year's Eve, I expect the Jazz to rise to the occasion and score the upset. *10 (Best Bet)
|02-20-12||Memphis Grizzlies v. Houston Rockets -3||Top||93-97||Win||100||9 h 29 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on HOUSTON. We're getting a fairly low line on the Rockets here, due partly to the fact that they played yesterday. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on what should be a highly motivated Rockets team, one which is quietly playing very well here. The Rockets hosted Utah yesterday. Laying -6, they won by 16. Now, they're laying a much smaller number, again due in part to the fact that they played last night. The Rockets have actually played well when playing the second of b2b games though. The last time they were in that situation, they defeated Oklahoma City, a 96-95 win on 2/15. I won with Houston in that game. At the time, I noted the following, a small excerpt from the analysis of that game: "... In addition to being tough on their home floor, the Rockets have shown an ability to be able to play well, when playing the second of back-to-back games, an important skill in this year's NBA. In fact, Houston is 6-1 ATS the last seven times it played the second of b2b games, most recently winning outright as a +4 point underdog..." Naturally, with the win over the Thunder, the Rockets are now 7-1 ATS the last eight times that they played the second of b2b games. That game against Oklahoma City was "double-revenge" spot for the Rockets as OKC had beaten them in both previous meetings. That's the case again tonight, as the Rockets have dropped both games to the Grizzlies. That should provide plenty of motivation. Both earlier meetings came at Memphis, where the Grizzlies are much better. Tonight, the Rockets finally catch the Grizzlies here at Houston, where they are much better. With yesterday's victory, the Rockets are now an an impressive 12-4 SU and 11-5 ATS on this floor. Memphis checks in at 6-9 SU and 7-8 ATS on the road. The Grizzlies are averaging 87.9 points and allowing 92.3 on the road. The Rockets are allowing a similar number (93.5) here at home. However, they're also scoring an impressive 99.9 here at home, a dozen more than Memphis scores on the road. The Rockets are now 9-3 ATS against winning teams. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, are only 7-12 ATS against winning teams. The Rockets have also absolutely owned the Grizzlies here. They've beaten them 10 straight times here and 25 out of 30. All things considered, the low number seems more than fair. *10 (Personal Favorite)
|02-19-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Phoenix Suns +3||Top||90-102||Win||100||10 h 57 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PHOENIX. If you read my O/U report from this same game, you know that these teams just faced each other at LA, a couple of nights ago. You'll also know that the Lakers won that one convincingly, a 111-99 victory. Tonight's rematch is at Phoenix though. I expect the revenge-minded Suns to bounce back and return the favor. While the Lakers are favored here, that's certainly not due to their play on the road this season. Indeed, they're an awful 5-10 SU as the road team, going an even worse 4-11 ATS. They've been outscored 95.8 to 90.7 in those games. While the Lakers have won three straight, note that they're an ugly 1-4 ATS the last five times that they were off three straight wins, going a money-burning 33-40-1 ATS in that situation the past few seasons. While the Suns admittedly haven't been great at home either, they've been better here than the Lakers have been on the road. This team is still 66-37 SU here the past few seasons. True, the Suns have struggled lately. With 2-time MVP Steve Nash rested, they're still a dangerous team though - particularly when motivated. Nash, who had 17 assists in Friday's game, leads the league at 10.9 assists per game. He's also capable of taking over himself though and I won't be surprised if he looks to score more himself in this one. Desperate to snap their skid, playing with immediate revenge and with Kobe essentially "trash-talking" them, I expect we'll see the best of the Suns here. Most likely, the ATS winner of this game will also be the SU winner. However, with the Suns getting a few points, its worth noting that three of the last six games played on this floor have been decided by three points or less, two of them by two points. The Suns are 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS off a double-digit loss. They're 23-17 SU their last 40 in that situation. They're also 4-2-1 ATS (4-3 SU) off a game in which they allowed 105 or more points. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|02-18-12||Golden State Warriors +6.5 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||103-104||Win||100||10 h 21 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. I like how this one sets up for the visiting team. Both teams played yesterday. The Warriors suffered a blowout loss at Oklahoma City. The Grizzlies earned a hard-fought 103-102 win over Denver. The Grizzlies arguably had to work harder in their win than did the Warriors in their loss. Indeed, no Golden State player played more than 30 minutes. Meanwhile, five Grizzlies played at least 30 minutes, including Conley with 38 minutes and Gasol and Gay with 41 each. The Grizzlies are also arguably in a more difficult scheduling spot. Obviously, both teams are in a b2b spot. Both teams are also playing their third game in four days. However, the Grizzlies will also now be playing their fourth game in the past five days; that is not the case for Golden State. Golden State has fared pretty well when playing the back end of b2b games. The last time that the Warriors played the second of back to back games, they beat Phoenix by six points. Earlier in the season, the Warriors beat Chicago when playing the second of b2b games. They've only lost twice in that situation this season and those losses came by an average of just four points. This is a fairly big number, considering that the Grizzlies have been involved in a lot of close games recently. They've played seven straight games which have been decided by 10 or fewer points and five of those were decided by six or less. The Warriors have also been involved in some close games recently. Prior to last night's loss, they'd won three of five. The three victories all came by single-digits and the two losses were by just five combined points. Speaking of "close games," this season's lone meeting saw the Grizzlies go to Oakland and upset the Warriors, 91-90. That should provide some added motivation for the Warriors to return the favor. Listed as +6 points underdogs, the Warriors won outright (109-101 at Denver) the last time that they played on the road. In a game that could easily again come down to the wire, I'll gladly grab the points. That said, I expect the Warriors to step up and score another outright win. *10
|02-17-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Philadelphia 76ers -2.5||Top||82-75||Loss||-110||12 h 11 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I won with the Mavericks in their last game. That was against a short-handed Denver team though. Also, the game was being played at Dallas, where the champs are a solid 12-5. The Mavs are only 7-6 on the road though. Tonight they'll be the short-handed squad. They'll also be taking on what should be a very determined 76ers team, one which is 13-5 here at Philadelphia. All teams "get up" for a game against the defending champs. I expect that to be particularly true of the 76ers. They've dropped a few recent games against "elite" teams and know that a big win here would go a long way to quieting the critics. While the 76'ers will be sky high with a chance to beat the champs on National TV, off five straight wins, the Mavs may be starting to get a little complacent. Even if that's not the case, they're going to have their hands full. Their task is even tougher when considering that they're expected to be without Jason Terry and Delonte West. Terry is a veteran player with a knack for hitting big shots when the Mavs really need him to. West is considered to be the Mavs' top perimeter defender. Both figured to be missed against a very deep Philadelphia team. The 76ers are 3-0 ATS after playing three straight on the road. They're also 2-1 SU/ATS off a double-digit loss. Even better, they're 16-7 ATS when listed as favorites. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|02-15-12||Denver Nuggets v. Dallas Mavericks -7||Top||84-102||Win||100||11 h 23 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on DALLAS. While they won by only four (a push for most) last time out, the Mavericks are rolling. The defending champs have now won four straight, going 2-1-1 ATS. That includes a 10-point win over these same Nuggets. While Denver would surely love to avenge that loss, its not a good spot to do so. The Mavs are rested. They had last night off. They played Monday and had Sunday off. The Nuggets, on the other hand, are off a win vs. Phoenix last night. They're already 0-2 SU/ATS in February when playing the second of back-to-back games. Note that the Nuggets have been playing without Gallinari, their leading scorer. Also, note that the Nuggets played last night's game without Nene, who could be out again. Additionally, the Nuggets have been without center Mozgov for six straight games. The Mavs did win at Denver recently. However, having been beaten by the Nuggets at Dallas, (at the beginning of the season when they were struggling) the Mavs figure to still have some payback on their minds. The Mavs are 3-0 ATS as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion here. *10 (Personal Favorite)
