|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|12-08-09||Phoenix Suns v. Dallas Mavericks -3||Top||101-102||Loss||-110||10 h 13 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with DALLAS. Neither of these teams has gotten off to the start that they would have liked in December. The Suns are 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS already this month. The Mavericks have lost two straight and are now 1-2 SU/ATS for the month. I expect Dallas to be the team which responds with a much-needed victory.
I played against the Mavs in their December 4th loss at Memphis. Laying six points, they lost by 16. They followed that up by losing by five (80-75) vs. Atlanta the following night. They've had the past two days off though and they're typically great at following up a poor offensive performance with a strong overall effort. In fact, they're 12-4 ATS (13-3 SU) the last 16 times that they were coming off a game in which they scored 85 or fewer points.
Note that the Mavs are 3-1 SU/ATS when coming off an upset loss (SU loss as a fav) this season. Looking back further and we find them at a profitable 25-16 ATS (26-15 SU) in that situation the past few seasons.
Its also worth mentioning that the Mavs also a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS this season, when playing with two day's rest in between games. I played on them one of the last times that they had two days off in between games and they responded by crushing Toronto by a score of 129-101. They followed that up by pounding Houston 121-103 the next time that they were in that situation.
The Suns did have last night off. However, they still may be a little "road weary" here. They played on Sunday night (blowout loss at LA) and they also played on Saturday. This will be their eighth consecutive game in which they played in a different city. Note that two of those games came at home but both were followed by a road game, so they still had to travel in between each.
The Suns have been pretty good at beating up on bad teams. They're just 3-6 ATS against teams with a winning record though. Conversely, Dallas sometimes lets down against weaker opposition but is a profitable 6-2 SU/ATS against winning teams.
Looking at the series history and we find that the Mavs are 4-1 SU/ATS the last five times that these teams faced each other. That includes a 2-0 SU/ATS mark here at Dallas. The Mavs won those games by scores of 140-116 and 112-97. Looking back further and we find that the Mavs have won six of the last seven against the Suns here. I expect them to improve on those stats here, covering the small number along the way. *9 Personal Fav
|12-08-09||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Memphis Grizzlies +7.5||Top||109-111||Win||100||9 h 29 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MEMPHIS. While I won on the Grizzlies in their most recent game, I lost by going against the Cavs in their most recent one. Memphis won outright vs. Dallas, crusing the Mavs by 16. Cleveland was equally impressive, dominating Milwaukee. While the Cavs are admittedly playing very well, I feel that this will be an excellent spot to go against them.
Both teams had yesterday off. However, the Cavs played on Sunday while the Grizzlies have been off since Thursday. Perhaps more importantly, the Grizzlies don't play again until Friday. They should be fully focused on the task at hand. The Cavs, on the other hand, play again at Houston tomorrow night. That's noteworthy as they've gone a money-burning 6-13 ATS in 2009, when playing the front end of back to back games. That shows that they have a tendency to get caught looking ahead and with Houston being a "bigger" opponent than Memphis, that could easily happen again this evening.
Even with Sunday's victory, its also worth mentioning that the Cavs are still just 1-5 ATS the last six times that they were coming off three or more consecutive wins.
While I fully respect Lebron and the Cavs, I also believe that the Grizzlies remain undervalued. Since they got rid of the Allen Iverson distraction, they've been a much better team. In fact, they've quietly won seven of their last 11 games. For the season, they're 5-3 SU/ATS at home, going 4-1 SU/ATS their last five games here. The lone loss during that stretch came by just five points. Dating back to last season, they're 9-3-1 ATS their last 13 games here. The big win over Dallas will give them the confidence to know that they're capable of beating any team in the league and I look for them to give the Cavs everything they can handle. *9 Best Bet
|12-07-09||Golden State Warriors v. Oklahoma City Thunder -7||Top||88-104||Win||100||9 h 26 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with OKLAHOMA CITY. I played on both these teams in their last game. Golden State earned me a cover but Oklahoma City did not. I'm willing to give the Thunder another shot tonight though, as I feel that this will prove to be a very good matchup for them.
Despite getting blown out by Boston here on Friday, the Thunder still have a winning record at home. In their previous game here, they knocked off Philadelphia by double-digits. They're 4-3 ATS as favorites this season, including 2-0 ATS as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range.
Overall, they're 3-2 their last five games with all three victories coming by 10 or more. Additionally, note that they're a now a profitable 12-5 ATS their last 17 games played in the month of December.
Its also worth noting that the Thunder are also a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they were coming off a double-digit loss. The last time that they lost by 10 or more was on 11/22. On that date, they played a road game vs. the Lakers and lost 101-85. In their next game, they responded by traveling to Utah (not an easy venue) and blowing out the Jazz by double-digits. Prior to that, after losing by 14 at Orlando (they beat the Magic 102-74 here at OKC!) they responded by crushing Washington 127-108. Clearly, this has been a team that knows how to "bounce back" from a bad loss.
The Warriors have been respectable at home. However, they're just 2-8 on the road. Each of their last two road losses came by a minimum of 14 points and they came by an average of 21 points.
The Thunder are 17-7 SU the last 24 times that they hosted the Warriors, dating back to their days in Seattle. They won the most recent meeting here by seven points (107-100 last New Year's Eve) and they're a much stronger team this season. I expect them to bounce back with a convincing win and cover. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-05-09||Orlando Magic v. Golden State Warriors +8.5||Top||126-118||Win||100||12 h 13 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with GOLDEN STATE. There's no denying that the Magic are a strong team again this year. They've been tough both at home and on the road and bring a 15-4 record into tonight's game. That said, I feel that this spread is much too high.
Even though the Magic are 8-2 on the road, they're still only outscoring opponents by four points (96.1 to 91.9) in those games. Tonight, they'll face a Golden State squad which is much stronger at home, the Warriors are 2-8 on the road but 4-4 (5-3 ATS) at home, and which can score points with the best of them. In their eight games here, the Warriors are outscoring opponents by a 112 to 109.7 margin.
The Warriors lost their most recent game here. However, that loss came by only two points, a 111-109 setback vs. Houston. In their previous game here - and most recent vs. an Eastern Conf. opponent, they blew out the Pacers by a 126-107 margin. The Warriors also crushed Portland here, not too long ago, so they're fully capable of beating quality teams, here at home.
Given their ability to score so many points and the fact that they're much better here in Oakland, its not that surprising that the Warriors are a profitable 5-1 ATS the last six times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. Conversely, the Magic are just 6-9 ATS the last 15 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range, including 0-2 ATS in that role this season. The last time that they were favored on the road in that range, they won by only two at Milwaukee. Prior to that, laying -8.5 at Detroit, they were beaten outright.
The Warriors have been at their best against teams from the East. Including the previously mentioned blowout of the Pacers, they're a profitable 5-1 ATS in their six non-conference games. Dating back to last season, they're also 12-6 ATS the last 18 times that they were getting points. I look for them to give their guests all they can handle with a real shot at the outright win. *10 GOW
|12-04-09||Boston Celtics v. Oklahoma City Thunder +4||Top||105-87||Loss||-110||10 h 39 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with OKLAHOMA CITY. The Celtics won again last night and enter tonight's game on a 6-game winning streak. They're still just 5-9 ATS their last 14 games though and 2-4 ATS in six games vs. teams from the West, this season. Tonight, they take on a much improved Oklahoma City team, one which is fully capable of scoring the upset.
With a 10-8 overall record, the Thunder have quietly become a good team. They're 11-7 ATS, including 6-3 ATS here at home. They enter tonight's game tied with Houston an San Antonio, just 4.5 games behind the Conference leading Lakers. A big part of the reason for their overall success is that they've dominated teams from the Eastern Conference. In fact, the Thunder are 6-1 SU/ATS against teams from the East, including a 4-0 mark here at home. The only loss vs. an Eastern Conference opponent came at Orlando - and the Thunder beat the Magic when the teams played here at Oklahoma City. Note that star Kevin Durant is averaging greater than 33 points in his last four games against teams from the East.
Speaking of 6-1, note that the Thunder are 6-1 ATS the last seven times that they were coming off three or more consecutive home games - tonight marks the fourth game of a 5-game homestand. With a double-digit win over Philadelphia on Wednesday, it's also worth noting that the Thunder are now 12-4 ATS in December the past couple of seasons.
The Thunder are 7-4 ATS as underdogs, winning six of those games outright. They're also 7-3 ATS against teams with a winning record.
Prior to their game on Wednesday, the Thunder hadn't played since Sunday. This will be just their fifth game since 11/23. On the other hand, the Celtics are playing their sixth game since 11/25. Note that the Celts were 0-3 ATS in November, when playing the second of back to back games. They failed to cover vs. winless New Jersey and won by only two at Minnesota. Most recently, they lost 113-104 vs. Indiana.
Catching the Celts off a fairly hard-fought win on National TV, I expect the Thunder to have the fresher legs and look for them to improve to a perfect 5-0 ATS when playing a home game with a total in the 190-194.5 range. *9 Non-Conf. Best Bet
|12-04-09||Dallas Mavericks v. Memphis Grizzlies +6||Top||82-98||Win||100||9 h 26 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MEMPHIS. The Mavericks are off a very impressive offensive performance, one which saw them achieve the best shooting percentage in a half since the spring of 2006. That outing has the majority of the betting public thinking that they're unstoppable right now and has created excellent line value with the home underdog.
Yes, the Mavs are a strong team and yes, Wednesday's win was impressive. However, before getting too carried away, let's keep in mind that Wednesday's victory came against the winless Nets. With Jason Kidd going up against his former team, the Mavs had plenty of motivation to deliver a blowout victory. When considering that the Nets are 0-18 and that they've lost five straight by double-digits, beating them 117-101 needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Note that they'd gone 0-2 ATS in their previous two games, a blowout loss and a 2-point win. Tonight, they'll be taking on a team which is playing much better basketball, than the one they just faced.
The Grizzlies are coming off a tough 5-game road trip. After beginning the trip with a loss at Phoenix (no shame in that) they responded by winning outright at Portland. Given that the Blazers are typically very tough at home, that was an impressive performance. They closed November by getting blown out at Utah, their fourth game of their 5-game trip. Salt Lake City is also a very tough place to play though and the Grizzlies were without both Mike Conley and Rudy Gay. They got both those players back last game (both scored 20 points) and went on to post a victory at Minnesota. All things considered, going 2-3 SU on that trip wasn't bad at all. Now they return home where they've got a winning record on the season and where they've won three of their last four games by double-digits. Note that the Grizzlies have played the second fewest number of home games in the entire Western Conference. In other words, their overall record would likely be better, if they hadn't played 63% of their games on the road, thus far.
While the Grizzlies haven't had much overall success against the Mavs over the years, they did beat them in both games here last season. Despite being significant underdogs in each, they won those two games by an average of 12.5 points per game.
