Ben Burns NBA Top Sides Picks
|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|03-04-11||Phoenix Suns v. Milwaukee Bucks +3||Top||102-88||Loss||-110||11 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. Most bettors and fans are aware that the Suns are currently battling for their playoff lives. They're in 9th in the West, currently 1.5 games behind 8th place Memphis, two behind 7th place Portland and 2.5 behind 6th place New Orleans. They've also got both Utah and Houston breathing down their necks. That makes every game very important for them. Given the fact that the Suns have a much better overall record than the Bucks, many will likely be quick to lay the small number here.
However, many of those same fans and bettors don't seem to realize that the Bucks are right there in the playoff race, too. Outside of Wisconsin, the Bucks just don't seem to generate the type of interest that the Suns do. As a result, they tend to "fly under the radar" more than Phoenix. The fact is that the Bucks are arguably every bit as much of the Eastern playoff race as the Suns are in the West. At least, that sure would be the case if they could win tonight. They're currently 10th in the East but only 3.5 games behind the 8th place Pacers. Note that the Bucks have got "a game in hand" (they've played one less than Indiana) and that the Pacers play a difficult game (at Dallas) tonight. Also, the 9th place team (Charlotte) is in LA, to take on the Lakers. Given that the Pacers and Bobcats are +8 (or +8.5) and +12 (or +12.5) the Bucks have to figure that they've both got a solid chance of losing. That means that tonight offers an excellent opportunity to gain ground, potentially on both teams they are chasing.
True, the Suns have the better overall record. However, a closer look reveals that the Bucks have a (slightly) better home record than the Suns so on the road. The Bucks are 15-14 at home. The Suns are 14-15 on the road. The difference is even greater, if we look at the last few seasons. The Suns are 58-61 on the road. The Bucks are an impressive 67-47 at home. They're off a win here in their last game and are 6-4 their last 10 here. They've had the past two day's off.
The Suns had yesterday off. However, they still may be getting a little "road-weary." This is the 5th leg of a 6-game road trip. Note that they're now an ugly 1-6 SU/ATS the last seven times that they played their previous three or more games on the road. Also, the fact that they play the Thunder in their next game, could potentially cause a bit of "looking ahead." (Oklahoma City, a division leader, just beat the Suns, at Phoenix on 2/4.)
With a small number, most likely the "SU" winner of this game will also cover the spread. Still, that doesn't mean that an extra couple of points can't come in handy sometimes. In their last game, the Suns got blown out at Boston. I didn't play that game. However, I did play against the Suns in their previous game. In that game, which was at New Jersey, the suns were also listed as very small favorites. They ended up winning by 1-point in OT. (The Suns are now 0-3 ATS the last three times they were road favorites of -3 or less.)
Also, note that Milwaukee has a better record than NJ, has more to play for, and is arguably a better team. Yet, the line is very similar. I thought the Nets offered solid "value." Getting points with the Bucks is even more appealing to me. True, they'll be playing without Bogut. However, this is a team capable of winning without its "big man." Jennings came to life last game - he was a non-factor in the loss at Phoenix, having just returned from injury at the time. (Also, its possible that the Suns could be without Channing Frye.)
Not that they should need any added motivation, but the Bucks will be playing with "revenge" here, having lost at Phoenix last month. They also lost at Phoenix last season. However, when the teams met here at Milwaukee, the Bucks won and covered. They were small favorites in that game. Now, they're small underdogs. Given the situation and venue, I feel that's providing us with excellent value. I'll grab the points but expect the Bucks to rise to the occasion and earn an important victory. *10 GOM
|03-03-11||Denver Nuggets v. Utah Jazz -3.5||Top||103-101||Loss||-110||13 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. As you know, both these teams recently made some major changes. So far, those changes have worked out a lot better for the Nuggets. While Denver has been rolling, Utah has been struggling. The schedule and venue favor the Jazz here though and I also expect them to be the "hungrier" team.
The Nuggets played last night and will now be playing their third game in four days. The Jazz had the last two nights off. A welcome "mini-break" for a team which has been struggling. Note that the Jazz are an impressive 27-10 SU the past few seasons, when playing with two day's off between games.
While last night's game wasn't exactly "gruelling," its still worth noting that the Nuggets are only 23-33-2 ATS the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. Perhaps playing in the "thin air" of Denver has something to do with it, as the Nuggets are only 100-195 SU (118-168-11 ATS) their last 295 in that situation, which is very bad.
Despite their recent struggles, its not too late for the Jazz to turn things around and make the playoffs. The Jazz are currently tied with Phoenix for ninth place in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games back of eighth-place Memphis for the final playoff spot. That said, if they want to have any hope of claiming that 8th spot, they desperately need to start winning immediately. That should give them an added sense of urgency here.
The fact that this game is on "National TV" figures to provide a boost for the Jazz too. This is their chance to show the world that they can win without Sloan and/or Williams. Note that the Jazz are 21-3 SU the last 24 times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater.
While these teams already split a pair of games at Denver this season, the Jazz have dominated the Nuggets here at Salt Lake City. They're 8-1 the last nine series meetings here, including 4-0 the last four. All four of those victories came by a minimum of eight points and the Jazz went 3-0-1 ATS. I expect them to bounce back with a much needed win here, covering the small number along the way. *10
|03-03-11||Orlando Magic +5 v. Miami Heat||Top||99-96||Win||100||10 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. The Heat have a better record than the Magic they get a far greater portion of the media's attention. The Magic are quietly playing very well right now though, arguably better than the Heat. Looking to make a "statement" that they're still here, I expect them to give their hosts all they can handle tonight.
The Magic have won seven of their last nine games, including double-digit victories over the likes of the Thunder and Lakers. They've gone 3-0 their last three games, winning by an average of greater than 14 points per game. Note that they're 19-5 SU and 17-7 ATS after having played their previous three games at home.
The Heat have lost two of their last three games, going 0-3 ATS. While this is obviously a very big game for them, its possible that they could allow thoughts of tomorrow's showdown with San Antonio to creep into their head. Note that they're only 4-8 ATS the last dozen times that they were off an upset loss, when listed as the favorite.
Also, note that the Heat are now just 2-5 SU/ATS their last seven games against teams with a winning record. For the season, they're only 10-17-1 ATS at home.
While Orlando has been blowing out a number of opponents, Miami has been involved in a number of close games recently. In fact, the Heat have seen six of their last seven games decided by eight or fewer points.
The last meeting between these teams was also "close," with Miami earning a 4-point win at Orlando one month ago. Looking to avenge that loss, looking for some "respect" and currently playing better basketball, I feel the Magic have an excellent shot at an outright upset. That said, in a game that could also come down to the wire, I'm grabbing the points. *10
|03-02-11||Charlotte Bobcats +6.5 v. Denver Nuggets||Top||80-120||Loss||-110||11 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. So far, the Nuggets have adjusted to their "big trade" very well. However, I expect them to have their hands full tonight.
While the Nuggets have played well since the trade, they may not get much help from their new players here. Recently acquired Danilo Gallinari is still out with a fractured big toe. The Nuggets won without Gallinari last time out. However, they got 16 points and seven assists from Raymond Felton, another new addition. Unfortunately, for Denver and its fans, Felton may not play tonight. He's currently listed as questionable, with a case of the flu. Even if he does play, he may be at less than 100%.
While they've been known as a team that performs better at home, the Bobcats have quietly been very profitable on the road in recent months. In fact, they're 10-4 ATS, away from Charlotte, in 2011. They're now 19-13 ATS as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range, the past few seasons.
The Bobcats did get blown out by the Magic last time out. They're 8-5 SU/ATS when coming off a double-digit loss though. Note that the Bobcats are also 7-2 ATS their last nine games against teams which allow 99 or more points per game - Denver allows 104.5 points per game.
While wins at Denver have admittedly been "few and far between," the Bobcats have played the Nuggets tougher than many might assume. In fact, they've gone 4-4 their last eight games vs. the Nuggets. Five of the last nine meetings in the series were decided by eight or fewer points and eight of those nine games were decided by 12 or less. The most recent meeting saw the Bobcats win by two points, at Charlotte on 12/7. I expect another close one and am grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|02-28-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Sacramento Kings -1.5||Top||99-105||Win||100||12 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Clippers have beaten the Kings in all three of this season's first three meetings. They haven't swept them in 25 years though and I don't expect it to happen here.
Yes, the Clippers won all three previous meetings. However, they were playing a lot better at the time. Right now, they're really struggling. They also got an average of 29.3 points from Eric Gordon in those games. Gordon has missed 17 straight games though and isn't expected to come back quite yet.
While the Kings have admittedly struggled, they're last seven games all came on the road. They did earn victories at a pair of tough venues (Orlando and Phoenix) on that trip though, so this is a team which is capable and which is still fighting.
With an O/U line currently at 206.5 or 207, note that the Clippers are an ugly 2-12 SU the last 14 times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range. Looking back further finds them at 11-36 their last 47 times in that situation. During the same stretch, the Kings were 62-38 SU when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range.
The Kings home record is (slightly) better than the Clippers road record. Even including the 1-point loss on 12/27, they're still 24-4 the last 28 times that they were a host in this series. Playing with "triple revenge," I expect them to be a little "hungrier" here and look for them to take out their frustrations by pulling away for a convincing victory. *10
|02-28-11||Phoenix Suns v. New Jersey Nets +2.5||Top||104-103||Win||100||9 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. This is a difficult scheduling spot for the Suns. They're off an overtime game yesterday and are now playing their third game in the past four days. Also, their next game is a "big game" vs. Boston. Playing with potentially tired legs, this is the kind of spot where it could be easy to look past a team like the Nets.
Note that the Suns are 0-2 SU/ATS the last two times that they were road favorites of three or fewer points. They're also just 4-6 SU when playing the second of back to back games.
The Nets have lost five straight games, likely making them unattractive to many bettors. However, in their defense, those were five fairly tough games. The first loss was a home game vs. New York. The Nets were off back to back road wins and had played the previous day. The next game was also at home - it came against the Spurs though and losing to this year's San Antonio team "isn't that bad," in terms of losses. The next three games were all on the road, at Boston, San Antonio and then a back to back spot at Houston. They lost all three.
So, while losing five games in a row is never a good thing, the "conditions" for getting victories haven't been ideal. Tonight's game sets up far more favorably. The Nets are back home. They've had a day off. They're facing an opponent which is typically mediocre away from home and which is off an Overtime game yesterday.
The Nets are still a solid 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were on a losing streak of three or more games. They're also a profitable 15-10 ATS their last 25 against Western Conference opponents. While they eventually lost by nine, they played the Suns very tough at Phoenix. They were winning at halftime and the game went to OT. In other words, that one was a lot closer than the final score indicates. That result should give the Nets the confidence to know they can play with the Suns. It also should provide them with some added motivation.
The Nets have both the schedule and venue in their favor. With Williams making his "home debut," playing with "revenge," I expect them to get it done tonight. *10
|02-27-11||Phoenix Suns v. Indiana Pacers -2||Top||110-108||Loss||-110||2 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. The Suns are off an impressive blowout win at Toronto and have been on quite a roll lately. However, Friday's game notwithstanding, most of their success has come at home. Keep in mind that they're still 12-14 on the road for the season. Also, note that their recent road wins came against teams that were struggling and/or ones which aren't as good as the one they'll face here.
The Pacers are off loss last time out. However, they've also been on a solid roll of late. They're still 2-1 their last three and 9-4 their last 13. Clearly, they've played better basketball since the coaching change. The Suns are also 9-4 their last 13, yet seem to be getting considerable more attention/recognition for having done so. That's kept this afternoon's line generously low.
The Pacers already lost by eight points at Phoenix. That was back on 12/3. Note that the Suns were only laying -1 point for that game, despite playing at home. In other words, had the teams played that game at Indiana that day, the Pacers would have been larger favorites than they are today. Yet, as noted, the Pacers are playing much better now than they were earlier. In fact, they were only 5-9 in December.
The Pacers also lost by eight points at Phoenix last season. However, when playing here on their home floor, the Pacers rallied from a big deficit and defeated the Suns by a score of 122-114.
The Pacers are 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were off an "upset" loss. That includes a 4-2 SU/ATS mark their last six in that situation. Note that prior to the disappointing loss last time out, the Pacers had won six of their previous seven home games. The lone loss during that stretch came against Miami.
While both teams could really use a victory, playing on their home floor, I expect the revenge-minded Pacers to have the advantage. *10
|02-26-11||Chicago Bulls v. Milwaukee Bucks +4||Top||83-75||Loss||-110||10 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bulls have been playing well lately and enter with a much better overall record. However, a closer look reveals that the Bucks' home record is actually (slightly) better than the Bulls' road record. Also, this game is arguably more important for the Bucks. With this game being played at Milwaukee, I expect the home team to have the advantage.
Yes, Milwaukee's home record (14-13) is very similar to Chicago's (13-13) road record. Going back a bit further shows a much bigger difference. Over the past few seasons, the Bulls are just 44-71 on the road. Meanwhile, during the same stretch, the Bucks are 66-46 at home.
True, the Bulls have won both meetings so far this season. However, both of those were at Chicago, where the Bulls are very tough to beat. Looking at the series history here at Milwaukee and we find that the Bucks have dominated.
The Bucks won each of last year's two meetings here. They didn't cover the spread in either game though, as they were favored and won by only two and three points. Now, however, instead of "laying" points, they're "getting" points. I feel that provides us with excellent value.
Looking back further finds that the Bucks are 15-5 the last 20 times that they hosted the Bulls.
The Bucks are very stingy defensively here at home. In fact, they allow just 89.8 points per game here. That's tied (with the Bulls) for the fewest amount of points allowed by a team on its home floor.
As a result, we're seeing a very O/U line. Note that the Bulls are just 1-3 SU/ATS the past few seasons, when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 180 to 184.5 range. Looking back further finds than at 24-61 SU their last 85 in that situation.
The Bucks, on the other hand, have gone 10-5 ATS the past few seasons when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 180 to 184.5 range.
Give the Bulls credit for an impressive win over the Heat on Thursday. That was at home though. They lost their last road game, at Toronto. Off the big win over Miami, they may be "patting themselves on the back" a bit.
The Bucks should be fully focused on the task at hand. Not only are they playing with "double-revenge" against a division rival, they're also fighting for their playoff lives. I'll gladly grab whatever points they're offering, but I expect the Bucks to step up and score the outright win. *10
|02-25-11||Phoenix Suns v. Toronto Raptors +4.5||Top||110-92||Loss||-110||9 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Suns have been playing well of late and they've dominated the Raptors over the years. Toronto's record in recent weeks is poor. No brainer on Phoenix, right? Not in my opinion.
Yes, the Suns have won eight of 11 games. Nine of those games came at home though. They haven't been on the road in two weeks. Now, they begin a 6-game road trip. Let's not forget that the Suns are below .500 on the road. They're 8-12 their last 20 road games. Note that five of those victories came by single-digits. In other words, this is not a team that "wins big" on the road, all that often.
Looking back further finds the Suns at 5-8-1 ATS the last 14 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
This evening's line has already climbed from its opening number, providing us with excellent value.
True, the Raptors' overall record is pretty bad. They've been far more competitive at home than those numbers indicate though and contrary to popular opinion, they've been very tough here lately. After a number of home games where they were close but unable to quite get there, the Raptors have won two of their last three here, going 3-0 ATS in those games. The only SU loss came against Miami and they were "right there" in that one. I backed them in all three of those games, most recently they rewarded me with an outright win over a solid Chicago team.
The Raptors are 19-15-1 ATS (19-16 SU) the past few seasons, when coming off an "upset" victory. That includes a 5-3-1 ATS mark their last nine in that situation. They're quietly playing well here right now and would love to snap their losing streak in this series. Note that three of the last seven meetings between these teams have been decided by four or fewer points. I expect this one to also come down to the wire and am grabbing the generous points. *10
|02-22-11||Toronto Raptors +7 v. Charlotte Bobcats||Top||101-114||Loss||-110||19 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Raptors are playing with "double-revenge" here, having dropped each of this season's first two meetings. A closer look shows that both those games were very close though, each decided by six or fewer points. When the Raptors played here in December, the line was only +4.5. (Charlotte won by 5.) Now, we're getting a far more generous line to work with. I believe that provides us with excellent value.
This season's "close games" were nothing new for these teams. Last season's final two games were decided by two points (at Charlotte) and four points, at Toronto. Both Raptor victories. Overall, the Raptors are 7-4 SU/ATS their last 11 visits to Charlotte.
While I've played on the Bobcats a number of times, when they've been home underdogs vs. elite teams, note that they're only 9-13 ATS the last 22 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range.
Prior to the break, the Bobcats lost by 12 at Chicago. Before that, four of their previous five games were decided by five or fewer points. The Raptors closed things out, before the break, by going 2-0 ATS their last two games. They've been dealing with nagging injuries for some time and I believe that the break will benefit them.
Motivated by the earlier losses and by the fact that they're in danger of breaking the franchise's all-time road losing streak, I expect a big effort from the Raptors. Look for another "close" one that comes down to the wire with the Raptors earning AT LEAST the cover. *10
|02-16-11||Miami Heat v. Toronto Raptors +9.5||Top||103-95||Win||100||9 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. *10 This one sets up nicely for the home team. The Raptors had each of the last two days off. The Heat are off a big game vs. Indiana. In addition to playing the second of back to back games, they're now playing their third game in the past four days.
Note that Toronto is 18-12 SU the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games. Considering their poor overall record during that stretch, they've clearly enjoyed playing with an extra day's rest. They're a respectable 4-3-1 ATS this season, when playing with two day's rest in between games.
The Raptors are starting to play better, having won a couple of games recently. Last time out, they defeated the Clippers. Note that they're also 4-3-1 ATS when coming off an "upset" victory. Playing with "double-revenge," they should be highly motivated here.
Its more than the two losses that will have the Raptors "fired up" here though. Both of those games were at Miami - that means that this is the first time that Chris Bosh will have returned to Toronto. That will ensure the Raptors have the full support of their fans, as they'll be out in full force to "boo" their former star.
As Toronto's Sonny Weems noted: "The fans think he
|02-14-11||Portland Trail Blazers v. Minnesota Timberwolves +3||Top||95-81||Loss||-110||10 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. I like how this one sets up for the home team. Not only are the T-Wolves playing at home, where they're a much better team, but they've also got the schedule in their favor. Playing with "triple-revenge," I also expect them to be the "hungrier" team.
While the T-Wolves had yesterday off, the Blazers were involved in a hard-fought win at Detroit, a game which was close the entire way. In addition to playing the second of back to back games, the Blazers are now playing their third road game in the past four days.
While the Blazers have a far better overall record, the difference between Portland's road record and Minnesota's home record, isn't as big as many might assume. The T-Wolves are 9-17 at home. With a win yesterday, the Blazers are now 12-17 on the road.
The Blazers, still dealing with numerous injuries, return home after this. They've got "bigger" games vs. the Hornets, Lakers and Nuggets on deck. It would be easy to overlook an opponent which they have long dominated.
On the other hand, having lost all three meetings with Portland this season, the young T-Wolves should view this as a "big game" and I expect them to give their very best effort. Note that they hope to get Beasley back in the lineup tonight - he's missed the last three games.
Tonight's O/U is currently in the low 200s. That's high for Portland but low for the T-Wolves. Note that the Blazers are 1-3 ATS this season when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 200 to 204.5 range. Meanwhile, Minnesota checks in at 5-3 ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in that range. They badly need a victory and I look for them to go all out to get one here. *10
|02-14-11||Atlanta Hawks -4.5 v. Detroit Pistons||Top||94-79||Win||100||10 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. If I'm "laying points," I'd typically prefer to be doing so on a home team. This one sets up very nicely for the road favorite though.
While the Hawks had yesterday off, the Pistons are playing the second of back to back games and their fifth game in the past seven days. Yesterday, they were involved in a hard fought game vs. Portland.
In addition to having the "fresher legs," there are a couple of important reasons why I expect the Hawks to be extremely motivated here.
For starters, this is the first game of an 8-game road trip. Its arguably the "easiest" of the eight cities which they'll visit and they know its important to take advantage of the winnable game and start the trip on the right foot.