|02-15-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Houston Rockets +4||Top||95-96||Win||100||11 h 53 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on HOUSTON. Both teams played last night. The Thunder won easily against Utah. The Rockets lost at Memphis. That's one of the reasons I expect the Rockets to be a little more "hungry" than their guests this evening. The other reason is that the Rockets will be playing with "double-revenge." These teams met at OKC on 1/6. The Thunder won by 15. They played again here at Houston the next night. The Rockets played much better. While Durant beat them in the closing seconds, the Rockets lost by only three points, which was good enough for a cover. I won't be surprised if they take it one step further and score the outright upset this time. While the Thunder have been very good on the road, the Rockets have been arguably even better at home. The Thunder are 12-5 SU and 10-7 ATS away from OKC. The Rockets are 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS at home. A closer look shows that the Thunder are only outscoring teams by a 100.5 to 98.1 margin on the road. On the other hand, the Rockets are outscoring teams by a 100.2 to 92.1 margin here at Houston. Last time on this floor, the Rockets smashed the Suns by 17 points. In addition to being tough on their home floor, the Rockets have shown an ability to be able to play well, when playing the second of back-to-back games, an important skill in this year's NBA. In fact, Houston is 6-1 ATS the last seven times it played the second of b2b games, most recently winning outright as a +4 point underdog. The Rockets are 7-3 ATS against teams with a winning record and they're 4-2 SU/ATS as a host in this series, since the Thunder moved from Seattle. The Rockets have already beaten two of the other top teams in the West here. Not only did they beat Portland, they defeated the Spurs here twice. I'll grab the points but look for them to step up and score the outright upset here. *10 (Best Bet)
|02-14-12||Miami Heat v. Indiana Pacers +2.5||Top||105-90||Loss||-110||9 h 43 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on INDIANA. The Heat hammered the Pacers in this season's lone meeting. That 118-83 beatdown was played at Miami though. Tonight's rematch is being played at Indiana, where the Pacers have a solid 7-3 record. Playing with revenge from their worst loss of the season and with the schedule strongly in their favor, I expect the Pacers to get some payback tonight. The Heat are a very good team, obviously. When they're clicking, they can make it look easy. This is a very tough spot for them. Last night, the Heat played a big "double revenge" game at Milwaukee. That was a big game for Miami, having lost both previous games to the Heat. Coach Spoelstra noted that Milwaukee had his attention and that Heat had to win what he described as the high-effort "fistfight battles" on the court. They did. Still, that required considerable effort. Lebron played 33 minutes. Bosh played 30 and Wade played 28. Those numbers aren't so bad by themselves. However, when also factoring in that Lebron and Bosh also both played 30 or more minutes on Sunday, we may well start to see a bit of fatigue this evening. Not only will this be Miami's third game in three days, it will also be the sixth game in eight days. All six of those have been in different cities, too. Off that grueling stretch of games and knowing they have a rest followed by a visit to Lebron's old stomping grounds (Clev.) the Heat could easily "let down" a little in the intensity department, too. Even with last night's cover, the Heat are still only 3-6 ATS when playing the second of back to back games. While the Heat are playing their third game in three days, the Pacers have had the past two day's off. The Pacers were upset (lost by 4 as a 3-pt favorite) by Denver last time out. They're 4-1 ATS (5-0 SU!) the last five times that they were off an upset loss though. I expect them to rise to the occasion and improve on those stats here. *10
|02-13-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Dallas Mavericks -4||Top||92-96||Push||0||12 h 27 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on DALLAS. These teams met last month. The Clippers won that 1/18 meeting by a score of 91-89. That was at LA though and the Clippers got 21 points, including the winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, from Chauncy Billups. The Mavericks also entered that game off a close loss vs. the Lakers, which may have been a bit deflating. Things are different this time though. This time, the Mavs are off a close victory, rather than a close loss. They've won three straight and have some positive momentum. This time, the Mavs won't have to worry about Billups beating them at the buzzer. Most importantly, this time they'll be facing the Clippers here at Dallas. True, the Clippers didn't have Chris Paul for the earlier meeting. Obviously, he makes them a lot better. However, as noted, Billups had a huge game in the earlier meeting and won't be here this time. Also, having lost to the Clippers when they were without their best player, should provide the Mavs with some added motivation here. Additionally, note that the Mavs played the first meeting without Vince Carter and when Kidd was still working his way back into game shape. Even with the loss at LA, the Mavs are still 5-1 ATS against teams from the Pacific. Going back further finds them at an outstanding 30-15-1 ATS (37-9 SU) against Pacific teams the past few seasons. On the other hand, during the same stretch, the Clippers remain a money-burning 11-28-1 ATS (11-29 SU) against teams from the Southwest. The Clippers are off an impressive 111-86 blowout win. That was at Charlotte though and the Bobcats are the worst team in the league. Note that LA is already 2-4-1 ATS after scoring 105 or more in their previous game. They're now an awful 14-28-2 ATS after scoring 105 or more the past few seasons. In addition to being 5-3-1 ATS (9-0 SU!) the last nine times that they were a host in this series, the Mavs are 5-4 ATS (6-3 SU) the last nine times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. Dirk had this to say of today's game: "The Clippers beat us there a couple of weeks ago on a last-second shot. They
|02-13-12||Utah Jazz v. New Orleans Hornets +4||Top||80-86||Win||100||12 h 57 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. No question about it. The Hornets are struggling. However, even "struggling teams" can be a good bet when the situation is favorable for them. In tonight's case, I feel that the Hornets have a lot going for them. The Hornets have been dealing with some injuries. Therefore, having had the past two days off figures to be beneficial. (They're a profitable 73-51 ATS the past several seasons with 2 day's off.) The players they do have will be fresh. That is not the case for the Jazz. Utah is coming off a hard-fought win at Memphis last night. Three starters saw at least 34 minutes of action. The Jazz will now be playing their third game in the past four days. Perhaps even more importantly, it should also be noted that the Jazz play again tomorrow. That's an important "revenge" game against Oklahoma City. Not only did the Thunder just beat the Jazz (at Utah) but they're also the top team in Utah's division. So, there could easily be some "looking ahead" going on. In other words, the Jazz may not be full focused on a struggling non-divisional opponent like New Orleans. The Jazz aren't a good enough road team to take anyone lightly though. Even with last night's victory, they're still just 3-7 on the road. As they're laying a small handful of points, note that one of Utah's three road victories came by a single point, too. The Jazz are now 43-54 away from Salt Lake City the past 2+ seasons. While they haven't been getting any "W's" to show for it, the Hornets have still been playing hard. They've faced some tough teams of late as their last two games have come against Chicago and Portland. Last time out, they lost by eight vs. the Blazers and that marked their fourth loss of eight or fewer points in their past five games. A closer look at the Portland game shows that the Hornets were actually within two points with less than one minute remaining. Coach Monty Williams had this to say of the team's effort: "When I look at this game, I see guys who fought, who competed, who were put in a tough situation and battled all night. I'm proud to be around a group of guys who fight no matter what the situation. We have to get better down the stretch, but we had guys out there who had never been in that position and it was a good learning experience." Speaking of "close" games, the Hornets covered at Salt Lake City in this season's lone meeting. Utah won. But only by four. This is the final game of a homestand for the Hornets, as their next six come on the road. That said, I expect them to be extremely motivated to snap their skid. With the schedule in their favor, I look for them to do just that. *10