Dating back to last season, the Grizzlies are now a profitable 8-3-1 ATS their last dozen games here. Note that they're already 2-0 ATS on the season, when playing a home game with a total in the 205 to 209.5 range. Catching the Mavs patting themselves on the back after Wednesday's win and potentially looking ahead to tomorrow's home game vs. Atlanta, (and Phoenix after that) I expect the Grizzlies to give their guests all they can handle with a solid shot at another outright upset. *#1 December Southwest play
|12-02-09||Milwaukee Bucks +3 v. Washington Wizards||Top||102-104||Win||100||8 h 20 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MILWAUKEE. I successfully played against the Bucks in their last game. That was more a play "on" Chicago than a play "against" Milwaukee though. Also, they were laying points rather than getting them. Additionally, I'll admit that it was somewhat of a fortunate victory. The Bucks were up by double-digits at one point but ended up winning by only two points, failing to cover as 3-point favorites. Either way, they did get the SU victory, which will be more than enough to get the cash tonight.
On Monday, the Bucks were facing a well-rested Chicago team which I felt would be "desperate,' as they'd been blown out by several straight Western Conf. heavyweights and were hungry to close out their "circus trip" with a better effort. Tonight, however, the Bucks will face a Washington team which is coming off an upset win in Canada last night. That's significant.
For starters, the Wizards are 0-3 SU/ATS the last three times that they were coming off a SU win as an underdog. Looking back further and we find them at an awful 7-31 SU and 13-25 ATS their last 38 in that situation.
Additionally, the Wizards are a terrible 3-17 SU the last 20 times that they played the second of back to back games, going a money-burning 3-12-1 ATS the last 16 of those games. That includes a 0-3 SU/ATS mark their last three in that situation. They scored just 89, 84 and 76 points in those games with two of those losses coming here at Washington.
While they will be without a couple players, including Redd, the Bucks, who are 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS against teams with a losing record, got Andrew Bogut back last game. That's also significant. The big 7-Foot Aussie is averaging a career-high 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in 10 games this season. He shattered those numbers against the Bulls, too. In that game, he had 22 points and 15 rebounds. He also came up with an impressive four blocks, the majority of them coming at critical times down the stretch. As rookie guard Brandon Jennings pointed out: "It felt good to have Bogut out there. He's a big help, as you can see, with the inside presence, it just opens up the game for everybody else." Note that Bogut is averaging 17.8 points and 12.0 rebounds in his last five games against Washington.
Milwaukee swept the three-game series with the Wizards last season and has won two in a row here at Washington. Overall, the Bucks are 4-0 ATS the last four in the series. Catching the Wizards off last night's big win, I look for them to improve on those stats this evening. *9 Best Bet
|11-27-09||Phoenix Suns v. Minnesota Timberwolves +10||Top||120-95||Loss||-110||10 h 23 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MINNESOTA. Its true that the Suns have been very good so far this season. Its also true that the T-Wolves have been very bad. Everyone else knows that too though and that's created a very generous line with the home underdog. I feel that big number is providing us with excellent value.
Yes, the Suns are off back to back blowout wins. Those were both at home though. I played against them in their most recent road game and they lost outright vs. a Hornets team which was playing without it's star, Chris Paul. Looking at their last four road games and we find the Suns at just 2-2 SU with both victories coming by six points or less.
Note that this is the most points that the Suns have been laying on the road all season. Additionally, note that they haven't fared well as large road favorites in recent seasons. In fact, they're just 2-5-1 ATS the last eight times that they were favored in the -9.5 to -12 range. Looking back further and we find them at a money-burning 6-14-1 ATS (30%) the last 21 times that they were in that role.
Admittedly, its hard to find too much good to say about the T-Wolves. Their coach (Kurt Rambis) read them the riot act after Wednesday's 13-point loss to the Nuggets though. He was quoted as saying: "I told them I was very disappointed with them at halftime and I was disappointed with them at the end of the ball game...I will always take them playing poorly if I see them playing hard...But the effort, the energy, the passion, just that competitiveness, it just wasn't there tonight." After having their coach "challenge their heart," I expect them to respond with a much better effort. Note that they had covered the spread in their previous game.
The T-Wolves already played the Suns tough at Phoenix earlier this season. They lost by eight points as 13 point underdogs. That result should give them the confidence to know that they can compete tonight. Looking back a bit further and we find that three of the last four meetings were decided by eight points or less, including a SU Minnesota victory in January. (The other was decided by 13 points.) I look for this one to also prove much closer than most are expecting with the Suns falling to 1-4 ATS the last five times that they faced a team which averages less than 91 points per game. *9 Best Bet
|11-19-09||Phoenix Suns v. New Orleans Hornets +7||Top||103-110||Win||100||10 h 57 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with NEW ORLEANS. The Suns come in on a roll while the Hornets will be playing without Chris Paul. That has the majority of the betting public believing that the Suns will win this one easily. That, in turn, has led to a very generous line on the home underdog - one, which I believe, provides us with excellent value.
Yes, the Hornets are playing without Paul. However, they played without him last game, too and they won that one by a score of 110-102. They never trailed after the first quarter and scored more points while shooting at a higher percentage than they had in any of their previous three games. Granted, that was against the Clippers, who aren't nearly as strong as the Suns. Still, the win gave the Hornets and their new coach some much needed confidence.
Coming together for a victory without the "star" in the lineup is also generally good for a team's chemistry. David West stepped up with 24 points while adding 10 rebounds. He was one of six players that had double-digits in points, showing it was a strong team effort. Rookie Darren Collison, filling in for Paul, had a dozen points as did Bobby Brown. The two point guards combined for 11 assists. The Hornets also held a 51-36 edge on the boards.
Paul and the rest of the players gave new coach Bower the "game ball" in the locker-room afterwards. I believe that the Hornets enter tonight's game feeling better about themselves than they have for quite some time. Bower said of the gesture: "It made me feel good. They gave great effort and it was a pretty good night for us."
While the Suns have admittedly been playing well on the road, I feel that they could be starting to get a bit "road weary" here. This is their 11th game in November and it marks the 11th straight time that they played in a different city than they had for their previous game. (They did play two home games during that stretch, but both were followed by road games.) They finally return to the desert for consecutive home games after this - something they may already be looking forward to. It should also be noted that the Suns last two victories have come by just seven combined points.
The Hornets come in with 'payback' on their minds, as they were recently blown out at Phoenix. While the decision was probably made earlier, that was the loss that ultimately sent Byron Scott packing. That should make getting some immediate 'revenge' that much more important for at least some of the players. Bower should also be very anxious for a big effort, as it would help show that his team is now better prepared than it was before the coaching change. I expect him to have his team fully "fired up."
Last week's loss was at Phoenix. Now, because of the Paul injury, we're getting just as many (or more) points to work with on the Hornets, here at New Orleans. Naturally, the Hornets have been much better here over the years. With Tuesday's victory, they're now 68-28 SU their last 96 games here. They've won three of their last four home meetings with the Suns and the lone loss came by only five. I expect them to build off Tuesday's win with another big effort here. *10 TNT GOM
|11-17-09||Phoenix Suns v. Houston Rockets -2.5||Top||111-105||Loss||-104||10 h 45 m||Show|
I'm laying the small number with HOUSTON. The Suns come in with the better record, the primary reason why this line is so low. However, the Rockets have a better winning percentage at home than do the Suns on the road. While the Suns are 5-2 on the road, the Rockets are 3-1 at home. Their only loss here was vs. the Lakers, by a single point. The Rockets have outscored opponents by more than 10 points a game here at Houston. The Suns, despite the winning road record, have actually been outscored when playing outside of the desert.
Speaking of that loss to the Lakers, the Rockets went out to LA and avenged that loss in their most recent game, knocking off the champs by double-digits in their own building. They out-rebounded the Lakers by a 60-38 margin while holding them to just 38% shooting from the field. While that was at LA, they've held opposing teams to 95.7 points and 45.2 % shooting here at Houston. While the Lakers found out that they're still capable of turning up the defensive intensity, the Rockets have also reached triple-digits in scoring in nine straight games.
The Suns won their last game. However, they were fortunate to so. That home win came by just one point vs. the Raptors. In their previous game, they lost by 19 at LA.
With a total currently in the low 220s, note that the Rockets are a perfect 7-0 SU the last seven times that they played a home game with an o/u line of 210 or greater. The Rockets have won three of the last four in the series, including each of the last two here in Houston. They won those games by four and 11 points. They were favored by -5.5 the last time that they hosted the Suns and I feel that tonight's lower line provides us with excellent value. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-11-09||Chicago Bulls v. Toronto Raptors -5||Top||89-99||Win||100||9 h 32 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with TORONTO. I've successfully played against the Raptors in each of their last two games. They got blown out in each case, giving up 131 and 129 points. However, those games were against tough Western Conf. opponents and they came on the road. The Raptors are back home now and they're facing an Eastern Conf. opponent which is coming off a hard fought and emotionally-draining loss last night.
Yes, the Bulls gave a great effort last night. However, it was for nothing in the end, thanks to a lengthy review at the end of the game, which didn't go their way. That type of loss can be difficult to recover from and would have made for somewhat of a depressing trip to Canada. Note that this will be just the second time that the Bulls played the second of back to back games so far this season. They lost by 28 points the first time.
Its also worth noting that the Bulls were 13-28 on the road each of the last two seasons. They're already 1-2 on the road this season.
The Raptors, which have scored triple-digits in every game this season, have gone 2-1 at home. Both victories came by double-digits, including one vs. Lebron James and the Cavs. The lone loss came vs. Orlando, the defending conference champs. They're 7-4 their last 11 here with every victory also resulting in a cover. The Raptors have also won 12 of their last 20 home games vs. the Bulls, including going 3-1 SU/ATS the last four meetings here. Having just played three tough road games and knowing that they head out on the road for four more after this, the Raptors know they need to make the most of tonight's home game. I expect them to score well into the triple-digits and for the Bulls to be unable to keep up. *9 Annihilator
|11-09-09||Toronto Raptors v. San Antonio Spurs -5.5||Top||124-131||Win||100||10 h 47 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with SAN ANTONIO. I successfully played against the Raptors on Saturday in their blowout loss at Dallas. While I respect Toronto, I feel that this will be another very difficult matchup.
I successfully played against the Spurs in each of their last two games, double-digit losses at Utah and Portland. This is still a talented and well-coached team, one with a lot of pride, experience and savvy. In the always improving and ultra competitive Western Conference, the Spurs know that the importance of getting off to a good start to the season. Already 0-3 on the road, they can't afford to take home games, against beatable Eastern Conference opponents, for granted. Note that the Spurs are 2-0 at home with both victories coming by double-digits.
While the Spurs certainly would prefer to have Tony Parker on the floor, his injury to has helped to keep this line a lot lower than it usually is when the Raptors play here. I believe the rest of the Spurs have the talent to elevate their game without Parker, particularly if Duncan dominates Bosh the way that he has done in recent meetings.
Friday's loss at Portland notwithstanding, the Spurs are still a solid 21-9 SU and 16-12-2 ATS the last 30 times that they were off a double-digit loss. Looking back further and we find them at 95-70 SU their last 165 in that situation, going a profitable 91-64-10 ATS at the betting window.
