|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|12-19-12||Northern Illinois v. Seattle -4||Top||48-75||Win||100||10 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. A member of the WAC for the first time, the Redbirds are playing with a chip on its shoulder. They want to show that they belong. They've mostly taken care of teams that they should be beating but have struggled against top tier teams. After getting outclassed by the Washington Huskies, the Redbirds had a bit of a letdown in losing vs. Jackson State in their next game. I expect them to be fully focused tonight as these Huskies aren't nearly as good as the ones they hosted last week. Indeed, Northern Illinois has lost 20 or more games in six straight seasons. This year's team may be a little better than last year's but the Huskies are still young and another 20+ loss season is looming large. They've only got two wins this season and those came against Judson College and SIU Edwardsville. Give the Huskies credit for covering the spread in each of their last three losses. However, keep in mind that those losses still all came by five or more points and by an average of nearly a dozen. This young team is now playing its third straight on the road, while playing thousands of miles from home. The Redbirds beat the Huskies by a dozen points last season and that was at NIU. Playing on their home floor and upset by their last performance, I expect an inspired Seattle team to take care of business once again. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-18-12||Cal Santa Barbara v. California -13.5||Top||59-68||Loss||-110||15 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. The Bears should have advantages all over the floor here. They should also be in a foul mood after having lost three in a row.
While those losses have helped in keeping this number down a little, lets keep in mind that they came against the likes of Wisconsin, UNLV and Creighton, three very good teams.
Obviously, UC-Santa Barbara is a major step down in class.
The Gauchos lost three starters from last year's team, including all-conference stars Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally.
Prior to the season, Gauchos' coach Williams had this to say: "...boy, we
|12-18-12||Toronto Raptors v. Cleveland Cavaliers -4.5||Top||113-99||Loss||-105||13 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. The Raptors have earned a couple of wins recently and have actually covered the spread in three straight. Outworking teams can do that.
Its important not to confuse hard work with talent though. This is still a lower tier team that is missing arguably its two most talented players.
A closer look at the recent Toronto wins shows that they were both at the Air Canada Centre. They were also both against teams that were in difficult scheduling situations.
I played on the Raptors in the first win, partly as they were catching the Mavericks in a difficult situation. In hindsight, I probably should have also taken them in Sunday's win over Houston, given that Jeremy Lin and co. were playing at MSG the following night.
Either way, the Raptors aren't at home any longer. They're 1-14 on the road, getting outscored by an average of 104.2 to 92.6.
This time, I don't expect the Raptors, 11-18-2 ATS (7-24 SU) the last 31 times they were off an "upset win," to outwork and/or be more focused than their opponent.
This time, the Raptors will be facing a Cleveland team which is desperate to snap a losing skid and knows that, on paper, this is their most winnable game the rest of 2012. (A look at their schedule tells me that they won't be favored by this much again anytime in December.)
The Cavs, who now have their star (Irving) back, lost their last game here. However, they beat the Lakers by six here in their previous home game. So, this is a team capable of defending its home floor.
They're 1-0 ATS as home favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range this season (10 point win vs. Wizards) and I look for them to improve on those stats tonight. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-17-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -4.5||Top||93-107||Win||100||14 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. The Spurs eked out a 2-point win when these teams met at San Antonio last month. With tonight's rematch being played at OKC, I expect the revenge-minded Thunder to return the favor.
While they haven't covered their last couple of games, the Thunder are still on a serious roll. In fact, they've won 10 straight and have vaulted to the top of the overall standings.
The Thunder haven't lost yet this entire month and they're averaging 109.6 points while shooting better than 50& during their current winning streak.
I feel that the Spurs, who are without Jackson and who may be without Manu Ginobili, will have some trouble keeping up. Even if he does play, Ginobili may be at less than 100%. Meanwhile, Duncan is off a game in which he scored just five points, while making just two of 13 shots.
The Thunder are typically at their best when attempting to avenge an earlier loss, going 44-26 ATS (47-23 SU) the last 70 times that they were in that situation, including 5-2 SU/ATS the last seven.
The Thunder are also a lucrative 12-7 ATS (13-6 SU) the last 19 times that they were listed as home favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range. They're 4-1 SU/ATS their last five home games against the Spurs, including 3-0 SU/ATS the last three. I expect them to keep on rolling for another day. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-17-12||Detroit +19 v. Syracuse||Top||68-72||Win||100||13 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Orange have been great against the spread this season. Their ATS winning streak appeared to be in jeopardy last time out, as they were only up by three points vs. lowly Canisius at halftime. To their credit, the Orange dominated in the second half. Still, the cover was only secured by a 3-pointer in the closing seconds. They're laying nearly as many points here and they're facing a much better opponent. I feel all the recent covers have caused the line to become a little too inflated.
Off a comeback win over Akron, Detroit comes in with some positive momentum. The Titans were behind much of the way that game, including 10-0 out of the gate. I like the way the Titans never quit and how they closed the game on a 17-5 run. While the Titans obviously know that winning here won't be easy, I believe that Saturday's victory will give them some much-needed confidence here.
Keep in mind that the Titans returned three starters from a team that went to the Big Dance last year. Led by Coach McCallum's son, a talented players averaging nearly 20 points in a game, the Titans have quietly won four straight. They're 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were road underdogs of greater than a dozen points and I look for them to step up and earn the cover this evening. *10 Main Event
|12-15-12||Tennessee Tech v. Wisc-Milwaukee +1||Top||69-58||Loss||-110||11 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE. This isn't exactly Saturday's "sexiest" matchup. However, as far as I'm concerned, winning a "boring" matchup is more important than losing an "exciting" one. In this case, with the pointspread essentially a non-factor, I feel we're getting excellent value with the home team.
At 5-4, Tennessee Tech comes in with the better record. Wisconsin-Milwaukee is only 3-8. A closer look reveals that the Panthers are 3-1 at home though while the Golden Eagles are only 1-3 on the road.
While the Golden Eagles are being outscored 71-62 on the road, the Panthers are outscoring teams by a 70.2 to 64.7 margin at home.
Last game, Tennessee Tech lost by 20 at Gardner Webb. In their previous road game, the Golden Eagles lost by 16 at Lipscomb. This is a team which has padded its record with wins over the likes of Crowley's Ridge, Coastal Carolina and Berea.