|02-11-12||New York Knicks v. Minnesota Timberwolves -6||Top||100-98||Loss||-105||11 h 19 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MINNESOTA. Both teams played last night. With new start Jeremy Lin leading the way, the Knicks knocked off the Lakers. Meanwhile, Minnesota was defeated by Dallas, its second straight loss. I expect that situation to favor the T-Wolves and for them to bounce back with a big win and cover. Last night's win was huge for the Knicks, as it came vs. the Lakers at MSG. All the stars were out and the game was on National TV. Off that emotional victory, I won't be surprised if they suffer a letdown here. On the other hand, off back to back losses, the T-Wolves should be extremely motivated to "right the ship." Note that the T-Wolves did not have to travel off last night's game while the Knicks did. Also, note that the Knicks are 2-5-1 ATS when playing the second of back to back games while the T-Wolves are 6-3 ATS when they've done so. Also, note that the Knicks are already playing their 7th game since 2/2. This will be the T-Wolves sixth game, during the same stretch. That extra game squeezed in there, making this the Knicks 7th game in 10 days, figures to take a toll here. Keep in mind that they're still without Carmelo and are again expected to also be without Stoudemire. The T-Wolves beat the Knicks by nine here last season. The previous season, they beat NY by 21 here. In fact, they're 4-1 SU/ATS the last five times that they were a host in the series, going 11-3 SU the last 14 meetings here. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion here. *10 (Personal Favorite)
|02-10-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Utah Jazz +1.5||Top||101-87||Loss||-110||12 h 13 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on UTAH. The Thunder are a very good team. In fact, they've got the best record in the entire Western Conference. That doesn't mean that there aren't good spots to play against them though. One just has to choose them wisely. I successfully played against the Thunder when they lost outright at Washington. I also successfully played against them last night. They lost outright at Sacramento. Tonight, the Thunder are playing at a far more difficult venue and playing in an extremely tough scheduling spot. I expect them to stumble once again. The Thunder are a team with young legs. However, they're still only 3-5 ATS when playing the second of back to back games. This is far worse than just a "normal" back to back spot though. The Thunder are also playing their fourth road game in the past five days. In fact, this is already their seventh game through the first 10 days of February. Not only were nearly all seven of those of the "hard-fought variety," they were also ALL in different cities. That's a lot of traveling and a lot of playing already this month. Thankfully, the Thunder get three nights off after tonight. After that, they get to face these same Jazz, at Oklahoma City. Armed with this knowledge, I won't be surprised if they have a bit of a letdown here. Of course, even if the Thunder bring their "A-Game" it doesn't guarantee a win here at Salt Lake City. The Jazz beat the Lakers by nine in their last game here. Prior to that, they lost by two vs. the Clippers, a team that they'd previously crushed here. That was preceded by a victory over a very solid Portland team. The Jazz, who have had the past two days off, are 11-4 here at home. That's a better record than the Thunder (11-5 on the road) boast away from OKC. While the Thunder are only outscoring opponents by 1.7 points per game (100.4 to 98.7) on the road, the Jazz are outscoring opponents by a 99 to 92.9 margin (6.1 ppg) here at Utah. Going back further finds the Jazz at an impressive 67-35 here the past few seasons. While the Thunder have had some trouble in back to back spots, the Jazz are 3-0 SU/ATS when playing with two day's rest in between games. They're 16-7 SU and 13-8-2 ATS their last 21 in that situation. They had some trouble against the Thunder here last season. However, with the schedule solidly in their favor, I expect them to come away with the win and cover tonight. *10
|02-10-12||Miami Heat v. Washington Wizards +13||Top||106-89||Loss||-110||9 h 35 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WASHINGTON. Obviously, there's a class difference between these two teams. The Heat could win the title this year. The Wizards won't be making the playoffs. That said, I feel that this line is too high. Off a 102-89 loss to the Magic, many will probably expect the Heat to bounce back with a big win of their own here. They don't always respond that way though. In fact, they're only 12-16 SU (12-15-1 ATS) the past 28 times that they were off a double-digit loss. The Heat have had some big wins of late. Prior to the Orlando loss, they blew out Cleveland, Lebron's fomer team. That game was close much of the way though and before that, they beat Toronto by only six. Before that, they hammered Philadelphia. However, before that they'd lost at Milwaukee and six of seven games had been decided by 11 or less. With the loss at Orlando, the Heat are now just 3-8 ATS their last 11 games. The Wizards are off a disappointing 14 point loss against the Knicks. They won their previous game though. Only five of their last 14 games has resulted in a loss of greater than 10 points. While I've won by playing against them this month, I backed the Wizards when they hosted and defeated Oklahoma City last month. I bring up that game for two reasons. For starters, the fact that they beat the Thunder, one of the top teams in the league, should give the Wizards the confidence to know that they compete with any team, even the Heat. The other reason I noted the Thunder game was that I wanted to point out that the Wizards were only +10.5 point underdogs for that game. At the time, they were on an 0-4 ATS streak, just as they are now. The Thunder have the best record in the West and their 11-5 road record is superior to Miami's 7-5 (4-8 ATS) mark on the road. Meanwhile, the Bulls have the best record in the entire NBA and a 13-5 road record to boot. Yet, they were laying only -9 when they played here. Chicago won by 10. Yet, today the Heat, who are an ugly 4-9 ATS against teams with a losing record, are laying a larger number than either the Thunder or the Bulls were. I feel that's providing excellent value on the Wizards, who are still playing hard. I look for the Wizards to come ready to play and am grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|02-09-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Sacramento Kings +6.5||Top||101-106||Win||100||12 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. I lost or "pushed" (depending on when and where one played) by going against the Thunder in their last game. The Thunder won by three at Golden State. The Thunder are laying a considerably larger number here though. Given the number of close games that both teams have been involved in recently, I feel that number is generously high. Yes, the Thunder are a very good team. They've been playing a lot of close games of late though. In fact, other than one double-digit loss, every one of their February games had been decided by single-digits, the last two by just three and four. They'll face a Sacramento team which has quietly been playing very well of late. In fact, the Kings are a perfect 6-0 ATS their last six games. They've won three of their last four games outright and the lone loss came by only two points. All six game Speaking of close games, the six meetings between the Kings and Thunder here at Sacramento (since Seattle moved to OKC) have been decided by only 23 combined points, none decided by more than eight. That's an average margin of less than four per game. The Kings have beaten the Lakers, Pacers and Blazers here. Last time out, they defeated the Warriors by eight, the same team that just took the Thunder down to the wire. While both teams had yesterday off, the Kings still arguably have a scheduling advantage. That's because the Thunder will still be playing their fifth game in seven days here, each of them in a different city. Additionally, while the Kings have tomorrow off, the Thunder have a divisional showdown vs. Utah on deck tomorrow. I won't be surprised if this one is also decided at the buzzer and am grabbing all the points I can get. *10 Main Event