The Raptors are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS the last seven times that they played a road game with an over/under line ranging from 200 to 204.5. During the same stretch, the Spurs were 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS when playing a home game with a total in the same range. Looking back further and we find them at 13-4 SU and 11-6 ATS the last 17 times that they played a home game with a total in the 200 to 204.5 range.
The Spurs have won seven of their last eight home meetings with the Raptors, including a 10-point win (107-97 on 12/20/08) the last time that the teams faced each other here. I expect them to bounce back with another win and cover here. *9 Non-Conf GOW
|06-11-09||Los Angeles Lakers v. Orlando Magic -2.5||Top||99-91||Loss||-105||22 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. Practically all the comments that I have read about this game have been the same. The general idea is that the Magic played their very best in Game 3 and that the Lakers did not (Kobe "choked" in 4th) and yet the Magic still barely won the game. They feel that the Lakers will bounce back with a better effort and that the Magic have nowhere to go but down. Practically all the people that I have spoken to have had a similar opinion. I disagree with their logic.
Let me start by saying that I have a lot of respect for the Lakers. They're very talented. They're very well coached. They're very hungry. They've also been very good to me as
I've gone 6-0 ATS with my last six 'sides,' when playing on or against the Lakers, incl. 2-0 in this series. In four of those cases, I played on the Lakers. In two, I played against them. So, it's not that I'm "anti-LA."
Rather, it's just that I feel much the same way about the Magic and am "pro Orlando." The Magic are more talented than people still realize. Stan Gundy has proven to be a much better coach than many gave him credit for. He gets his team ready and he's had them at their best in their biggest games. His play-calling, in my opinion, has been excellent. Keep in mind that the Magic are only a missed layup away from being up 2-1 in this series and that they defeated the Lakers in both regular season meetings. Let's also remember that the Magic just defeated the defending champs, defying the odds by winning Game 7 at Boston, and then more or less had their way with the top-seeded Cavaliers. Those victories were arguably more impressive than LA's series victories over Houston and Denver.
Because the Magic won the last game, everyone figures that the Lakers can't lose two in a row. Therefore, we're getting a much better line to work with than Orlando bettors were for the last game. Although it doesn't guarantee it, the number is now low enough that a SU victory will very likely also result in an ATS victory. Why is the number lower?
While, as mentioned earlier, many think that the Lakers will play better and they still don't believe in the Magic. Surely, Kobe and the mighty Lakers can't lose twice in a row?
Sure, the Lakers will naturally be looking to bounce back with a victory. However, I don't believe that there's any reason why the Magic can't also bring their top A-Game once again. In fact, I feel that the Game 3 victory will give the Magic even more confidence and giving them the true belief that they actually have a chance. Additionally, that victory helped to take some pressure off. Now, they know that at least they're not going to get swept and that they got the Orlando fans a long-awaited playoff victory. With that "monkey off their back" it should allow them to shoot freely and easily - not that they need any help in the shooting department after shooting 62.5% last time out.
|06-07-09||Orlando Magic +7 v. Los Angeles Lakers||Top||96-101||Win||100||17 h 50 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ORLANDO. LA was certainly impressive in Game 1. That result didn't surprise me, as I had both the Lakers and the 'under.' That result has worked in our favor here. Normally, if the home team won and covered in Game 1, the line actually goes down in Game 2 - as many expect the team down 0-1 to adjust and bounce back with a better effort. However, in this case, the Lakers were so dominant (won by 25) that the line is actually a bit higher than it was for the opener. I feel that provides us with excellent line value.
In my analysis of Game 1, I gave a few reasons why I felt the extra rest between games favored the Lakers. However, with only two day's rest in between games, it's worth noting that the Magic are 15-3 SU and 13-5 ATS this season, when playing with two day's in between games. Note that the Magic are 3-0 SU these playoffs, when trailing in a series.
In addition to the fact that they defeated the Lakers in both meetings (they're now 10-1 ATS their last 11 against Pacific Division teams) during the regular season, it's worth noting that the Magic are 28-16-2 ATS (27-19 SU) the past few seasons, when coming off a double-digit loss. Additionally, they're a highly profitable 21-11 ATS (24-8 SU) the last 32 times that they faced an opponent which defeated them in the previous meeting.
While the Lakers did manage to close out Denver when leading in that series, they're still just 2-7 ATS (4-5 SU) when leading in a playoff series. Look for them to face a much tougher test than they did in Game 1 and a much tougher test than most are expecting. *Main Event
|05-29-09||Los Angeles Lakers +5.5 v. Denver Nuggets||Top||119-92||Win||100||21 h 8 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with LA. The Nuggets have enjoyed a great run in this year's playoffs and I won with them in their last game here at Denver. That said, I expect their season to come to an end this evening.
While the Nuggets are certainly tough, the Lakers earned the #1 seed because they were the "best in the West" over the course of an entire season. That was due in large part to their excellent (29-12) road record, which was the best in the entire NBA. While many will choose to remember their blowout loss here in Game 4, let's not forget that the Lakers won outright here in Game 3. Tonight, as the Nuggets are in "must win" mode, we're getting an even higher line to work with than we were for either of those games.
Including the split in the two earlier games here, the Lakers are still a solid 5-2 SU their last seven visits to Denver. They're also still a profitable 13-5-1 ATS the last 19 times that they were getting points including an impressive 8-2 ATS in the underdog role this season. Seven of those 10 pointspread victories also resulted in outright wins.
The Lakers put it all together in the fourth quarter last game, outscoring the Nuggets by a 27-18 margin. In addition to playing excellent defense in that game, the Lakers got less points from Kobe Bryant (22) than they had in previous games and more from everyone else. In fact, five Lakers reached double-digits in points (Odom had 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds) and a sixth (Bynum) had nine. That type of balanced scoring makes the Lakers a more complete (better) team and I expect them to build off that effort tonight.
As Derek Fisher commented: "...something clicked for us as a group last night against this team. We may have found some things we can do that allows us to attack them from everywhere. We feel we can't be beat when everybody's getting a chance to play."
Much has been made of the Lakers' "fatigue factor." Some will argue that is a reason to back the Nuggets. However, I feel that it's another reason that the Lakers will desperately want to close out this series tonight, in order to get some extra rest, rather than playing another Game 7. The Lakers are 21-9-2 ATS the last 32 times that they played a road game with an over/under line in the 205 to 209.5 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *Main Event
|05-28-09||Orlando Magic v. Cleveland Cavaliers -7.5||Top||102-112||Win||100||21 h 58 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with CLEVELAND. I've avoided playing on the Cavaliers in this series, which is a good thing as they've gone 0-4 at the betting window. I did play against the Cavs in the opening game - the Magic won outright as +8.5 point underdogs. They were also -9 point favorites for Game 2 here. This is a completely different situation from either of those games though, as it's their first true "must win" game. Yet, the line is lower than it was for either of those games. I believe that finally, for the first time in this series, the line on the Cavs is now offering us value.
By now, everyone is saying that the Magic "have Cleveland's number." While it's true that the Magic have played very well, let's not count out the Cavs quite yet. As you know, they were the best team in the regular season this year and up until a week ago, they'd also been the best in the playoffs. Lebron is still the best player in the series, if not the entire league. I expect him to bring his 'A' Game. With their season on the line, I also expect the rest of the Cavs to elevate their level of play
While one could easily find plenty of stats to support either side, here are a few that stand out in favor of Cleveland. The Cavs have still only lost one home game in the playoffs and they're still 44-3 here on the season, one of those losses coming when they rested starters. As they closed as favorites in the Game 4, note that the Cavs are 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS when coming off an 'upset' loss. They're also 20-10 ATS (25-5 SU) the last 30 times that they scored 105 or more points in their previous game. Additionally, even with the Game 4 loss, they're still a profitable 12-5 ATS the last 17 times that they were trailing in a playoff series. I expect them to improve on those stats with their best effort of the series and a double-digit victory. *Eastern Conf. Finals GOY
|05-27-09||Denver Nuggets v. Los Angeles Lakers -6||Top||94-103||Win||100||21 h 50 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with LA. I respect the Nuggets and played on them in Game 4. That was in the high altitude of Denver though, in a game which the Nuggets needed a lot more than the Lakers. With the series shifting back to LA, I expect the Lakers to bounce back with a pivotal victory.
If you've followed my writeups, you'll have seen that I've pointed out that this series has mirrored the Lakers/Rockets series from the previous round. That series saw the Lakers split their first two home games. As they did in this series, the Lakers won on the road in Game 3. Likewise, as they did in Game 4 in this series, they were blown out in Game 4 of that series. So, how did the Lakers respond in Game 5 of that series? With a 40 point (118-78) victory!
Including the blowout Game 5 win vs Houston and their outright win at Denver in Game 3, the Lakers are now a highly profitable 16-5-1 ATS (4-0 SU/ATS this year) the last 22 times that they were tied in a playoff series. During the same stretch, the Nuggets were 0-3 SU/ATS when tied in a playoff series.
The Lakers are 30-4 SU the last 34 times that they were coming off a game in which they allowed 105 or more points. I expect them to improve on those stats, picking up the cover along the way. *Main Event
|05-25-09||Los Angeles Lakers v. Denver Nuggets -4.5||Top||101-120||Win||100||10 h 28 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with DENVER. I played on the Lakers in Game 3, so their victory did not come as shock to me. Having already reclaimed homecourt advantage, I expect a slight emotional letdown. On the other hand, the Nuggets' intensity should only increase. While they've had a superb run through the playoffs, the Nuggets know that it will all be wasted if they don't win tonight. That's because a loss would put them in a 3-1 hole and with two of the final three games scheduled for LA, their chances of winning would be extremely slim. In other words, this is essentially a "must win" game. Yet, the line isn't much higher than it was for Game 3.
This series has some similarities to the Lakers' last series, vs. Houston. In that series, like this one, the Lakers split the two games at LA and then came out with a big win and cover on the road in Game 3. So, what happened in Game 4? Having already regained homecourt advantage, the Lakers lost a bit of their emotional edge. In much the same situation that the Nuggets are in tonight, the Rockets were the "hungrier" team - they won by double-digits.
Speaking of this series and the Lakers' last one against Houston, they've both been extremely physical. While he's still putting up big numbers, the physical play is starting to take a toll on Kobe Bryant. After last game, Kobe was quoted as saying that is was the most exhausted he'd been after a playoff game. He needed an IV. He was quoted as saying: "For two, three years now I've been playing nonstop. Then, the physical series we had against Houston and these guys grabbing and holding more than the Houston series. It's been a really physical series. They're making me work for everything, so it's a combination of all that." Note that the Nuggets previous series was much easier and so they should be the fresher team overall, particularly as they're used to playing at high elevation.
Even with the Game 3 loss, the Nuggets are still an extremely profitable 12-1 ATS their last 13 games. They're also 22-10-1 ATS the last 33 times that they were playing with "revenge." They've proven that they're more than capable of holding their own (could very easily be winning) with the Lakers and I look for them to bounce back with a convincing win and cover. *Main Event
|05-23-09||Los Angeles Lakers +4 v. Denver Nuggets||Top||103-97||Win||100||10 h 55 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with the LA LAKERS. The Nuggets have been impressive in the playoffs and they played a pair of great games at LA. They've shown that they're "for real" and now, of course, they've stolen away home-court advantage. Despite all that, it's the Lakers who are still favored to win the series. While it's not going to be "easy," I still feel that they will, too.