Keep in mind that the Panthers returned three starters from a team that won 20 games last season. Last year's team dealt with numerous injuries too. This year's team is healthy, thus far.
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles are also without DeOndre Haynes. (Coach Payne said this of Haynes: "...He
|12-15-12||Elon v. Massachusetts -7.5||Top||73-78||Loss||-110||4 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on MASSACHUSETTS. Elon comes in with the better record. In fact, at 6-3, the Phoenix currently have he best overall record in the Southern Conference. While the Phoenix are indeed an improved team from recent years, I expect them to have their hands full against what I expect will be a highly motivated Massachusetts squad.
True, the Minutemen have a pretty ugly ATS mark, at the moment. They're still 4-3 SU though and the three losses came vs. NC State, Tennessee and Miami, far more talented teams than they one that they'll face here.
When matched up against lesser foes, Harvard, Providence, Siena and Northeastern, the Minutemen have gone a perfect 4-0 SU. They finally broke through with a cover last time out, too - a 72-66 victory at Northeastern, when listed as 3.5 point favorites.
Note that this game is technically being called a "neutral" court game, as its being played at Springfield, rather than Amherst. That's only a distance of about 30 miles though. So, its not exactly going to be a "neutral" environment.
These teams also faced each other last season. The Minutemen hammered them by an 87-65 score, covering as 9.5 point favorites. I believe that they're still the superior team and I expect them to demonstrate that with another convincing win and cover. *10 Annihilator
|12-14-12||Charlotte U v. Miami (Fla) -7.5||Top||46-77||Win||100||10 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Last night, we went against undefeated Wichita State. Playing at home, the Vols would pull away for a 9-point victory. Tonight, I expect it to be the Charlotte 49'ers which suffer their first loss of the season.
With a 9-0 record, the 49'ers are clearly doing something right. Clearly, this is Alan Major's best team, in this his third season as Charlotte's coach. That's not saying all that much, however, when considering that the 49'ers were only 23-37 in his first two years.
Also, I believe that the 9-0 record needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Not only have the opponents been largely inferior but the 49'ers have only played one true road game. I expect that record to begin to come back to earth, starting tonight.
The Hurricanes aren't ranked at the moment but I believe that they have the talent of a Top 25 team. Keep in mind that this team returned four starters from a squad that won 20 games last season, highlighted by a number of memorable victories, including one at Duke.
Among Miami's victories last season was a 15-point win at Charlotte. Now, an (arguably) improved Canes team get to host the 49'ers.
Last time out, the Hurricanes went on the road and beat up on Massachusetts, another A-10 team, one which I feel is superior to the one that they'll face tonight. (Massachusetts returned four starters from a team that had 25 wins last season.)
Now, the Canes return home where they recently beat Michigan State and Detroit. Those victories came by eight and 15 points, respectively.
While the 49'ers are 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) the past couple of seasons as road underdogs in the 6.5 to 9 range, the Canes are 2-1 ATS (3-0 SU) when listed as home favorites in the 6.5 to 9 range. I feel that this number could easily be higher and I expect the Canes, who beat Charlotte in all phases of the game last season, to improve on those stats this evening. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-13-12||Wichita State v. Tennessee||Top||60-69||Win||100||11 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Wichita State comes in with the much better record and also the higher ranking. Don't be "shocked" when the Volunteers hand their guests their first loss though.
True, the Shockers are off to an impressive 9-0 start. However, the toughest teams that Wichita State has faced are Virginia Commonwealth, Depaul and Iowa.
On the other hand, the Vols are off tough road games at Virginia and Georgetown while also having faced respectable teams like Oklahoma State and Massachusetts, a team arguably better than its current 4-3 record indicates.
While they deserve credit for their undefeated record, keep in mind that these are not the same Shockers that won the 2011 NIT Title or the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference title. While they still have excellent athletes, this is a team that has had nine scholarship seniors graduate in the past two seasons alone. Note that the Shockers are also expected to be without shooting guard Evan Wessel in this game.
The Vols have had plenty of time to get over their disappointing road defeats, having last played on 12/5. Note that Tennessee is 21-5 the past 26 times that it played with seven or more day's rest, including 2-0 SU/ATS the past couple of seasons.
While the Shockers are 10-17 ATS (8-19 SU) the last 27 times that they were listed as road underdogs or three or fewer points, or at pick'em, the Vols are 10-4 ATS the last 14 times that they were listed as home favorites or three or fewer points, or at pick'em.
The Vols have only played two games on this floor and they won both with relative ease. Most recently, on 11/26, they crushed Oakland by a score of 77-50. (Regulars may recall that we backed the Vols in that game.)
I expect homecourt to be the difference as the Shockers inexperience and personnel changes finally catch up with them. *9 annihilator
|12-12-12||Oregon State v. Portland State +11.5||Top||79-74||Win||100||15 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND STATE. I've successfully played against teams from the Big Sky Conference more than once already this season. However, I believe that this will be a good spot to back a Big Sky team.
I expect the Vikings to be the "hungrier" team here. They'll be playing an instate rival, one that hails from a much bigger conference. They'll also be playing in front of a packed house, as tickets for the game are reportedly already sold out.
While they tend to play some pretty weak competition, note that the Vikings are 15-5 SU and 10-5 ATS their last 20 games here. NONE of the five losses came by greater than seven points.
The Beavers are certainly better on paper. However, injuries to Gomis and Brandt have narrowed the gap a little. Asking them to cover double-digits on the road is asking a lot. Keep in mind that the Beavers are 3-17 SU (6-13-1 ATS) their last 20 road lined games.
The Vikings, who already covered as large underdogs at Oregon, have only played one home game all season, a double-digit winner. They were blown out out at Oregon State last season. However, the previous three meetings (all some time ago) between these teams were ALL decided by five or fewer points. I have a feeling the Vikings give their guests a real scare here. *10
|12-12-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Charlotte Bobcats +8.5||Top||100-94||Win||100||11 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. The Clippers are on an extended winning streak and they beat me last night. That won't stop me from going against them here though.
Last night's victory was hard-fought, the Clippers had to battle the entire way to pull out the win.
Note that the Clippers are only 2-2 SU/ATS when playing the second of back to back games. Going back to last March, they're only 7-10 ATS and 6-11 SU when playing in that situation.
This is worse than just a regular back to back spot though. The Clippers are also playing their fourth game in the last five days. Throw in a trip from the West Coast mixed in the middle of that and its been a very busy stretch for them.