|02-07-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Golden State Warriors +2.5||Top||119-116||Loss||-103||13 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. Scheduling should always be considered. In this year's abbreviated NBA season, its arguably more important than ever. In tonight's case, the Warriors should have a significant scheduling advantage. The Warriors have had the past two day's off. That's a fairly rare luxury these days. Its also a situation which they've gone a profitable 16-10 ATS in, the past 2+ seasons. The Warriors have played with two or more day's rest three times so far in 2012. They beat Miami outright. They also beat Sacramento. The third game resulted in a 1-point loss vs. Memphis. In other words, they've been extremely competitive when their players have had fresh legs. Unlike their hosts, the Thunder were involved in a game last night. They're still a young team, so many might not worry too much about the back-to-back situation. However, this season has already been grueling for all teams, young and old. Also, this isn't just a "normal" back-to-back spot. That's because last night's game was an all out war at Portland, one of the toughest venues in the league. Playing with revenge from an earlier loss, the Thunder left it all out on the floor and ended up beating the Blazers in OT. It was an emotional (and controversial) win and figures to have been exhausting. Durant played 45 minutes. Westbrook and Harden played 41 and 42, respectively. Meanwhile, Perkins and Ibaka chipped in 36 and 38 minutes. That's A LOT of time for the starters to have been on the floor. As if last night's heavy minutes weren't bad enough, the Thunder will now also be playing their fourth game in the past five days. Its only the seventh day of February and the Thunder will already be playing in their fifth different city this month. Meanwhile, the Warriors will be playing just their third game of February and all three of them have been here in California. In fact, they haven't left the state of California since a 1/18 game at New Jersey. The Warriors have long been better here and they've been particularly tough at home recently. They've won two home games in a row and three of their last four here. The lone loss came against these same Thunder, which puts them in the "revenge" role here. The Thunder are indeed a good team. However, the Warriors have shown that they can beat good teams. They hammered a solid Utah team 119-101 last game here. Home wins against Portland and Miami were even more impressive. They beat the Thunder here last February and I look for them to score the upset tonight. *10
|02-07-12||Phoenix Suns v. Milwaukee Bucks -7||Top||107-105||Loss||-110||10 h 15 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. Scheduling should always be considered. In this year's abbreviated NBA season, its arguably more important than ever. In tonight's case, the Bucks should have a significant scheduling advantage. The Bucks have had the past two day's off. That's a fairly rare luxury in the NBA these days. The last time that they played with two day's off, they went into New York and destroyed the Knicks. Listed as +4.5 underdogs, they won that one by a score of 100-86. Unlike their hosts, the Suns were involved in a game last night. They're not a young team either. Nash, playing on his 38th birthday and with a banged-up shoulder, saw more than 30 minutes. Likewise for Hill and Gortat, who played 30 and 35. Frye and Dudley both played 28 minutes. Note that the Suns are just 19-23 ATS the last couple of seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. The last time that they played a road game, after having played the previous night, they lost outright at Toronto. Note that this is also much worse than a typical back to back spot. That's because the Suns will also be playing their fourth game in the past five nights. Its only the seventh day of February and the Suns will already be playing in their fifth different city this month. The Blucks were blown out last time out. That was against Chicago though and the were playing the second of back to back games. As noted, they're now well-rested. They've only played one road game this month and that was at Detroit. Even with the loss to the Bulls, the Bucks are still a solid 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS at home. That's much better than the Suns' 5-8 SU and 6-7 ATS mark on the road. That's no surprise though. The Bucks are now 59-36 at home the past couple of seasons while the Suns are only 48-55 on the road. The Bucks, who are playing with revenge from an earlier loss at Phoenix, are an impressive 27-18-1 ATS the past 2+ seasons, when off a double-digit loss. With the schedule in their favor, I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion tonight. *10
|02-06-12||Utah Jazz v. New York Knicks -3||Top||88-99||Win||100||9 h 1 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW YORK. I won with the Jazz on Saturday, as they took care of LA by a score of 96-87. That was at Salt Lake City though. They're 2-5 on the road and they've lost six of their last seven visits to MSG. I expect them to stumble here again tonight. While not getting much respect yet, the Knicks are quietly starting to play better. They won by seven last game here and have now won two of three at home. The lone loss came by only three vs. Chicago, one of the best teams in the league. After struggling at the betting window to begin the season, the Knicks have gone 4-1-1 ATS their last six games. The Knicks also 6-0 ATS the last six times they were a host in this series. They scored 131 against the Jazz here last season, a 131-109 destruction. Both teams had yesterday off. The Knicks also have tomorrow off though while the Jazz play at Indiana. The Jazz are 0-2 SU and 0-1-1 ATS the last two times that they played the front end of b2b games. The last time they did so on the road, they lost by 15. Although they didn't get it done vs. Cleveland on 1/25, the Knicks are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were favored by four or fewer points, going a profitable 10-5 ATS in that situation. With this number having come down a bit from its opener, I expect the Knicks to improve on those stats here. *10
|02-06-12||Toronto Raptors v. Washington Wizards -4||Top||108-111||Loss||-100||10 h 57 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WASHINGTON. These teams just faced each other at Toronto on Friday. I won with the Raptors in that game. That game set up really well for the Raptors. Not only were the Raptors rested and playing at home, they were also off back-to-back blowout losses AND were looking to avenge a blowout loss suffered here at Washington. That combination of factors virtually ensured the Raptors would at least "play hard" and bring their best effort, which I felt would be more than enough, given the Wizards' poor play on the road. It was. Toronto played one of its best games all season and won by a score of 106-89. The shoe is on the other foot here though. This time, its the Wizards who are rested and playing at home. This time, its the Wizards who are off back to back blowout losses. This time, its also the Wizards who are playing with "revenge." As they did for the Raptors at Toronto, those factors should lead to the Wizards playing extremely hard here. As it did for the Raptors at Toronto, I expect that extra motivation and effort to result in a big win and cover for the Wizards here. While Washington had yesterday off, the Raptors were involved in a hard fought game against former teammate Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat. While they ultimately fell short, the Raptors really battled the Heat hard in that one. Give them credit for that. However, expect it to take a toll on them here. Remember, that the Raptors are still playing without their star (Bargnani) and his absence figures to hurt them even more in this back to back spot. Keep in mind that the last time that the Raptors played the second of b2b games, that they lost by 36 points. They shot 34% and their opponent shot 52%. Also, note that the Wizards have quietly gone 3-0 SU/ATS in 2012 when listed as favorites. They're now 5-1 ATS the last six times that they were laying points. The Wizards have beaten the Raptors three straight times here, including a 93-78 win on 1/10. Going back further finds them at 11-4 SU and 9-5-1 ATS the last 15 series meetings here. Catching the short-handed Raptors off yesterday's hard-fought loss, I expect another win and cover for the Wizards here. *10 Personal Favorite