The Lakers now know that they have no choice. In order to win this series, they are going to have to win at least one game here at Denver. Armed with that knowledge and having fully received their "wake-up call" at home, I expect the Lakers to be at their very best today.
It's true that the Nuggets have been extremely good at home - (note that they're dealing with several "bumps and bruises" to key players) it's also true that the Lakers are more than capable of winning at any venue in the league. In addition to having won four of their last five here at Denver, the Lakers won at places like Boston and Cleveland this season. Until the Magic did so in Game 1, they were the only team to beat the Cavs at Cleveland, when they were playing with a full lineup.
The Lakers are in a similar spot to what they were in for Game 3 in the last series. In that round, they won Game 1 but then lost Game 2. For Game 3, they responded with a convincing (108-94) victory - the only road win that they would end up needing to take the series. Including that Game 3 blowout, note that the Lakers are an outstanding 15-5-1 ATS the last 21 times that they were tied in a playoff series.
Naturally, everyone saw Lebron's last second heroics last night - that includes Kobe Bryant. Kobe is extremely competitive and quietly views Lebron as his "archrival." He may not get a last second shot for the win (although that wouldn't surprise) but I do expect him to have a huge performance.
Kobe and co. have been terrific as underdogs, as it seemingly brings out the best of them. Including the previously mentioned victory at Cleveland, the Lakers are 7-1 ATS the last eight times that they were getting points. They won six of those games outright. Looking back further and we find them at a highly profitable 14-5-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were underdogs, winning 13 of those games outright. Additionally, note that the Lakers are 15-3 SU the last 18 times that they were coming off an upset loss.
While I expect the Lakers to win outright, I'll grab the points, as the first two games have both been decided by three points or less. *Western Conf. Finals GOY
|05-21-09||Denver Nuggets v. Los Angeles Lakers -5.5||Top||106-103||Loss||-110||10 h 23 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with LA. The Nuggets let Game 1 get away. They played well and had the lead for much of the game. Yet, in the end, their effort was wasted as the Lakers came away with the victory. That result will have many bettors backing the Nuggets in this game and the line has come down from what it was in Game 1. However, I've enjoyed success many times over the years playing against the road team which came up just short of an upset in Game 1.
While there are plenty of examples of it working both ways, it's been my experience that the road team which "let one get away" has a tough time bringing the same type of intensity in Game 2. Conversely, the home team that "got away with one" knows that it has to play better and the close call in Game 1 often serves as a "wake-up call."
Last year's Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and Lakers offers a prime example. Game 1 was played on this day exactly one year ago. The Lakers were laying -7.5 points. Yet, it was the Spurs who had the lead almost the entire way. In fact, a 14-2 run to start the third quarter had the Spurs up by a score of 65-45. However, the Lakers battled all the way back to "steal the win," although they didn't cover. What happened in Game 2? The pointspread was lower - yet, the Lakers crushed them by 30 points!
With the Cavaliers losing yesterday, the Lakers should smell blood in the water. Note that the Nuggets are 0-5 SU/ATS the last five times that they played when trailing in a playoff series, going 4-11 ATS and 3-12 SU their last 15 in that situation. I expect the Lakers to be much better than they were in the opener and for that to lead to a solid win and cover. *Western Conf. GOW
|05-17-09||Orlando Magic +3 v. Boston Celtics||Top||101-82||Win||100||18 h 4 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ORLANDO. I'm well aware of the Celtics' success in Game 7's the last couple of seasons and I successfully played on them in their recent Game 7 win vs. Chicago. That said, this is a very difficult opponent and they'll be doing it without Garnett. I expect his absence to finally catch up with the Celts this evening and look for their run of Game 7 success to come to an end this evening.
After back to back heart-breaking losses, the Magic gave the champs some of their own medicine in Game 6. This time, it was Boston which led much of the way, only to see Orlando come back late for the win and cover. I believe that the Magic showed a lot of character in that victory. Off back to back difficult losses and having fallen behind in that game, with little going right, it would have been easy for the Magic to give up hope. They didn't though and put it all together when it mattered. Celts center Kendrick Perkins had this to say: "We thought we had them beat..."
For most teams, winning on the road isn't easy, particularly here at Boston. However, the Magic aren't a "normal" team, as they've been excellent on the road the past couple of years. This season, they tied for the best road record (27-14) in the East during the season. They're now 30-17 SU And 29-18 ATS on the road, including playoffs. Additionally, they've won two of four meetings here at Boston in 2009 and they know that it could have easily been three out of four.
The Magic are 14-6 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as underdogs, including 7-3 the last 10 times that they were road underdogs of three points or less. Note that they won six of those outright. On the other hand, the Celts are just 3-6 SU/ATS the last nine times that they were home favorites of three points or less. I expect the Magic, 13-3 SU the last 16 times that they played with two day's rest in between games, to win outright. However, with each team having played so many games which have come down to the wire, (in both rounds) I'll grab the points, as another game decided at the buzzer wouldn't be a surprise. *Main Event
|05-14-09||Boston Celtics v. Orlando Magic -7||Top||75-83||Win||100||27 h 29 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with ORLANDO. Just because a team is playing a "must win" game, as Orlando is, doesn't mean that they'll cover the spread. In fact, you'll often find me going against the team in a must win spot. However, in this case, I really expect the Magic to respond to the situation by delivering their very best effort.
The Magic know they let one get away last game. A questionable shot-clock violation "non-call" against the Celtics didn't help matters. Either way, they were up big and let the Celtics come back in the fourth quarter. That was also a problem in the Philadelphia series. However, the Magic responded to each loss with a victory and won each of the final two games of that series by double-digits. Of course, the defending World Champs are a whole lot better than Philadelphia - even without Garnett. However, my point is that the Magic have shown an ability to bounce back and also that they were at the very best when their earlier playoff games meant the most.
The fact that they could have easily won either of the last two games (and their longterm success on the road) has given the Magic hope that they can still win this series. While some teams might hang their heads a bit after the last loss, the Magic know that if they can win tonight's game at home, that they'll have a real legit shot at winning Game 7 at Boston. (Although history would certainly be against them doing so.) They've had a great year and I don't
Yes, the Celtics would definitely love to close things out and avoid a Game 7. That's particularly true as they played such a hard-fought series (all the overtimes) vs. Chicago and as they know the Cavaliers are waiting and have barely broken a sweat. That said, this is a very difficult place to win and having always fared well in their recent Game 7s, it's not something that the Celtics fear. My point here is that they might be just slightly less "hungry" than their hosts. Note that the Celtics lost Game 6 at Chicago in the first round and that they also lost Game 6 at Atlanta last year, as nine-point favorites.
Even with the tough Game 5 loss, the Magic are still 21-8 the last 29 times that they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting, going a respectable 18-11 (62%) at the betting window in those games.
The Magic have felt disrespected all year. Everyone recognized the Lakers as the best in the West. The Cavaliers got their respect all year due to their remarkable home record, not to mention the Lebron James factory. The Celtics commanded respect as the defending champs. The Magic felt that they belonged to be mentioned in the same category as those other three elite teams but often they were not. They definitely want to avoid another game which comes down to the wire and I expect them to put it all together with a decisive victory. *Eastern Conf. Playoff GOY
|05-08-09||Los Angeles Lakers v. Houston Rockets +1||Top||108-94||Loss||-110||24 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. With the series tied 1-1 and shifting to Houston, naturally, this is a critical game for both teams. The Rockets "accomplished their mission" by earning a split at LA. However, they know that will be meaningless if they can't protect their homecourt. Meanwhile, the Lakers know that they can "undo the damage" which was done at LA and regain homecourt advantage by earning a victory tonight. With so much on the line and considering the physical nature of the two games at LA, this should be a very intense game.
With such a small number, the majority of the betting public will surely be backing the visiting Lakers. However, I believe that the Rockets have an excellent shot at earning the victory. Note that the Lakers are an ugly 6-13 SU and ATS the last 19 times that they were listed as road favorites of three points or less.
I backed the Lakers in Game 2, so I wasn't surprised that they ended up with a double-digit win. However, there was nothing "easy" about the victory, or at least not the cover. Earlier in the same day, the Magic, who had also won on the road in their opener, basically rolled over at Boston. They were seemingly already content to have won one road game. The Rockets had an entirely different mentality, as they played as if they were truly serious about trying to take a 2-0 lead back to Houston. The Lakers jumped out to early double-digit lead but the Rockets responded. By halftime, the teams were tied. It was a physical game filled with ejections, one which saw LA's Derek Fisher get suspended for tonight's game at Houston.
Of course, that followed the Rockets' outright upset in Game 1. The Rockets won or tied all four quarters of that game, proving to the Lakers and themselves that they were for real. I backed the Rockets in that game, so I wasn't surprised to see them give the type of effort that they did. While Kobe and co. are still the steep favorites to win the series, of all the teams in the West, I felt (and feel) that the Rockets were (and are) their toughest matchup.
The Rockets are tough. They're strong. They fight hard every game. They play excellent defense. They're not intimidated. When Yao Ming is on top of his game, as he was in Game 1 (28 pts, 10 rebounds) he presents that Lakers with a challenge that they don't get from other teams. I really get the sense that this is very important to Yao. When he banged his knee, he barely made a fuss about it. Afterwards, he was quoted as saying: "My knee feels fine, thanks for asking. There's no need to worry about it..."
Ron Artest had this to say of his center: "He didn't even make it to the training room. Time was of essence. Every second, it was killing him not to be on the bench or on the floor. He came right out. I was so proud of him. He showed so much courage and knew that we needed him." With elbows flying and players like Ming going down and coming back, not to mention Battier bleeding heavily, the Rockets really seem to have bonded. They know that their teammates are giving it everything they have and that makes them want to do the same.
On the other hand, Kobe and the Lakers almost seem to enjoy the fact that they're being challenged. Obviously, they know how important this game is but I still don't get the feeling that they view it as "urgently" as the Rockets do.
Looking at some stats and we find that the Rockets are 36-8 at home on the season. That includes a perfect 3-0 mark here in the playoffs. They're also a terrific 11-1 SU (10-2 ATS) the last dozen times that they were coming off a double-digit loss. I expect them to bounce back and look for them to grab a 2-1 lead in the series. *2nd Rd GOY
|05-07-09||Atlanta Hawks +13 v. Cleveland Cavaliers||Top||85-105||Loss||-105||17 h 29 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ATLANTA. It would be pretty easy to make a case for the Cavaliers. After all, they've been on a very impressive playoff run and they've been outstanding at home all season long. I typically see things a little differently than most though. That said, I expect the Cavs to face their toughest test of the playoffs tonight.