True, the Bobcats have been struggling, most recently losing by eight vs. Golden State. I liked the fight that they showed against the Warriors last game though, battling back from an early deficit instead of giving up.
After that loss Kemba Walker, who finished with 17 second half points, noted: "We've got to play that way from the start. That's it. We waited too long to play that way. I take full responsibility. I've got to set the tone early and I didn't do that.''
I expect Walker and co. to come out ready to play from the opening tip tonight.
Note that Michael Jordan joined Tuesday's practice, working with players and playing one-on-one vs. Kidd-Gilchrist. That could easily provide a spark and some inspiration.
The Bobcats are on the road tomorrow, before coming back home to face Orlando on 12/15. After that, its an extended trip out West. In other words, with the exception of that game against the Magic, "winnable" games aren't likely going to come around too often in the near future. With the schedule in their favor, I believe that this is indeed a winnable game. I expect the Bobcats to go all out and look for that to result in at least a cover. *10 best bet
|12-11-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Chicago Bulls +3.5||Top||94-89||Loss||-105||14 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. Derrick Rose remains out. However, the Bulls have been coming around. They're 3-0 SU/ATS their last three games, most recently knocking off the Knicks by eight points on 12/8. I expect them to keep the momentum going for another at least another night. In addition to wanting to extend the winning streak and to protect their home floor, the Bulls have the added motivation of playing with revenge from an embarrassing 11/17 loss, at LA. That 21-point debacle (101-80) was by far their most lopsided defeat of the season and I expect it to provide the Bulls with some added incentive here. After that 11/17 loss, Joakim Noah noted: "We got outscrapped and we got out-competed..." I don't expect lack of "hustle" to be an issue for tonight's rematch. Note that the Bulls were slight underdogs for the game against the Knicks and that they're 9-4 ATS the last 13 times that they were off an "upset" win. Although their ATS record hasn't been that great in this situation, with no spread to cover this time, its also worth noting that the Bulls are 25-11 SU the past 36 times that they played with two day's rest in between games. During the recent winning streak, in addition to playing stout defense, the Bulls have been getting an average of more than 20 points (20.3) per game from Marco Belinelli, who has stepped up his game, making the most of the injuries to others. Belinelli noted: "This is not my first year in the league. This is my sixth year. I don't want to be just a 3-point shooter. I want to be a complete guy. Saturday we played offense and defense, rebound, ran. That's the way we have to play." While they've been very tough at home and are admittedly playing well (6 straight SU wins) right now, the Clippers are still 0-4 ATS (1-3 SU) their last four on the road. Three losses by at least seven points and a 1-point win. A closer look at the Clippers' current 6-game winning streak shows that five of the wins have been at home, none of them against elite teams. The lone road win came by a single point. Including the victory over the Knicks, the Bulls are a terrific 14-6 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as underdogs of four or fewer points. (Thirteen of those resulted in SU victories.) Its also worth mentioning that they're 24-5 SU the last 29 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range. I'll take the points that are being offered but expect them to step up and score the outright win. *10 Main Event
|12-11-12||North Dakota State +14.5 v. Minnesota||Top||57-70||Win||100||13 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTH DAKOTA STATE. With a top 15 ranking and a 10-1 overall record, the Gophers are obviously a good team. That said, I feel that this will prove to be a difficult spot and I expect them to have their hands full here. I believe that the Gophers are ripe for a letdown here. Not only did they just have to return from the West Coast, they're also off an emotional game, one which saw Tubby Smith reach 500 wins, the 19th Div. 1 coach to ever do so. As Minnesota's Andre Hollins noted: "This a huge win for coach's career ..." While the Gophers, who face Michigan State later this month, could easily overlook the Bison, I feel that will prove costly. North Dakota State nearly upset the Gophers right here last season. Listed as an 11 point favorite, Minnesota eked out a 63-59 victory. While the Gophers are arguably better than they were, note that the Biston brought back their top five scorers from that team and are also even better this season. Indeed, the Biston check in off three straight double-digit wins and with an 8-2 record overall. One of their losses came at Indiana, the top team in the country - and they hung within 14 points of the Hoosiers. Including the cover vs. Indiana and the near upset here last season, the Bison are a highly profitable 16-5 ATS their last 21 lined non-conference games. While the Gophers are 0-3 ATS as home favorites in the 12.5 to 15 range the past few seasons, the Biston are 1-0 ATS as road underdogs in that range. The Gophers have only lost to a Summit League team once and that was way back in 1936. That happened to be against North Dakota State. I won't go as far as calling for another upset here - although it wouldn't shock me - but I do expect the Bison to step up and give the Gophers another real scare. *10 Best Bet
|12-10-12||Golden State Warriors v. Charlotte Bobcats +5||Top||104-96||Loss||-110||5 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I successfully played against the Warriors in their last game, at Washington on Saturday. They won but had their hands full the entire way, failing to cover. While I respect the Warriors, I feel that they're again a little-overvalued here. I like how this one sets up for the home team. The Bobcats got embarrassed in their last game and are on a losing skid. The Warriors are in the midst of a road trip, thousands of miles from home. They've already had plenty of success on the trip and could be patting themselves on the back a little, while potentially overlooking the lowly Bobcats. Speaking of patting themselves on the back, the Warriors haven't typically fared too well when they've been on a 3-game winning streak. In fact, they're just 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS their last nine in that situation, most recently getting upset by Orlando one week ago. The Warriors also have a game at Miami on deck, another reason to potentially look past Charlotte. The Bobcats were 3.5 point underdogs when they hosted the Warriors last year and they won outright by 12 points. Hungry to get back on track and knowing that they're going to be facing these same Warriors at Oakland in a couple of weeks, I expect the Bobcats to go all out to defend their homecourt, earning at least a cover in the process. *10 Best Bet
|12-08-12||Minnesota v. USC +8||Top||71-57||Loss||-110||14 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on USC. With a top 20 ranking, the Gophers are obviously a pretty good team. That said, they're a long way from home. I expect them to have their hands full tonight and feel that the the number being offered on the home team is generous.
True, the Trojans are off to a tough start. However, in fairness, they've had a very tough opening schedule. They began the season with a blowout win over Coppin State, as expected. Next, they beat Long Beach State by 18, laying 9.5 points.