Additionally, the Hawks are coming off back to back losses - each of them painful in a different way. Two games ago, they got completely embarrassed by the 76ers. Last game, they came out determined to bounce back and played a great first half, seemingly en route to blowing out Charlotte. The Bobcats rallied and beat them at the buzzer though. Those losses should provide the Hawks with some extra "urgency" here and Saturday's blown lead should ensure they "keep the pedal to the metal" the entire way here.
Also, even further motivation comes from the fact that the Pistons blew them out the last time that they played here. The Hawks view themselves as a far superior team than Detroit and should be determined to deliver a much better effort.
With yesterday's loss, the Pistons are now an awful 19-35-1 ATS (11-44 SU) the past few years, when facing a team with a winning record, during the second half of the season. I see those stats getting even worse after tonight's game. *10
|02-12-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Houston Rockets +1.5||Top||106-102||Loss||-110||9 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. The Mavericks have won both of this season's earlier meetings. Both of those games were at Dallas though. With this one being played at Houston, I expect the Rockets to return the favor.
The Mavericks have been a "streaky" team. In early January, they lost six straight. With Dirk back in the lineup, they closed out January and began February by winning 10 straight. The last four of those victories all came by single-digits though with three of them coming by four or fewer points. It finally caught up with them last time though, as they lost by one point at Denver. Having had their winning streak snapped, I expect them to stumble again here.
While the Mavs have fared well against winning teams, note that they're only 8-15-1 ATS when facing teams with a losing record.
Even though the Mavs had last night off, they're still playing their third game in four days here and their sixth game in the past nine. Only one of those games came at home - meaning they could easily be feeling a little "road weary" here.
The Rockets also lost their last game, getting upset by Minnesota, after having won three straight. That was their second game in two nights though and their third in the past four. They've now had three days off, as the loss vs. the T-Wolves was on 2/8. That should mean that they have the "fresher legs" here. Note that the Rockets are 8-5 SU the past few seasons, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games.
During that stretch, the Rockets are also an extremely solid 24-12 SU and 22-14 ATS when coming off an "upset" loss. Playing with "double-revenge," I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|02-09-11||San Antonio Spurs v. Toronto Raptors +7.5||Top||111-100||Loss||-110||8 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. These teams both played road games last night. The Raptors hung around for a while at Milwaukee, but eventually got blown out. The Spurs were challenged by the Pistons most of the way, but pulled away for a double-digit win, down the stretch. I expect the Spurs to have their hands full the entire way tonight though.
While the Raptors continue to struggle on the road, they're generally far more competitive at home. They won their last game here, snapping a losing streak in the process. While that only brought them to 8-12 their last 20 games here, a closer look reveals that five of those losses came by seven or fewer points. (In other words, they'd be 13-7 ATS in those games, if they were getting more than seven points to work with.)
Speaking of "close games," the Raptors already played the Spurs fairly tough at San Antonio. Listed as +12 point underdogs, they lost by nine. Note that they were up 53-42 at halftime of that game.
Including that result, the Raptors have seen six straight meetings with the Spurs decided by 10 or fewer points. Four of those were decided by seven or less. In fact, the last two meetings here at Toronto both resulted in outright Raptor wins. They beat the Spurs by a score of 91-86 here last season and by a score of 91-89 here in 2009.
Looking back further and we find that seven straight meetings here at Toronto were decided by single-digits, six of those by seven or less. The average score of those games was 96.1 to 94.3, in favor of the Spurs. With the Spurs right in the middle of their long "rodeo" trip, I expect this one to also come down to the wire. *10
|02-08-11||San Antonio Spurs v. Detroit Pistons +7||Top||100-89||Loss||-110||9 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. These teams split a pair of meetings last season. The Spurs won and covered at San Antonio. However, the Pistons scored an outright 109-101 "upset," as 5-point underdogs, when the teams met here at Detroit. While tonight's number is even more "generous," with tonight's game being played at The Palace of Auburn Hills, I expect the Pistons to have the edge once again.
As you're probably aware, the Spurs have been very good this season. You may also know that they're currently smack dab in the middle of their annual "rodeo" road trip. This will mark the fourth game of their 9-game trip. Note that prior to the current trip, they only played one home game and that was preceded by three on the road. That makes this their 8th straight game, which was played in a different city. That can start to wear on a team, even one as talented as the Spurs.
True, San Antonio has had a few day's off, having last played on 2/4. The extra rest probably came at a good time, as they'd played some tough games, as well as having played three in four nights. However, you might be surprised to learn that the Spurs are only 3-8 ATS (4-7 SU!) the last 11 times that they played with three day's rest in between games.
As for the Pistons, who have had the past two day's off, they've quietly been playing quite well. In fact, they won each of their last two games by double-digits, most recently a 89-78 win at Milwaukee - generally not an "easy" venue to win at. Looking back further and we find the Pistons at 8-5 ATS their last 13 games. That includes outright victories vs. the likes of Dallas, Orlando and Phoenix.
During that stretch, the Pistons also lost by only four points at Boston and by only a single point at Miami. For the season, they're a very solid 15-10 ATS when facing a team with a winning record.
While SU victories have been hard to come by on the road, the Pistons are a respectable 13-11 SU at home, going 14-10 ATS. That includes a 4-1 ATS mark when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 190 to 194.5 range. They're an outstanding 14-7 SU/ATS in that situation the past few seasons.
Including last season's victory, the Pistons are 7-3 SU/ATS their last 10 home games vs. the Spurs, going 12-7 SU/ATS the last 19.
A look at last year's meetings shows that both were very "close," each closer than the final score indicates. The Spurs ended up winning "big" at San Antonio. However, that game was close right up until the final frame. The Pistons were winning after the first quarter and were still tied in the fourth. The Spurs pulled away late, making the score seem far more lopsided than it really was.
Meanwhile, the game here was tied after the first quarter, tied after the second quarter and tied after regulation. (The Pistons pulled away in OT.) I feel that this one will also "come down to the wire" and am grabbing all those generous points. *10
|02-07-11||Boston Celtics v. Charlotte Bobcats +5||Top||89-94||Win||100||9 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. After wrapping up a successful 4-2 road trip, the Bobcats had high hopes for their 3-game homestand vs. three of the top teams (Miami, Dallas, Boston) in the league. They viewed those three games as a "test" about how well they measured up against the best in the NBA and really wanted to score a couple of "upsets." Things haven't gotten as planned though, as they've already dropped the first two games. With the schedule strongly in their favor, I expect them to bounce back with their best effort here.
While the Bobcats had yesterday off, the Celtics were busy hosting the Magic. Naturally, given that they are two of the top teams in the East and given that the Magic beat them on Christmas Day (Boston did avenge that loss with a close 3-point home win on 1/17) that was a big game for the Celtics. The Celtics were also off a game vs. Dallas (another big game) on Friday. That makes this their third game in four days. Additionally, they've got a huge showdown vs. the Lakers on deck. Having played all those "big games" and with LA on deck, it should be easy for them to overlook the "lowly" Bobcats.
On the other hand, the Bobcats should be extremely "hungry" and focused on the task at hand. Not only do they badly want to earn a victory against an elite team and to avoid going winless in the 3-game homestand, but they're also playing with "double-revenge." The Celtics absolutely embarrassed them here earlier in the season (93-62) and then beat them again when the teams met at Boston. That one was much closer (89-84) with the Bobcats earning the cover.
While its been some time since they beat them outright, including the pointspread win at Boston, the Bobcats are 13-6 ATS the last 19 meetings in the series. I expect them to deliver a highly motivated effort and look for them to improve on those stats here. *10
|02-04-11||Minnesota Timberwolves v. Toronto Raptors -3.5||Top||100-111||Win||100||9 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Raptors have now lost 12 in a row. That losing streak will keep many bettors from backing them here. However, I believe that they'll rise to the occasion and snap their skid this evening.
These same two teams met last week, at Minnesota. I had the T-Wolves for that 1/29 game and they simply crushed the Raptors. At the time, both teams were coming off a game the previous night. Given that the Raptors' game the previous night (vs. Milwaukee) had gone to OT and with the game being played at Minnesota, I felt the T-Wolves would have the edge. That proved to be the case. Minnesota jumped out to a double-digit halftime lead and pulled away even further in the second half.
The Raptors shot horribly, making only 34 of their 101 (33.7%) shots. Toronto coach Jay Triano wasn't at all happy with his team. He was quoted as saying: "I've never been in a game where you've missed 67 shots..."
The Raptors are back home now though. Having had yesterday off and not having played back to back games all week, they're also far better rested than they were for the game at Minnesota. That's important for a team which is still less than 100% healthy.
While the losing streak has now gone on for a long time, the Raptors are still playing hard. In their two games since playing at Minnesota, they battled against both Indiana and Atlanta. While they failed to cover the spread in either, it wasn't due to a lack of effort. (They would have covered at Indiana, if not for a Pacers' 3-pointer at the buzzer.)
Note that the Raptors are a respectable 14-10-1 ATS (16-9 SU) the last 25 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range, including 4-2 ATS in that situation this season. On the other hand, during the same stretch, the T-Wolves are 6-9 ATS (4-11 SU) when listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range, including 0-2 SU/ATS in that role this season.
Last week's result notwithstanding, the Raptors have dominated this series. In fact, even including last week's loss, they're still a commanding 12-1 SU and 11-2 ATS their last 13 meetings with Minnesota. That includes a perfect 6-0 SU (5-1 ATS) mark the last six meetings here at Toronto. The Raptors won those six games by an average of 10.8 points per game.
Keep in mind that Minnesota has won only one road game since early November and is 2-22 on the road for the season.
After this, the Raptors play at Milwaukee (not an easy place to win) and then host a pair of quality Western Conference opponents, San Antonio and Portland. In other words, if they don't take advantage of this "winnable" game, they may have to wait some time before snapping their skid. They know that this offers their best opportunity for a victory and I look for them to go all out and get it, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|02-03-11||San Antonio Spurs v. Los Angeles Lakers -3||Top||89-88||Loss||-110||11 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. The Spurs may have the best overall record in the West. However, the Lakers are still the champs and their home record is still (slightly) superior to the Spurs' road record. With this game being played at LA, I expect the champs to have the advantage.
While the Spurs are a very solid 15-6 (71.4%) on the road, at 19-7, the Lakers' home winning percentage (73%) is even better. Note that the Spurs are only 5-4 on the road in 2011 while the Lakers are 8-2 their last 10 at home.
Naturally, this is a very big game for both teams. Both are comfortably on top of their divisions. However, they also both know that this game could well play a pivotal role in determining which team has homecourt advantage, if/when they meet each other in the playoffs.
While that should ensure that both teams are "highly motivated," I expect the Lakers to be even "hungrier" than their guests. That's because they're the ones chasing the Spurs in the overall race AND because they already lost at San Antonio this season. Additionally, the fact that they just recently lost on National TV (vs. the Celtics) figures to provide some added incentive. This is their chance to show the world that "they're still here" and that they're still the team to beat in the West.
Note that the Lakers are 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they were a host in this series. All eight of those victories came by a minimum of four points and they came by an average of 12.6 points.
It should also be noted that the Lakers were favored by a minimum of -5 points in seven of their last eight home meeting with the Spurs. The only time that they were favored by less (they were -2.5 point home favorites vs. the Spurs last Feb. 8th) was a game in which Kobe didn't play. Tonight's line is considerably lower, which I feel provides us with excellent line value.
While the Lakers may be without Bynum, they've gotten used to playing without him and are fully capable of winning even if he's not in the lineup. Bynum was out last game and Odom stepped into the starting lineup and scored 20 points while adding 20 rebounds.
As Kobe noted: "People forget how well he was playing when Drew was down. He's capable of doing that and stepping in and having huge games like this."
The Lakers are 50-16 SU the last 66 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the small number along the way. *10
|02-03-11||Miami Heat v. Orlando Magic -1||Top||104-100||Loss||-115||10 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. These teams have faced each other twice so far this season. Both games came back in the fall. In each case, the home team earned a convincing victory. The Heat won the first meeting, at Miami, by a score of 96-70. A few weeks later, playing at Orlando, the Magic returned the favor. Laying -3.5 points, they won that 11/24 meeting by a score of 104-95. With this game being played at Orlando, I expect the Magic to have the advantage once again.
I successfully played against the Magic in their last game. That was on the road (at Memphis) though and they were playing the second of back to back games. Therefore, given that situation and with this "big game" on deck, I wasn't surprised that they lost.
The Magic are back home now though and they're also well-rested, having last played on 1/31. In addition to having won nine of their last 10 here at Orlando, note that the Magic are also an impressive 29-10 SU and 23-15-1 ATS the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games.
Like their hosts, the Heat have also been off since 1/31. Unlike their hosts, playing with two day's rest in between games has not been kind to them. In fact, the Heat are only 19-20 SU and 15-24 ATS the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games. That includes an ugly 1-7 ATS mark their last eight in that situation.
The Heat have gone 3-5 ATS in divisional games this season and 22-24 ATS the past few. During that stretch, the Magic are 29-19 ATS (37-11 SU) when facing a divisional opponent.
With an O/U line in the high 190s, its also worth noting that the Magic are 18-2 SU and 13-7 ATS the last 20 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range.
Including this season's victory here, the Magic are 8-1 SU and 7-1-1 ATS the last nine times that they were a host in this series. Obviously, its a very big game for both teams - and we know Lebron wants to beat the Magic. However, with the game here at Orlando and with the Magic trailing the Heat in the division standings, I feel that winning this game is even more important to the Magic. I expect them to rise to the occasion and look for them to come away with the important victory. *10
|02-02-11||Indiana Pacers v. Cleveland Cavaliers +6||Top||117-112||Win||100||9 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. As you know, the Cavaliers have not been a good team this season. In fact, at 8-40, they've got the worst record in the entire league. Everyone else knows they "stink" too though - and as a result many are reluctant to back them. Even "bad" teams can be in good spots for pointspread success though. In this case, I believe the Cavs are offering excellent value.
While everyone knows that the Cavs have been "brutal," many probably don't realize that their home record is actually very nearly identical to Indiana's road record. The Cavs are 5-15 at home. The Pacers are 6-16 on the road. The Cavs have been outscored by 7.3 points at home, an average score of 101 to 93.7. Meanwhile, the Pacers have been outscored by 6.7 points on the road, 101.9 to 95.2.
Yet, despite those nearly identical records, the Pacers are fairly heavy road favorites. In my opinion, that's based more on perception than reality.
True, the Pacers are off a big win and cover. However, that was at home against a depleted Toronto team which has a losing streak almost as long as Cleveland's. Now the Pacers are on the road, where they've gone just 1-7 SU in 2011.
Also, in regards to Indiana's big win over Toronto, note that the Pacers were energized by the coaching change and jumped all over the Raptors - yet they blew a large (48-28) lead and nearly didn't cover. In fact, if the Pacers didn't make a meaningless 3-pointer (teams almost never shoot in that situation, when leading!) with one second left, they wouldn't have covered.
In other words, Pacer backers were very fortunate to win that one by 11. Note that Indiana is an ugly 1-8 SU (2-6-1 ATS) the last nine times it was off a double-digit victory.
Even with the win over Toronto, the Pacers are still 2-7 overall since mid-January. Both wins came at home. The other was against the Nets, a team which is 3-23 on the road.
While Indiana has been fortunate to face a couple of teams which are a combined 8-44 on the road, the Cavs have faced nothing but top tier opponents recently. Five of their last six games have come on the road and their lone home game was vs. a solid Denver squad. Their last four opponents overall have been Miami, Orlando, Denver and Boston. In other words, a home game against the Pacers offers them their best shot at a win in quite some time. That's particularly true with two of their next three again on the road.
Knowing that this should offer their best shot at a victory in some time, the Cavs should be highly motivated to play their best here. Additional motivation comes from the fact that they're already 0-3 against the Pacers this season and will be looking to avoid the series sweep.
Considering that they were favored when they hosted the Pacers earlier in the season (and only getting +5 their first trip to Indiana) I feel that the line is much too high. I'll grab all those generous points but look for the Cavs to step up and finally win one. *10
|02-02-11||Philadelphia 76ers v. New Jersey Nets +2||Top||106-92||Loss||-110||9 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. These teams are both off big wins over Denver. The 76ers beat the Nuggets by a score of 110-99 on Sunday. The following night, the Nets knocked off the Nuggets by a 115-99 score. While those victories were both impressive, with tonight's game being played at New Jersey, I expect the Nets to have the advantage.
Homecourt advantage is important for almost all teams in the league. That's particularly true for these two teams though. The 76ers are a very solid 15-8 at home. However, they're an ugly 6-18 on the road. On the other hand, the Nets are an awful 3-23 on the road but a respectable 12-11 here at New Jersey.
Yet, despite the Nets' home record being far superior to the 76ers' road record, the 76ers are favored. I feel that provides us with excellent value on what should be a highly motivated home underdog.
True, the 76ers did beat the Nets here earlier. New Jersey is currently playing a lot better now than it was when these teams met here in mid December, at least here at home. In fact, since that 12/14 meeting, the Nets have gone an impressive 8-3 SU/ATS in 11 games here. That includes a 3-0 SU mark their last three games here and a 5-1 SU/ATS mark their last six here. During those six homes, which date back to 1/19, the Nets only loss came by a single point, vs. Dallas on 1/22. Clearly, this is an improved team from the one that hosted the 76ers six weeks ago. Yet, the line is pretty much identical.
Even with the earlier 76ers victory here, the Nets are still 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were a host in this series. Playing with "double-revenge" and playing arguably their best basketball in recent memory, I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-31-11||Orlando Magic v. Memphis Grizzlies +2||Top||97-100||Win||100||10 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. Everyone knows that the Magic are a good team. Many still aren't aware that the Grizzlies are actually also a very solid team. As a result, even though the Magic have the better overall record, the Grizzlies have been a far better team at the betting window. Indeed, the Magic are a money-burning 21-25-1 (45.6%) ATS on the season. On the other hand, the Grizzlies are a profitable 29-18-1 (61.7%) ATS. That includes an excellent 5-1 ATS mark their last six. Given the schedule, situation and venue, I feel the Grizzlies have an excellent shot at improving on those stats this evening. (In fact, I feel they should be the team which is favored here.)
While the Magic may have the better overall record, a closer look reveals that the Grizzlies' home record is actually superior to Orlando's road record. The Magic are an impressive 18-6 at home but they're only a mediocre 13-11 when playing outside of Orlando. That includes an ugly 1-5 SU/ATS mark as road favorites of three or fewer points. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are a poor 10-17 on the road but a very solid 14-7 (13-7-1 ATS) here at Memphis.
Given those home/road records, its no surprise that the Magic won when these teams faced each other at Orlando. That 89-72 Orlando victory occurred way back on 11/15 though and the Grizzlies are in the midst of a 5-game losing streak. Now, as already noted, they're playing much better. Last time out, they erased a large 21-point deficit to beat the 76ers. That should give the Grizzlies both positive momentum and the confidence. Note that they had yesterday off.
The Grizzlies should be extremely motivated here. In addition to the fact that they're playing with "revenge," they have a chance to move above .500 for the first time in months. With a victory tonight, they also know that they can also make Lionel Hollins become the franchise
|01-30-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Phoenix Suns -1.5||Top||102-104||Win||100||9 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. The Suns are a team which has always been able to put up points. Lately, they've started to show that they can also get it done on the other side of the ball. I won with the Suns in their last game. Listed as underdogs, they destroyed Boston by double-digits. The really impressive part was that they held the Celtics to a mere 71 points. That was the fewest points which the Suns had allowed since 2001. Off that superb performance, I expect the Suns to bring both positive momentum and confidence into today's game.
Michael Pietrus, one of five Suns to score in double-digits against the Celtics said this of his new team's defensive play against Boston: "I've heard about how the Suns are soft. That's not going to happen this year. We're not going to be soft. I'm going to make sure when we come out on the floor, we're going to come out hard."
Even with Friday's great defensive effort, the Suns are still allowing 107 points per game, 104.9 here in the desert. However, note that the Hornets are only 7-13 ATS their last 20 games against teams which allow 99 or more points per game. Looking back further finds the Hornets at a money-burning 44-72-1 ATS against teams which allow 99 or more points over the past few seasons.