While the Cavs are obviously a very strong team, I believe that the Hawks are also better than most believe them to be. Remember, this is a team which took the Celtics to seven games last year. They've got plenty of talent and they know how to play defense. Note that they're an excellent 4-1 SU/ATS the last five times that they were trailing in a playoff series. The only time that they were in that situation this season, they responded with an 81-71 outright victory (Game 4) at Miami.
Even with the Game 1 result, six of the last eight meetings (and three of the last four) between these teams have been decided by single digits. Look for the Hawks to play much better, bouncing back and improving to 8-4-1 ATS the last 13 times that they were coming off a game in which they scored 85 points or less. *Main Event
|05-06-09||Houston Rockets v. Los Angeles Lakers -10||Top||98-111||Win||100||12 h 13 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. I took the points with the Rockets in the opener, so I was not surprised to see them play well. The Rockets have some excellent defenders, have a dynamic center and are playing solid team basketball. They were also catching the Lakers off a relatively long layoff and possibly feeling a little over-confident. Things are different now. Much different.
Having just played on Monday, the Lakers will no longer be "rusty." Nor, will they be "relaxed." As Kobe had to say: "The next game is extremely critical. Everybody is a little edgy, pretty energetic and excited about it." Bryant went on to say: "I feel fantastic. We know we can perform better. I'm anxious to see how we respond."
Houston coach Rick Adelman knows that things are going to be tough. He was quoted as saying: "Tomorrow is going to be probably the most difficult game. They're going to really come after us."
While the line seems high, note that the Lakers' previous six home games had all resulted in double-digit victories. The Lakers also won both regular season meetings here by double-digits. They won those games by 12 (93-81) and 29 (111-82) points.
The Lakers are 21-13-1 ATS the past three seasons when attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. They've been the best team in the West all year and I look for them to bounce back with a double-digit victory. *Personal Favorite
|05-05-09||Atlanta Hawks +12 v. Cleveland Cavaliers||Top||72-99||Loss||-115||18 h 46 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ATLANTA. The Hawks were good to me in the first round, as I played on them in all four of their victories, while staying off them in all three of their losses. I believe that they offer us excellent value again here.
In addition to cashing a ticket on the Celtics/Magic 'under' the total yesterday, I also played on Houston. As you probably know, the Rockets went into LA and upset the #1 seeded Lakers. This setup has several similarities to that Houston play.
Like the Hawks, the Rockets were coming off a competitive series and playing a road game against a #1 seed which was coming off an "easy" first round series. Like the Hawks, the Rockets had "exorcised some playoff demons" by advancing past the first round. The first round series victory for the Rockets had relieved any pressure that they had been feeling and they were able to play loose, as heavy underdogs. Like the Rockets, nobody is giving the Hawks a chance, meaning that they will be feeling very little pressure.
The Hawks are a well-balanced team. They've got numerous weapons on offense, with three players averaging greater than 15 points. Like Houston, the Hawks are capable of playing excellent defense. They held the Heat to 64, 71 and 78 points in three of their four victories and to an average of only 88 for the series.
The Cavaliers have enjoyed a great year and they were certainly impressive in the first round. However, they were matched up against a Detroit team on the decline. Now, after they've been sitting around since 4/26, they'll face an Atlanta team which is on the upswing and which actually believes it can can compete in this series.
Note that the last three meetings between these teams have all been decided by six points or less. Looking back a bit further and we find that six of the last seven meetings between these teams have been decided by single digits. Look for this one to also prove closer than most are expecting with the Hawks building momentum from their big Game 7 victory and improving to 12-5-1 ATS on the season, after holding their previous opponent to 85 points or less. *Main Event
|05-03-09||Miami Heat v. Atlanta Hawks -5||Top||78-91||Win||100||10 h 9 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with ATLANTA. I've played on the Hawks in all three of their victories in this series while avoiding them in all three of their losses. With everything on the line, I feel that this will prove to be another excellent spot to back them.
It's true that Dwayne Wade is among the best offensive players in the world. However, when playing away from Miami, his supporting cast often leaves a lot to be desired. Wade had 29 points in the last game here at Atlanta and the Heat still lost by 15. Additionally, note that the Heat are an awful 3-15 SU and 6-12 ATS the last 18 times that they were coming off a double-digit victory. Overall, home teams are 4-2 SU/ATS in this series, each team going 2-1 SU/ATS on its homecourt.
The Hawks are loaded with quality talent and have three players (Bibby, Johnson, Smith) all averaging greater than 15 points per game. I believe that they're the more "complete" team. They've been excellent at home the last few seasons and were 31-10 here in the regular season. They defeated the Celtics in all three games here last postseason, before losing in Game 7 at Boston. I expect them to have learned from that experience and for it to pay dividends here.
The Hawks are 27-17-1 ATS the last 45 times that they were coming off a game in which they scored 85 points points or less. They average 98.5 points per game on this floor and allow 92.6. I expect them to bounce back with a much better effort, on both ends of the floor. None of the games in the series have been close with the SU winner covering the spread in each. I expect that trend to continue with Atlanta being the team which emerges victorious. *Opening Rd GOY
|04-27-09||Denver Nuggets v. New Orleans Hornets -2.5||Top||121-63||Loss||-105||10 h 6 m||Show|
I'm laying the small number with NEW ORLEANS. After winning both games at Denver, the Nuggets earned a fortunate cover, while losing Game 3 at New Orleans. I didn't play the side in that game (won with 'under') but say it was a "fortunate" (ATS) victory for Denver backers, as the Nuggets were down 10 with three minutes remaining. That Game 3 result has helped to cause this evening's line to be lower than it was for Game 3. I believe that provides us with excellent value with the Hornets.
New Orleans fell behind by 16 points in the first half last time out and it appeared Denver was on its way to a 3-0 series lead. However, the Hornets battled back, getting it done on the defensive side of the floor. After allowing the Nuggets to make 10 of 17 (58.8%) first quarter shots, the Hornets held them to 35% shooting (20 of 57) the rest of the way. The Hornets outscored the Nuggets 44-30 in the paint. They also had a 22-6 edge in fast-break points.
As they showed last time out, the Hornets are a much better team at home. They're now 29-13 here this season and 89-42 (76-55 ATS) the past three. That includes a 27-7 SU and 24-10 ATS mark when playing a home game with an over/under line in the 190 to 194.5 range.
The Hornets have now beaten the Nuggets three of the last four times that the teams played here at New Orleans. Dating back to their days at Charlotte, the Hornets have now won 13 of 20 home meetings against the Nuggets. Twelve of those 13 victories came by a minimum of three points, Saturday's game being the only exception.
I expect the Hornets to build momentum from Saturday's victory, evening up the series and covering the small number along the way. *Western Conf. GOW
|04-26-09||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Detroit Pistons +9||Top||99-78||Loss||-105||5 h 59 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with DETROIT. It's true that the Cavaliers have dominated this series. It's also true that (barring an act of God) they're going to win the series. That said, in my opinion, this afternoon's line is far too high.
Despite not playing well, the Pistons have had a shot at covering in all three games. In Friday's game, they were tied, heading into the third quarter. Now, there's absolutely no pressure and the line is several points higher than it was for that game.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown knows the Pistons aren't just going to roll over, noting: "They've got a lot of guys who have won NBA championships on that team. They're not going to go away easily. They have a lot of pride."
The Pistons are a profitable 27-17 ATS the last 44 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. That includes a 11-6 ATS mark in that role this season. Look for them to show some pride as they give the Cavs all they can handle for the full four quarters with an excellent shot at extending the series. *Main Event - Top Central Division play
|04-19-09||Miami Heat v. Atlanta Hawks -5||Top||64-90||Win||100||11 h 47 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with ATLANTA. Dwayne Wade will be the best known player on the floor and he's sure to get his share of points. That said, I believe that the Hawks have the more complete overall team and I expect them to start the series off by defending their home floor.
The fact that this game is in Atlanta is very important as both these teams are much better at home. The Heat were a very solid 28-13 at Miami but they were a poor 15-26 on the road. The Hawks weren't much better when playing away from home, as they were just 16-25 outside of Atlanta. However, when playing at home, they were an excellent 31-10. Not surprisingly, the Hawks won both regular season meetings with the Heat, which were played here at Atlanta. The Hawks outscored teams by a 98.7 to 93 margin at home. The Heat were outscored by a 99.5 to 95.8 margin on the road.
The Hawks have been strong at home for longer than just this year. You may recall that they took the Celtics to seven games last year, winning all three games here at Atlanta but losing the four at Boston. I expect them to benefit from that experience and for them to come out ready to play tonight. Having seen what happened at Boston, Coach Woodson preached the importance of gaining homecourt advantage. his Hawks got it, for a round at least. He was quoted as saying: "I hope like hell there's a carry-over from last year's run. That taught us how to play playoff basketball. When we to Boston, we had no clue. That's why the games were so lopsided. Then we came home and won Game 3. We grew up awfully fast and were able to make a series out of it."
The Hawks are 9-3 ATS (10-2 SU) the last 12 times that they were favored by six points or less. I expect them to improve on those stats with a convincing win and cover. *Personal Favorite
|04-15-09||Atlanta Hawks v. Memphis Grizzlies -7.5||Top||90-98||Win||100||8 h 50 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with MEMPHIS. In a normal situation, the Grizzlies wouldn't be favored over the Hawks, at least not by this many. This isn't a "normal" situation though. The Hawks are off a game last night and are playing their final road game of the regular season. More importantly, they're already locked into the fourth spot in the East and have absolutely nothing to play for here.
On the other hand, the Grizzlies are playing their final home game (and final game overall) of the season and are motivated to close out the season with a big win for the home fans.
Unlike some non-playoff teams, the Grizzlies have still been fighting down the stretch, particularly here at Memphis. In fact, they've won three of their last four games here. That includes a win over Dallas AND a double-digit blowout win against the Suns. The lone loss during that stretch was a 3-point heartbreaker vs. Portland. Overall, the Grizzlies are a profitable 7-2 ATS their last nine games. Looking back further and we find them at 23-12 ATS their last 35. I expect them to take this game more seriously than the Hawks and look for that to lead to a convincing win and cover. *Personal Favorite
|04-14-09||Boston Celtics v. Philadelphia 76ers -4||Top||100-98||Loss||-110||9 h 57 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with PHILADELPHIA. I successfully played against the 76'ers in their most recent game, a 111-104 loss at Toronto. The majority of bettors favored Philly in that game which caused the line to move from pick'em to Philly -2 or -2.5. I believe that those bettors were just a game early though and that this will prove to be the spot in which to back the team from Philly.
The 76'ers last game came against a Raptors team which was at full strength and which was playing its final home game. I thought the Raptors would treat the game seriously and they came through with their best home effort in April. Tonight's game is an entirely different situation though.
This time, it's the 76'ers which are playing their final home game. This time, they'll be taking on a team which is not playing at full strength and which really shouldn't be all that concerned about winning.
Sure, the Celtics would like to bounce back from the blowout loss at Cleveland with a win tonight. However, they're already locked into the #2 seed and they'd won six straight before that loss. Being the defending champions, they've got absolutely nothing to prove. Note that if the Celtics really want to close out the regular season on a high note, to gain some momentum for the playoffs, that they get to host the Wizards tomorrow night, the team with the worst record (by far) in the Eastern Conference.