|02-05-12||Memphis Grizzlies v. Boston Celtics -4||Top||80-98||Win||100||2 h 4 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on BOSTON. These teams have similar records. The Celtics are 12-10. The Grizzlies are 12-11. The Celtics' 8-6 home record is considerably better than the Grizzlies 5-8 mark on the road though. With this game being played at Boston, I expect the Celts to have the advantage. In addition to having homecourt advantage, I really like how this one sets up for Boston. Both teams had yesterday off. The Grizzlies blew a big lead and are off a disappointing loss in their last game though, which can be deflating. Meanwhile, the Celtics are off a close win, which can provide momentum. They've now won six of seven. Additionally, the Grizzlies are playing the final game of a road trip here - and this is a very early game, which can be tough on the road team. More importantly, they've got a big game vs. the Spurs on deck tomorrow. Not only are the Spurs the top team in the Grizzlies' conference, its a rematch of last year's playoffs. So, that's a very big game for them and it would easy to get caught thinking ahead. On the other hand, the Celtics have been at home for the entire month of February. And, they have no game tomorrow. Additionally, when they do play on Tuesday - it'll be a home game against Charlotte, a non-divisional team which is currently the worst in the entire league. So, unlike Memphis, they have no reason to "look ahead" or to try and save themselves for tomorrow. The Celtics are already 4-1 SU/ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 170s, as these types of low-scoring games (or ones which are expected to be low-scoring) seem to be to their liking. With the schedule and homecourt in their favor, I expect them to improve on those stats this afternoon. *10
|02-04-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Utah Jazz -2.5||Top||87-96||Win||100||11 h 24 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on UTAH. The Jazz have payback on their minds, as the Lakers have already beaten them twice this season. This should be the perfect spot to exact some revenge. While the Lakers played a hard-fought game in the high-altitude of Denver last night, the Jazz had the day off. The Jazz are dealing with some injuries but I expect the day off to have helped and look for them to come together for this important game. Note the LA is just 3-5 ATS when playing the second of back to back games. Yes, the Lakers are off back to back road wins. They're still only 3-7 SU/ATS on the road for the season though. They've been outscored by an average score of 97.5 to 91.6 on the road. On the other hand, the Jazz are 10-4 SU and 8-5-1 ATS at home. They've outscored opposing teams by a 99.2 to 93.3 margin here. LA is not in one of its better roles. The Lakers are 8-15 ATS (7-16 SU) the past few seasons as a road underdog of three or fewer points. The Jazz got hammered at Golden State last time out. That was a tough scheduling spot for them though. Now, as noted, they've had a day off. They're 26-17-1 ATS (28-16 SU) the past couple of seasons when off a double-digit loss. With an O/U line in the high 180s, note that the Lakers are a dismal 3-10 SU/ATS the past couple of seasons when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range. During the same stretch, the Jazz are an impressive 8-2 SU/ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the same range. The Lakers head east for some games against some top teams from the Eastern Conference. Off last night's win and having already beaten the Jazz twice, they could easily get caught looking ahead here. Not so for the Jazz, who should be fully focused on the task at hand. Payback. *10
|02-03-12||Minnesota Timberwolves v. New Jersey Nets +5||Top||108-105||Win||100||9 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. Its true that the Nets are a little short-handed right now. However, that hasn't stopped them from playing well. Having had last night off, they got a bit of rest, which should serve them well. Getting a handful of points at home, with a line which has climbed from its opener, I believe they're providing us with excellent value. The T-Wolves are an exciting young team and they're clearly improved from recent seasons. They've also played well on the road. That said, I don't feel they're ready to be laying this many points in a game away from Minnesota. Even with a couple of recent wins, note that they've still only won five of their last 20 road games. Also, note the the T-Wolves are just 3-6 ATS on the season when laying points. That includes a 0-4 ATS mark their last four as favorites. While the T-Wolves lost by 10 last time out, the Nets are off a victory. In fact, they've won three of their last five, including a win at Philadelphia. After a slow start here, they've now also won three of their last five here at home. Going back a bit further finds New Jersey at a profitable 8-6 ATS its last 14 overall. The Nets do have a divisional game against the Knicks tomorrow. However, that's also the case for the T-Wolves as they'll face Houston (for the third time) tomorrow. The Nets have won five of the last six home meetings with the T-Wolves and the lone loss came by only four points. Five of those six games were decided by eight or fewer points and four of them were decided by four or less. Last year's meeting here saw the Nets win by a score of 107-105. This one could easily again come down to the wire and I'm grabbing all those generous points. *10
|01-30-12||Chicago Bulls v. Washington Wizards +9.5||Top||98-88||Loss||-110||9 h 49 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WASHINGTON. Tough spot for the Bulls, as they're off a hard-fought emotional loss at Miami yesterday. While the Heat are the top team in the Southeast, the Bulls have the top team in the Atlantic (Philly) on deck. That being the case, it may be easy to get caught looking past lowly Washington. Note that the Bulls won by six when hosting Charlotte, the last time that they played the second of back to back games. The Wizards are starting to play better basketball and have won two of three since the coaching change.They had yesterday off after a road win on Saturday. They won their last home game, too. A look at their last six home games shows that they only won two of those games. However, ALL four losses came by eight or fewer points - and those four games were fairly against good teams. They lost by six vs. Boston. They lost by four vs. Denver. They lost by eight vs. Houston while crushing Charlotte. Most impressive, they also beat Oklahoma City. After Saturday's win, John Wall had this to say of the Wizards: "We had good balance. I think nobody cared about who scored. We just went out there and played basketball. That
|01-27-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Golden State Warriors +4.5||Top||120-109||Loss||-110||13 h 35 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. I won with the Warriors in their last game. They knocked off a good Portland team. They're up against another tough opponent here, as the Thunder are among the best in the West. I expect the Warriors to be up for the challenge though. Yes, the Thunder are a good team which is off to a strong start. They've only been mediocre at the betting window though and they're in one of their worst roles here. Indeed, the Thunder are an ugly 5-11 ATS the last 16 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. Even before the victory over the Blazers, the Warriors had been very competitive against quality teams here. In addition to victories over the likes of Chicago and New York, the Warriors lost by one in games vs. Memphis and Utah and by three vs. Indiana. Speaking of close games, these teams have played some thrillers against each other. The Warriors won by six when they hosted the Thunder last season. They lost by only one in the game at Oklahoma City too, a 115-114 loss. So, they played the Thunder very tough last year, easily going 2-0 ATS. In fact, the Warriors are a perfect 4-0 ATS against the Thunder the past two seasons and ALL four of those games were decided by six or fewer points. The Warriors have won three of the last four home meetings with the Thunder. They're playing much better defense this season and they've also got the scorers to go "toe-to-toe" with the Thunder. I expect another close game and won't be at all surprised when the Warriors score the outright win. *10
|01-26-12||Boston Celtics v. Orlando Magic -8.5||Top||91-83||Loss||-107||9 h 14 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ORLANDO. These teams just faced each other on Monday, at Boston. Despite missing several players, including Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, the Celtics hammered the Magic by a score of 87-56. Obviously, the Magic weren't too happy about that embarrassing loss. With tonight's rematch being played at Orlando, I expect a vastly different result. Even with a couple of recent wins, the Celtics are still only 7-9 on the season. That includes a 2-4 mark on the road. It appears likely that they'll have Rondo back here but are still expected to be without Allen. It should be mentioned that the Celtics are a terrible 19-47 ATS the last 66 times that they were off a double-digit victory. The Magic bounced back from the loss at Boston by crushing the Pacers (at Indiana) the next night. They're now 12-5 on the season and that includes a 6-2 mark here at home. Note that they were underdogs for the game at Indiana and that they're 7-2 SU the last nine times that they were off an "upset" victory. While they've now lost four straight at Boston, the Magic are 13-6 SU the last 19 times that they hosted the Celtics. That includes a 2-0 SU/ATS mark the last two games here. They won those two games by an average of 14.5 points. With payback on their minds, I expect another double-digit victory tonight. *10