From that point onwards, their next six games have come against Illinois, Texas, Marquette (those 3 games coming in 3 days) followed by San Diego State, Nebraska and New Mexico. Of those, only the game vs. San Diego State was played here at USC. They lost that one by six.
So, while the overall record may not look too impressive - there's good reason. This team is still 2-1 on its home floor and the lone loss would have resulted in a cover against today's larger number.
Admittedly, the Gophers have also played some tough teams. However, they've also sprinkled in a lot more cupcakes than the Trojans have. (They've been favored by double-digits in four games and another didn't have a line.) They did win at Florida State. However, this will be just their second true road game of the season. LA is a long way from Minnesota (or Tallahassee) and offers plenty of distractions.
These teams met at Minnesota last season. The Trojans had real trouble scoring, losing 55-40. They're off a game which saw them shoot a season-high 52.9% though and I expect them score considerably more on their home floor. In fact, while I'm happy to grab the points, I won't be surprised if they step up and score the outright win. *10 Best Bet
|12-08-12||New Orleans Hornets v. Miami Heat -13.5||Top||90-106||Win||100||9 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Hornets are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Off back to back losses the Heat should be in a foul mood. They should be looking to take out their frustrations on someone. The Heat, who had last night off, catch the Hornets off a hard fought game vs. Memphis last night. New Orleans, still without Davis and Gordon, will now be play its third game in the last four nights. The Heat beat the Hornets by 14 last year. Given the setup, I expect this one to be even more lopsided. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-08-12||Cleveland State v. North Carolina State -16.5||Top||63-80||Win||100||7 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on NC STATE. I believe that there is a major gap in talent between these teams. Yet, recent results are keeping the number quite reasonable.
The Wolfpack haven't gotten off to quite the dominant start that they were probably hoping for. However, his is a team which is talented enough that it is expected to contend for the ACC title.
I expect NC State to be in a foul mood. After going 3-0 ATS/SU to start the season, the Wolfpack lost vs Oklahoma State on 11/18. Still stunned from that loss and the return trip home, they slept-walked through a win vs. UNC-Asheville. Next, was a loss at Michigan. Last time out, they blew the cover at the buzzer, beating UConn by only four. I believe that they'll be looking to take out their frustrations in the form of a blowout win and that inexperienced Cleveland State represents the perfect opponent.
The Vikings had a good year last season. If you look at their early season record, you'd think that they're going to be just as good as last year. That memory or last year along with this season's record is helping in keeping the line However, that record is deceiving, as they've played a number of weak teams. The only good team that they played was Michigan - and the Vikings lost by 30 as a 16 point underdog. The only other decent team that they played was Robert Morris and the Vikings lost that one by 11. Wins have come against the likes of Grambling and Alabama Huntsville; they won the latter by only two points.
Last year, the Vikings returned nearly every starter. As coach Gary Waters noted before the season, "All that is gone." Tim Kamcyzc was the only returning starter, a junior.
Anton Grady was one of the few players who got some experience for Cleveland State last season. He's currently second on the team in scoring with 13.7 points per game. His 5.5 rebounds per game also ranks second and he's #1 in both blocks and steals. Unfortunately for Cleveland State, Grady is out. Needless to say, he'll be missed by a team already short on experience.
NC State has already thrived as a favorite in this range so far this season. The Wolfpack won by 17 when they were favored by 13 as a neutral court favorite vs. Penn State. when favored by 19 vs. Miami Ohio, they won by 38. I expect another blowout. *10
|12-07-12||Orlando Magic v. Sacramento Kings -3||Top||82-91||Win||100||7 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. This line has fallen a bit from its opener. Its small enough that a SU has a strong shot of also resulting in an ATS victory. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the home team.
The Magic may have a decent ATS record on the road - but they're typically getting more points than this. They're still averaging less than 90 points in games away from Orlando, going 3-6. Last time out, they managed only 81 points, eking out a cover in an 87-81 loss.
Including that cover at Utah, the Magic are off three straight ATS victories, including upset wins at LA and Golden State. They've been on the road for all of December though and I feel that it will start to catch up with them here. Note that the only previous time that the Magic had covered the spread in three straight games, they were defeated by 15 points at Minnesota in the next game.
The Kings got back on track with a win last time out, Demarcus Cousins finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds, Tyreke Evans returned to score 23, including a couple of key 3-pointers late in the game. They've got some positive momentum and I look for them to keep it rolling tonight. *9 annihilator
|12-07-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Oklahoma City Thunder -7.5||Top||108-114||Loss||-105||7 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. The Thunder enter tonight's game on a major roll, having gone an impressive 9-1 SU/ATS their 10 games, including a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS their last five.
Obviously, the Thunder aren't going to keep covering forever. Teams can't "bring it" the same way every single night and pointspreads eventually do catch up with extended ATS winning streaks. However, I don't expect any letdown for an ESPN game vs. Kobe Bryant and the fact that tonight's opponent is the "mighty" Lakers has kept this line fairly reasonable. Unfortunately for LA fans, their team is currently a shell of its former self.
Sure, the Lakers won big last time out. That was against the Hornets though, a team that doesn't have the type of talent that they'll be up against tonight. Keep in mind that this team banged-up team is still 3-5 SU/ATS its last eight.
The Thunder are 8-3 ATS (9-2 SU) here, outscoring opponents by an average margin of more than a dozen points per game. The Lakers are 2-5 SU/ATS on the road.
Note that the Thunder, who are playing only their their third game in December, are also 18-7 SU the last 25 times that they played with two day's rest in between games, 2-0 SU/ATS this season. The last time that they played with two day's rest was only three days ago, a 6-point win over Brooklyn The only previous time that they played with two day's rest in between games, they beat the Clippers by 16 points. Interestingly, both OKC scores were identical, the Thunder tallying 117 in each of those games.
This hasn't been a good role for the Lakers in recent seasons, when they're actually outmatched on the road. In fact, they're 1-5 ATS and 0-6 SU the last six times that they were listed as road underdogs in the 6.5 to 9 range.
I expect the well-rested Thunder, who beat the Lakers by 16 the last time that the teams met on this floor, to keep rolling for another night. *10 Main Event
|12-07-12||Charlotte Bobcats v. Milwaukee Bucks -7||Top||93-108||Win||100||6 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. I've won with the Bobcats a few times this season, most recently when they covered against the Knicks a couple of nights ago. However, that was at home - and they were catching the Knicks looking ahead to last night's game at Miami. Tonight, the Bobcats are on the road and I expect them to have the full attention of their opponent.