Let's take a quick look at the Orlando Magic game from last night, as it had some similarities to this one. The Magic were already locked into their playoff spot, just as Boston is. Like Boston, the Magic were coming off a loss. Also, like the Celtics, the Magic were dealing with some injuries and playing their final road game of the season. Already without Lewis and Turkolu, they also decided to give Howard the night off.
The Magic responded by getting blown out by the lowly Bucks, getting scored 80-56 from the second quarter on. Orlando forward Tony Battie's post-game comments revealed the team's mindset, basically acknowledging that the loss meant nothing to them. "We got our starters some rest, we got our bench players some minutes. We'll be ready to go when it counts..."
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy didn't seem too concerned by the loss either. When asked about his decision to rest Howard, he responded: "I'm not kicking myself on the decision. I'm still convinced it was the best thing to do..."
While teams always prefer winning to losing, I expect the Celtics, who are expected to again be without Garnett, to treat this game about as seriously as the Magic treated their game last night.
On the other hand, this is a huge game for the 76'ers. For starters, they're playing with "triple-revenge," having lost all three games vs. the champs this season. The last one of those losses, the lone game here on Philly, came by a single point - so the 76'ers are itching for some payback. The 76'ers, currently in 7th, know that they could be facing the Celtics in the first round. They want to prove to the Celtics and to themselves that they can beat them.
After all, if they can't beat them when the Celts don't even really care, what hope will they have of doing so next week.
There are other factors which make this a very big game for Philadelphia. They've blown their shot at the fifth seed but the 76'ers could still finish in sixth. That's significant as they'd probably prefer to face the Magic instead of the Celtics. This is also their final home game of the regular season and all teams typically prefer to win those.
Most importantly, the 76'ers badly need to get a win to restore their confidence. That's because they've lost five in a row. A loss tonight would give them a 6-game losing streak with their final game coming at Cleveland, a place where the Cavaliers own a 39-1 record. In other words, with a loss tonight, they could bring a 7-game losing streak into the playoffs.
In fairness, a look at the 76'ers' 5-game losing streak shows that four of their losses came on the road. The only loss at home came against the team with the best record in the league(Cleveland) and the 76'ers played the Cavs tough for most of that game.
I expect the 76'ers to be the "hungrier" team and I expect that to lead to them winning in convincing fashion. *TNT GOY
|04-13-09||Orlando Magic v. Milwaukee Bucks -3.5||Top||80-98||Win||100||19 h 44 m||Show|
I'm laying the small number with MILWAUKEE. Even casual fans know that the Magic have had a much better season than the Bucks. On the surface, they've also got more to play for. The Bucks are playing out the string while the Magic are looking to bounce back from back to back losses and looking to build some momentum for the postseason.
So, why are the Bucks favored? Well, there are several reasons. For starters, the Bucks are playing at home and this is their final home game of the year. Also, the Magic are already locked into the third seed. Additionally, they're not healthy. While they've had plenty of time to deal with the loss of point guard Jameer Nelson, now they're also expected to be without both Lewis and Turkolu. Making matters even more difficult, they'll also likely see limited minutes from Dwight Howard, who played less than normal in Saturday's loss.
The Bucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a convincing 115-98 win over Oklahoma City on Saturday with Richard Jefferson tying a season high with 35 points. That victory showed that they actually do care about finishing up strong. As forward Charlie Villanueva noted: "We're trying to finish the season out strong on a positive note. We're playing to win every game. We're not playing for the lottery, lottery balls, or anything like that."
Non-playoff teams with that mindset are fully capable of elevating their play in their final home game. We saw the Raptors do so yesterday against a Philadelphia team which had much to play for and which, like Orlando, was also "looking to get back on track" and to build some playoff momentum.
Last month's blowout loss notwithstanding, the Bucks, who play with "triple revenge," are a profitable 17-7 ATS and 19-5 SU the last 24 times that they were a host in this series. I expect them to build off Saturday's victory and to close out the home campaign with a big win and cover. *GOY
|04-12-09||Philadelphia 76ers v. Toronto Raptors +1||Top||104-111||Win||100||8 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. On the surface, this is a bigger game for the 76'ers. Philadelphia is going to playoffs. Toronto is not. Philadelphia is still battling for positioning. Toronto is playing out the string. However, in my opinion, there's a lot more too it than that.
Yes, the 76'ers are fighting for a better seed. However, that hasn't helped them much lately, as they've dropped four straight. Granted, three of those were on the road and the other was vs. Cleveland. Still, those road games were at New Jersey, Charlotte and Chicago and the 76'ers lost them by a combined 46 points. Even though they'd really like to get back on track today, with both the Celtics and Cavs on deck and having already clinched a spot, it may be easy to look past today's opponent.
The loss of Thaddeus Young has been big. As Coach DiLeo noted: "I think we really miss Thad. Thad is a really big part of our team and one of our top players, so that really hurts us. At some point, we're going to get Thad back and establish our game. I knew the loss of Thad would impact us..."
As for the Raptors, this is their final home game of what's been a disappointing season. They're a team that is more talented than its record indicates and I believe that they'll come out fired up to win their home finale. Yes, they've lost a few in a row. Let's not forget that they were on a 6-0 SU/ATS run less than two weeks ago, though.
The Raptors were favored by five or 5.5 points when they hosted the 76ers back in November. Looking back further and we find that they've been favored each of the last five times that they hosted the 76ers, with an average line of -6. On paper, they're just as talented as they were for any of those games - only this time, there is no pointspread. Playing their final home game of the year, look for the Raptors to rise to the occasion and close out their home campaign with a win. *Main Event
|04-11-09||Phoenix Suns v. Minnesota Timberwolves +2||Top||110-97||Loss||-110||9 h 5 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MINNESOTA. I played against the Suns last night. Despite being slight favorites, they got blown out at Memphis. Here was an excerpt from my writeup on that game: "Give the Suns credit. They could have packed it in but instead came out and defeated New Orleans in their last game. That said, they've now proven their point and I expect them to have significantly more trouble "getting up" for a meaningless game..." I believe that same statement is also relevant for this evening's game.
Tonight's game sets up a little differently as the T-Wolves actually defeated the Suns at Phoenix in the last meeting. Still, I don't feel that will be much of a motivator for the visitors. Check out what Phoenix's Jason Richardson had to say after last night's loss: "These games really aren
|04-10-09||Phoenix Suns v. Memphis Grizzlies +1.5||Top||89-106||Win||100||8 h 19 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MEMPHIS. Neither team will be going to the playoffs. However, while the Grizzlies have known that fact since the beginning of the season (even before the season?) it's still recent news to Phoenix.
Give the Suns credit. They could have packed it in but instead came out and defeated New Orleans in their last game. That said, they've now proven their point and I expect them to have significantly more trouble "getting up" for a meaningless game against a team that they have dominated. Note that the Suns, 57-70 ATS their last 127 when coming off an upset victory, play at Minnesota tomorrow night (Grizzlies don't play tomorrow) and that the T-Wolves defeated them at Phoenix the last time the teams faced each other. With that game on deck and knowing that they get to host these same Grizzlies on Monday, it should be easy to look past tonight's game.
On the other hand, the revenge-minded Grizzlies should be highly motivated to earn a rare victory in this series. While they've lost their last two games, both losses (vs. Portland and at Orlando) were by three points and the Grizzlies could have easily won both of those games. Prior to that, they'd won four straight including a win over Dallas. With a 6-0 ATS record their last six games and a 22-10-1 ATS mark their last 33, the Grizzlies are playing their best basketball of the season. Look for them to be the "hungrier" team tonight and for that to lead to them scoring the minor upset. *Motivational Mismatch
|04-05-09||Indiana Pacers v. Oklahoma City Thunder -2||Top||117-99||Loss||-110||18 h 19 m||Show|
I'm laying the small number of OKLAHOMA CITY. Determining motivation levels is particularly important when handicapping games between teams that aren't going to the playoffs. In this case, there are several reasons why I expect the Thunder to be the "hungrier" team.
Both teams lost their most recent game. However, while the Pacers left everything on the floor in a disappointing hard-fought (5-point) loss vs. the Spurs, the Thunder were embarrassed in a blowout home loss vs. Portland. While the Pacers were certainly more impressive in their defeat, I expect it to be easier for the Thunder to bounce back. They'll have something to prove while the Pacers may be thinking about what could have been.
It's true that the Pacers aren't quite officially mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. However, they know that they have no realistic chance of making the playoffs. As Coach O'Brien noted: "We're playing to get better, and if we have to play for pride, that's not a bad thing to play for." That can take a bit of getting used to and this will be their first game against a "non-playoff team," since that reality has set in.
Regardless of their mindset, the Pacers have really struggled against the league's weaker teams all year long. In fact, they're 22-14 ATS against teams with a winning record but just 14-21-2 ATS against teams with a losing record. Note that the Pacers are also just 6-12 ATS the last 18 times that they were listed as road underdogs of three points or less.
The Pacers did defeat the Thunder when the teams faced each other back in November. However, the Thunder still covered the spread and that was at Indiana, where the Pacers are much stronger. Note that the Pacers are just 10-29 on the road. While they've never played at Oklahoma City, note that the Pacers were 0-4 their last four trips to Seattle (where the Thunder used to play) and that they were just 4-10 their last 14 trips there.
In addition to wanting to bounce back from the blowout loss to the Blazers, the Thunder should be able to draw some added motivation from the fact that they lost the game at Indiana, despite leading at halftime. Note that they're a respectable 19-15-1 ATS on the season when attempting to avenge an earlier road loss. They're also a profitable 6-2 ATS this season, after failing to score 85 points or less in their last game. Look for them to improve on those stats as they bounce back with a highly motivated effort, leading to the win and cover. *Non-Conf. GOY
|04-03-09||Houston Rockets +5.5 v. Los Angeles Lakers||Top||81-93||Loss||-110||12 h 44 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with HOUSTON. The Lakers have had their way with the Rockets this season. However, this is a tough spot. While the Lakers have already wrapped up the top spot in the West, the Rockets are still battling for positioning. They're also playing with "triple revenge," while looking to prove that they compete with the best in the West.
The Lakers have the much better record for the season. The Rockets have been every bit as good in recent weeks though. Both teams are 14-6 their last 20 games.
While the Lakers are 0-3 ATS their last three games, they're still satisfied with the results of their lengthy 7-game road trip. Kobe was quoted as saying: "It was a good trip..." In other words, the Lakers aren't sweating the fact that they didn't cover the spread the last few times out and aren't "extra hungry" for a blowout victory.
Note that the first game back from an extended road trip can often prove to be difficult. Yes, the players are sleeping in their own beds but there's still the travel factor. Additionally, after being away from home for a few weeks, players can sometimes get distracted by their personal lives, when first coming back. There's wives, girfriends, families, friends, bills, bars etc. In this case, this marks the Lakers' eighth consecutive different venue.