In addition to having both "confidence" and "momentum," the Suns have the advantage of playing on their home floor. Additionally, they've got the schedule in their favor. While Phoenix had yesterday off, New Orleans played at Sacramento, less than 24 hours ago.
The Suns are 4-1 SU/ATS the last five meetings in this series. They won the last two games here by scores of 120-106 and 124-104. I expect another victory here. *10
|01-28-11||New York Knicks v. Atlanta Hawks -6.5||Top||102-111||Win||100||9 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. Give the Knicks some credit for beating Miami last night. They fought hard and "gutted" out a victory. That said, they were playing at home and they were catching Miami without Bosh and with Lebron playing at less than 100%. They were also extremely "motivated" for that game and had talking about how important it was etc. (If you watched, you would have noticed a number of "stars" in attendance and seen that there was some extra excitement in the air.)
Off such a "big" win, I feel that it will be easy for this relatively young team to have an emotional "letdown." However, even if they do manage to put last night's game out of their heads and fully focus on the task at hand, I expect them to be in trouble tonight.
While the Knicks were "leaving everything on the floor," the Hawks had last night off. That should give them a significant advantage. Again, keep in mind that not all "back to back situations" should be viewed equally - and I feel that last night's game will take more out of the Knicks than some other games would have.
Admittedly, the Hawks been a somewhat inconsistent team recently. Some nights, they look like a team capable of beating anyone. Other nights, they seemingly don't show the same kind of intensity. Last time out, they lost by eight at Milwaukee. In their previous game, they won by 16 at Charlotte. Those were both on the road - in their previous road game, they won outright at Miami. However, its the Hawks' last home game which I believe will have a real motivating effect here. That came exactly one week ago, on 1/21. The Hawks were coming off their big win over Miami (sound familiar NY?) and were hosting the Hornets. The had a major letdown and were beaten by a score of 100-59. For a team that prides itself in being tough to beat on this floor, that was an extremely embarrassing loss.
Keep in mind that the Hawks are still a highly impressive 85-30 here in Atlanta, the past few seasons. Indeed, this is not a team which loses by 40+ here very often!
They already beat the Knicks by nine (at NY) in this season's only previous meeting. They jumped all over them in that game and were leading by 10 at the end of the first quarter and by 18 at halftime. Looking to erase last Friday's loss from their home fans' memory, I expect the Hawks to be "ready to go" from the opening tip, once again. *10
|01-26-11||Orlando Magic v. Indiana Pacers +6||Top||111-96||Loss||-115||9 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. The Pacers narrowly earned the cover, when these teams met here in November. Getting +4.5 or +5 points, Indiana lost by four. Much has changed since that 11/20 meeting. However, I feel that value lies with the Pacers once again.
Its true that the Pacers have struggled lately - they've lost five in a row. Those struggles have helped to drive this line higher, providing us with some extra value.
However, a closer look reveals that the Pacers' recent problems have come primarily on the road, as have each of their last four losses. While they haven't been "spectacular" here, they have been relatively solid - at least much better than they've been on the road. They've alternated home wins and losses in 2011 and have won six of their 11 home games, since the beginning of December. They're 8-6-1 ATS their last 15 games here, including 3-1 ATS the last four.
While the Pacers are 8-7 SU and 8-6-1 ATS here since mid-November, a closer look shows that three of the losses (incl. the one vs. Orlando) came by four or fewer points. In other words, they would have been 11-4 ATS, if getting at least +5 to work with in those games.
While they went on a great run through the holidays, the Magic haven't been all that impressive the past couple of weeks. They're 4-4 SU (3-4-1 ATS) since 1/12 and three of the four victories were by single-digits, two by six or fewer points. Note that six of their last eight games have been decided by seven or fewer points.
In their last game, laying -12 points, the Magic were defeated by Detroit. Many might automatically assume that an "elite" team like Orlando would respond well to that type of "embarrassment." However, that's not the case. The last 10 times that they were coming off an "upset," loss, the Magic have gone an ugly 2-8 ATS, winning only three of those games SU.
Including the earlier cover, the Pacers are 6-2-2 ATS the last 10 times that they were a host in this series. Desperate to get back in track, I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-24-11||Washington Wizards +7.5 v. New York Knicks||Top||106-115||Loss||-110||9 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I won with the Wizards in their last game, an impressive upset victory over Boston. I've won with them a few times this season, while also winning by going against them. In each case, I played on them at home while playing against them on the road. With the Wizards on the road this evening, many will probably assume that I'll be going against them here. That's not the case though.
By now, its no secret that the Wizards have been pretty bad (ok, terrible) on the road. In fact, most know that they still haven't even won a game away from Washington. As a result, very few will be willing to back them away from Washington. The oddsmakers know this and are forced to make the number extra high, to try and balance things out. Given the current play of the two teams, even given the venue, I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the underdogs.
The Wizards have now won three of their last five and five of their last eight. While that success has come at home, it eventually has to be "contagious" and make its way on to the road. Note that the Wizards have been close in a number of road games and that they've faded in the second half or fourth quarter. (I played against them in their last road game and that was the case.) Saturday's victory over Boston was the type of win that a young team can really build momentum from though.
The veteran Celtics jumped all over the Wizards right out of the gate. Off a loss vs. the Suns the previous night, the Wizards could have easily folded. They didn't though. Rather, they took the Celtics' "initial flurry of punches," fought back and scored the "upset." The Celts are an elite team and I expect that comeback win to give the Wizards plenty of confidence tonight, even if they're not in their own building.
Unlike their guests, the Knicks aren't currently playing well. In fact, they've lost six straight games. Yet, here they are laying a very big number, due to Washington's road record. Given the Knicks' current level of play, I feel that's asking far too much.
Note that New York is only 5-11 ATS the last 16 times it was a home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. That includes a money-burning 1-5 ATS mark its last six in that role.
The Wizards play with "double-revenge," as the Knicks have beaten them in both this season's meetings, most recently a 6-point NY win at Washington on 12/10. Note that the Wizards, who led that game in the second half, are 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they attempted to avenge a home loss.
Even as I've played against them on the road over the season, I've noted things like "the Wizards will eventually win one on the road, it just won't be tonight." Well, tonight's the night that I think they just might break the goose egg. At the very least, I expect a highly motivated effort, leading to at least another cover. *10
|01-24-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. Toronto Raptors +4||Top||100-98||Win||100||8 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Raptors are off back to back blowout losses and have now dropped seven straight games. The last five of those came on the road though and the first three losses came by an average of only five points, all by single-digits. It wasn't until the end of the trip, when they were taking on the likes of Orlando and Miami, that they "wore down" and were blown out. They're back home though and have had a day off to "recharge" their batteries, if only partially. I expect a far better performance.
Despite their recent losing streak, the Raptors are still not of striking distance for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
That said, they know this is a critical stretch for them. They've got some "winnable" games coming up and this is one of them.
True, the Raptors are dealing with several injury problems (many teams are) and its also true that Memphis should enjoy an advantage "in the paint." The Grizzlies have that advantage against most teams though (and they're still only 8-16 on the road) and the Raptors have the ability to beat them on the fast-break and from the outside.
While the final score at Miami was a "lopsided" one, note that the Raptors showed a lot of heart. Down 26 points, they battled all the way back to trim the lead to seven points, with six minutes to play.
Coach Jay Triano noted: "I give our guys credit because there
|01-22-11||Boston Celtics v. Washington Wizards +7.5||Top||83-85||Win||100||8 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. Both teams played last night. The Celtics won with ease against Utah. The Wizards were blown out by Phoenix. Off last night's results, many will be hesitant to back the home underdog here. That's worked in our favor as an already "generous" line has started to climb even favor. Perhaps more importantly, I expect last night's results to help make the Wizards the slightly "hungrier" team.
The Celtics are on a roll. They just crushed a good Western Conference team last night and they already beat the Wizards by double-digits this season. As a result, it should be easy for them to take tonight's game a little "lightly."
On the other hand, the Wizards should be motivated to bounce back with a big performance. While they still haven't found that elusive first road victory, prior to last night, they'd been really "rolling" at home.
Even with last night's loss, the Wizards still have a respectable (winning) record here on the season and they've still won four of their last five here. Recent comments (before yesterday's loss) show how much better the Wizards feel here at home. They'll be anxious to get that "feeling" back immediately.
Washington's Andray Blatche recently said this of his team: "When we're home, we have so much more energy and focus. When we're away, we're in the game into the fourth quarter and we lose that focus..."
Washington's John wall had similar thoughts: "At home, we've got so much energy and extra bounce in our step on defense. On the road, it
|01-21-11||Houston Rockets v. Memphis Grizzlies -3.5||Top||110-115||Win||100||19 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. The Rockets have been playing well of late and bring a 3-game winning streak into tonight's game. That's helped to provide us with a very low number on the home team. I feel that it will prove to be too low.
Note that the Rockets are a money-burning 9-16 ATS the last 25 times that they'd won their previous three games.
Homecourt is very important to both these teams. The Rockets are 12-9 at home but only 8-14 on the road. There's been an even bigger disparity for Memphis. The Grizzlies are an ugly 7-16 on the road. However, they're an impressive 12-7 here at Memphis.
While they Grizzlies are off back to back losses, the latest of those came by only one point, in OT. Additionally, they'd won five of their previous seven games. Note that they've beaten the likes of the LA Lakers, Oklahoma City, Utah and Dallas.
Despite losing both this season's meetings with the Rockets, a high-scoring and "defensively-challenged" team, the Grizzlies are still a profitable 15-7 ATS against teams which score 99 or more points per game.
The Grizzlies are also a lucrative 14-8-1 ATS when playing with 'revenge' from an earlier loss. Knowing that the Rockets are directly ahead of them in the Western Conf. playoff race and playing with "double-revenge," I expect the "highly motivated" Grizzlies to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-21-11||Phoenix Suns v. Washington Wizards -1||Top||109-91||Loss||-105||18 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I successfully played "against" the Wizards in their last game. They lost by 13 against the Bucks. In their previous game, I successfully played "on" the Wizards. Listed as underdogs vs. Utah, they led the entire way and won by seven.
So, why play ON the Wizards one game and AGAINST them the next? Well, I had other reasons - but the most important reason was the venue. When I played against the Wizards, they were on the road, at Milwaukee. When I played on them, they were at home, hosting the Jazz. Homecourt is always significant. However, that's particularly been the case for the Wizards, arguably more so than for any other team.
For the season, the Wizards are now 0-20 SU on the road. That's resulted in an awful 4-16 record at the betting window. Each of their last four road losses has come by double-digits.
Recent games here at Washington have been a different story though. I already mentioned they beat the Jazz in their last game here - arguably a better team than the one they'll face today. A closer look reveals that they've now won four straight games here. Looking back further shows that they've won five of six here and 12 of 20 on the season.
Prior to the loss at Milwaukee, Washington's Andray Blatche said this of his team: "When we're home, we have so much more energy and focus. When we're away, we're in the game into the fourth quarter and we lose that focus..."
After the loss at Milwaukee, Washington's John wall commented: "At home, we've got so much energy and extra bounce in our step on defense. On the road, it
|01-17-11||Toronto Raptors +8.5 v. New Orleans Hornets||Top||81-85||Win||100||5 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Hornets are on a winning streak and they have a solid record at home. Those factors have helped lead to quite a large line this afternoon. I believe that its too high.
Both teams have been involved in a number of close games recently. New Orleans has seen seven straight games decided by single-digits. Six of those were decided by seven or less. Meanwhile, Toronto has seen four straight games decided by six or fewer points.
While the Hornets are an impressive 15-5 at home, they've only outscored opponents by an average of 5.5 points here.
While the Raptors are an equally unimpressive 5-15 on the road, they've only been outscored by an average of 6.4 points away from Toronto.
The Raptors generally have no trouble scoring points. They're averaging greater than 100 points per game, both at home and on the road. Defense is their problem, as they allow 104.9 points per game. The Hornets don't dominate poor/mediocre defensive teams the way that one might expect though. In fact, the opposite is true - at least from an "ATS" perspective.
New Orleans is an awful 43-70-1 ATS the past few seasons against teams which allow 99 or more points per game. That's just 38%. That includes a 6-11 ATS mark this season.
Given those stats, its not all that surprising to learn that the Raptors were 2-0 ATS in this series last season. In fact, they won both games outright, including a 17-point victory (as +4.5 point underdogs) here at New Orleans.
While the Raptors overall record admittedly isn't that good, they still aren't far out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Despite dealing with some injuries, they're playing hard right now (better than their record indicates) and I expect them to give their hosts all that they can handle. *10
|01-14-11||Los Angeles Clippers v. Golden State Warriors -3.5||Top||112-122||Win||100||12 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. The Clippers are clearly an improved team of late and they enter tonight's game on a rare 3-game winning streak. With Blake Griffin delivering "highlight reel dunks" on a nightly basis, they're also getting a fair amount of play on "sports center" and other sports/news programs. Given the added TV time and the fact that they just pulled off a big upset win over Miami, many are starting to believe that this team is the "real deal." In my opinion, that's caused them to be slightly over-valued here.
While the Clippers do have some decent young talent, a closer look reveals that the majority of their success has come at home and that they're still a poor 3-11 on the road. Note that two of those wins came by a single point and that two of them came at Detroit and at Sacramento. (Neither the Kings, nor the Pistons, currently has a winning record at home.) Tonight, they'll be up against a team which has "quietly" been playing very well at home.
The Warriors did lose their last game here. However, that was against the Lakers. They only lost by five though and they played well.
Coach Smart was quoted as saying: "We are showing you can compete against some of the best teams in the league. We've shown that we can do that. I said earlier, if we can take care of the basketball we will have a chance every night to win."
Prior to the loss vs. the Lakers, the Warriors had won three straight games here. Those victories came by an average of greater than 13 points. They're 11-8 their last 19 here, including 9-7 this season.
While they lost at LA, the Warriors have dominated the Clippers here at LA. They beat them by double-digits here already this season and are 9-1 SU the last 10 times that they hosted the Clippers. Note that ALL nine of those victories came by a minimum of six points and that they came by an average of 13.9 points. In other words, they haven't been close.
The Clippers are an ugly 24-41 ATS the past 65 times that they had won their previous three games. That includes a 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) record their last six in that situation. With the O/U line having climbed above the 200 mark, note that they're also 5-10 ATS (2-13 SU) the last few seasons, when playing a road game with an O/U line of 210 or greater.
The Warriors are 7-4 ATS (8-3 SU) when laying points this season. They're also a lucrative 50-33 ATS the last few seasons, when playing a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-12-11||New York Knicks v. Utah Jazz -6.5||Top||125-131||Loss||-110||11 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. The situation favors the home team here. While the Jazz have had the past few days off, the Knicks are off a big win at Portland last night. In addition to playing their second game in two nights, the Knicks will now be playing their fourth game in the past six days. Playing at this difficult venue, I expect it to catch up with them here.
Yes, the Knicks have been playing improved defense and yes, last night's victory was impressive. Its often hard to play that type of defense when playing the second of back to back games. That's particularly true against a Jazz team that averages greater than 100 points per game at home.
Note that the Knicks have been fortunate to avoid playing back to back games for some time. The last time that they played the second of back to back games was back on 12/18. In that game, they lost 109-102 against lowly Cleveland. Note that victory was Cleveland's only win since 11/27. To put it another way, the Cavs are 1-21 SU since late November and the only time that they won, was when they caught the Knicks playing the second of back to back games.
Prior to that, the Knicks played the second of back to back games on 12/6, a home game vs. Minnesota. They covered the spread by half a point in that one, but still gave up a whopping 114 points.
Prior to that, the Knicks played the second of back to back games on 11/28, at Detroit. They also covered the spread in that one, but still gave up a whopping 116 points.
That makes it three times that the Knicks have played the second of b2b games, since late November. All three games came against relatively weak opposition and yet they gave up 109, 114 and 116 points. Tonight's opponent is obviously much stronger. Additionally, it should be noted that the Jazz are an impressive 18-1 when scoring 100 or more points.
The Jazz have dominated teams from the Eastern Conference this season. They're 12-2 SU and 11-3 ATS their last 14 non-conf. games. Looking back a bit further and we find that they're also 16-6 ATS (18-4 SU) their last 22 against teams from the Atlantic Division. They've beaten the Knicks four straight times here and they were laying double-digits for each of the last three of those. Tonight's line is far lower. Given the scheduling situation, I feel that provides us with excellent value. *10
|01-10-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. Charlotte Bobcats +2.5||Top||82-96||Win||100||8 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. Naturally, if this game was being played at Memphis, the Grizzlies would be favored. In fact, that should currently be the case if the game was being played at a neutral site. However, this game is being played at Charlotte and the Grizzlies are still favored. I feel that's providing excellent value with the home underdog.
Of course, the oddsmakers are merely trying to provide a number which will balance the action. In this case, the majority of the public bettors prefer the Grizzlies and view them as the stronger team, so they don't mind laying a small number.
To the Grizzlies credit, they have won some big games this season. However, a recent win at LA notwithstanding, the vast majority of those "big wins" were at home. This is still a team which has trouble on the road. For the season, the Grizzlies are only 6-14 on the road. On the other hand, the Bobcats are a far better 9-9 at home.
The Bobcats did get blown out at Memphis earlier - no surprise given their poor road stats and the Grizzlies excellent home record. They've beaten the Grizzlies three straight times here at Charlotte though, two of those victories coming by double-digits.
In addition to the fact that they're now playing at home, the Bobcats are also playing much better than they were when they faced the Grizzlies at Memphis. They've won four of six since the coaching change and are enjoying playing under Silas much better than they were under Brown.
Stephen Jackson was quoted as saying: "It's kind of like losing a team. Nobody wanted to play no more. Everybody wanted to play a different style than we were playing. We didn
|01-09-11||Miami Heat v. Portland Trail Blazers +5.5||Top||107-100||Loss||-110||11 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. The Heat had real trouble with their last opponent, as the Bucks took them to Overtime. Playing at an arguably even more difficult venue, I expect them to have their hands full once again.
The Heat, who managed only 36 second half points, indicated that they didn't mind being tested. Coach Erik Spoelstra was quoted as saying: "I like these type of games..."
Sometimes players and coaches need to be careful what they wish for though.
While most are aware of Miami's current road streak, many may not realize that the Blazers have "quietly" won eight in a row at home. True, they've been playing with Brandon Roy, but that hasn't been stopping them from winning. Wesley Matthews has certainly helped to pick up the slack. He had 36 last time out and is averaging greater than 21 points per game during the Blazers' home winning streak.
The Blazers 12-3 home record, which is a higher winning percentage than Miami's 14-5 road record, is no fluke. Portland was 60-22 here the previous two seasons.
Rarely home underdogs of this size, the Blazers are 3-1 ATS the past few seasons, when listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range.
It should also be noted that the Blazers are 4-0 at home against Eastern Conference teams this season. I expect them to earn at least another cover here. *10
|01-08-11||Boston Celtics v. Chicago Bulls -2||Top||79-90||Win||100||9 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. These teams both played last night. The Bulls lost at Philadelphia. Playing at home, the Celtics beat up on the Raptors. While Boston's game was arguably "easier" last night, I really like how this one sets up for Chicago.
For starters, the fact that the Bulls lost last night, their second straight defeat, should give them more of a sense of urgency here. Note that both losses were on the road and that the Bulls are a perfect 5-0 their last five home games. (They won those games by 96 combined points!)
Also, while the Bulls should be feeling a little "desperate," the Celtics could be feeling a little "complacent." Note that they're an ugly 3-9 ATS the last dozen times that they were off a double-digit victory. They're a money-burning 32-47-1 ATS their last 80 in that situation.
While the Celtics are 3-6 ATS when playing the second of back to back games, the Bulls are 5-5 ATS. Seven of those were outright victories.
The Celtics have admittedly got a very impressive overall record and its true that they've now won four straight again. The last three of those came at home though and three of those games came against weaker opposition. Note that the Celts, who had previously lost three of four, are just 7-12 ATS the last few seasons, after having played three or more consecutive home games.