The Bucks came to Charlotte on 11/19 and they were on quite a roll. I played on the Bobcats in that game and they rewarded me with an upset win. Off three straight victories and with a string of bigger games on deck, I felt the Bucks could overlook the Bobcats.
They've since played that tougher stretch of games, including Miami, Chicago (twice) New York, Boston and most recently at San Antonio. With a 2-7 record since the trip to Charlotte, needless to say, the Bucks are no longer "rolling."
Returning home and stepping down in class - while also getting a chance for some payback against the team that started the skid - I expect the Bucks to be all business here.
The Bucks have dominated the Bobcats here, going 13-1 all-time. Behind a highly motivated team effort, I look for them to get back on track with a convincing win. *10 Personal Favorite.
|12-06-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Phoenix Suns -3.5||Top||97-94||Loss||-105||7 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. Its "Customer Satisfaction Night" at the US Airways center tonight. That's a promotion where the Suns are offering fans their money back, if they're not completely satisfied with tonight's game, regardless of whether they win or lose.
I'm not sure of the fine print, or how many fans will try and request a refund. However, I do like how this one sets up for the Suns.
Off a disappointing road trip, the Suns are surely very happy to get back home. They're 2-9 on the road but 5-3 here at home.
While the Suns have admittedly had some trouble covering larger spreads at home, with a low line set for tonight's game, it should be noted that four of their five victories here have come by at least three points.
Meanwhile, with last night's blowout loss at LA, the Mavs are now just 2-7 on the road. Note that they're also just 1-3 SU/ATS when playing the second of back to back games.
For the season, the Mavs are getting outscored by an average of 102.2 to 92.9 when playing away from Dallas.
With the venue and schedule in their favor, I expect the motivated Suns to "satisfy" their fans, en route to a win and cover. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-06-12||New York Knicks v. Miami Heat -7.5||Top||112-92||Loss||-108||5 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. When properly motivated, in my opinion, the Heat are still the best team in the league. The first part of that sentence is key, the "when properly motivated" part.
Facing a team which blew them out earlier, I don't expect motivation to be a problem this evening.
Sure, the Knicks beat up on the Heat earlier. That was at New York though. The Heat are a perfect 8-0 at home this season and they've beaten the Knicks five straight times here.
It should be noted that Carmelo Anthony hurt his finger late in last night's game. If he is even available tonight, he may be at less than 100%. Remember, Stoudemire is already out.
If Anthony can't go, of if he's limited, that means JR Smith would be expected to pick up a lot of the slack. He's hit less than 34% of his shots in eight games against the Heat since the start of last season though. So, that may not be a very reliable option.
On the other hand, James is averaging better than 30 points his last 18 regular season games against NY while Wade is averaging better than 30 his last 13 in the series.
While the Heat are still 13-8-1 ATS (20-2 SU!) in December the past few seasons, the Knicks are just 1-3 SU/ATS when playing the second of b2b games, most recently losing by 10 at Brookyln the last time that they were in that situation.
Add it all up and I'm expecting the revenge-minded champs to deliver a blowout. *9 roast
|12-06-12||Long Beach State +21.5 v. Syracuse||Top||53-84||Loss||-110||5 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on LONG BEACH STATE. After dominating their conference the last couple of seasons, this year's Long Beach State team lost four starters, players which had helped build their program into what it is today. Obviously, that's a blow. However, the cupboard is far from bare for this well-coached team.
Prior to the season, coach Monson had this to say of losing those four starters. "It's not like those four guys went to the NBA after one year or just all of a sudden up and graduated. We
|12-05-12||Gonzaga v. Washington State +11.5||Top||71-69||Win||100||8 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON STATE. I respect the Bulldogs, who are off an impressive 8-0 start. However, I feel that they're laying too many points here.
While they're not too far from home, this is the Bulldogs' first "true" road game of the season. They'll face a Cougars team which is a perfect 5-0 on its home floor.
In fact, dating back to a 81-59 blowout of Gonzaga almost exactly two years ago, the Cougars have won 17 straight games on this floor, against non-conference opponents.
The Bulldogs did avenge that loss at Gonzaga last season. However, even that victory came by only eight points.
Even coach Few acknowledged: "This is going to be a difficult week. Washington State is always difficult for us ... "
Having a showdown vs. ranked Illinois could also potentially have the Bulldogs looking ahead.
That'll prove costly as the Cougars are hungry and have a genuine star in senior Brock Motum, who averages nearly 20 points (17.9) and seven boards per game.
Including the victory over Gonzaga here two years ago, the Cougars are 22-10 ATS in home lined games the past 2+ seasons. During that time, the Bulldogs are 8-12-2 ATS on the road, including a 1-3 ATS mark as road favorites in the 9.5 to 12 range.
I successfully played against the Bulldogs in their first "neutral" court site game this season, when they failed to cover vs. Clemson. I expect them to have their hands full once again. *10 Best Bet
|12-05-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Clippers -8.5||Top||90-112||Win||100||8 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. I like how this one sets up. The Clippers haven't been covering the spread too often lately, while the Mavs have gotten the money a few times. That's helped to keep the line in the single-digit range, which I feel is providing excellent value.
A closer look shows that the Clippers have actually won three straight and that their last home game resulted in a 35-point victory. Last time out, they rallied from a 14-point deficit, for a 1-point win at Utah. So, despite the recent struggles at the betting window, this talented team has shown some real signs of "coming around" recently.
Keep in mind that the Mavs are 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS on the road while the Clippers are 7-3 and 6-4 SU at home. The Clippers are outscoring teams by an average of 9.5 ppg on this floor while the Mavs are being outscored by an average margin of 7.8 ppg on the road.
Sure, Kaman will want to have a big game in his first appearance against his former team. However, the Clippers should be equally motivated by the sight of some of their former teammates.
The Clippers took two of three from the Mavs in 2012, crushing them by 19 at Dallas in the last meeting. I expect another convincing win and cover here. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-05-12||New York Knicks v. Charlotte Bobcats +8||Top||100-98||Win||100||4 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. After a stretch which saw them win six of eight, the Bobcats have now dropped four straight. That should provide them with a sense of urgency to get back on track here. Its also helped to provide us with some added line value, as we're getting a solid handful of points to work with here.