Despite dropping all three of this season's meetings, the Rockets rarely get blown out by the Lakers. Both the last two meetings have been decided by six points or less. Looking back further and we find that the Lakers have only beaten the Rockets by greater than six points once in the last eight series meetings. I expect the Rockets to give them all they can handle again tonight, improving to 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. *Main Event
|04-01-09||Detroit Pistons v. New Jersey Nets -1.5||Top||98-111||Win||100||16 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. The Nets have fallen on hard times of late. They've lost five straight and are now all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. The first three of those losses were excusable, as they came vs. the Cavaliers (twice) and the Lakers. The fourth loss came against Minnesota but it came on the road, so even that can (almost) be forgiven. However, their last game was really poor, a 107-78 home loss to Milwaukee. I expect that embarrassing loss to have the players in an angry mood tonight and with the pressure of competing for a playoff spot now gone, I look for them to bounce back with a MUCH better effort.
After following up the loss at Minnesota by getting blown out by the Bucks, Nets coach Lawrence Frank had this to say of his team: "We have to be embarrassed by what we put forth and we have to vow to be better because it's not professional to compete the way we have competed the last two games." Note that they have Devin Harris back in the lineup and he and the other players have now had some time to get re-adjusted to his return.
While it's still no excuse for getting blown out by Milwaukee, in fairness to the Nets, they were playing the second of back to back games. Tonight, however, it's the Nets who had last night and who are hosting a team which played last night. Note that the Pistons are just 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS the last nine times that they played the second of back to back games. Not only are the Pistons coming off a hard fought loss at Cleveland but they're also playing their fourth game in the past five nights, which is as "gruelling" as it gets in the NBA.
The home team has won both meetings so far this season with the Nets winning by seven when the teams played here at New Jersey. Look for another win by the home team here, with the Nets improving to 6-3 ATS the last nine times that they were coming off a game in which they scored 85 points or less. *Eastern Conf. GOW
|03-30-09||Orlando Magic v. Miami Heat +3.5||Top||101-95||Loss||-115||19 h 49 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MIAMI. Most casual NBA fans are aware that Orlando is currently battling with Boston for the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. That makes every game important for the Magic. However, many may not be aware that the Heat are in arguably an even more important fight for positioning. That's because they're currently fifth, one game ahead of sixth place Philadelphia. If they can hold that position and remain in fifth, then they'll face Atlanta. However, if the 76'ers overtake them, then the Heat will have to face either Orlando or Boston. With all due respect to the Hawks, who I won with yesterday, the Heat would definitely prefer to face them, instead of any of either of those teams, two of the "Big 3" in the East. As Udonis Haslem, who is coming off his 100th career double-double, noted: "These last 10 games are very, very important."
Most know that the Magic are a very good road team. However, many would be surprised to learn that Miami's home record is actually (slightly) better than Orlando's road record. The Magic are 25-11 on the road. The Heat are 26-11 at home. That includes a perfect 6-0 mark their last six games here and a 9-1 mark their last 10.
It's true that the Magic have had the Heat's number in recent years and also that they won both this season's meetings, played at Orlando. However, the Heat took this season's lone meeting played here at Miami, winning by a score of 103-97 back in January. I expect them to defend their homecourt again this evening, improving to 6-1 ATS when playing a home game with an over/under line ranging from 190 to 194.5. *Southeast Division GOM
|03-29-09||Los Angeles Lakers v. Atlanta Hawks +4||Top||76-86||Win||100||12 h 4 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ATLANTA. The Lakers come in playing well and they're off five consecutive victories, covering the spread in each of the last four. However, before getting too excited about the win streak, note that those five games came against the likes of Golden State, Chicago, Oklahoma City and New Jersey. All five of those teams are currently below 500.
Even with the recent winning streak, the Lakers are still a money-burning 15-26-1 ATS in March the past few seasons. During that stretch, they're also just 7-14 ATS (10-11 SU) when playing a road game with an over/under line ranging from 200 to 204.5 points.
Today, the Lakers will be playing their fifth straight road game and they'll be doing so at one of the tougher venues in the league. They'll also be facing what figures to be a highly motivated Atlanta squad.
Note that the Lakers have already clinched the top spot in the West. Additionally, note that Kobe Bryant isn't 100% healthy, having hurt his ankle in Friday's game. While he's currently expected to play, keeping him from getting worse should be a priority. Note that I'd like Atlanta in this spot, regardless of whether or not Bryant was fully healthy. That said, my feelings won't be hurt, if his minutes are limited and/or if he's not his usual dominant self.
The Hawks lost vs. Boston last time out, after falling to the Spurs in their previous game. Those results notwithstanding, they're still a profitable 13-4 their last 17 games and they're still an excellent 28-9 SU and 22-15 at home for the season. That includes a 3-0 ATS mark as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range.
The Hawks, who scored an outright upset (as 3.5 point underdogs) the last time that they hosted the Lakers, haven't lost three straight at home all year. Look for them to get back on track with a huge effort this afternoon, improving to 11-1 ATS the last 12 times that they were coming off three consecutive games played at home. *Main Event
|03-25-09||Boston Celtics v. Orlando Magic -3.5||Top||82-84||Loss||-105||9 h 28 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with ORLANDO. The majority of the betting public will be quick to grab the points with Bostoin. After all, Kevin Garnett is back and the Celtics are the defending champs. However, I feel that the value lies with the home team. Yes, Garnett is back. However, he's been playing limited minutes and that will likely be the case again tonight. Additionally, the Celts are still dealing with injuries to role players like Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine and Leon Powe.
The Magic are 8-4-1 ATS the last 13 times that they were favored by four points or less. On the other hand, the Celts are 4-7 ATS the last 11 times that they were underdogs of four points or less. I believe that this game is more important to the Magic and that, as a result, they'll be the "hungrier" team. For starters, they still don't believe that they get the respect that they deserve and a(nother) win vs. Boston would help in that area.
More importantly, they're trying to catch the Celts in the standings, in order to achieve the #2 seed. While the Magic are a very good road team, they know that having the #2 seed is far preferable to having the #3 seed. Coach Van Gundy was quoted as saying: "No question. Homecourt, I think it's huge. Every day, you're playing for something."
Of course, the Celts also would really prefer the second seed. However, Coach Rivers' comments indicate that staying/getting healthy is an even bigger priority. He was quoted as saying: "We would like to have it, but for us, health is far more important.
If you aren't going to get the first seed, we want to be healthy, that's the way we look at it. Obviously, we would like it and we're going to play for it, but we feel we can win anywhere."
I won with the Magic when they played at Boston earlier this month and I expect them to come away with another win and cover this evening. *Main Event
|03-24-09||Houston Rockets v. Utah Jazz -5.5||Top||86-99||Win||100||21 h 16 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with UTAH. This is a very big game for both teams. However, it's arguably even bigger for the Jazz. In addition to the fact that they're trying to defend their homecourt, the Jazz aren't in as good shape as the Rockets in the tight Western Conference playoff race. In other words, while they really need a victory for seeding purposes, the Rockets could still afford a loss more than the Jazz.
Give them credit. The Rockets have managed to survive without McGrady. In fact, they've thrived without him. They also haven't missed a beat since the Alston trade. They've won four straight and despite dealing with yet another injury (Karl Landry, 9 points and 5 rebounds, was injured in a shooting accident) are even coming off an emotional 'upset' victory at San Antonio, winning in the closing seconds. However, this is a very difficult venue and the Rockets typically haven't fared well when coming off a SU win as an underdog like that. In fact, they're just 1-7 ATS the last eight times that they won outright as an underdog in their previous game. It's also worth noting that they just 1-6 SU/ATS the last seven times that they played a road game with an over/under line ranging from 190 to 194.5.
The Jazz are an excellent 108-23 at home the past few years, going a profitable 73-54-4 at the betting window. That includes a 16-8-2 ATS mark as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. The Jazz are also 3-0 the last three times they hosted the Rockets and 16-4 the last 20 times the teams faced each other here at Salt Lake City. Eight of the last nine of those victories came by a minimum of seven points - the other came by four. I expect the Jazz to continue their homecourt dominance in this series, cooling off the Rockets and covering the relatively small number along the way. *TNT Main Event
|03-18-09||Miami Heat v. Boston Celtics -5||Top||108-112||Loss||-110||8 h 12 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with BOSTON. I've successfully played against the Celtics several times recently, including their pointspread losses vs. the Magic, Nets, Bucks and Bulls. In each of those cases, the majority of the general betting public was backing the defending champs, causing Boston's lines to remain inflated. Having grown tired of losing with the champs and with them matched up against fan favorite Dwayne Wade, the majority of the betting public appears to finally be abandoning ship and taking the points with visiting Miami. As is often the case, I believe that those public bettors are "a day late and a dollar short" and that now is the time to back the champs.
I'm well aware of the Celtics' injuries and also know that they're playing the second of back to back games. However, as I noted in yesterday's writeup for the Bulls, the champs still have plenty of talent and their pointspread skid isn't going to last forever. Last night, they were on the road and playing against an under-rated and revenge-minded Bulls team which had won six straight on the road. Tonight, they're back home and they're facing a Miami team which has gone 1-4 SU/ATS its last five road games. Big difference! Even if Allen didn't happen to suit up, Pierce and Rondo are more than capable of taking on a bigger role and carrying the load.
While the Heat are 1-5 SU/ATS the last six times they were road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range, the Celtics are a profitable 7-4 ATS (8-3 SU) as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. Looking back further and we find them at a profitable 17-9-1 ATS in that role the past few seasons. Playing on National TV and looking for some payback from last week's loss at Miami, look for the champs to improve on those stats as they get back on track with a convincing win and cover. *Main Event
|03-13-09||Dallas Mavericks v. Golden State Warriors +1||Top||110-119||Win||100||10 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. The Mavericks have reeled off three straight victories, including an upset of Portland in their last game. However, I believe that this will prove to be a very difficult spot.
For starters, the Mavs are 3-7 ATS the last 10 times that they were coming off three or more consecutive losses. They're also just 5-10 ATS the last 15 times that they were coming off a SU win as an underdog. Additionally, they've had real trouble winning here at Oakland. In fact, they're a money-burning 0-8 ATS their last eight road games against the Warriors, going just 1-7 SU.
Its also a difficult scheduling spot for the Mavs, who will be without Josh Howard. Not only are they playing their third straight road game but they've got a big "double-revenge" game vs. LA on deck. Note that they're 0-2 ATS this season, prior to facing the Lakers.
The Warriors returned home from a road trip and promptly snapped their losing streak last time out, earning a win and cover vs. New Jersey. They've been much better at home all year, going a profitable 19-11-1 ATS. Including the victory over the Nets, the Warriors, who will be looking to avenge an earlier loss at Dallas, are now 23-13 ATS their last 36 games played in the month of March.
While the Mavs will be without Howard, the Warriors got both Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins back for their last game. Both players are very important to the team and both made immediate contributions. Biedrins had 10 points and 13 rebounds, his 28th double-double of the season. Meanwhile, Ellis had 19 points and six assists.