The Bulls have added motivation from the fact the the Celtics have already beaten them in both this season's previous meetings. Both those games were at Chicago though. The Bulls won by eight the last time that they hosted the Celtics and they're 3-1 the last four meetings here. Looking back further and we find that the Bulls are 13-7 the last 20 times that they hosted the Celts and 19-9 the last 28.
Including a cover in this season's first meeting at Boston, the Bulls are 12-5 SU/ATS against teams which score 99 or more points per game. Playing with "double-revenge," I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|01-06-11||Denver Nuggets v. Sacramento Kings +5||Top||102-122||Win||100||11 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Nuggets recently won and covered in this season's only previous meeting. That New Year's Day game was played at Denver though. This evening's rematch will be played at Sacramento, where the Kings have long enjoyed success against the Nuggets.
Including a pair of close wins right around this time last season (Sacramento won 106-101 on 12/28/09 and 102-100 on 1/9/10) the Kings are a commanding 24-3 the last 27 times that they were a host in this series.
In addition to having homecourt advantage, the Kings have the schedule in their favor. They had yesterday off. The Nuggets played poorly in losing to the Clippers. They're now a money-burning 5-13-2 ATS when laying points.
Coach George Karl commented: "We weren't good at either end of the court. Most nights this year we've had something going and tonight our defense wasn't good enough and our offense wasn't good enough."
The Nuggets have now lost 10 of 13 road games since early November. They're also just 20-28-2 ATS (23-27 SU) the past 50 times that they played the second of back to back games. Yet, despite their struggles on the road, their struggles here at ARCO and their sub-par stats when playing the second of back to back games, the Nuggets find themselves laying points on the road. I feel that provides us with plenty of value on what I expect to be a highly motivated home underdog.
With the exception of the loss at Denver, the Kings have been very competitive since Christmas. They lost by one vs. the Clippers on 12/27. Next, they beat Memphis by two points. That was followed by the game at Denver which was followed by a 5-point win vs. the Suns and a 6-point loss vs. the Hawks.
In addition to playing with recent 'revenge,' the Kings know that after this game that they will head out on a lengthy Eastern road trip. That should make winning a game at home, before they go, that much more important to them. The Kings also don't get an opportunity to play many home "TV" games, which should also help to motivate them to play their best.
Three of the last four meetings between these teams were decided by five or fewer points. Those games were decided by an average of only 3.3 points. In what could easily be another close one, I'll grab all the points I can get. *10
|01-05-11||Portland Trail Blazers v. Houston Rockets -6||Top||103-100||Loss||-110||10 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I really like how this one sets up for the Rockets. Houston just faced the Blazers at Portland a few nights ago. Playing on their homecourt, the Blazers won by a score of 100-85.
Given the Rockets' road record and Portland's success at home, the fact that the Blazers won that game wasn't all that surprising. The Blazers are now 12-3 at home. (They were 26-15 and 34-7 at home the past two seasons.) On the other hand, the Rockets are just 6-13 on the road.
Tonight's game is at Houston though, which is an entirely different story. While the Rockets are a healthy 10-5 at home, the Blazers are an ugly 6-14 on the road. (*Note that Houston is 9-1 its L10 here. That includes a win over the Lakers and the lone loss came against Miami. Eight of the nine wins came by 7 or more points.)
Portland's poor road record includes a loss at Dallas last night. (*The Blazers went a dismal 33 for 79 from the floor, including 4 for 16 on 3-pointers.) Houston had last night off.
In the past, some of you may remember that I've pointed out that the Blazers have actually been a pretty good team, when playing the second of back to back games. That doesn't mean that they prefer to be in that situation though - and not all b2b spots are "created equally" either. This one figures to be particularly tough. I say that because last night's game was a hard-fought "defensive battle." Making matters worse, the Blazers were up 77-72 but Dallas outscored them 12-4 down the stretch for a 84-81 win. That type of defeat can be deflating.
Making the back to back spot more difficult, Portland is without star guard Brandon Roy, sidelined indefinitely with a left knee injury. (Of course, center Greg Oden is also out for the season with a left knee injury.) The Blazers did get Joel Przybilla back last night. However, he went scoreless in 2:50. So, they can't expect any immediate miracles from him.
In addition to the back to back spot, Portland will now be playing its third game in the past four nights. This will also mark its sixth game in the past 10 days. Throw in all the extra "craziness" associated with the holidays and that's a pretty gruelling stretch.
Note that the Blazers did play back to back games once already during their current 6-games in 10 days stretch. After playing a close game at Utah on 12/27, they were blown out 95-77 at Denver, the following night. Note that the Blazers are just 8-12-1 ATS (5-16 SU) as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range the past few seasons.
As noted, the Rockets, 10-6-2 ATS the last 18 times they were facing an opponent which defeated them in the most recent meeting, just lost at Portland. They did beat the Blazers here earlier though. Including that result, they're a perfect 9-0 SU the last nine times they were a host in this series. Catching the Blazers without Roy and off last night's deflating loss, I expect the Rockets to improve on those stats, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|12-31-10||Golden State Warriors v. Charlotte Bobcats -2.5||Top||96-95||Loss||-110||4 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. Given the Hornets' recent improved play, I feel that this line is too low. The Bobcats are 2-0 since the coaching change and they've won those games by five and nine points. With Silas encouraging them to run, the players are clearly loving the shift in offensive philosophy.
Charlotte guard D.J. Augustin, who has 55 points on 20-of-29 shooting in the two games under Silas, was quoted as saying: "I think everybody is loving it right now. Before, we were trying to run the play all the way through and getting shot clock violations. Now guys are getting open shots and taking them."
Stephen Jackson, who scored a season-high 38 points last time out, added: "It's a good feeling knowing the coaches are allowing you to use your brain and make basketball plays and not be sort of a robot out there."
While their road numbers are admittedly pretty ugly, the Bobcats have now climbed above the .500 mark at home. Keep in mind that this team was 31-10 here last season. That ranked among the best home records in the Eastern Conference.
The Warriors are also above .500 at home. However, they're just 4-13 on the road. Keep in mind that this team was 8-33 on the road last season. That ranked among the worst road records in the Western Conference.
The Warriors have won three of four. However, two of those came at home and the other was an OT win at Sacramento - not nearly as difficult a venue as this one. Also, in their last game, they lost by double-digits at Atlanta. As noted, their overall road numbers are less than stellar.
The Hornets won both last season's meetings by double-digits. They were favored at Golden State and they were laying by -10 points (and still covered) here at Charlotte. Including those results, they're an outstanding 16-5 ATS (17-4 SU) their last 21 against Pacific Division teams. I expect them to improve on those numbers here. *10
|12-28-10||Orlando Magic v. Cleveland Cavaliers +8||Top||110-95||Loss||-110||9 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. As you're probably aware, the Magic are playing very well right now. With Lebron no longer in Cleveland, they're also a far better overall team than the Cavaliers. Everyone else is aware of the same thing though and that's caused the Magic to be laying quite a large number. Given the situation, I feel that it will prove to be too big.
While the Cavs had last night off, the Magic played at New Jersey. Granted, that game didn't come down to the wire or go to OT or anything. However, they still had to play. Now, in addition to playing the second of back to back games, the Magic will also be playing their sixth game in the past nine days here. Throw in Christmas in the middle of all that, plus the fact that they just made some major trades, and the Magic could easily be feeling some fatigue here.
Note that even with last night's victory, the Magic are still an ugly 4-11 ATS on the road this season. They're also 7-11 ATS the past few seasons when listed as road favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range.
The Cavs may have won just one of six games over the last two weeks, however, they've been fairly competitive. During that stretch, four of those five losses came by 11 or less, including a 6-point loss at Miami and a 1-point loss in their last home game. A closer look reveals that the Cavs have only played four home games over the past three weeks. Only of those games resulted in a loss of greater than five points.
The defense has played a big part in keeping the Cavs respectable of late. They've held their last two opponents to double-digits in scoring and they've allowed 102 or fewer in four straight. For the season, they allow a reasonable 97 per game, here at Cleveland.
Note that the Cavs, who have seen each of their last three games finish 'under' the total, are 16-7 ATS the last three times that they were off three or more consecutive games which stayed below the total.
This is the Cavs' final home game of 2010. Playing with 'revenge' from an 11 point loss at Orlando and having the "fresher legs," I expect them to give their best effort and for that to lead to at least a cover. *10
|12-27-10||Los Angeles Clippers v. Sacramento Kings -1.5||Top||100-99||Loss||-110||11 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Kings are playing with 'double-revenge' here, as the Clippers have beaten them in both this season's previous meetings. Combine that with the fact that the Kings desperately need a victory and I expect a highly motivated effort from the home team here.
Yes, the Clippers did win both previous meetings. They were both at LA though. Now, the teams meet at ARCO Arena. That's significant as the Kings are 22-2 the last 24 times that they faced the Clippers here, including 5-0 the last five.
While the Kings have had a few days off, the Clippers are off a hard-fought win over the Suns. Even with a rare win in that situation at Chicago recently, they're still 13-38 SU the past few seasons, when playing the second of back to back games.
Having lost three straight games here by single digits, the Kings know that they need to take advantage of this "winnable" home game. They're 18-11 ATS the past few seasons, after having played their previous three games at home. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|12-25-10||Miami Heat v. Los Angeles Lakers -3||Top||96-80||Loss||-110||7 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. Many expect this to be a Finals Preview - and there's a reasonable chance that it will be. Whether or not that proves to be the case, the game should have a "playoff feel." With it being played at LA and with the line being so low, I believe that the home team is providing us with excellent value.
Yes, the Heat have been rolling. Yes, they dispatched of Phoenix with relative ease a couple of nights ago. The Suns aren't what they used to be though and we saw what happened to the Heat in their previous game, a home loss to the Mavericks.
Note that the Heat are a mediocre 7-5 SU against teams from the West. (Lakers are 10-3 SU against teams from the East.) The Heat are also 0-2 ATS as underdogs, losing by nine and 11 points, including 0-1 ATS as road underdogs of three or fewer points.
The Lakers were beaten by the Bucks last time out. They're 31-12 SU off an upset loss though, going 19-6 SU over that time, when off a double-digit loss.
Phil Jackson noted: "I thought their comeuppance might come against Miami, but Milwaukee delivered the blow. So maybe it got their attention so they can get focused on basketball."
It should also be noted that the Lakers are 16-3 SU and 13-6 ATS the last few seasons, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games.
This game is about more than stats though. Its about pride and making a statement. The last thing Kobe and co. want is to see Lebron's new team come in and beat them on their home floor, in front of the Christmas Day audience. (As if they didn't dislike him enough already, Lebron didn't make any friends by essentially undermining the player's union with his recent comments.) I expect the Lakers to be at their very best and for that to lead to a win and cover. *10
|12-23-10||San Antonio Spurs v. Orlando Magic -2.5||Top||101-123||Win||100||10 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. Talk about "baptism by fire" for the new Orlando lineup. Since the lineup changes, the Magic began by playing at Atlanta, which has been a difficult venue for a few years now. Then, they came home to face a red hot Dallas team with the second best record in the West.
Now, they take on the only team which is ahead of the Mavericks, the NBA leading San Antonio Spurs. I like how the game set ups for the Magic though.
Orlando now has played a couple of games with its new lineup. Players are becoming more comfortable with each other. The Magic actually competed really hard vs. the Mavs, Dallas just shot the ball really well and brought its "A-Game." More often than not, that type of effort will get them a "W." I expect a highly motivated effort tonight, only this time I expect the Magic to find a way to earn the victory.
Not only are the Spurs off a hard fought game vs. Denver last night, but this will be their sixth game in the past nine days. One of those went to OT and a few others went right down to the wire, so they've really been working hard. In other words, fatigue could easily be a factor.
The Magic already lost by 11 at San Antonio, which gives them the added motivation of playing with 'revenge,' not that they should need any added incentive. Note that they also lost (by 12) at San Antonio last season. Yet, when the teams met here at Orlando, the Magic won by 26 points, earning a commanding 110-84 victory.
The Magic are 50-24 SU the past few seasons when playing with 'revenge.' I expect them to improve on those stats here, covering the small number along the way. *10
|12-21-10||Dallas Mavericks v. Orlando Magic -3||Top||105-99||Loss||-110||8 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. The Mavericks are playing very well right now. However, I like how this one sets up for the Magic. Both teams played last night. You probably saw that the Mavericks went to Miami and upset the Heat. Meanwhile, the Magic lost at Atlanta. I expect that to cause Orlando to be the "hungrier" team here.
The Mavs don't play again until 12/27. Off last night's big win, thinking about their plans for their holidays, I could see them becoming a little "complacent" here and/or "flat."
On the other hand, the Magic really need a win. They've been mired in a skid and with another red hot opponent (Spurs) on deck, before Boston on Christmas Day, they badly need to get on track - and the holidays should be the furthest thing from their mind.
While its true that the new Magic roster didn't look that great last night, they've now got a game under their belts together. This is their chance to play together in front of the home fans. Beating the team that just beat Miami would be a great way to start the "new era."
The Magic are 14-5 ATS the last 19 times that they were favored by four or fewer points. I expect them to rise to the occasion and improve on those stats here. *10
|12-17-10||Utah Jazz v. New Orleans Hornets +1.5||Top||71-100||Win||100||9 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. Admittedly, the Hornets haven't covered the spread too often lately. They're 0-3-1 ATS their last four games and only one of those resulted in a SU victory. However, that "SU" victory came in their last game - and I believe that it was the type of win that they'll really be able to build some positive momentum from.
I say that the Hornets are off a "momentum-building" victory as they were down by as many as 23 points in the second half, yet still rallied to earn the victory. Often, that type of win can be "just what the doctor ordered."
The Jazz are playing well and have the better overall record. However, lets not lose sight of the fact that the Hornets still have the better home record (10-3) than the Jazz (7-3) do on the road.
Looking back further, however, and we find the Jazz at just 44-56 SU their last 100 road games. During that stretch, the Hornets were 63-34 SU at home. In this case, with the Hornets listed as slight underdogs, of course a SU victory will result in a 'cover.' I believe that provides us with excellent value.
The Hornets have plenty of motivation. They're playing with 'revenge' as they lost at Utah earlier. The Jazz also beat them the last time here at New Orleans. However, Chris Paul didn't play in that one. While Williams has traditionally gotten the better of him, I expect Paul and his supporting cast to come up big here, scoring the minor upset and improving to 9-6 SU the last 15 times that they were playing with 'revenge.' *10
|12-16-10||San Antonio Spurs v. Denver Nuggets +2||Top||113-112||Win||100||12 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on DENVER. While San Antonio is red hot, this is a difficult spot. The Spurs are playing the second of back to back games here, as they're off a very close win vs. the Bucks last night. They've been fortunate that they haven't had to play back to back games since 12/1, when they faced the Clippers. I had LA in that game, so enjoyed watching the Spurs lose outright. (Its no coincidence that was the last time that they even lost a game.) Including that 12/1 setback, the Spurs are just 18-20 ATS in the second of back to back games the past few seasons, not one of their best roles.
Not all back to back spots are equal either. This one figures to be challenging. For starters, last night's game was of the "hard-fought" variety. Additionally, they're in the high altitude of Denver, where the Nuggets are extremely tough to beat. In fact, at 11-1 (91.7%) the Nuggets currently have the best home winning percentage in the entire NBA.
The Nuggets will be going for their 11th straight home win here and their 45 home wins since the beginning of 2009-10 is the most in the NBA.
Yet, despite the homecourt and scheduling advantage, the Nuggets find themselves as underdogs. That's due in large part to the Spurs' superior overall record (Nuggets have struggled away from Denver) and also due to the fact that Billups is expected to be out again for the Nuggets. The Nuggets did just fine without him last game though as Ty Lawson started (had 16 points and 6 assists) and the Nuggets crushed a good Orlando team by 17 points. Including that result, the Nuggets are 4-2 ATS (all four ATS wins were also SU wins) the last six times that they were home underdogs of three or fewer points. Knowing that they'll be battling these same Spurs at San Antonio in a few days (teams play at SA on 12/22) I expect the Nuggets to continue their strong play here, taking care of business in front of the home fans once again. *10
|12-14-10||Philadelphia 76ers v. New Jersey Nets +1.5||Top||82-77||Loss||-110||7 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. These teams met on 11/27. The 76'ers won that one, in blowout fashion. At the time, even though the game was at Philadelphia, the Nets were only a 1-point underdog. Now, only a few weeks later, the teams are playing at New Jersey. Yet, despite the change in venues, the line hasn't really changed. I feel that provides us with excellent value with the home 'underdog' Nets.
True, the 76'ers have had some success lately. That's come at Philly though. In fact, they're a dismal 1-10 on the road, only Washington (0-12) in worse in the Eastern Conference.
True, the Nets have really struggled, since the loss at Philly. However, in fairness, they've only played four home games, since that time. A look at those games shows that the opponents were Portland, Oklahoma City, Boston and the Lakers. (Those are four pretty good teams!) With the exception of a blowout loss to Boston (no real shame in that) New Jersey was very respectable in the other games. The Nets beat Portland by two, lost by only three vs. OKC and by only seven vs the Lakers.
Looking back further and we find that the Nets really haven't had that many 'non-playoff' teams play here. Prior to the loss at Philly, the Nets had only played two home games over the previous two weeks. Those games came against Atlanta (a 6 point win) and Orlando (a 1 point loss.)
In other words, while the 76ers have admittedly been playing better basketball (at home) of late, they still represent a step down in class from recent teams which have visited here. Note that the Nets are a perfect 4-0 ATS the last four times that they were a host in this series. Playing with 'revenge' from the earlier loss and "desperate" for a victory, I look for the Nets to improve on those stats here. *10
|12-11-10||Cleveland Cavaliers +8.5 v. Houston Rockets||Top||95-110||Loss||-110||10 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. Since being embarrassed by Lebron and the Heat, the Cavaliers have admittedly really struggled. They did play the Bulls fairly tough (5 point loss) last time out though and they've got the schedule in their favor here.
The Cavs know that they're being trashed by the media and I expect them to show some pride here. With three more difficult road games on deck, they know that starting off the current trip with a good effort is extremely important.
While the Cavs haven't played since 12/8, the Rockets are off a hard-fought loss at Milwaukee last night. In addition to being just 3-5 ATS as favorites, the Rockets are only 2-3 ATS (1-4 SU) when playing the second of back to back games. Their lone SU win (vs. Minnesota) in that situation was more than a month ago. Given those stats and the Rockets' 8-14 overall record, I don't feel that they should be laying more than a "touchdown" here.
After last night's loss, Houston's Lowry noted: "We didn't do enough. We let them get some shots that we shouldn't have. We made some mental mistakes and mistakes that we could have avoided. And they made us pay for it."
After the 'cover' vs. the Bulls, Cleveland's coach Byron Scott commented: "We played hard for 48 minutes. If we play hard like that, I can live with that." I expect the Cavs to again "play hard" and look for that type of determination to lead to at least a cover. *10
|12-10-10||Houston Rockets v. Milwaukee Bucks -3.5||Top||91-97||Win||100||10 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bucks got a much needed victory in their last game, a 2-point win over an Indiana team which had been playing quite well. I expect the Bucks, who hit the winning shot at the buzzer of that game, to build some positive momentum off that "close win" and for them to string together another victory.
While this season didn't start off well, the Bucks have been very solid at home in recent years and they're now starting to shown real signs of coming around. Before the victory over the Pacers, they lost (vs. Miami) but before that they beat Orlando.
Much of that has to do with the return of Andrew Bogut, who had been out with injury. Since returning, the Bucks center has averaged 19.7 points and 14 rebounds. After hitting the winner vs. Indiana, Bogut was quoted as saying: "The Pacers have beaten some good teams and to get a win like this it feels good to get this in the final seconds. We knew it was going to be a tough night and hopefully we can get things rolling."
Tonight, they'll also be facing a team which has started to play better basketball. The Rockets have won three of their last four, including a 14 point home win over the Pistons last time out. They're still "banged up" though and they're still an ugly 3-9 on the road though, where they give up a whopping 109.4 points per game, allowing opponents to hit 47.8% of their shots. (*By comparison, the Bucks allow 89.6 points at home, with opposing teams shooting 44.9%.)