A closer look at the recent skid reveals that the last three losses have all been by six or fewer points. The Bobcats have still won five of 10 home games this season, the average score of games here being 98.1 to 99.1.
The Knicks have been very good at home but they're 5-4 road record isn't all that special. With a game at Miami on deck tomorrow night, followed by a game at Chicago on the weekend, I feel they could easily get caught looking past the Bobcats here. Grab the points. *9 Best Bet
|12-02-12||Boise State v. Seattle +9||Top||87-64||Loss||-110||7 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. I won with the Redhawks in their first game, a blowout win against Montana State. I've included an excerpt from the analysis of that play here:
Some might see the teams involved here and wonder why Seattle is laying nearly double-digits. However, I feel that the line could be even higher and am expecting a double-digit win. Tonight's game is a big deal for Seattle. The Redhawks begin their first season of play in the Western Athletic Conference and they're eligible to play in the NCAA tournament for the first time since returning to Division I, five years ago. Junior guard Sterling Carter had this to say: "Knowing we can play in the tournament is big," said junior guard That's something big that we want to accomplish this year and we are not going to take our time to get there. I feel like our goal is to win the WAC this year and make a statement." Coach Cameron Dollar, now in his fourth year here, is also extremely optimistic. He was quoted saying: "I think we've got all the components to where, in March, we will be able to do some things and make some noise, for sure." Four players who started at least nine games last season return for Seattle and the Redhawks are deeper than they've been in the past. Typically a fast paced team, I expect the determined Redhawks to run their outmatched opponent right out of the building tonight.
Seattle won that game by 15 points. They also won their only other home game here by nine points. Last time out, playing at Stanford, they stayed within 11, covering as 19.5 point underdogs. Back at home, I feel that the Redhawks are going to come in believing that they can win outright and that they're again providing very fair value.
The Broncos have admittedly been playing well. However, after having recently faced the likes of Michigan State and coming off a big upset win at Creighton, arguably one of the biggest wins in school history, I feel that they're ripe for a letdown, as well as a little over-valued.
Note that Boise is already 0-2 ATS, after scoring 80 or more points in its previous game, falling to 5-10 ATS its last 15 in that situation. Keep in mind that Boise was 1-11 on the road last season. Given the situation, I won't be surprised by the outright upset. *9 Best Bet
|12-01-12||Colorado v. Wyoming -3||Top||69-76||Win||100||11 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on WYOMING. The Buffaloes come in with the higher ranking. However, I believe that the Cowboys are favored for good reason.
The Cowboys, 7-0 on the season, have beaten the Buffaloes five consecutive times. They also own an 18-game "non-conference" home win streak. In fact, the last time that they lost a home game vs. a non-conf. opponent was way back in 2010.
As Colorado coach Tad Boyle acknowledged: Laramie, Wyoming is not an easy place to play. It will be like other teams that come here and play at 7,000 feet. They are going to have the advantage and the altitude, we are going to have to overcome that."
The Buffaloes may be undefeated. However, they needed double-OT to beat Texas Southern last time out, a team which was 1-5 at the time.
The Cowboys are 19-8-2 ATS (24-5 SU) the last 29 times that they were listed as favorites, going 20-9-2 ATS in home lined games the past few seasons. During that stretch, the Buffaloes were only 8-14 ATS (6-16 SU) in road lined games. I expect homecourt to prove the difference. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-01-12||Brooklyn Nets v. Miami Heat -8||Top||89-102||Win||100||9 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Lulled to sleep a little by the fact that the Spurs weren't playing their stars, the Heat coasted a bit in Thursday's win. I expect them to be fully focused here though. With the schedule and venue in their favor, I'm also expecting a blowout win.
Brooklyn comes in on a nice roll. However, this is an extremely difficult scheduling spot. Not only did the Nets, who are 10-34 SU the last 44 times they played the second of b2b games, play yesterday (win at Orlando) but they're also playing their eighth game in the past 12 days, the first few of those games occurring on the West Coast. That's quite a draining schedule.
On the other hand, the Heat are well-rested, as they had a long layoff before Thursday's game. While the Heat have eked out a few victories, they're still 7-0 at home. That includes a 30 point victory over the Nets here a few weeks back. I'm expecting another rout. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-30-12||Syracuse v. Arkansas +7||Top||91-82||Loss||-110||10 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARKANSAS. As usual, Syracuse has a talented team. That said, I feel that that Orange, who lost some key faces from last year, are going to have their hands full here.
Note that this is the first "true" road game (They did play on on an aircraft carrier in San Diego) that the Orange will have played and that they're up against an Arkansas team which is already 3-0 at home and which thrives on pressure defense. In its three games here, the Hogs forced an average of 23 turnovers.
Syracuse's Brandon Triche said this of the Razorbacks: "They're very tough playing at home. They're a transition team and they're going to press us the whole game ... "
Note that Syracuse is just 4-9 ATS its last 13 against teams from the SEC.
I believe that this Arkansas team is destined to be pretty solid this season. This is a huge game for them and I expect them to give their hosts all that they can handle, the entire way. *10 Best Bet
|11-30-12||LOUISIANA TECH v. GEORGIA ST -2||Top||86-68||Loss||-110||9 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA STATE. The Panthers have some new faces this year. However, they're also talented, hungry and well-coached. Ron Hunter came in last year and immediately transformed this team, using a suffocating zone defense to finish top five in the country in field goal defense en route to a 22-win season. Hunter lost some players from that team but he's still got plenty to work with. Having failed to cover a few in a row, we're getting a very low number to work with.
The Panthers aren't eligible to play in their league tournament, as there's a rule preventing them from doing so. However, they're still determined to have another strong season.
Hunter said this of not being allowed to play in the tournament: Hunter said this of not being allowed to play in the tournament: "I won
|11-29-12||Denver Nuggets v. Golden State Warriors +1.5||Top||105-106||Win||100||13 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. Having already lost both previous games in the season series, the revenge-minded Warriors should be highly motivated to get some revenge here. I feel that its a good spot for them.
The Nuggets saw their winning streak come to an end on Monday. They blew a 16-point lead en route to a 105-103 defeat. Those type of losses can have a lingering effect and be difficult to immediately bounce back from.
On the other hand, the Warriors are off a momentum-building 96-85 win, their their third victory in four games. Since the Nuggets beat them here on 11/10, in double-OT, the Warriors are now 5-2 their last seven. Both losses came on the road.