|01-23-12||Memphis Grizzlies v. Golden State Warriors -1.5||Top||91-90||Loss||-105||12 h 7 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. The Grizzlies are on an extended winning streak, proving that they can win without Randolph. However, those games came primarily at home - and the two road victories came at Detroit and New Orleans. Those teams are both at the bottom of their respective divisions and have a combined record of just 7-26, entering Monday's action. The Grizzlies only other previous road win came at Minnesota and the T-Wolves are another sub-500 team which is currently last in its division. They were 0-4 SU/ATS in their other four road games. Each of those losses came by a minimum of eight points and they came by an average of 17.5 points! Granted, the Warriors aren't an "elite" team either. However, they have beaten the likes of Miami AND Chicago here and I feel that they're fully capable of another victory tonight. Both teams had yesterday off. However, the Warriors are better rested, as they also had Saturday off; the Grizzlies played Saturday. With this year's schedule being so jam-packed, having two day's off is a nice luxury. Note that the Warriors are a profitable 16-9 ATS the last 25 times that they played the second of back-to-back games. It should also be noted that the Warriors have Tuesday off, while the Grizzlies will be playing a big game at Portland. While they've lost five straight at Memphis, the Warriors are 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they hosted the Grizzlies. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-21-12||Denver Nuggets v. New York Knicks +2.5||Top||119-114||Loss||-100||10 h 0 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the NEW YORK KNICKS. The Nuggets come in with the better record They're also off a win (didn't cover) last night while the Knicks are off a loss. The Knicks are still arguably the more talented team though and I expect them to be highly motivated for this one. As you surely know, the Nuggets are Carmelo Anthony's former team. Naturally, they'd like to beat Anthony. However, the feeling goes both ways and I expect Anthony and co. to also really want this one. In addition to having homecourt advantage, I feel the Knicks have the schedule in their favor. Both teams played last night. However, the Knicks played right here in NY while the Nuggets were at Washington. Granted, that's not too far away. However, it does still involve some travel. Perhaps more importantly, the Nuggets will also be playing their fourth game in the last five nights (one was an OT game, too) here. Thats NOT the case for the Knicks. (While both teams played on the 18th and 20th, the Nuggets also played on the 17th, while NY had that day off.) The Nuggets are a money-burning 4-12 ATS the last 16 times that they were listed as road favorites of -3 or fewer points. During that stretch, they've also gone just 8-15-2 ATS (5-20 SU!) when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range. On the other hand, during the same stretch, the Knicks were 16-9 ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in that range. Both last season's meetings were close (2 and 4 point games) and the home team won each time. I'll grab the points with the home underdog but expect an outright win. *10
|01-17-12||Denver Nuggets v. Milwaukee Bucks +3.5||Top||105-95||Loss||-110||10 h 4 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. We're getting the Bucks as an underdog here. That's partly because Denver has been playing pretty well and also because the Bucks are in a back to back spot here. I feel that's providing us with excellent value. These teams faced each other at Denver a couple of weeks ago, on 1/2. Denver was laying -4.5 points and won by five. Yet, now we're at Milwaukee and the Nuggets are still favored. Keep in mind that the Bucks are a perfect 4-0 at home (3-1 ATS) while the Nuggets are only 2-3 away from Denver. That's nothing new either. The Bucks are now an impressive 56-33 here the past few seasons. During the same stretch, the Nuggets are 38-55 on the road. Note that the Nuggets are an awful 3-12 ATS (4-11 SU) the last 15 times that they were listed as road favorites of three or fewer points. Yes, the Bucks are playing the second of back to back games. However, they had two day's off, prior to yesterday's game. So, they were well-rested coming into that game. That means that this isn't nearly as grueling a scheduling spot as we've been seeing in so many cases this season. The Nuggets did beat the Bucks here last season. However, Milwaukee had previously won three straight against Denver here. I expect homecourt to be the difference as the revenge-minded Bucks move to 5-0 at home for the second time in five seasons. *10
|01-16-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Lakers -4||Top||70-73||Loss||-105||12 h 11 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. After a slow start, the Mavericks have certainly been playing well. They've absolutely crushed their last couple of opponents. That has many feeling that "the champs are back." Give them credit for the victory at Boston. However, keep in mind that the Mavs' last five games have come against five teams with a combined record of 18-42. I expect them to stumble tonight. The Lakers lost last time out. However, they'd also been previously been playing very well. Prior to the Clippers' loss, the Lakers had won five straight. As that was considered a road game, they're still an impressive 8-1 in "home" games. As you're probably aware, Kobe has been "on fire," scoring 40 or more each time out recently. While they obviously struggled against them here in the playoffs last year, the Lakers are still 14-6 as a host in this series. In the end, I expect the Lakers to be the "hungrier" team. The memory of last year's 4-0 sweep to the Mavs is still fresh in their minds. I look for Kobe continue his recent surge and for the Lakers to exact a small measure of revenge. *10
|01-16-12||Chicago Bulls v. Memphis Grizzlies +5||Top||86-102||Win||100||3 h 42 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MEMPHIS. The Bulls have certainly looked like one of the best teams in the league. They've won five straight and each win came by a minimum of nine points. For the season, they've lost just two games. (Note that both of those losses came on the road.) I expect them to stumble here. I successfully played on Memphis two games ago. Laying -4.5 points, the Grizzlies won by 11. At the time, I suggested that they were determined to show that they could win without Randolph. They proved that was the case. Afterwards, listening Rudy Gay's post game comments - it seemed Gay and co. were indeed looking to show that the Grizzlies were about more than just Randolph. After winning with them against the Knicks, I was sorely tempted to come back with the Grizzlies in their next game, a Saturday contest against New Orleans. However, in the end I felt that they were laying a little too big a number and so decided to avoid the game. The Grizzlies did win and did play well. However, they failed to cover, winning by nine as -10.5 point favorites. Despite the non-cover, the Grizzlies have to be pleased with their performance. I expect them to be extremely motivated to follow it up with another big effort here. For starters, this is their chance to beat an elite team on National TV and in front of their home fans, proving once and for all that they can indeed win without Randolph. Perhaps more importantly, additional motivation should be provided by the fact the Bulls already absolutely crushed the Grizzlies (at Chicago) earlier this season. That was by far the Grizzlies' biggest loss of the season and that should serve them well in the motivation department well. The Grizzlies have won four of their last five home games and are now 16-4 SU and 14-6 ATS their last 20 here. Of the four losses, note that three came by five or fewer points and two came by three or less. Despite losing here last season, the Grizzlies are still 10-2 the last 12 times they hosted the Bulls. They were 9-3 ATS in those games and I expect AT LEAST another cover here. *10 MLK Day Main Event