Note that the Rockets are a money-burning 21-32-1 ATS, the past 2+ seasons, when off a double-digit victory. During that stretch, they've also gone 12-17 ATS, after allowing 85 or fewer points, 8-15 ATS against teams from the Central and 8-10 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range.
On the other hand, during that stretch, the Bucks are 14-6 ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range. They're also 13-7-1 ATS after having played three straight games at home and 17-10 ATS when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. I expect those stats to improve here, as homecourt and superior defense prove to be the difference. *10
|12-08-10||Washington Wizards v. Sacramento Kings -4||Top||91-116||Win||100||12 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Wizards, now 0-11 away from Washington, are going to win a road game some time. Given the fact that the Kings are struggling, they probably feel that tonight could be "the night." The Kings, who have lost eight straight, arguably "need" a home win every bit as much as the Wizards need a road win though (if not more) and I feel that they'll have the advantage tonight.
While Sacramento had last night off, the Wizards were involved in a fairly hard-fought game vs. the Lakers. Thanks to a big night from Nick Young, an LA native, they were able to stay in the game almost the entire way. Give them credit for doing so, but that also caused them to extend themselves more than they would have in a blowout loss. Now, playing their third road game in the past four nights, fatigue could well be a factor here.
While Sacramento's Tyreke Evans has been bothered by plantar fascititis, Washington may well be without Andray Blatche again. Blatche, who missed last night's game, is averaging 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Its certainly been a rocky start for the Kings. They've been playing hard recently though and they very nearly beat Dallas in their last game here. Naturally, the Wizards represent a step down in class from the Mavericks. Their next game comes against Miami and than they take to the road and don't return home until December 19th. That makes taking advantage of this winnable game that much more critical.
The Wizards are 6-14-1 ATS (3-18 SU) the last 21 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. The last time that they played the second of back to back games (11/17 at Boston) they lost by 31 points. I expect the Kings to be the "fresher" team down the stretch and I look for that to translate to a much needed win and cover. *10
|12-01-10||San Antonio Spurs v. Los Angeles Clippers +7.5||Top||85-90||Win||100||12 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. The Spurs have been great on the road. In fact, with another win last night, they're now a perfect 8-0 away from home. I feel that this will be a tough spot for them. Not only is it the second of back to back games but its also the Spurs third road game in the last four night and they're eighth game in the last 13 days. That's a lot of basketball - even if some of the victories were relatively easy. With a return to San Antonio to follow, it may be easy to look past the lowly Clippers, a team which they've dominated.
I expect that to prove costly though. The Clippers have been more competitive recently, as evidenced by their 3-1 ATS record the past four games. While the Spurs were involved in a "fast tempo" game at Golden State, the Clippers had last night off. They're playing with "double-revenge" here and also looking to avoid the seasons series sweep, as they've already lost both games vs. the Spurs this season. Note that both losses came by 12 or less with the game here at LA being decided by single-digits.
Speaking of the earlier meeting here at LA, note that last time it was the Clippers who were playing the second of back to back games (they'd played at Dallas the previous night) while the Spurs came in "rested."
True, the Spurs have been really clicking offensively. However, note that the Clippers are 6-3 ATS against teams which average more than 99 points per game. Playing without Kaman and Davis, the Clippers 'stung' a red hot Hornets team a little more than a week ago. I had them in that game and feel that they're also capable of giving the Spurs all that they can handle here. *10
|12-01-10||Detroit Pistons v. Miami Heat -11.5||Top||72-97||Win||100||9 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Heat have certainly been costly for their backers. They finally snapped their losing streak last time out but failed to cover the spread, once again. They did win that game by 11 points, so weren't that far off from covering. Tonight's line is lower than that one was (it was -13.5) yet I feel that its got potential to be an even more lopsided result.
True, the Heat have a much anticipated game at Cleveland on deck. Given that it's "Lebron's homecoming," that's certainly a game that a team could "look ahead" too. That said, the last thing Lebron and co. want to do is to lose another game, right before tomorrow's "big game." Rather, they'd much prefer to return to Cleveland with some momentum - and what better way than by blowing out the Pistons.
I feel that the Pistons are "ripe to get blown out." They were involved in a hard-fought game at Orlando last night. While they eventually lost by 11, they were winning at halftime. Those types of losses tend to be more "draining," physically and/or mentally. Note that the Pistons are a money-burning 10-33 SU and 16-26-1 ATS the past 2+ seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. The last time that they did so, they lost 104-85 at Memphis. Including that blowout loss, the Pistons will be playing their sixth game in the past nine days. (Note that they've got an immediate rematch with Orlando on deck for Friday, so could potentially also be thinking about the return trip home for that game.)
The Heat are 6-1 ATS against the Pistons since the beginning of 2009. Two of three meetings in 2010 resulted in Miami "blowout wins" of 17 (92-65 and 98-81) or greater points. I don't expect tomorrow's trip to Cleveland to prevent them from improving on those stats here. *10
|11-26-10||New Orleans Hornets v. Portland Trail Blazers -3||Top||97-78||Loss||-110||12 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. While I respect the Hornets, I've had some success going against them recently. They got off to such a hot start that I felt that they'd become somewhat over-valued. I also felt that they were "playing above their heads" a little and expected them to come back down to earth, if only slightly. I played against them in the first game of their current road trip, at Sacramento on 11/21. They won but didn't cover. I also played against them at LA the following night, they lost outright vs. the Clippers. I didn't touch the Hornets' next game. However, they got blown out by 18 points (105-87) at Utah. Off back to back losses, they'd definitely like to bounce back here. However, those losses reveal that things aren't quite as "rosy" in New Orleans, as many previously thought. More importantly, they'll be taking on a talented Portland team, which is very tough at home and which is determined to serve up some "payback" from an earlier loss at New Orleans.
While the Hornets are playing their fourth road game in the past six days, the Blazers haven't played a single game during that stretch. Their last game was on 11/26, a 103-94 loss to Utah. Sometimes, such a long break can hurt a team. However, in this case, I expect it to help the Blazers. That's because it should have allowed Brandon Roy time to properly heal. In fact, with the added rest, the Blazers might even get a few minutes from Joel Przybilla - although I won't expect much of a contribution there. Either way, as the game progresses, I'd prefer to have the well-rested home team as opposed to a visiting team which is playing in its fourth different city in the past six days. Note that the Blazers are 8-3 SU the past few seasons, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games.
Speaking of road trips, while the Hornets may be looking forward to returning home (and to a big showdown vs. the Spurs), the Blazers know that they head out on the road for four games after this. That, combined with the fact that the Hornets already beat them, should provide plenty of motivation. The Blazers are an outstanding 18-9 ATS (22-5 SU) the past 2+ seasons, when coming off a SU loss as a favorite. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|11-22-10||New Orleans Hornets v. Los Angeles Clippers +5.5||Top||95-99||Win||100||12 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. I successfully played against the Hornets yesterday. That result worked out well, in terms of setting up today's play. Not only did the Hornets (barely) fail to cover, but they won their game outright. So, I got to cash yesterday's basketball ticket AND the Hornets may be slightly more complacent today, then they would have been if they'd lost yesterday. Off that result, now playing their third game in four days AND with a bigger game vs. Utah on deck, I feel that the Hornets may have some trouble focusing on the lowly Clippers.
The Clippers are somewhat more talented than their record indicates though and they're capable of surprising. While they're a modest 8-7 ATS the last 15 times that they were home underdogs in the +6 to +9.5 range, during the same stretch, the Hornets were 2-3 ATS when listed as road favorites in the -6 to -9.5 range and just 42-55-1 ATS as favorites, overall.
Admittedly, the Clippers have had trouble getting wins lately and they've also had trouble beating the Hornets in recent years. They're still playing hard though and I believe that they can take some positives from Saturday's loss. Coach Del Negro was quoted as saying: "...I'm happy with the way we battled. We had opportunities there, kept fighting to cut the lead, but we battled and fought and tried to grind it out. Blake shot it real well, we were aggressive the whole game..."
While they only have one win in their last 11 games, only three of those games (and only one at home) resulted in a double-digit loss. In other words, they've been more competitive than one would imagine, if only looking at the recent record. One of those double-digit losses came at New Orleans, putting the Clippers in the 'revenge' role here.
As noted yesterday, the Hornets also tend to fare poorly against "defensively challenged" teams. Including yesterday's result, they're now a money-burning 39-61-1 ATS the last 101 times that they faced a team which allows 99 or more points per game. They're likely to have a few new faces in the lineup tonight (due to their recent trade) and that may take a bit of adjusting. All things considered, I feel that the situation favors the revenge-minded Clippers and I look for them to give their guests a much tougher game than expected. *10
|11-20-10||New York Knicks v. Los Angeles Clippers -1||Top||124-115||Loss||-110||12 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. The Clippers are on a losing streak and are off to a bad start to the season. Nothing new about that. This team does have some talent though and tonight's game sets up very favorably for them to get a much-needed victory.
On Tuesday, the Knicks went into Denver and lost by two points (120-118) to the Nuggets. The following night, they were involved in another hard-fought game, this time earning a 113-106 victory at Sacramento. After having Thursday off, last night, the Knicks knocked off the Warriors by a score of 125-119. That makes this the Knicks' fourth game in the past five days - with each of the first three being played at a very "up tempo" pace. That said, I expect fatigue to be a factor here.
Note that even with Wednesday's win at Sacramento, the Knicks are still 12-28 SU the last 40 times that they played the second of back to back games.
The Clippers have had some pointspread success against "high-scoring" teams and they're 10-3 SU the last 13 times that they hosted the Knicks. I expect them to be both the "fresher" and the "hungrier" team here and for that to lead to a much-needed victory. *10
|11-19-10||New Jersey Nets v. Sacramento Kings -3.5||Top||81-86||Win||100||11 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Kings could badly use a victory and tonight should provide an excellent opportunity to earn one. These teams already faced each other a few weeks ago. The Kings were in great shape to win that game, as they were up by eight points with less than four minutes to play. However, the Nets outscored them 17-3 down the stretch, en route to a 106-100 victory. That was at New Jersey though. Tonight's game is at Sacramento, where the Kings have been much better for years.
Admittedly, the Nets have been better defensively than the Kings. Note that the Nets are just 22-56 SU and 31-46-1 ATS the past seasons when matched up against a team which allows 99 or more per game.
The Kings have the edge on the offensive side of the ball. They average more than 100 points per game while New Jersey averages only 92.8.
The Nets are playing their third straight road game and play at Denver tomorrow. Note that they're already 0-2 when playing the front end of back to back games so far this season.
The Kings also lost at New Jersey last season - not many teams did. However, they won by double-digits when the teams played here at Sacramento. That brought them to 10-1 SU and 7-3-1 ATS the last 11 times that they were a host in this series. Desperate for a victory and playing with revenge for last month's setback, I expect them to continue that homecourt series dominance this evening. *10
|11-15-10||Minnesota Timberwolves v. Charlotte Bobcats -9||Top||110-113||Loss||-110||8 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I've had the Bobcats in each of their past three home games, going 2-0-1 ATS. In all three cases, the Bobcats were "getting points" against an elite team. They lost by three points vs. the Magic, four points vs. the Spurs and by one point vs. the Jazz. While those losses had to have been frustrating, this evening, the Bobcats will take a significant step down in class. With the schedule in their favor, I expect them to respond with a convincing double-digit victory.
The T-Wolves come to town on quite the roll and you probably heard about Kevin Love's big "30-30" game. In fact, with another cover yesterday, they're a perfect 4-0 ATS their last four games. This is a tough spot for them though. Not only did they play yesterday, but they also will be playing their ninth game in the past 14 days, including their fifth in the last seven. That's a very gruelling stretch, particularly as those games were all fairly "hard-fought."
While this is arguably more difficult than a "typical" back to back spot, its still worth noting that the T-Wolves are 1-2 SU/ATS when playing the second of back to back games. They did beat Sacramento on 11/10. However, both their previous games, when playing for the second time in two days, resulted in losses of 20 or more points. They lost 109-89 at Memphis and 128-86 at Orlando.
Including that loss at Memphis, they're just 9-14 ATS (5-18 SU) the last 23 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range.
While the Bobcats' offense has yet to really start fully clicking, the defense continues to be mostly solid. That's not the case for the T-Wolves, who allow 109.4 points per game, incl. a whopping 112.1 on the road. That's significant as we find the Bobcats at an impressive 51-34-1 ATS the past few seasons, when facing a team which allows 99 or more points per game.
The Bobcats beat the T-Wolves by 13 here last season and by 10 in 2008. They're 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in six all-time home meetings vs. the T-Wolves and I look for them to continue that dominance here. *10
|11-12-10||Utah Jazz v. Atlanta Hawks -4||Top||90-86||Loss||-110||9 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. The Jazz come in as the "hotter" team. In fact, they're off back to back upset victories at Miami and Orlando. Pretty impressive stuff. Off those two wins, they may be patting themselves on the back a bit here though and it could be easy to let their guard down, if only slightly. That will prove costly though as the Hawks are generally very strong on this floor and as they should be extremely "hungry" tonight.
Indeed, the Hawks have lost three straight games and should be desperate to get back on track. Note that the Hawks are a profitable 8-4-1 ATS since the start of the 2008 season, when off three or more consecutive losses. Also, note that they haven't lost three straight home games (they've currently lost b2b games here) since the 2007/2008 season.
Atlanta's Josh Smith had this to say: "We'll figure out what's going wrong, and we'll fix it really quick."
Before "writing off" the Hawks because of their current losing streak, lets not forget that they're still a solid 6-3 on the season. Perhaps more important, keep in mind that this team went an awesome 34-7 SU here last regular season, after going an impressive 31-10 here the previous season. During the same stretch, the Jazz were a combined 36-46 on the road.
The Hawks are a solid 16-11 ATS (20-7 SU) the past 2+ seasons when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. During that stretch, the Jazz were a money-burning 7-14 ATS (6-15 SU) when listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range.
The Hawks swept the Jazz last season and they're 3-0 SU/ATS the last three series meetings here at Atlanta. That includes a 96-83 victory here last season. I expect them to continue that success here, bouncing back with a much needed win and cover. *10
|11-09-10||New York Knicks v. Milwaukee Bucks -4.5||Top||80-107||Win||100||10 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bucks have gotten off to a slow (2-5) start. They're better than that record indicates though, particularly here at home. In fairness to the Bucks, four of their games have come on the road and two of their three home games came against tough Western Conference opponents. They did win their only home game vs. an Eastern Conf. opponent, a double-digit victory over the Bobcats. In fact, a closer look reveals that they're 3-0 ATS (2-1 SU) against teams from the Eastern Conference. The lone loss came by just three points, in OT, at Boston. Also, before jumping to any hasty conclusions based on the Bucks slow start, keep in mind that they were 28-13 on this floor last season. This evening they should be highly motivated for a victory and they'll be facing a Knicks team which they have previously dominated.
Granted, this is a different New York team. Stoudemire is a bigtime talent and should only make this team better. That's not necessarily going to happen overnight though. We saw evidence of that last game. The Knicks shot made just five of 24 fourth quarter shots and were held without a field goal for the final four minutes.
After that game, a 106-96 home loss to a struggling Philadelphia team, Stoudemire was quoted as saying: "We are a very young team and making young mistakes..." Keep in mind that that Knicks are starting a pair of rookies, while also still adjusting to the lineup changes.
The Bucks are 6-1 SU/ATS their last seven against the Knicks. The last meeting came in February, at New York. Bogut was absolutely dominant. Not only did he score 24 points but he grabbed a whopping 20 rebounds while blocking five shots and contesting numerous others. That performance helped the Bucks limit NY to a mere 67 points. The Knicks made only 33.8 of their field goals. The last meeting here at Milwaukee saw the Bucks hammer the Knicks by a 102-87 margin. The Bucks were up 66-35 by halftime and put it on "cruise control" the rest of the way.
The Bucks are 15-9 ATS (17-7 SU) the last 24 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. During that that stretch, they've gone a profitable 16-9 ATS when coming off a game in which they scored 85 or fewer points and an outstanding 48-24-3 ATS when facing a team which allows 99 or more points per game. Desperate for a victory, I expect the Bucks to continue their dominance in this series, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|11-06-10||Orlando Magic v. Charlotte Bobcats +7.5||Top||91-88||Win||100||8 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. Both these teams played last night and both are playing their third game in four nights. The fact that Orlando won (105-90 over NJ) last night and that Charlotte lost (97-90 at Detroit), may make the Bobcats a little extra "hungry" tonight. Of course, given that the Magic knocked them out of the playoffs last season, the Bobcats should already have plenty of motivation.
True, the Bobcats haven't beaten the Magic here in some time. However, if we look at the recent meetings here, we find lines ranging from pick'em to +4. Today, we're getting a far more generous line to work with. I believe that provides us with excellent value.
Speaking of the higher line, note that the Magic, already 0-1 on the road, are 6-9 ATS the past 2+ seasons when listed as road favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. They also happened to be playing the second of back to back games there, making them 0-1 ATS in that situation this season. They're now a mediocre 18-16-2 ATS in that situation the past 2+ seasons.
On the other hand, the Bobcats are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. They've also had no trouble in back to back spots, going 27-17-1 ATS.
During that stretch, Charlotte has also gone a lucrative 23-12-1 ATS in divisional games. With the Bobcats giving everything they've got, I expect those stats to improve here. *10
|11-03-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Sacramento Kings +5.5||Top||112-100||Loss||-110||12 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. I successfully played against the Kings in their last game. At the time, they were laying a small handful of points vs. Toronto. In my analysis, I wrote that they'd been involved in a number of close games and that I felt that one would also come down to the wire. That's exactly what happened, with the Kings eventually earning a 3-point victory. That result worked out very well.
For starters, I able to cash my ticket on the Raptors. Also, the fact that the Kings failed to cover helped us a bit in the "line value" department here. (If Sacramento had blown out Toronto, we likely wouldn't be getting such a generous line here.) Additionally, the fact that the Kings were able to erase a large 2nd half deficit figures to provide them with both "confidence" and "momentum," going into tonight's showdown.
Phil Jackson knows that "momentum" and "confidence" can certainly be a factor. He said this of the Kings: "They have just come off a really big win coming back from a deficit in the fourth quarter, beating Toronto, so they have a lot of enthusiasm up there. They're playing with some confidence, I think that
|10-31-10||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Clippers +5.5||Top||99-83||Loss||-110||12 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA CLIPPERS. The Clippers are off to a 0-2 SU/ATS start. Both losses came by double-digits. So, what else is new, right? True, the Clippers are typically pretty bad. It's also true that they're not ready to dethrone the Lakers as the best team in LA. All that said, I believe that this year's team is actually capable of being a lot more competitive than many believe.
While they've been fairly good to me (on and against) over the years, I lost with the Clippers in this season's home opener. They were catching Portland off a big game the previous night and I felt it was a good spot for them. They played the Blazers tough through three quarters but fell apart in the fourth. I've included an excerpt from my writeup of that game here, to show what I felt about LA, coming into the season:
"...As for the Clippers, every new season brings new hope. This year's team has a new coach (Vinny Del Negro) and some very solid talent. Center Chris Kaman averaged 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds last year. They've also got dangerous scorers like veteran Baron Davis and youngster Eric Gordon. Gordon, the seventh overall pick in 2008, averaged 16.9 points last season. He was quoted as saying: "Most definitely we'll be a whole better team than last year. It's just a better vibe and everybody is listening. I think the expectations will be fulfilled. We just need to keep guys healthy." Additionally, the Clippers finally get Blake Griffin. Griffin was the #1 pick but missed last year with an injury. He's ready to go now though, having averaged 17.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in six preseason games..."
Note the Griffin has a "double-double" in both games so far. At 17 points per game, Griffin is one of five Clippers averaging 9.5 or greater points per game thus far, incl. Gordon at 20.5.
While the Portland pick didn't turn out, it still doesn't change the way I feel about he Clippers. I still believe that they're a little more talented than many realize and that they'll be capable of surprising teams, on any given night. Off back to back losses to start the season, I also believe that they'll be extremely motivated here. The last thing this team needs/wants is to have the players getting the feeling of "here we go again," and they'd desperately love a victory here.