While this game means a great deal to the well-rested Warriors, who have tomorrow night off, the Nuggets could potentially get caught looking ahead to tomorrow night's game at LA, vs. the Lakers.
Even with the double-OT loss to the Nuggets, the Warriors are still 4-2 SU/ATS here on the season. Its payback time. *9 best bet
|11-29-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Miami Heat -5.5||Top||100-105||Loss||-111||16 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Spurs have been on a great run. However, they're stepping up in class to take on the champs tonight and they're in an extremely difficult scheduling spot.
The Spurs check in off a game at Orlando last night. They normally fare pretty well when playing the second of back to back games though and Orlando and Miami aren't too far apart. So, that's not the issue. Its worse than that though. Not only will the Spurs be playing the second of back to back games, they'll also be playing their fourth game in the past five days.
Making matters even worse, the first leg of that "4 games in 5 days" stretch was a double-OT game up in Canada, a game where three starters played well over 40 minutes. Throw in the fact that this is the final game of a 6-game road trip and the Spurs really may finally start to suffer from a bit of fatigue.
On the other hand, the Heat come in very well-rested. They last played back on 11/24. Note that they're 10-6 ATS (12-4 SU) the past 2+ seasons, when playing with three day's rest. They've won four straight overall, three of them by seven or more points.
Laying a touchdown, the Heat hammered the Spurs 120-98 here last season. The 2011 game here was even more lopsided, a 110-80 beatdown in favor of Miami. Playing in front of the national audience (those who aren't watching football) I believe the Heat will be motivated to bring the mighty Spurs back down to earth and that the schedule calls for another blowout. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-29-12||Manhattan -7 v. Fordham||Top||65-58||Push||0||9 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on MANHATTAN. I played on the Jaspers in their last win a win and cover vs. Hofstra on 11/21. I expect them to get another big win tonight. I've pasted an excerpt of the analysis of that 11/21 victory below, as I feel it give a good indication of what this team is all about.
The Jaspers had a great season under Steve Masiello, a Rick Pitino prodigy. All Manhattan did in Masiello's first season was improve by 15 games, instantly becoming a championship contender in its conference. The Jaspers did get upset (in OT) by Siena in the MAAC tourney, which wasn't the way they wanted to end their otherwise excellent season. That prompted Masiello to comment: "I'm very happy with the year, but disappointed with the finish. But, we got Manhattan back to again being relevant." The Jaspers return most of the pieces from last year including "floor general" Michael Alvardo, who averaged better than three assists per game last season, while chipping in 8.5 points. They may be without senior Beamon here, which is a blow. However, this is a team loaded with depth, I believe with more than enough to handle in experienced Hofstra, a team they beat by nine (on the road) last season. Hofstra coach Cassara said this entering the season: "We've got nine new guys who have never worn the uniform before. That certainly lends itself to taking some time to mesh, and my hope is that we can continue to get better and by the middle of January, middle of February, beginning of March, those nine new pieces have gelled together. And hopefully you
|11-28-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Chicago Bulls -6||Top||78-101||Win||100||10 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. I lost by going against the Mavericks yesterday, part of an overall lousy Tuesday. That stunk, as I hate losing at least as much as anyone. However, whether or not I win or lose with a team, I don't let it cloud my judgement on how I view that team's next game. In this case, while they beat my yesterday, I'm fully ready to go against the Mavs again.
To their credit, the Mavs fought hard all the way last night. They still lost though, eking out a cover by less than a bucket. That hard-fought loss figures to drain their energy a bit here. (The Mavs are 1-2 SU/ATS this season when playing the second of b2b games, going 2-5 SU/ATS their last seven in that situation, since last season.)
Even if the Mavs are able to immediately shake off last night's loss and be fully ready to go here, I expect them to have their hands more than full with what figures to be a very angry "herd" of Bulls.
In what has been a frustrating start to the season, Chicago hit rock-bottom last time out. Out 27 points with the third quarter winding down, the Bulls managed to get outscored 42-14 over the final 15 minutes, en route to a devastating 93-92 loss.
Unlike the Mavs, the Bulls have had a day off to "recover." Also, while the Mavs can take solace in the fact that they fought hard - nobody's questioning their effort last night - the Bulls are furious about what happened to them. This season's early struggles and Rose's absence notwithstanding, I still view this as a talented and well-coached team. I expect them to come out "on a mission."
Having blown the big lead last time out, I expect the Bulls to be fully focused on keeping the pedal to the metal the entire 48 minutes. Note that Chicago is an outstanding 24-10 ATS (27-7 SU) the last 34 times that it was off an "uspet" (SU loss as a favorite) loss.
The Bulls have beaten the Mavs three straight times, limiting them to 81 points in those games, while out-rebounding them by a commanding 52-39 average per game. The Bulls covered the spread in all three of those games, with both games here at Chicago resulting in double-digit wins. Going back further finds the Bulls at 7-1 ATS the last eight meetings in the series. I expect them to improve on those stats tonight. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-28-12||Michigan State v. Miami (Fla) -1||Top||59-67||Win||100||10 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Many are going to see Miami as a slight favorite against might Michigan State and do a bit of a double-take. I believe the Hurricanes deserve to be favored though and that they'll view this as a "statement game," their opportunity to be recognized as a talented program.
The Hurricanes, who returned four starters from last year, are undefeated at home this season. The Spartans are playing their first "true" road game.
The Canes quietly have high hopes for this season and they come in playing with confidence. Last time out, laying 6.5 points against Detroit, they won by 15, a score of 77-62.
Remember, this team won at both Duke and at Florida State last year. They only lost one starter from last year's team (Malcolm Grant) and he had a bad year last year anyway. While Grant played a role early in the season, he struggled down the stretch and really should not be missed much.
The Canes have a coach who has enjoyed postseason success and a team loaded with seniors. This is a big game for them.
The game against Detroit marked the return of senior guard Durand Scott, who had been serving a 6-game suspension, dating back to last season. Scott would score 15 points, making a successful return. He's an important player for this team. Shane Larkin also scored 15. Scott and Larkin are an excellent combo, both strong defenders.
The Spartans are off to a 5-1 start. However, turnovers have plagued them. In fact, they've turned the ball over 20 times in their last two games alone and they did so 67 times in a 4-game stretch, none of those against top tier competition.