|01-14-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. Washington Wizards +8||Top||103-90||Loss||-110||10 h 38 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I won with the 'over' when these same two teams faced each other last night. The O/U line was in the 180s and the game finished with a final combined score of 209, a 120-89 victory by the 76ers. Tonight, however, I feel the value lies with the home underdog Wizards. Clearly, Philadelphia has been the better team this season. The 76ers have played well on both sides of the ball; the Wizards have not. Obviously, the 76ers took care of business with ease on their home floor last night. That beatdown should give the Wizards some extra motivation here. Having been embarrassed like that, they certainly don't want to have it happen against the same team on consecutive nights - not in front of their home fans. Last night's game was going to be hard for them to win - no matter what. Tonight, however, the Wizards are on their home floor, which should give them reason to believe. The Wizards won their last home game by 15 points. They had lost their previous four home games. However, it should be noted that three of those four losses came by eight or fewer points. Its also worth noting that the Wizards are 4-0 the last four times they were a host in this series, going 9-2 the last 11 meetings here. (Both the losses came by eight or fewer points.) Obviously, both teams are in a back-to-back spot. Both are also playing their third game in the past four nights, as each played on 1/11. However, the 76ers also played on 1/10, while the Wizards had that day off. That means that they'll be playing their fourth game in five nights - not the case for Washington. The 76ers are only 16-30 SU the past few seasons when playing the second of back to back games. Now, despite the tough scheduling spot, they're being asked to "lay more than a touchdown." I believe that's asking too much. *10
|01-11-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Boston Celtics -5.5||Top||90-85||Loss||-104||10 h 31 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on BOSTON. After a slow start, the Mavericks are starting to look like champs again. While they did look good at Detroit last night, I don't feel the Mavs are all the way back yet. In a tough scheduling spot and playing a top tier team on the road, I expect the Mavs to fall back below the .500 mark here. Yes, last night's win was "easy," so it wasn't as taxing as it could have been. However, the Mavs still did have to play - and they'll still be without Jason Kidd tonight. His absence will likely hurt more in a b2b spot and against an elite team. I played against the Mavs the last time that they played the second of b2b games and they got hammered at San Antonio. Now, they'll take on a well-rested Celtics team which figures to be in a foul mood after being upset by Indiana on Monday. (Prior to that, the Celtics had won four in a row.) Note that the Celtics are 15-8 SU/ATS the past couple of seasons, when coming off a double-digit loss. The Celtics surely view that they could have beaten Dallas if they'd won the Eastern Conference last year. While it won't mean its true, a convincing win here will help them hold onto that belief. This is their first chance to host a good team this year and I expect the Celt, 30-14 SU the L44 times they were off an upset loss, to rise to the occasion with their best game. *10
|01-10-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Portland Trail Blazers -5||Top||97-105||Win||100||11 h 29 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PORTLAND. The Clippers have taken care of business at home, including a victory over the Blazers at LA. They're only 1-1 on the road though. They won at Golden State on opening day but were crushed at San Antonio in their only other road contest. I was against them in that game and this is arguably an even tougher venue. I expect them to struggle once again. The Blazers are a perfect 5-0 at home this season. Only the Spurs, who are now 6-0 at San Antonio, have a better home record. They won their first game here by only four points. However, since then, each of their next four victories has come by a minimum of nine points. They beat Cleveland by 20 here last game. Before that, they beat the Lakers by 11. Overall, they're outscoring teams by a commanding 104.8 to 91.6 margin at home. In addition to their perfect home record, having also won convincingly at Oklahoma City, the Blazers are playing arguably as well as any team in the West right now. This is another chance to prove it. Throw in the fact that they're playing with 'revenge' from one of their only two losses and I expect them to be extremely focused. While the Clippers are 1-2 SU/ATS against teams with a winning record, the Blazers are a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS when facing a team with a winning record. They dominated the "old" Clippers here for years. I expect them to do so again tonight. *10
|01-06-12||Atlanta Hawks v. Charlotte Bobcats +3||Top||102-96||Loss||-110||8 h 5 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CHARLOTTE . Given the setup, I believe the wrong team is favored in this one. The Bobcats got back on a track with a big win at NY on Wednesday. They had yesterday off and are now back home, where they are already 2-1 ATS this season. Keep in mind that the Bobcats are 53-34 SU at home the past 2+ seasons. During that stretch, the Hawks are 44-53 SU on the road. While the Bobcats had yesterday off, the Hawks are off a triple-OT loss vs. Miami. Not only is this a back-to-back spot but its also their fourth game in five days AND their 8th game in 11 days since they started the season. As if that wasn't grueling enough, they've got a big "revenge" game vs. Chicago on deck tomorrow night! The Bobcats started a day earlier (on Dec 26th instead of 27th) but have played one fewer game than the Hawks, while also traveling less. The Bobcats have have plenty of success as a host in this series. Most recently, they won 96-85 here last April. The Bobcats are also 19-13 ATS the past couple of seasons, when off an "upset" win. I expect them to be "fresher" team here leading to another "upset." *10
|01-05-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Portland Trail Blazers -3.5||Top||96-107||Win||100||12 h 19 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PORTLAND. The Blazers have quietly been one of the most impressive teams in the league thus far. Tonight offers them a chance to get some recognition for their fast start by beating up on the Lakers on National TV. I expect them to make the most of the opportunity. Many tend to want to immediately grab the points when the Lakers are underdogs. However, they really haven't been that good in that role the past few seasons. In fact, the Lakers are only 12-16 ATS (9-19 SU) the last 28 times that they were listed as underdogs, most recently losing by nine at Denver. The Blazers lone loss this season came on New Year's Day, on the road, vs. the Clippers. They've won every other game by at least six points, most recently a 10-point win at Oklahoma City. They're 3-0 at home, outscoring teams by a 106.3 to 94.7 margin here. The Lakers, on the other hand, are 0-2 on the road. They've been outscored by an average of 99.5 to 90.5 in those games, losing by nine at Sacramento and then by nine at Denver. This is arguably a much tougher venue. With this season's perfect start, the Blazers are now 62-29 here the past 2+ seasons. The Blazers are also 26-12 SU/ATS the last 38 times they hosted the Lakers. They won 93-86 the last time that the teams played here. Both teams had yesterday off. However, while this will already be the Lakers' eighth game, it will only be Portland's sixth. I expect the Blazers to prove fresher and hungrier and I look for that to translate to another win and cover. *10
|01-02-12||Milwaukee Bucks +5 v. Denver Nuggets||Top||86-91||Push||0||12 h 15 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. Give the Nuggets credit for knocking off the Lakers last night. That was the second time that they'd faced the Lakers in two days, the previous game coming at LA on Saturday. Both games were hard fought. That puts the Nuggets in a very difficult "back-to-back-to-back spot. That's rarely a good situation. But in this case, I expect it to really play a factor. After yesterday's loss, the Lakers were talking about fatigue being a factor. While both teams were in a back-to-back spot, the Lakers had played a more grueling schedule before that. This time, however, its the Nuggets who are likely to be sucking wind. Three games in three nights is going to be hard at the best of times. However, this is now also going to be back to back games in the high altitude of Denver. That's asking a lot for teams who barely had a chance to properly get conditioned before the season started this year. Of course, in addition to the physical exhaustion, a win over the Lakers may also have them ripe for an emotional letdown. The well-rested Bucks, who last played on 12/30, do have a much better SU record at home. They've quietly gone a profitable 50-35-2 ATS on the road the past couple of seasons though. They're off consecutive victories and their lone loss was by a single point. I'll gladly grab the points but this is a great spot for them to score an upset. *10