As for the Mavericks, yes, they'd certainly like to bounce back from a disappointing 1-point loss to Memphis. However, they've already got a victory under their belts and with a big game vs. Denver next on their schedule, it should be easy to get caught looking past the lowly Clippers. That'll prove costly as I expect the Clippers to play their best game of the young season to date, giving their guests all they can handle with a great shot at the outright upset. *10
|10-29-10||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Toronto Raptors -3||Top||81-101||Win||100||9 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. As you're likely aware, these teams both saw their superstar leave for the 'sunnier pastures' of Miami over the summer. In their opening game, naturally, both teams wanted to make a 'statement' that they could still win. The Cavaliers played hard and upset the Celtics. The Raptors also played hard, but came up a little short vs. the Knicks.
Give them credit for beating the Celtics - as that's never easy. However, keep in mind that the Cavs were playing at home and that they were catching Boston off a game vs. Miami the previous night. The game meant more to the Cavs than it did to Boston and they played with more passion when it mattered. Tonight, however, the Cavs will be on the road. They won't have any scheduling advantage and they'll be facing an opponent which will be every bit as 'hungry' as they are, if not more so.
In addition to being without James, note that the Cavs are dealing with a nagging injury to Mo Williams. If he plays, it may not be for many minutes. Additionally, it appears likely that Vareajo will also miss the game, as his father is having heart surgery and the team has excused him to be with him. In addition to missing some of last year's stars, the Cavs also have a new coach and are learning a new offense.
The Raptors fell behind significantly against New York in the opener. To their credit, they battled all the way back. In the end, however, they proved to have no answer for a determined Amare Stoudemire. The Cavs don't have a player capable of dominating like Stoudemire though, at least not anymore, making for a more favorable matchup for Toronto.
True, the Raptors are young. However, I believe that they've got more talent than many realize. They've got a talented back court and their big man Bargnani has unique skills, which make him tough to defend. The Cavs know that as they watched him score 28 against them - almost exactly one year ago to the day - leading the Raptors to a 101-91 upset here on 10/28/09. Lebron had a "triple-double" and Toronto still won. (The Cavs did win the other meeting here and took 3 of 4 on the season.)
Knowing they head out to the West Coast after this, this is a very important game for the Raptors. This is a very winnable game and I expect them to make the most of it. *10
|06-17-10||Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers -6.5||Top||79-83||Loss||-110||34 h 20 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. Having been on the correct side of all six games in the Finals, I'm certainly not surprised that we're going to a seventh game. I had the Lakers in Game 1, the Celtics in Game 2, the Lakers in Game 3, the Celtics in Games 4 and 5. After the Lakers dropped those two games, many wrote them off for Game 6. I wasn't one of them. Off that convincing wire-to-wire blowout, the Lakers have now regained their confidence and swagger. I expect them to follow it up with another convincing victory.
When the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals two years ago, Paul Pierce was arguably better than Kobe Bryant. That certainly hasn't been the case through the first six games. Indeed, Kobe has been seemingly on a mission the entire playoffs and he's showing no signs of slowing down. Last game, he had "only" 26 points. However, he added 11 rebounds and played great defense. Most importantly, he got help from his supporting cast, something that was missing the previous game.
Kobe was quoted as saying: "I was very happy. We did a great job defensively. We kept them out of the middle, kept them out of the paint, did a good job on the boards. It was a solid effort by us."
Pau Gasol, who had 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, had this to say: "We want to carry everything we did tonight to Game 7, and then I think we'll be in a very good place to win. When you bring the intensity we did tonight, good things are going to happen."
While the Lakers managed to get everyone involved, the Celtics fell apart in that area. Doc Rivers commented: "We played an individual game tonight on both ends. We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively, because we never trusted each other. Everybody was out to make their own place."
Ray Allen added: "We didn't get in any rhythm early, and it affects our chemistry..."
While the Lakers were already dominating before he went down, it should be noted that Boston's starting center Kendrick Perkins went down hard in the first quarter and did not return. As I release this play, it is still unclear whether he will be available for Game 7. My guess is that he will not be. However, even if he is, he surely won't be 100%. When asked if Perkins would play, Rivers was quoted as saying: "It doesn't look great, but I don't know."
Without Perkins available, or even if he plays and isn't 100%, the Celtics aren't nearly as tough in the paint. That helps the entire Laker team, particularly Gasol. Rivers noted: "He's a guy that cleans the paint up, let's say, and not having him there made the Lakers awful long." He went on to say: "He's one of our guys that I think gives us great spirit, gives us a lot of toughness and size. You know, I hope he can play. It would be tough if he can't."
With Perkins out, Sheldon Williams saw his most playing time in Game 6. That didn't exactly work out too well though. He finished with 0 points and three rebounds in 14 minutes. Rasheed Wallace went 0-7 in his 17 minutes and "Big Baby" also had 0 points, in 27 minutes.
The Lakers have been here before. They've got the best player, the momentum, homecourt advantage and a coach who knows how to win the big game. They're 10-1 at home in the playoffs and, even with a a loss at Boston in Game 5, they're 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they were tied in a playoff series. Looking back further and we find them at a highly profitable 19-7-1 ATS (20-7 SU) their last 27 in that situation. They were the better team all season and I look for them to be the better team again tonight. *10
|06-15-10||Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers -6.5||Top||67-89||Win||100||30 h 54 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. With the Celtics having won two in a row and now up 3-2, many are likely writing the Lakers off. Not me. I had Boston in each of the last two games (and have been on the right side in every game) so am not surprised to see the Celtics with a series lead. With tonight's game back at LA, I fully expect the Lakers to force a Game 7. More importantly, I also believe that they'll win by enough to earn us a cover.
Kobe Bryant is capable of playing great at any venue. One of the biggest differences about playing in front of the home crowd is how it affects the rest of the Lakers. After watching the Celtics' backups win Game 4, Kobe got virtually no help from his supporting cast when he needed it in Game 5. While they've shown that they can be a bit fragile at times on the road, the rest of the Laker players are a much stronger group, when playing on their own home floor.
Yes, the Celtics split the first two games at LA. However, the Lakers are still 10-1 their last 11 here. A look at those 10 victories shows that they came by a margin of 10.2 points. In my opinion, the Celtics scored the upset here in Game 2 for two reasons. The first reason was that Ray Allen was on absolute fire from 3-point range. The second reason was that the Lakers may have relaxed, if only slightly, already having a lead in the series. I don't expect either of those factors to be an issue here. With the exception of Game 2, the Lakers have done a great job on not letting Ray Allen get open looks from "downtown." Additionally, with their season on the line, there certainly won't be any of the "letdown" or "relaxing" that we saw in Game 2. Between Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, they'll make sure of that.
For the season, even though they were without Bryant for a number of games, the Lakers are an impressive 43-8 here. The average score of those 51 games was 104.3 to 95.7.
Kobe, who berated his teammates at the end of Game 5 was quoted as saying: "Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we've got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I'll take that ... "
A look at the first five games of this series shows that all five were decided by at least six points with four being decided by seven or more. The average margin of victory was 8.8 points with the two games here at LA both being decided by nine or more. I expect Kobe to "do his thing" and for the rest of his team to step up and give him the help that he needs, leading to a Laker win and cover. *10
|06-13-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics -2.5||Top||86-92||Win||100||21 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. I've been successfully "zig-zagging" in this series, having gone 4-0 with my side selections. I played the Lakers in Game 1, came back with Boston in Game 2, the Lakers in Game 3 and back to the Celtics in Game 4. I expect the pattern to come to an end here though and feel that the value lies with the Celtics, for the second straight game.
For starters, due in large part to many others jumping on the "zig-zag bandwagon" (and to the fact that the Lakers are such a beloved team) the line is now lower than it was in Game 4. That line opened at -3 and went up to -4. This one is going the opposite way. It opened at -3.5, although only briefly. It then went to -3, then -2.5. It's possible that it could go even lower, still. I feel that anything at -3 or better is providing excellent value.
Many will point to Game 4 and say that there's no way the Celtics can expect another huge performance from the likes of Big Baby Davis and Nate Robinson. That may indeed be true. That said, I think that the Celtics can expect a bigger combined effort from the "Big 4," of Rondo, Allen, Pierce and Garnett. Sure, those players still combined for 54 points, all scoring in double-digits. However, they all finished with less than 20 points. None had more than six rebounds and they shot a combined 21-51. Yet, despite those mediocre stats and despite Kobe doing his thing (he had 33 points) the Celtics still won by seven, scoring 96 points. I feel that we can expect better combined numbers from those four tonight.
Bryant and Gasol will get their points. The rest of the Lakers have been inconsistent though. With only a couple of exceptions, Artest has been a terrible shooter in most games. Odom hasn't played well in this series and doesn't seem to match up well. Fisher had just six points and two assists last game. Perhaps most importantly, Bynum is far from 100%. He only played 12 minutes in the last game and managed a mere two points.
True, as I've pointed out a few times in these playoffs, the Lakers have been great when tied in a playoff series. They're generally at home in those situations though. Additionally, the Celtics aren't too shabby in that spot either, as they're 11-4 SU the last 15 times that they were tied in a playoff series. With the line now so low, a SU victory has a very strong chance in also resulting in a pointspread victory.
Note that the Lakers are just 5-8 ATS and 4-9 SU the last 13 times that they were road underdogs of +3 or less. They're also just 5-9 ATS their last 14 in the Finals. On the other hand, the Celtics are 8-2 ATS their last 10 in the Finals. While it likely won't be "easy," I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|06-10-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics -3.5||Top||89-96||Win||100||33 h 16 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with BOSTON. The "zig-zag theory" may not have fared too well in the playoffs. However, it's been alive and well in the playoffs, thus far. The Lakers won and covered in Game 1. The Celtics bounced back with a win and cover in the second game. Game 3 saw the Lakers respond with a win and cover of their own. I expect the "pattern" to continue for another day and look for Boston to even up the series.
The Lakers played great defense in Game 3, holding Boston to a mere 84 points. That didn't surprise me, as I had both LA and the 'under' in that game. They're not always that good, when coming off a strong defensive outing though. In fact, LA is a money-burning 2-8 ATS the last 10 times it held its previous opponent to 85 points or less.
As I mentioned in my analysis of Game 3, the Lakers have been outstanding when tied in a playoff series. They've only been mediocre, when leading in a playoff series though, going 6-6 ATS (7-5 SU) their last 12 in that situation. On the other hand, including their big win in Game 2, the Celtics are a perfect 6-0 SU, going a profitable 5-1 ATS, the last six times that they were trailing in a playoff series.
In my Game 3 analysis, I also noted that this series was playing out similarly to Boston's series vs. Cleveland. In that game, the Celtics lost Game 1 on the road and bounced back to score the upset in the second game. Game 3 saw them return home, only to lose in front of their home fans. So, what happened in Game 4? Just as many were starting to write them off, the veteran Celtics responded with a double-digit victory.
While the Celtics did lose one home game vs. both Orlando and Cleveland, they have yet to lose two home games in any series. Kevin Garnett finally came back to life last game. I expect "The Big Ticket" to deliver another strong effort and this time, I look for his supporting cast to do a much better job. Specifically, its fairly safe to assume that Ray Allen will shoot a lot better than he did in his last game.
The Celtics are 71-25 SU the last 96 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier loss. During that stretch, they've also gone 37-17 SU when coming off a SU loss as an underdog. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the small number along the way. *10
|06-08-10||Los Angeles Lakers +2.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||91-84||Win||100||29 h 40 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with the LA LAKERS. After playing on LA in Game 1, I came back with Boston in Game 2. I'm "zig-zagging" here again for Game 3.
Yes, the Celtics played a lot better on Sunday than they did in the opener. Ray Allen set a Finals record with eight 3-pointers while Rondo recorded another Triple-Double. That said, if Kobe hadn't been in foul trouble, scoring only 21 points, the Lakers very well could have won that game. He's still the best player in this series and I expect him to bounce back with a huge game.
Bryant was quoted as saying: "You're trying to stay even-keel. You don't get too high, don't get too low after a win or a loss. You just go into the next one and take care of business." While that's a good line to feed the media, the fact is that he wasn't happy with his performance. Naturally, he didn't like the fact that the Lakers lost. But he also didn't like Ray Allen stealing the spotlight or that he managed only 21 points. Again, I believe we can expect a big bounce-back effort.
As far as the other key LA players, Gasol is off to a very strong start to the series and Bynum is coming off a breakout game. He had 21 points, six rebounds and seven blocked shots in Game 2. They may not be able to count on quite that big an effort from him here, but at least he's fighting through injury and making his presence felt, more than we saw in the earlier rounds.
Yes, the Celtics are now playing on their homecourt. They've been far from unbeatable here though. The Magic beat them here once and so did the Cavaliers. Overall, they've won just eight of their last 15 games here. For the season, they're a money-burning 19-30-1 ATS here, including an ugly 5-14 ATS when playing a home game with a total of 190 to 194.5.
The Lakers know that they can win here, as they did so in the regular season this year and last - the only two games they played here since the Finals two years ago.
The Lakers, who have earned at least one road win in every series, have also been outstanding when tied in a playoff series. Indeed, they're 19-6 SU and 18-6-1 ATS their last 25 in that situation. That includes a perfect 8-0 SU record their last eight in that situation. They're also 24-8 SU (20-11-1 ATS) the last 32 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. In a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll grab the points. However, I expect LA to regain control of the series and come away with the outright win. *10
|06-06-10||Boston Celtics +6 v. Los Angeles Lakers||Top||103-94||Win||100||54 h 59 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with BOSTON. As you know, the Lakers won Game 1 in convincing fashion. Often, when a favorite covers in the opening game of a series, the line will be slightly lower for the second game. That's not the case here though. In fact, the current line is slightly higher than it was for the opener. I feel that provides us with excellent value on the underdog Celtics.
In my writeup for Game 1 on the Lakers, I noted that the home team had gone a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS in Game 1 of the Finals, over the last five years. However, Game 2 has often been a different story. Last year, was a prime example. In Game 1, the Lakers destroyed the Magic by 25 points.
In Game 2, off that blowout, the line climbed from -6 to -6.5. Yet, the contest was much closer. In fact, it went to overtime, with the Lakers eventually winning by just five points. The previous year, when these teams faced each other in the Finals, Game 2 was also closer than Game 1. The Celtics won the first by double-digits. Yet, Game 2 was decided by only six points.
Looking more closely at the Finals meeting between these teams two years ago and we find that the Lakers did win two of the three games at LA. However, both those victories came by six points or less. Overall, the Lakers are just 11-18-2 ATS their last 31 in the NBA Finals, including 4-7 ATS their last 11.
Even with the Game 1 loss, the Celtics are still 6-1 ATS their last seven in the Finals. They've also been outstanding at bouncing back from a big loss. In fact, they're 19-6 SU and 16-9 ATS the last 25 times that they were coming off a double-digit setback. That includes a 8-4 SU/ATS mark the last dozen times that they were in that situation.
It should also be noted that the Celtics are a perfect 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were trailing in a playoff series. This season, after losing Game 1 at Cleveland, listed as +6 point underdogs, they bounced back with a 18-point victory in Game 2. Also, after losing Game 1 at Orlando, listed as +7 point underdogs, they bounced back with a 3-point victory in Game 2. Combine that with their 29-point victory vs. Miami the second game of the opening round and we find them at 3-0 SU/ATS in Game 2 in these playoffs, winning by 50 combined points.
I expect a much better game from the Eastern Conference Champs here, as they continue their "Game 2 success" by earning at least another cover. *10
|05-29-10||Los Angeles Lakers +1.5 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||111-103||Win||100||20 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. Home teams are a perfect 5-0 SU in this series. However, I expect that to change this evening. While they only ended up winning at the buzzer, the Lakers dominated much of Game 5. Not only did they do a better job of dealing with the Suns' defense but they also got back to playing strong defense themselves.
The fact that the Suns came all the way back to tie the game, erasing an 18-point deficit, will have many feeling that they will get it done tonight and force a Game 7. While that's certainly a possibility, I feel that the fact that they fought all the way back, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion, will work against them. They know they had an opportunity to steal homecourt advantage and that they didn't make the most of it. Working so hard to fight back, only to come up short, can often work against a team. On the other hand, the Lakers know they dodged a bullet and will badly want to close things out here and avoid a Game 7.
Not that the Lakers should need any more incentive but the fact that Boston won last night should also provide added motivation to get this series done ASAP. The last thing they want to do is have to drag this one out to the full seven games, while Boston sits around and gets rested up.
This series has been similar to the first round matchup with Oklahoma City. In that series, like this one, the home team won all five of the first five games. With the Lakers up 3-2, many expected the trend to continue and for the Thunder to protect their homecourt in Game 6. That didn't happen though, as the Lakers came away with a narrow victory. It probably won't be easy but I look for Kobe and co. to come away with another win here. *10
|05-28-10||Orlando Magic v. Boston Celtics -3||Top||84-96||Win||100||20 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. What looked like a sweep has suddenly become a series. Down 3-0, the Magic appeared to be done. They've battled back though and are now right back in the series. If they can win tonight, they'll get to go back to Orlando to play Game 7 on their home floor. Admittedly, that should have the Celtics feeling some pressure. That said, I believe that Boston has the veteran leadership to be able to handle that pressure. The Celtics are also wise enough to know that they better take care of business tonight, as they absolutely do not want to return to the state of Florida. I feel that they'll be able to get it done.
I believe that Boston's last two losses can be rationalized. Losing Game 4 was a result of the Celtics taking the Magic for granted and looking ahead to the Finals. Everyone was already talking about a showdown with the Lakers and Game 3 had been so "easy" that the Celts probably felt that just showing up would be enough to ensure a victory. As a result, they came out with a little less intensity and the Magic jumped all over them. Game 5 can be explained simply by the fact that the game was at Orlando. Beating an elite team on its home floor, in the playoffs, is never easy. The
Magic had gained confidence from the Game 4 win and were now thrilled to be back home and playing another game. However, the series is now back to Boston. Also, the pointspread is now low enough that a SU victory will likely result in an ATS win.
With the line significantly lower than it was for Game 4 here, note that the Celtics are a profitable 4-1 SU/ATS the last five times that they were favored by four points or less, going 12-6 SU/ATS their last 18 in that situation.
On the other hand, including the Game 3 loss, the Magic are 0-3 SU/ATS the last three times that they were underdogs of four or less.
Even with the Game 4 loss, the Celtics are still a healthy 12-8 SU/ATS the last 20 times that they hosted the Magic, going 6-2 SU/ATS their last eight home games overall. They're also a lucrative 15-9 ATS (18-6 SU) the last 24 times that they were coming off a double-digit loss. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|05-22-10||Orlando Magic +3.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||71-94||Loss||-110||44 h 60 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ORLANDO. The Magic are down 2-0 and now go to Boston. That makes this an absolute 'must win' game. A win tonight can give them a small glimmer of hope. A loss tonight and there's virtually no chance of coming back. With all due respect to the Celtics, who are proving that they're still a great team, I believe that the Magic will respond with their best game and that they have a great shot at an upset.
While the Celtics have admittedly been very tough at home, let's not forget that they got blown out by 29 points, when returning home for Game 3 of the last series. For the season, the Celts are a money-burning 17-29-1 ATS at home. They're also 2-7 ATS when playing with three or more day's rest in between games and 5-7 SU/ATS when coming off a SU win as an underdog.
As for the Magic, they've gone a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS on the road in the playoffs. Those opponents, Atlanta and Charlotte, were both very strong at home all season, so winning all four games at those venues was actually very impressive. Looking back further and we find the Magic at 16-4 SU and 14-5-1 ATS their last 20 road games. Clearly, this is a team capable of winning away from Orlando. Note that one of those four SU losses came by just two points, so the Magic would be 17-3 ATS in those games, if they were getting the points that they are here.
Dating back to 2008, the Magic are 13-6-1 ATS as underdogs of four points or less. They won 12 of those outright. Overall, they're a highly profitable 41-21 ATS the last 62 times that they were getting points. During that stretch, they were an outstanding 87-54-3 ATS on the road.