I expect the revenge-minded Warriors to continue their strong homecourt play, cooling off their guests and moving to 9-0 ATS the last nine series meetings. *Western Conf. GOW
|03-12-09||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Phoenix Suns +4.5||Top||119-111||Loss||-110||12 h 32 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with PHOENIX. Yes, Cleveland needs to keep winning to try and get the #1 seed. However, having lost five straight and fallen to ninth place in the West, the Suns desperately need a victory.
In fairness to the Suns, a closer look shows that only one of those five losses came here at Phoenix. They still have just 12 losses at home, the same number of losses that the Cavaliers have on the road. Note that the Suns are an excellent 20-11 ATS the last 31 times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. Conversely, the Cavs are just 10-16 ATS the last 26 times that they were road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
The Suns are 11-5 SU when playing a home game with a total of 210 or greater this season and an outstanding 104-38 their last 142 in that situation. During the same stretch, the Cavs, who haven't been nearly as strong away from Cleveland this season, are just 2-5 (1-6 ATS) when playing a road game with a total of 210 or greater.
The Suns beat the Cavs by double-digits here last season and are a perfect 9-0 the last nine meetings here. They covered the spread in each of the last four of those meetings. After the loss to Dallas on Tuesday, Steve Nash was quoted as saying: "I'm very disappointed with the way we played and competed in the second half." Look for him to lead by example tonight as the Suns earn at least another cover. *Main Event.
|03-08-09||Orlando Magic +3.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||86-79||Win||100||12 h 39 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ORLANDO. The Celtics are coming off a win and cover vs. Cleveland. That said, things aren't well in Boston right now. As you're probably aware, the champs have been playing without Kevin Garnett. Obviously, his loss is huge, hurting them on both sides of the floor. With Dwight Howard coming to town, Garnett figures to be especially missed this afternoon.
Additionally, they're still without both Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen. While I won't count on it, there's also a chance that Glen Davis (Garnett's replacement) may be out, as he was ejected last game and may be suspended for this afternoon's game, pending a league review. Also, while he's expected to play, Rajon Rondo left the game vs. the Cavaliers (he did return) with a sore ankle, so may not be quite as quick as he normally is. Even with the win over the Cavs, note that the Celts are still a money-burning 1-4 ATS their last five games.
Having already lost a pair of games vs. the champs, the Magic come in playing with "double-revenge," most recently losing 90-80 at Orlando, back in January. Of course, the Magic would really like to get a win in order to improve their position in the standings. However, they also badly need to beat the champs for psychological reasons, just to know that they are capable of doing so. If they can't beat them without Garnett, it won't bode well for them, should the teams happen to meet in the Eastern Finals.
The Magic, 10-2 ATS the last 12 times they were getting points, have been one of the best road teams in the league the past few years and they're an impressive 21-9 SU/ATS away from Orlando this season. That includes a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS mark when they've played a road game with an over/under line ranging from 195 to 199.5 Looking back further and we find them at a profitable 15-3 SU and 14-4 ATS the last 18 times that they played a road game with a total in that range.
In addition to their extremely strong road record, the Magic have been terrific when attempting to avenge an earlier loss, particularly if that loss came at home. In fact, they're 14-5 SU/ATS when playing with revenge, including an outstanding 8-1 SU/ATS when attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. Look for them to continue their success in that role, improving to 17-5 ATS the last 22 times that they faced a team which scores 99 or more points per game. *Main Event
|03-02-09||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Miami Heat +2.5||Top||107-100||Loss||-110||9 h 4 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with MIAMI. These teams split a pair of games just after Christmas with the Heat covering the spread in each game. The Cavs won by seven at Cleveland. The Heat came back two nights later and won by nine points when the teams faced each other here at Miami. With the schedule strongly in its favor, I expect the home team to have the advantage again this evening.
While the Heat had yesterday off, Cleveland played a big ESPN game at Atlanta. That worked out nicely, as the Cavs won (didn't cover) but were tested the entire way, with the game being decided in the final seconds. In other words, the stars were forced to log a lot of time - Lebron was on the floor for 44 minutes. Note that the Cavs are now a money-burning 9-16 ATS the last 25 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
Unlike many teams, Cleveland has actually played quite well when playing the second of back to back games this season. This is more than just a back to back spot though, as the Cavs are also playing their fourth road game in the past five days and fifth game in seven days, which is as gruelling as it gets in the NBA. Don't be surprised if "fatigue" becomes a factor.
The Heat came up just short of covering the spread in their last game, winning by five, as six point favorites, vs. the Knicks. That was the type of victory a team can really build some positive momentum from, as they rallied from a big second half deficit, outscoring the Knicks by a 37-17 margin in the fourth quarter. Dwayne Wade took control, scoring 46 points while also contributing 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Note that the Heat, who allowed the Knicks to score 115 points, are a profitable 10-2 ATS on the season after allowing its previous opponent to score 105 or more points. I expect the Heat, 8-2 ATS against teams from the Central, to be the "fresher" team as they build off Saturday's win with a huge effort here, moving to 4-0 ATS the last four games in this series. *Eastern Conf. GOW
|03-01-09||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Atlanta Hawks +4||Top||88-87||Win||100||9 h 25 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ATLANTA. Even most casual fans know that Cleveland has a better record than Atlanta this season. However, many would be surprised to know that Atlanta's home record is better than Cleveland's road record. In fact, its not even close! While the Cavaliers are 19-11 outside of Cleveland, the Hawks are a much better 20-6 when playing here at Atlanta. Not surprisingly, the home team has won both meetings in this season's series.
While the Cavs had yesterday off, they were off back to back games against tough Texas opponents the previous two days (Hawks haven't played b2b games in more than 10 days) and they've got another game on deck tomorrow. That's worth noting as we find the Cavs at just 1-5 ATS (2-4 SU) in 2009 when playing the front end of a back to back situation.
The Hawks, who have finally gotten heathy, score more than 100 points per game on this floor, while shooting 47.4%. They're also coming off a dominant defensive effort, which saw them limit Miami to a mere 83 points. Note that they're 6-3 SU/ATS on the season after holding their previous opponent to fewer than 85 points.
The Hawks have also thrived in the underdog role. Including the earlier "upset" of the Cavs here, they're a profitable 17-9 ATS when getting points, including 2-0 ATS when listed as a home underdog in the 6.5 to 9 point range. Currently in fourth place, this is the Hawks chance to again show that they can compete with the "Big 3" in the East. I expect them to respond with a massive effort, continuing their excellent play on this court. *Main Event
|02-27-09||Los Angeles Lakers v. Denver Nuggets +2.5||Top||79-90||Win||100||11 h 25 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with DENVER. The Lakers have been the best team in the West again this year and their overall record is far superior to the record of any other team in the conference. However, a closer look reveals that their road record (21-6) is almost identical to Denver's home record of 21-7.
While those home/road records are equal, the Nuggets have an important and significant scheduling advantage. While the Nuggets had yesterday off, the Lakers are coming off a big "TNT" win over Shaq and the Suns. Note that they have a rematch vs. the Suns on the weekend, so this game is "sandwiched" in between the two emotional Shaq/Kobe showdowns.
While playing back to back games hasn't really bother the Lakers this season, this isn't a typical "back to back spot," as they're also playing their seventh game in the past 11 days. That's a very demanding schedule and fatigue figures to play a factor. Of course, the "thin air" in Denver won't do anything to help their tired legs.
In addition to being the "fresher" team, I expect the Nuggets to be the "hungrier" team. The Lakers have the #1 seed in the West all but wrapped up and they gained another game on the Cavs for the best overall record in the league last night. Conversely, the Nuggets are trying to hold off both the Jazz and the Blazers for the #1 spot in the Northwest. That's critically important for playoff seeding purposes, as otherwise they'd be just one of the nine teams battling for eight spots.
The Nuggets also get some added motivation from the fact that the Lakers have already beaten them twice this season. Additionally, even though they won last game, they're still trying to "get back on track" and the fact that they squandered a lead in that game, should ensure that they're not complacent here. Billups was quoted as saying: "I was angry. I'm happy we won, but I'm just disappointed in how we won, and that's just the sign of a really good team."
Last night's cover notwithstanding, the Lakers are still a money-burning 8-15-1 ATS on the season when playing a road game with a over/under line of 210 or greater. On the other hand, the Nuggets are 6-1 ATS when playing a home game where the total is greater than or equal to 210. I expect Billups and the revenge-minded Nuggets to be at their best as they improve on those stats this evening. *GOM
|02-26-09||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Houston Rockets +3||Top||74-93||Win||100||10 h 18 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with HOUSTON. The Cavaliers are having an excellent season and they've got a great shot at winning the East. That said, they haven't been nearly as strong on the road as they have been at home and I expect them to get "upset" at this evening's extremely difficult venue.
Both teams have won five in a row overall. The Rockets have also won eight straight here at home though. Despite failing to cover by half a point last time out, they were still 5-2-1 ATS during that stretch. The Cavs, on the other hand, are 4-4 ATS their last eight on the road and 6-9 ATS their last 15.
It's true that the Rockets are without McGrady and also that they're dealing with some new faces in the lineup. However, that has yet to slow them down. In fact, they've actually been scoring more points without T-Mac in the lineup. That's led to them going 7-1 the last eight games without him in the lineup and 16-6 without him for the season. Without McGrady, Artest has been playing a bigger role and he's thrived since doing so.
Despite the fact that the Rockets have won 20 of their last 23 games here, we're even being given a couple of extra points to work with. While the points aren't likely to come into play here, it's still worth mentioning that two of Houston's last three losses here have come by only two points - the other came by only five, vs. the Lakers.
The Rockets have dominated this series over the years, even in the Lebron era. While they did lose at Cleveland just before Christmas, they're 17-3 the last 20 times that they hosted the Cavs. They're also 55-37 SU the last 92 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier loss. *TNT GOM
|02-22-09||New York Knicks v. Toronto Raptors -3||Top||100-111||Win||100||2 h 15 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with TORONTO. The Raptors should have plenty of motivation this afternoon as they got embarrassed 127-97 at New York on Friday night. The Knicks jumped on top early (75-50 at halftime!) and pounded the Raptors the entire way. Nate Robinson and co. were really getting "excited" about their second half baskets, even after the game was already out of hand, and I don't expect that to have sat very well with the Raptors. With Friday's loss, the Raptors are just 7-13 (SU and ATS) their last 20 trips to New York. However, they've have had plenty of success against the Knicks, when the teams have met here at Toronto. In fact, they've won eight straight meetings here, going 6-2 against the number. Looking back further and we find the Raptors at 15-5 the last 20 times that they were a host in this series. While he struggled, the Raptors got Chris Bosh, their best player, back last game. He's had a game under his belt now and I expect a much better performance this afternoon. For all their struggles, the Raptors are still 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were favored by four points or less. That includes a 2-0 ATS mark the last two times that they were home favorites of four or less. Look for them to improve on those numbers as they continue their homecourt dominance in this series, avenging Friday's loss with a solid win and cover of their own. *Eastern Conf. GOM