|12-31-11||Indiana Pacers v. Detroit Pistons +3||Top||88-96||Win||100||12 h 55 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on DETROIT. The Pacers are off to a much better start than the Pistons. They won last night and are now 3-0. Meanwhile, the Pistons lost last night and are now 0-3. Not surprisingly, given those records, Indiana is favored. However, I expect the Pistons to be the "hungrier" team tonight and look for them to break through with their first victory. True, the Pacers are 3-0. However, two of those games were at home (one against these same Pistons) and the lone road game came at Toronto, a mediocre team - at best. Note that the Pacers shot 38.3% last night - and have yet to hit 40% in any game this season. So, they haven't exactly been "on fire." (They were 0-18 last year when shooting below 40%.) Meanwhile, the Pistons have played two of three on the road, including a game at Boston last night. So, the disparity in records needs to be "taken with a grain of salt." It should also be noted that the Pacers had to go to overtime last night - arguably a much harder fought (and taxing) game than the Pistons had - Detroit was down big from the beginning against Boston. Five Pistons played more than 33 minutes, three of them played more than 35 minutes. Only two Pistons played more than 30 minutes, none played 34. With their loss on Boxing Day, the Pistons have now dropped seven straight at Indiana. However, they've beaten the Pacers twice in a row here at Detroit, most recently a 100-88 victory here last March. Going back further finds the Pistons at 10-3 the last 13 times they were a host in this series. Catching the Pacers off last night's OT thriller, I look for the revenge-minded Pistons to step up and score the minor upset here. *10
|12-30-11||Houston Rockets v. Memphis Grizzlies -5||Top||93-113||Win||100||13 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MEMPHIS. I won with the Rockets yesterday. However, today, I'm going the other way. If the Spurs beat the Grizzlies and the Rockets beat the Spurs, then shouldn't the Rockets beat the Grizzlies? If only it were that easy! Unfortunately, that type of logic rarely holds up when it comes to beating the pointspread. Rather, we must look at various situational factors, among many other things. In this case, I fully expect the Grizzlies to have the advantage. Yes, the Grizzlies lost to the Spurs. However, that was at San Antonio and the Spurs had "payback" on their minds, due to the Grizzlies having knocked them out of the playoffs last year. Yes, the Rockets beat the Spurs. However, unlike Memphis, the Rockets got to host the Spurs, rather than playing at San Antonio. They also caught the Spurs playing the second of back to back games and in "letdown" mode, after back to back "big" wins. This time, its the Rockets who may be ripe for a letdown, having just beaten an instate rival. Perhaps more importantly, the Rockets are also playing the second of back to back games. Memphis, on the other hand, gets to play at home AND had last night off. Having started 0-2, the Grizzlies should be extremely motivated here. That's particularly true as they play at Chicago next, a difficult venue. In other words, they could easily be 0-4, if they don't take care of business tonight. Even including the loss against the Spurs, the Grizzlies remain a profitable 24-15 ATS the past 2+ seasons against divisional foes. During that stretch, including last night's win, the Rockets are just 16-17 ATS against divisional opponents. Given the fact that the Grizzlies are 58-31 at home during that stretch, its no surprise that Memphis won and covered the last time that the teams faced each other here. (Although Houston had previously had success here.) Including that victory, the Grizzlies were 46-36-1 ATS the past couple of seasons, when laying points. I expect them to be both fresher and hungrier tonight, improving on those stats in convincing fashion. *10
|12-29-11||San Antonio Spurs v. Houston Rockets +2||Top||85-105||Win||100||12 h 12 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on HOUSTON. I successfully played on the Spurs yesterday. That was at home though and they were facing a Clippers team which they have now beaten 17 straight times at San Antonio. With a chance to hand the heavily hyped Clippers their first loss, I expected the veteran team to rise to the occasion with their best effort. That proved to be the case. Tonight, however, the Spurs are playing the second of back to back games for the first time this season. With the short exhibition season, I feel they're likely to have some trouble doing so for the first time. Also, off back to back "big" wins, I won't be surprised if they experience a bit of a "letdown" here. After all, their first win was against Memphis, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs. And, as mentioned, yesterday's game was another "big" one, due to all the attention that the Clippers have been receiving. Tonight, they're on the road against a team which doesn't necessarily warrant any special attention - other than that the Rockets hail from the same state. The Rockets, on the other hand, should be extremely motivated. The Spurs are viewed as an elite team. So, a win against them would be highly desirable. Also, this is the Rockets' home opener. So, of course, they'd really like to win that one. That's particularly true given that they've got a new coach; a win against the Spurs would be a great "first" for McHale with Houston. While the Spurs are playing the second of back to back games, the Rockets are well-rested. Their only game came on 12/26. Some might be surprised to learn that the Rockets' home record is actually better than the Spurs' road record the past couple of seasons. The Spurs are 47-43 on the road during that time, the Rockets are 48-34 at home. Despite losing at Orlando in their opener, the Rockets remain an impressive 22-10 SU and 20-11-1 ATS in December the past few seasons, also much better than the Spurs' record. (Although, naturally, this December is "different" from recent ones, due to the lockout.) While they've had trouble at San Antonio, the Rockets have won two of their last three home meetings with the Spurs, going 5-3 the last eight times that they were a host in the series. I expect the Rockets to be both the "fresher" and the "hungrier" team and for that to lead to a victory. *10
|12-28-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. San Antonio Spurs -4||Top||90-115||Win||100||7 h 11 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. The Clippers are obviously going to be much improved this season; as you know they already earned an impressive victory in their opener. That was against Golden State though. Tonight, they're taking a big step up in class to take on the Spurs, a genuine "top tier" opponent. I expect them to stumble. While the Clippers did admittedly look impressive in their opener, we can't expect them to immediately have the type of "team chemistry" that the Spurs have developed over years of playing together. Despite the opening victory, Blake Griffin acknowledged: "We
|12-25-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Golden State Warriors +5||Top||105-86||Loss||-108||41 h 48 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. With Chris Paul coming to town, there's certainly a lot of excitement surrounding the Clippers these days. For good reason, too. Paul is talented and highly competitive. He will indeed make this team better. That said, drastic improvement can't necessarily be expected immediately and all that hype has caused this line to get out of control. In my opinion, that's creating excellent value with the home underdog Warriors. Keep in mind that the Clippers are 17-65 SU on the road the past couple of seasons. During that stretch, the Warriors were 44-38 (47-35 ATS) at home. Not surprisingly, the Warriors were 3-1 SU/ATS at home against the Clippers during that stretch. Just as the Clippers have new hope, the Warriors are "quietly" also expecting to be improved. No, they didn't get a new superstar. However, they did get a new coach, one full of optimism and who should be able to help motivate them. Jackson may not get them to the playoffs this year but I do expect his team to be ready to play on Sunday night. Each new season brings new hope and this team would love nothing more than to start the season by handing the heavily hyped Clippers their first loss. While the Clippers new backcourt will get all the coverage from the media, keep in mind that the Warriors tandem of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis can flat out score. Note that Curry is a bit banged-up but is currently listed as probable. The Clippers should be able to score and rebound - but defending the perimeter may well prove difficult for them here. The bottom line is that the hype surrounding Paul has driven this line too high. I expect Paul and co. to face a much tougher test than most will be expecting. *10
|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
|03-25-11||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
|03-23-11||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||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
|03-19-11||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
|03-18-11||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
|03-17-11||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
|03-16-11||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
|03-15-11||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
|03-14-11||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
|03-12-11||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
|03-10-11||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