Even with the Game 1 loss, the Magic are still 5-2 ATS and 6-1 SU the last seven times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games. They're also 3-0 SU/ATS their last three games here at Boston. They have both the confidence and the ability to win here again and I look for them to do just that this evening. *10
|05-18-10||Boston Celtics v. Orlando Magic -7.5||Top||95-92||Loss||-110||33 h 59 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with ORLANDO. I had the Celtics on Sunday, so wasn't surprised that they managed the upset. I felt that the Magic might be over-confident from blowing out the Hawks so easily and/or 'rusty,' from having such a long layoff. Whichever was the case, they certainly didn't play as well as we'd seen them play in the previous series. They've had their "wake-up call" now though and I expect a significantly better effort in Game 2.
Even with the Game 1 loss, the Magic are still a profitable 7-2 ATS (8-1 SU) in the playoffs. Seven of their eight victories came by a minimum of nine points. Note that all three of Boston's playoff losses and it's last six losses overall, have come by a minimum of eight points. In other words, when the Magic have won, they've won big. When the Celtics have lost, they've lost big.
It's been a long time since the Magic lost a game and its been even longer since they lost a game (SU) in which they were favored. The last time that happened was way back on 3/14, when they were upset by Charlotte. They responded with a 26 point with over San Antonio in their next game. Including that result, the Magic are a profitable 10-4-3 ATS (12-5 SU) the last 17 times that they were off a SU loss as a favorite.
On the other hand, the Celtics are just 4-7 SU/ATS the last 11 times that they were coming off a SU win as an underdog. Even including the Game 1 result, they're also still just 8-13-1 ATS the last 22 times that they were off three or more consecutive victories.
While the Celts have already "accomplished their goal," of winning a game here at Orlando, the Magic should be extremely desperate. They've worked so hard all season and know that a loss here will effectively seal their fate. They're 61-38-2 ATS the last 101 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier loss and I look for them to bounce back with a convincing victory. *10
|05-16-10||Boston Celtics +6.5 v. Orlando Magic||Top||92-88||Win||100||5 h 10 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with BOSTON. I felt that if I waited a bit on this one that the line may climb. That's exactly what has happened and I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the visiting Celtics.
Yes, Orlando absolutely dominated Atlanta and comes in very well-rested. However, they clearly matched up very well against the Hawks and that may not prove to be the case here.
A look at the four regular season meetings shows that Orlando won three of them. However, a closer look reveals that all four games were decided by single-digits and that the most recent one here at Orlando was decided by only two points.
Sure, the Magic have had a lot of rest and that certainly didn't seem to bother them for Game 1 of the Atlanta series. That's not always ideal for a team which is playing so well though. The Celtics haven't had nearly as much rest, but they've still had enough. They last played on 3/13.
The Celtics have long been strong as road underdogs of this size. In fact, they're a profitable 70-49-3 ATS the last 122 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. During that stretch, they've gone 63-43-5 ATS when playing a road game with a total in the 185 to 189.5 range. That includes a 10-5-1 ATS mark this season.
I successfully played against Boston in Game 1 of the series at Cleveland. However, that was admittedly a very fortunate cover, as the Celtics played the Cavs tough the entire way and didn't blow the cover until the closing seconds. I expect them to also play the Magic tough the whole way, this time right up until the final buzzer. *10
|05-10-10||Orlando Magic v. Atlanta Hawks +5.5||Top||98-84||Loss||-110||20 h 23 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ATLANTA. The Hawks haven't been very good to me in this series. However, that won't stop me from backing them here. After the Game 3 blowout loss and with the Magic in complete control of the series, the line has climbed significantly for Game 4. While many won't be willing to play on the Hawks, I believe that the higher line is providing us with excellent value.
Even with the Game 3 loss, the Hawks are still an impressive 37-9 at home on the season. Looking back further and we find them at 99-38 here the past few seasons. That includes a 9-3 ATS mark when listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range.
After scoring a mere 75 points in Game 3, note that the Hawks are a highly profitable 25-12-2 ATS the past few seasons, after scoring 85 or less in their previous game. That includes an 8-2 ATS mark in that situation this season. While the Hawks obviously have very little hope of winning the series, they got booed by the home crowd and were embarrassed here last game. We saw the Celtics bounce back from a blowout home loss yesterday and I expect the Hawks to also bounce back with their best effort of the series. *10
|05-06-10||Atlanta Hawks +9.5 v. Orlando Magic||Top||98-112||Loss||-110||10 h 57 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ATLANTA. Generally, with many players "zig-zagging," if the favored home team wins and covers Game 1 of a series, the line actually comes down for Game 2. That's not the case here though. Not with the Magic having completely destroyed Atlanta in the opening game. In fact, with few willing to back the Hawks, after the Game 1 debacle, the line is even a bit higher. I feel that's providing us with excellent value with the highly motivated underdog.
The Hawks were embarrassed with their Game 1 performance, obviously. Not that they should need anything else to "get them going" for a playoff game, but they should be extremely motivated here, as they most certainly don't want to experience a similar result this evening.
I've always felt that it's important not to over-react too much to one game. As Orlando coach Van Gundy noted: "I think the point is just this: every game in the playoffs is a new day, and you can't get caught up in what's happened before..." While Van Gundy was making that point to try and keep his own players focused, I believe it's important for bettors to take the same approach.
The last time the Magic won a playoff game by that many points was way back in 1995. Playing at home vs. Boston, they won the opening game of the series by a score of 124-77. Naturally, most wouldn't have expected much from the Celtics after that. Yet, Boston bounced back with a victory in Game 2. Orlando went on to win that series. Yet, after the blowout in the first game, every other game was decided by seven points or less and Orlando's other two victories came by only three and five points. Obviously, that's "ancient history" and these are two entirely different teams. However, the point is that just because a team destroys another team in the opener, doesn't necessarily mean that they'll do so again the next game.
While the Magic are just 18-21-1 ATS off a double-digit victory, the Hawks have fared well in this situation this season. They're 8-1 ATS (7-2 SU) after scoring less than 85 points in their previous game, going a profitable 25-11-2 ATS in that situation the past few seasons. They're also 8-2 ATS (7-3 SU) the last 10 times that they were coming off a double-digit loss. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|05-03-10||Boston Celtics v. Cleveland Cavaliers -6.5||Top||104-86||Loss||-110||24 h 32 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with CLEVELAND. The "zig zag theory" has worked in our favor here as we're getting a lower line on the Cavaliers than were for Game 1. I believe that provides us with excellent value. Some will back the Celtics strictly due to it being a 'zig zag spot.' Many others will likely back the Celts here because they saw them outplay the Cavs for three quarters in Saturday's opener. While it's true that the Celts had a great chance to steal the opener, that doesn't mean that they'll be given that opportunity again here. Indeed, it often works the other way. If a team fails to capitalize on a chance to score the upset in Game 1 of a series, having been given a "wake up call," the favored home team often plays much better and doesn't given them that chance for Game 2. While they didn't fare too well as double-digit favorites vs. the Bulls, the Cavs have been excellent as favorites in this range. With the Game 1 victory, they're now 5-1 ATS (6-0 SU) as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 point range this season. Looking back further finds them at 56-40-2 ATS (79-19) their last 98 in that role. The Celtics, on the other hand, are now 0-2 SU/ATS as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range this season. Both losses came here at Cleveland. Including those results, the Cavs are now a commanding 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS the last 10 times that they were a host in this series. The Cavs have fared very well in the second round of the playoffs. Indeed, they're now 18-6-1 ATS their last 25 second round playoff games, including an outstanding 10-1-1 ATS their last 12. Conversely, Boston is now just 8-16 ATS its last 24 second round playoff games, including a money-burning 4-11 ATS its last 15. The Cavs have had their "wake up call" and I look for them to be better from the opening tip than they were on Saturday, continuing their homecourt dominance in this series and picking up the cover along the way. *10
|05-02-10||Milwaukee Bucks v. Atlanta Hawks -9.5||Top||74-95||Win||100||25 h 3 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with ATLANTA. After cashing with the 'under' in Game 5, I won with both the Hawks and the 'under' in Game 6. I'm coming back with the Hawks here. After blowing a big lead in Game 5 and subsequently blowing homecourt advantage, the Hawks came together as a team and dominated Game 6, earning a rare road win. Returning home with momentum and confidence and having learned their lesson from Game 5, I expect them to take care of business on their homecourt, this time, keeping the "pedal to the metal" the entire way. Yes, the Hawks blew the lead here in Game 5. However, let's not forget that they won both the first two meetings here by double-digits and that they've dominated teams here all season. The Hawks did it with defense in Game 6, limiting the Bucks to a mere 69 points. The final score was 83-69. While many teams don't always respond well, off a big win, the Hawks aren't one of them. Indeed, they were 21-11-1 ATS this season, when coming off a double-digit victory. Note that they're also a profitable 24-11-2 ATS the past few seasons, when coming off a game in which they scored 85 or less, going 7-1 ATS in that situation this season. Even with the Game 5 loss, the Hawks are still 12-8 ATS (18-2 SU) the last 20 times that they were favored by greater than eight points. I believe that they're the better team and I expect them to improve on those stats with a convincing double-digit victory. *10
|05-01-10||Boston Celtics v. Cleveland Cavaliers -7||Top||93-101||Win||100||18 h 27 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with CLEVELAND. Many bettors have short memories. The last game which they saw tends to stick in their heads. That said, many will remember, the Celtics closing out their series vs. Miami with a double-digit win while the Cavaliers squeaked by Chicago, winning by only two points. With those results fresh in their memories, many bettors will be quick to grab the points with Boston here. I feel that's worked in our favor by keeping the line slightly lower than it easily could have been. I also expect the Cavs to start the series by making a statement, that they were the best team in the East this season for good reason. While they didn't fare too well as double-digit favorites vs. the Bulls, the Cavs have been excellent as favorites in this range. They were 4-1 ATS (5-0 SU) as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 point range this season. Looking back further finds them at 55-40-2 ATS (78-19) their last 97 in that role. The Celtics were 0-1 SU/ATS as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range this season. That loss came here at Cleveland on 3/14. The Cavs were laying seven points for that one and won by 11. Including that result, the Cavs are a commanding 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS the last nine times that they were a host in this series. The Cavs have fared very well in the second round of the playoffs. Indeed, they're 17-6-1 ATS their last 24 second round playoff games, including an outstanding 9-1-1 ATS their last 11. Boston, on the other hand, is just 8-15 ATS its last 23 second round playoff games, including a money-burning 4-10 ATS its last 14. The Celtics, 2-5 ATS (6-10 ATS last 16) when playing with three or more day's rest in between games, are also just 9-15 ATS the last 24 times that they were coming off a double-digit victory. The Cavs are 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games. I look for them to improve on those stats, as they pull away for a double-digit victory. *10
|04-29-10||Phoenix Suns v. Portland Trail Blazers -1||Top||99-90||Loss||-110||12 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. I'm aware that the Blazers are banged-up. I'm also aware that the Suns beat them convincingly last time out. That was at Phoenix though, where the Suns are a MUCH better team. The last game here at Portland saw the Blazers win by nine points. Playing in a "must-win" game, I expect the Blazers to again protect their homecourt and force a Game 7 back in the desert.
The Suns have admittedly been impressive in their three victories. However, two came at Phoenix and they've been mediocre on the road all year. They're just 66-62 on the road the past few seasons.
The Blazers have been dealing with adversity all season long and I don't expect them to just quit now. As coach McMillan said: "It's a huge challenge to win the series. But not an impossible challenge."
The Blazers, who are 91-37 on this floor the past few seasons, have their leader (Brandon Roy) back and now he's got some playing time under his belt. He's come off the bench the last couple of games but is expected to start here. Roy says he's pain free and was quoted as saying: "I'm just going to try and play as hard as I can..."
The Blazers, who gave up 107 points in Game 5, have been great at bouncing back from a poor defensive effort. They're 15-5 SU and 14-6 ATS on the season, after allowing 105 or more points. With the home crowd behind them, they should be able to do a better job of controlling the tempo. While it likely won't be easy, I expect them to find a way to send this series back to Phoenix. *10
|04-28-10||Utah Jazz v. Denver Nuggets -7||Top||102-116||Win||100||21 h 37 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with DENVER. This game sets up similarly to last night's Mavericks/Spurs contest. In that game, the Mavs returned home having lost both road games and facing a 3-1 deficit.
The Mavs responded with a convincing blowout victory. Like Dallas yesterday, Denver returns home, having just lost both road games and facing a 3-1 deficit. I expect them to respond the same way that Dallas did, with their very best effort.
The Nuggets are in one of their very best roles here. They're 25-10-2 ATS (34-3 SU) the past few seasons, when listed as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. That includes a 6-2-1 ATS (9-0 SU) mark in that role this season. Note that the Jazz are a money-burning 34-53-3 ATS (20-70 SU) the last 90 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range.
The Nuggets are also a profitable 31-18 ATS (34-15 SU) the past few seasons when coming off a double-digit loss. That includes a 9-5 ATS (11-3 SU) mark in that situation this season. I expect them to improve on those stats here as they bounce back and get back in the series, covering the number along the way. *10
|04-27-10||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Los Angeles Lakers -5.5||Top||87-111||Win||100||56 h 39 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. After three straight 'covers,' and back to back SU wins, the betting public finally believes that the Thunder could actually beat the Lakers. That sentiment has helped to provide us with a very reasonable line on the defending champs, much lower than we saw for the opening two games here at LA. I believe that's giving us excellent value.
While the Thunder were certainly impressive last time out, that was at Oklahoma City, where they have a tremendous homecourt advantage. Unlike some, I'm not willing to write off the champs - far from it. Let's not forget that the Lakers won both games here at LA. Yes, one of those two was very close. However, that was after the Lakers already had gone up 1-0, so they may have relaxed slightly. With the series tied 2-2 and off an extremely embarrassing blowout loss, there definitely shouldn't be any 'relaxing' this time.
Looking back further and we find that the Lakers are a perfect 9-0 SU the last nine times that they hosted the Thunder/Sonics, including the first two games here. Note that seven of those nine victories came by six or more points. The average margin of victory was 9.55 points.
Naturally, the experienced Lakers have been in this situation before. You may recall last year's playoff series vs. Houston. Off a double-digit loss in Game 4, the Lakers returned home to LA for Game 5 and found themselves tied 2-2. How did they respond? By destroying the Rockets by 40 points (118-78) in Game 5! Including that blowout victory, the Lakers are an outstanding 17-5-1 ATS the last 23 times that they were tied in a playoff series. That includes a 5-1 ATS (6-0 SU) mark their last six in that situation. In fact, including the win over the Rockets, the Lakers are a perfect 17-0 SU all-time, when playing a home playoff game, when tied 2-2.
While the Thunder were 10-15 ATS off a double-digit victory this season, the Lakers were 9-4 ATS when off a double-digit loss. I expect them to bounce back in a big way, making a statement by earning a convincing win and cover. *10
|04-23-10||Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat -4||Top||100-98||Loss||-110||22 h 44 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with MIAMI. The Heat played the Celtics tough in Game 1 but Boston pulled away late for a win and cover. Given how close Game 1 was, many thought Miami had a good chance of winning the second game, particularly with Kevin Garnett out of the lineup. That didn't happen though as the Celtics earned a blowout win and cover. Off that result and with KG back on the floor, many of those same people will now believe that Boston will win again, despite this game being at Miami. I'm not buying that line of thinking though and expect the Heat to bounce back with a badly needed win and cover.
Having played the 'over' in Game 2 (I passed Game 1 of this series) I was thrilled to see the Celtics put up 106 points. They're typically not very good the game following such an 'offensive explosion' though. In fact, they're a money-burning 7-20 ATS the last 27 times that they had scored 105 or more points in their previous game. Given those dismal stats, it's no real surprise to learn that they were just 8-15 ATS, during the same stretch, when coming off a double-digit win.
While the Celts have struggled after a big offensive game, the Heat are a respectable 11-8-1 ATS (13-7 SU) the last 20 times that they allowed 105 or more in their previous game.
Its also worth noting that the Heat are a profitable 14-6 ATS the last 20 times that they were favored by four points or less.
The bottom line is that the Heat were embarrassed in the last game. Coach Erik Spoelstra commented: "... It was a very embarrassing game for us..." In addition to being one of the biggest stars in the league, Dwayne Wade has a lot of pride and determination. I expect him to lead by example, willing his team to the win, while covering the small number along the way. *10
|04-21-10||San Antonio Spurs +3.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||102-88||Win||100||20 h 1 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with SAN ANTONIO. The Spurs lost the opener by six points, failing to cover by a bucket. While I'm certainly not a blind follower of the 'zig zag theory,' in this case I expect it to prove profitable.
Even with the Game 1 setback, the Spurs are still 6-4 SU/ATS the last 10 times that they were road underdogs in the 3.5 to +6 range. Conversely, during the same stretch, the Mavericks are still just 3-9 ATS as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. Seven of those resulted in outright losses. Overall, the Mavs are a money-burning 11-29-2 ATS at home on the season.
Naturally, down 0-1, the Spurs will be feeling a bit of 'desperation' here. I like the fact that they've had a couple of days off, having not played since Sunday. That's generally a good thing for a veteran team. Note that the Spurs are 8-2 SU the last 10 times that they played with two day's rest in between games. Looking back further and we find them at 25-14 in that situation the past few seasons and 144-61 their last 205.
It's also worth noting that the Spurs are generally outstanding when their opponent scored triple digits in their previous game.
The Spurs didn't play their best in Game 1 and were still right there. Coach Popovich had this to say: "I thought we had a lot of guys that played like dogs..."
Yesterday, Popovich went on to say: "They're pros. I'm sure we'll be a lot sharper tomorrow." I expect that to be the case and look for them to bounce back and score the minor upset. *9
|04-20-10||Portland Trail Blazers v. Phoenix Suns -8.5||Top||90-119||Win||100||25 h 37 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with PHOENIX. As you're probably aware, the Blazers scored the upset in the opening game of this series. In fact, they were the only road team to win its first game. That makes tonight's game practically a "must win" for the Suns. While "must win" games certainly don't always win, they do generally ensure that a team gives its best effort. Tonight, I expect that to translate to a double-digit victory.
The Suns lost Game 1. However, it wasn't due to them not getting open looks. As Steve Nash noted: "We just didn't make as many shots as we normally do. We had a lot of good looks we didn't knock down, and we weren't really sharp. They're going to make it look like there the floor's not spaced because they'll clog it up and use their length, and we've just got to make them pay." I expect Nash and co. to "make them pay" this time.
Keep in mind that the Suns were 32-9 here in the desert this season. That was among the best home records in the league.
Also, keep in mind that the Suns were 7-5 ATS (9-3 SU) when coming off a SU loss, when listed as a favorite. Even more impressive, they were an outstanding 30-13 ATS (32-11 SU) after allowing 105 or more points in their previous game.
Playing without leading scorer, the Blazers were going to be thrilled to earn a split in the first two games here at Phoenix. Sure, now that they've gotten the first win, their new goal is to win both. However, having already earned at least a split, their goal coming in, I expect there to be a sense of "mission accomplished," which may take away from their 'hunger,' if only just a little.
Even with their opening game victory, the Blazers are still just 8-12-1 ATS (5-16 SU) the last 21 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. The Blazers are also just 1-4 ATS the last five times that they were coming off a SU victory.
Conversely, the Suns are 7-1 ATS the last eight times that they were coming off a SU loss. Even with the opening game loss, they're still 12-3-1 ATS the last 16 times that they were laying points at home. I expect them to make the necessary adjustments, doing a much better job of hitting their open looks and for that to least to a convincing victory. *10
|04-19-10||Chicago Bulls +10.5 v. Cleveland Cavaliers||Top||102-112||Win||100||10 h 57 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with CHICAGO. I won with the Cavaliers in Game 1 but am coming back with the Bulls here in Game 2.
The Bulls, who managed only 83 points in the opener, are 7-4 ATS on the season, when scoring 85 or less in their previous game.
It should also be noted that the Bulls haven't lost back to back games in a full month. Including Saturday's loss, they've gone 10-6 SU since 3/19. They've followed up each of the previous five losses with a SU victory in their next game, going 4-1 ATS. In fact, they're 7-1 ATS the last eight times that they were off a SU loss in their previous game.
Given their recent ability to bounce back from a loss, the Bulls are feeling confident that they can compete here and that they've got a real shot at stealing a game. Joakim Noah was quoted as saying: "It was a great learning experience for us, and this team has a good vibe. They are a very good team. But we want to come out and hopefully get a win on Monday."
The Cavs are just 1-4 ATS the last five times that they were coming off a SU win. Even with the Game 1 win, they're also still just 6-10 ATS on the season, when listed as a home favorite in the -9.5 to -12 range. I expect them to receive a much tougher test than they did in the opener. *10
|04-18-10||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Los Angeles Lakers -7.5||Top||79-87||Win||100||27 h 12 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. The Lakers stumbled a bit down the stretch and that has helped to keep this afternoon's line a lot lower than it could have been. Now with the 'real season' finally beginning, I expect the champs to start things off by making a 'statement,' that they're still the team to beat.
The Lakers went through the motions against the Clippers in their final game and got blown out. That's noteworthy as we find them at 5-1 ATS the last six times that they were off a double-digit loss.
Yes, the Lakers are dealing with some nagging injuries and have been without Bryant (and Bynum) for many of their recent games. Both practiced and both will be ready here, even if Bynum doesn't play full minutes. As for Kobe, I expect him to be "just fine." After watching him in practice, Derek Fisher commented: "He looked great. If it's based on how he looks today, he's ready."
The Thunder closed out their regular season with a solid win over Memphis. They've lost three straight on the road though, most recently an 8-point loss at Portland. Note that the Thunder, 0-4 ATS their last four Sunday games (and 4-11 ATS on the season) are just 3-7 ATS their last 10 games following a pointspread victory.
Looking at the regular season meetings here and we find that the Lakers were favored by -10 and -10.5 points. Now, we get a much more favorable line to work with, plus there is no question that they'll be fully focused/motivated, which isn't always the case during the regular season.
Yes, the Thunder do have a star in Kevin Durant. However, he won't be the best player on the floor this afternoon. Additionally, the Lakers have other matchup advantages, not to mention a major edge in 'playoff experience' and a proven coach who has been here, year after year.
Speaking of Phil Jackson, given a few days off in between games, he typically does a great job in getting his team prepared. Indeed, the Lakers are a profitable 15-8 ATS (19-4 SU) the past few seasons, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games. Of course, the time off also helps with "getting healthy."
Jackson has also done a great job of getting his team ready in the first round, in recent seasons. The Lakers are 7-3 ATS (8-2 SU) in first round playoff games, the past two years. Last year, they were laying -12.5 for their first game (vs. Utah) and won by 13. While I respect the Thunder, I don't think that they're any better than last year's Jazz team - yet, the line is far lower. Again, this goes back to my point about excellent line value. I expect another double-digit win. *10
|04-17-10||Chicago Bulls v. Cleveland Cavaliers -11||Top||83-96||Win||100||36 h 28 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with CLEVELAND. Having locked up the top seed, the Cavaliers have been coasting a bit in recent games. The playoffs are here now though and I feel that they're fully capable of "turning it on." They beat the Bulls by 14 points (101-87) the last time that the teams played each other here and I expect another double-digit victory here.
Give the Bulls credit for putting together a good run to finish above the Raptors and grab the final spot. However, they were fortunate that the Raptors' star player (Bosh) got hurt and also that they were able to play some teams which were already locked into their playoff spots and/or which had already been eliminated from the playoffs.
For the season, the Bulls still finished well below .500 (17-24) on the road. That included a 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) record when listed as road underdogs in the +9.5 to +12 range. Looking back further and we find the Bulls at a money-burning 4-12 ATS (1-15 SU) their last 16 in that role.
Including the win on December 4th, the Cavs are 13-5 SU/ATS the last 18 times that they were a host in this series, dating back to 2001. Their last three home victories against the Bulls came by 14, 25 and 14 points. In fact, all 13 of those victories came by a minimum of nine points. Those 13 wins came by an average of 16.4 points. In other words, when the Cavs have beaten the Bulls here, they've done so convincingly.
Overall, the home team is 18-8 ATS in the last 26 meetings in the series.
The Cavs are a profitable 40-22-2 ATS their last 64 playoff games. That includes a 8-2 SU/ATS mark their last 10 in the first round. I expect them to improve on those stats here, making a statement that they're still the team to beat in the East. *10
|04-14-10||Chicago Bulls v. Charlotte Bobcats +2||Top||98-89||Loss||-110||10 h 37 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with CHARLOTTE. Give the Bulls credit for playing a great game last night and earning a very important win vs. the Celtics. Off that win and now needing to win today (or have Toronto lose) to make the playoffs, the betting public will be all over them tonight. As a result, they're favored on the road, at Charlotte, which is one of the more difficult venues in the league. With many jumping on the Chicago bandwagon, the line has climbed from its opener, which I feel is providing us with excellent value on the home underdog.
Sure, Charlotte is already locked into the seventh spot. However, that doesn't mean that the Bobcats are just going to roll over. As Coach Larry Brown stated: "It will be a meaningful game for Chicago, so we're going to have to go out and try to win. It wouldn't be right just to go out and play..."
The Bulls have beaten the Bobcats in two of three meetings this season. However, both wins came at Chicago and the loss came in their lone game here at Charlotte. That's not surprising, given that both teams are far better at home. Indeed, the Bulls are a poor 16-24 on the road. The Bobcats are an outstanding 31-9 at home.
In addition to their struggles away from Chicago, note that the Bulls are just 10-12 ATS (9-13 SU) when playing the second of back to back games.
Including this season's 113-108 win, the Bobcats are 3-0 the last three times that they hosted the Bulls. They won those three games by an average of 10 points. They're 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were home underdogs of three points or less (all four ATS wins were outright wins) and I look for them to improve on those stats here. *10
|04-13-10||Utah Jazz v. Golden State Warriors +7.5||Top||103-94||Loss||-110||24 h 56 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with GOLDEN STATE. One could certainly argue that the Jazz have more to play for. Indeed, they're going to the playoffs and are still battling for a better seed. Don't tell that to the Warriors though. Golden State has been out of the playoff race for ages, yet continues to play excellent basketball.
The Warriors have won six of their last 10 games and are coming off a 120-117 victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday night. Like the Jazz, the Thunder had "more to play for" than did the Warriors. Looking back further and we find them at a profitable 13-7 ATS their last 20 games.
Note that the Warriors got their leading scorer (Monta Ellis) back last game. He didn't waste any time, contributing a healthy 27 points.
After that game, Ellis was quoted as saying: "We really weren't focusing on anything behind us. That's why we've been playing the way we've been playing. We'll go down in history as the team that gave Nelson that record, so that's a good thing, but the positive thing is everybody's playing together and having fun."
The Warriors should have plenty of motivation here. Not only are they playing with "double-revenge," having lost both this season's previous meetings, but they're also playing their final home game of the season.
As mentioned, the Jazz are still battling for a better seed. That's been the case for some time though and they're still just 1-3 ATS their last four games. Additionally, with a huge game vs. Phoenix on deck tomorrow, it could be easy to look past the lowly Warriors. Note that Utah is 0-4 ATS (1-3 SU) the last four times it played the front end of back to back games.
The Warriors have been tough at home all season. Indeed, they're a profitable 25-15 ATS here. For the season, they're also 26-17 ATS against teams with a winning record. Given their pointspread success at home and against good teams, it's not that surprising to learn that they're an outstanding 8-1 ATS the last nine times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. Catching the Jazz playing their third straight road game and looking ahead to tomorrow night's showdown vs. the Suns, I fully expect the revenge-minded Warriors to improve on those stats. *10
|04-12-10||Houston Rockets v. Sacramento Kings -2||Top||117-107||Loss||-110||11 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. I lost a heartbreaker with the Rockets last night and I generally avoid playing against a team which I just lost with in its previous game. That said, no 'rules' are set in stone for my handicapping and the situation favors the home team here.
The Kings had last night off while the Rockets are coming off a hard-fought loss at Phoenix last night. Making matters worse, the Rockets are now playing their fifth game in the past seven days. That's a pretty gruelling stretch for a team which is "playing out the string."
Yes, the Rockets have been playing well lately and, final two minutes notwithstanding, they played a great game last night. Their recent games were all against teams which were going to the playoffs and/or playing for playoff seeding though. Therefore, those games still had some meaning. Tonight, however, they face a Sacramento team which will not be making the playoffs. Therefore, they may find it more difficult to "get up" for this one, than they have for their other recent games.
Note that the Rockets are a dismal 1-6 SU/ATS the last seven times that they played the second of back to back games. That includes a 0-5 SU/ATS mark the last five times that they played a road game, after having played the previous day. Looking back further and we find them at a money-burning 1-10 ATS the last 11 times that they played a road game, after having played the previous day.
While the Rockets may have some trouble "getting up" for this game, the Kings shouldn't lack any motivation. That's because this game represents their final home game of the season.
Looking at the series history shows that the Kings are 3-0 ATS (2-1 SU) in this season's three meetings. That includes a 9-point win in the lone game here at Sacramento. Looking back further and we
find them at a highly profitable 9-1 ATS the last 10 times that they faced the Rockets. Catching the Rockets off last night's game, I expect them to improve on those stats, giving the home fans a victory in this season's final game at Arco Arena. *10
|04-12-10||Miami Heat v. Philadelphia 76ers +4||Top||107-105||Win||100||8 h 6 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with PHILADELPHIA. The Heat are still fighting for playoff positioning while the 76'ers are "playing out the string." That will have many expecting the Heat to be the easy choice. I see things differently though.
While they may not have anything to really play for, the 76'ers should have plenty of motivation. Not only is this their final home game of the season, but they've lost all three meetings with the Heat this season. Additionally, with their final game coming on the road, at Orlando, this is their best chance to grab one more win and to enter the offseason with at least a small amount of motivation.
While the most recent meeting (at Miami) was close (Heat won by 4) the Heat absolutely embarrassed the 76'ers when the teams played here at Philadelphia. The final score was 105-78 which prompted 76ers coach Eddie Jordan to describe it as: "A classic, classic butt-kicking..." That should provide them with plenty of added motivation.
Prior to that "butt-kicking," the 76ers had dominated the Heat here. In fact, they'd gone 6-0 SU/ATS the previous six series meetings here. Even including that blowout loss, the 76ers are still 16-3 SU and 14-5 ATS the last 19 times that they were a host in this series. With the Heat off a game yesterday (they're 6-10 SU the last 16 times that they played the second of B2b games) and now playing their third game in the past four days, I expect the revenge-minded 76'ers to improve on those stats. *10
|04-11-10||Houston Rockets +9 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||106-116||Loss||-110||10 h 8 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with HOUSTON. The Suns are playing at home and have more to play for. Don't tell that to the Rockets though, as they continue to play hard. Indeed, the Rockets come in having gone 3-0 SU/ATS their last three games and 4-1 SU/ATS their last five.
As Houston forward Trevor Ariza noted: "We don't have any quitters on our team. We've got guys who, no matter what the situation is, we're going to come out and play hard. We don't want to embarrass ourselves. We've got a lot of pride."
Note that Houston's Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill both went to school at Arizona so both should be particularly motivated for a big effort here.
While the Rockets have won three straight, the Suns have gone 1-2 SU/ATS their last three. Yes, the Suns are motivated to bounce back and sweep their final three games. However, with their final two coming against Utah and Denver, it may be easy to get caught looking past a Houston team which isn't going to the playoffs and which they have beaten three times this season.
Yes, the Suns have won three all three meetings this season. However, none of those victories came by more than eight points and they came by an average of only six. Looking back further and we find that the Suns are 5-4 the last nine series meetings but NONE of their victories came by greater than nine.
The Rockets, 7-5 SU/ATS the last dozen times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier home loss, are now 21-12 SU and 20-12-1 ATS in April the past few seasons. Playing with 'triple-revenge,' I expect them to give their hosts all they can handle once again. *10
|04-11-10||Miami Heat v. New York Knicks +5||Top||111-98||Loss||-110||8 h 54 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with NEW YORK. After they lost their last game, Knicks' coach Mike D'Antoni was quoted as saying: "We played hard. We played pretty well. They just outmanned us. They're just better..."
That was on the road vs. Orlando though, one of the top teams in the league. The Heat are also a 'good' team. However, they're not an 'elite' team like the Magic and this time the Knicks are playing on their home floor.
Note that the Knicks are a profitable 15-9-1 ATS when coming off a double-digit loss.
The fact that this game is at MSG is noteworthy, as the Knicks have been much better at home all season and as they've been great here recently. In fact, they're 4-1 SU/ATS their last five games here including outright wins over the Hawks, Nuggets and Celtics. The lone loss came by four points.
The Heat have been on a nice run. However, they lost their last game outright vs. Detroit and beat Philadelphia by only four points in their previous game. Note that they're just 6-8 SU/ATS on the season when coming off a SU loss as a favorite in their previous game.
While they lost here on Christmas Day, the Knicks have gone 4-2 the last six times that they hosted the Heat. Both losses came by six points or less. Playing with 'double-revenge,' I expect them to continue their recent strong homecourt play and look for them to give the Heat all they can handle once again. *10
|04-10-10||Golden State Warriors v. Los Angeles Clippers -2.5||Top||104-107||Win||100||11 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. The Warriors have been playing better basketball of late, as they've had a few wins recently while the Clippers are on an extended losing streak. Those results have helped to create some value on the Clippers though. More importantly, I feel that the Clippers will be the more "motivated" team and I look for them to avenge a recent loss here.
Having lost seven straight, the Clippers would badly like to earn at least one victory before the season ends. Given that their final two games come against the Mavericks and Lakers, tonight's game offers their best chance to do so. That should be a motivating factor, as will the fact that the Warriors blew them out here a couple of weeks ago.
While the Clippers should be anxious for some payback and motivated to snap their skid, the Warriors may be in letdown mode, having just earned Coach Nelson sole possession of first place on the NBA's career wins list. After that win (at Minnesota) Stephen Curry was quoted as saying: "For us to get the record is a big accomplishment for us. We call it our championship game..."
Even with a couple of recent wins, the Warriors are still just 7-32 on the road. Conversely, despite their recent skid, the Clippers are still a much better 19-19 at home.
Even with the recent loss here, the Clippers are still 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS the last 11 times that they hosted the Warriors. They're 4-1 ATS the last five times that they faced the Warriors in the month of April and I look for them to improve on those stats here. *10 Personal Favorite
|04-10-10||Dallas Mavericks v. Sacramento Kings +4||Top||126-108||Loss||-110||11 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Kings played a great game on Thursday, winning by 22 and snapping an extended losing streak. Granted, that victory came against the Clippers, so it needs to be taken "with a grain of salt." That said, it was still the type of game that a team can build both momentum and confidence from. Playing their second last home game of the season and playing with "triple revenge," I expect the Kings to take both (momentum and confidence) into tonight's game.
While the "revenge-minded" Kings had last night off, the Mavericks were busy playing an important "revenge" game of their own, as they were facing the Blazers, a team which had defeated them in the previous three meetings. Off that big win and now facing the lowly Kings, I feel that they may have some trouble being fully focused on the task at hand. Yes, the Mavs are in a fight for the #2 seed overall in the West. They did just win wrap up the Southwest Division with last night's win (and the Spurs loss) though, so a letdown may be in order. Note that Dallas is a poor 8-11-1 ATS the last 20 times that it played the second of back to back games. Additionally, note that the Mavs are a money-burning 11-20-1 ATS against teams with a losing record.
Given those stats vs. losing teams, it's not surprising that the Mavs are just 1-2 ATS against the Kings this season. While Dallas was 3-0, all three games were decided by eight points or less.
Note that the Kings also lost their first home game vs. the Mavs in both 2008 and 2009 and in each case, they bounced back to upset the Mavs in the second and final game here.
The Kings, who are playing their fourth straight home game, are 22-13 ATS the last 35 times that they were coming off three or more consecutive home games. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|04-09-10||Milwaukee Bucks v. Philadelphia 76ers +4.5||Top||95-90||Loss||-110||18 h 48 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with PHILADELPHIA. The Bucks on their way to the playoffs and the 76'ers "playing out the string." Given those circumstances and the fact that the 76'ers recently scored an upset win at Milwaukee, many will assume that the Bucks will be the more motivated team here. I don't feel that's necessarily the case though and I feel that the home underdog is offering us excellent value.
Yes, the Bucks had last night off. However, they're still playing their third game in the past four nights. Perhaps more importantly, they've got a game vs. Boston on deck tomorrow night. Given the fact that they could face the Celtics in the first round, I feel that they could easily get caught looking past tonight's opponent.
Sure, the Bucks have won three straight. They'd lost four of their previous six though and they've never been too good when coming off three or more consecutive victories. In fact, they're 4-8-2 ATS their last 14 in that situation. Looking back further and we find them at a money-burning 40-64-6 ATS their last 110, when coming off three straight wins.
Yes, the 76'ers have been struggling for some time. They covered vs. Miami last time out though and this is a favorable matchup for them. I say that as the 76'ers have dominated the Bucks in recent seasons. They were really banged-up when they played the Bucks at Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago, yet still won by 15 points. Now, they're healthier and the Bucks are without their leading scorer, Andrew Bogut.
Speaking of Bogut, after the 76'ers beat the Bucks at Milwaukee, he was quoted as saying: "They really have our number and we just don't play well against them and they play well against us..."
Bogut was absolutely right, as the 76'ers are 7-1 SU/ATS their last eight meetings with the Bucks. Looking to snap a losing skid and playing their second last home game of the season, I expect them to deliver a highly motivated effort, leading to AT LEAST another cover. *10
|04-07-10||New York Knicks v. Indiana Pacers -10||Top||105-113||Loss||-110||9 h 45 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with INDIANA. I won with the Knicks yesterday but I feel that this will be a good spot to go against them.
Yesterday, the Knicks upset Boston. At the time, I mentioned that they were returning home from a 5-game road trip. I also mentioned that they had just completed another 5-game road trip a few weeks before that and that they'd won (and covered) in their first game back from that trip. Well, now, they're back on the road again, which is tough. Indeed, after playing five road games against Western Conference opponents, then coming home to earn a hard-fought and emotional win against a top tier team from the East, and now going back on the road - they figure to be exhausted. Also, note that after their previous five game road trip, while they did win the first game back, that was followed by a SU/ATS loss in their next game. Additionally, note that the Knicks are 1-7 SU in 2010, when playing the second of back to back games.
The Pacers don't figure to show their weary guests any mercy. The Pacers have been among the most profitable teams in the league over the last month, going 12-3-1 ATS their last 16 games. Most recently, they crushed Houston by 31 points. Their last six SU wins have come by an average of 17.67 points. All six wins came by seven points or more and five were by double-digits.
The fact that New York beat them here earlier and then proceeded to destroy them by 43 points at MSG in the lone 2010 meeting, figures to have the Pacers looking to "keep the pedal to the metal" the whole way here.
The Pacers are 13-8-1 ATS (15-7 SU) this season, when laying points, and 7-4 SU/ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater. I expect them to improve on those stats with a convincing victory tonight. *10
|04-02-10||Milwaukee Bucks v. Charlotte Bobcats -3.5||Top||86-87||Loss||-110||8 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. These teams have played three games this season with the home team winning all three of them. That's not a huge surprise, when considering that both teams are MUCH better at home. I expect homecourt to be the difference again this evening.
The Bucks are an excellent 26-11 at home but just 15-22 on the road. Likewise, the Bobcats are a terrible 11-26 on the road but an outstanding 28-9 at home.
Note that the Bobcats are a lucrative 13-7 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as favorites of four points or less. That includes an outstanding 9-2 ATS mark as home favorites of four or less.
In addition to having homecourt advantage, the Bobcats arguably need this game more than the Bucks. They're in seventh in the East while the Bucks are more comfortable, in fifth.
While the Bucks are off a tough 3-point loss to the Cavaliers, the Bobcats are off a commanding 103-84 victory over the 76ers. That brings them to 4-1 SU/ATS their last five and a profitable 11-3-1 ATS their last 15.
Off the dominant defensive effort vs. the 76ers, note that the Bobcats are an outstanding 23-8-1 ATS the last 32 times that they held their previous opponent to 85 points or less. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10