Even coach Izzo noted: "I think our guys are going to be great citizens when they get done with basketball, because the Christmas season is lasting all year. They're giving gifts away."
Two of Michigan State's last three games have seen the Spartans win by four or less, games that they were favored by 22.5 and 15.5 points.
Izzo would go on to say: I don't like the way our team is at all. I'm just trying to figure how much of it is due to our preparation or lack thereof with the guys who are injured. But that doesn't have anything to do with some of my key guys turning it over four or five times.''
Of course, Izzo's teams tend to be great come March. However, they're not necessarily always that strong early on in the season.
The Canes are healthier and I also expect them to be "hungrier." Some will view it as an upset but not me. *9
|11-27-12||North Carolina State +6 v. Michigan||Top||72-79||Loss||-110||10 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on NC STATE. The Wolverines are off to their best start in recent years and are worthy of a high ranking. Tim Hardaway Jr. won the MVP award as Michigan comes in off a win over K-State in the final of the NIT Tip Off. Impressive start and Hardaway, who got kneed in the head in that win over the Wildcats, is certainly a dangerous player. However, I'm not convinced that the Wolverines any better than the opponent which they'll face tonight.
I feel that the Wolverines are a little over-valued based on their early season success and that the opposite is true of the Wolfpack, a very talented team in their own right, one which returned four starters from last year. Having yet to taste the type of success that Michigan has achieved, I also feel that the Wolfpack are going to be a hungry and determined group here.
The Wolfpack lost in the championship game against Oklahoma State of their tournament in Peurto Rico. Off that big game and trip home and with this big game on deck, the Wolfpack were flat in their last game. In fact, they were nearly upset by lowly UNC Asheville. They did enough to win though, eking out an 82-80 victory. I expect that to serve as a "wake up call" and that we'll get their very best effort here.
Coach Gottfried typically had his team ready to play last season, off a poor defensive effort like it displayed last time out. In fact, NC State is 7-3 ATS its last 10 lined, after allowing 80 or more points in its previous game.
Gottfried had this to say: "We've got to be better. We've got to be better defensively. We've got to develop better chemistry amongst our team. We've got to develop a team spirit that is all about winning - period. Nothing else ... "
It should also be noted that the Wolfpack are 9-5 ATS in lined games the past couple of seasons, after scoring 80 or more in their previous game.
These teams have met twice in recent seasons. The Wolfpack won the most recent meeting by seven points, a 74-67 victory on this exact day (11/27) in 2006. The most recent meeting here at Ann Arbor came back in 2003 and was decided by six points. Another close game won't be surprise and I'm grabbing the generous points. *10 Best Bet
|11-27-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Philadelphia 76ers -3.5||Top||98-100||Loss||-102||9 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. This line is quite low. That means that a SU victory has a good chance in also resulting in a cover. I expect the 76ers to get it done.
The Mavericks are a mess. They did rise to the occasion to eke out a win against the Knicks on 11/21. However, they followed it up with a 26-point loss vs. the Lakers three nights later. (They're playing with two day's rest again here.)
The Mavs, who lost by 19 when coming off a game against the Lakers earlier, are now 2-8 ATS their last 10. For the season, they're 2-4 ATS away from Dallas, including 1-4 their last five. On the other hand, the 76ers have won four of five here at Philadelphia.
While they narrowly missed covering, the 76ers got back on track with a win in their last game. Jrue Holiday had a breakout game, serving up 33 points while also dishing out 13 assists. That snapped a 2-game skid and I look for the 76'ers to build some positive momentum from the victory.
Thaddeus Young commented: "We take a lot of pride in how we play and we didn't want to lose three straight. I think Jrue set the tone from the beginning with his aggressive play. He put us on his shoulders."
The entire city of Philadelphia is really down on the Eagles right now, more than ever after another loss last night. I look for the 76ers to step up and "restore some pride" to the city, with a solid win and cover. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-26-12||Oakland v. Tennessee -12||Top||50-77||Win||100||9 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Its payback time. These teams met at Rochester, last November, home of the Golden Grizzlies. Behind 35 points from Reggie Hamilton, the nation's leading scorer, Oakland won 89-81. The previous season, the Golden Grizzlies beat the then-seventh-ranked Volunteers 89-82 in Knoxville. That was Oakland's first ever win over a Top 10 team. With last year's result, Tennessee joined Oregon as the only major-conference programs to lose twice to Oakland since its move to Division I in 1999. Obviously, the Vols don't want to make it three in a row!
The Golden Grizzlies don't have Hamilton this year though and they don't have superstar Keith Benson from the previous season. While the team does still have some returning talent, they don't have that type of "star power" yet. Without a huge effort like we saw from Hamilton last year, I feel they're going to be in trouble.
While they're without Jeronne Maymon at the moment, he's only one of four returning starters from last year's team - one which hasn't forgotten losing to Oakland. This is a talented team, one which should enjoy advantages all over the floor. I feel that they'll be motivated to deliver a blowout and I look for them to get it. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-23-12||Creighton v. Wisconsin||Top||84-74||Loss||-110||12 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on WISCONSIN. Creighton comes in as the higher seed but I look for Wisconsin to come away with the win.
The Bluejays are a perfect 4-0. Every one of their victories has been easy. There's no question that they are a very solid team.
While their victories have impressive, I will point out that those blowout wins don't always have a team ready for a big step up in class. Note that two of their games didn't have pointspreads and they were favored by double-digits in each of the other two. So, the lopsided wins were expected. Even though this is an experienced team, its still been a long time since it faced the likes of the opponent it will see here.
Lets not forget that the well-coached Badgers led the nation in scoring defense last season, permitting only 53.2 ppg. It was the second time in five years they won that title, as this team is "stingy" on an annual basis. Indeed, the Badgers are masters of controlling a game's tempo.
The Badgers have played some fairly weak competition too. However, they've also had to play at Florida, against a tough Gator team. While they lost that one, the experience of having played against top tier competition should serve them well here. Note that they too were ranked, prior to the loss at Florida.
Since the loss to the Gators, the Badgers have responded by outscoring Cornell and Presbyterian by a whopping 161-83 margin. They may not have a true star but this team is loaded with veterans.
The "blue-collar" Badgers are 35-12 SU (29-12 ATS in lined games!) after allowing 60 or less in their previous game. Even with the loss to the Gators, they're also a lucrative 19-7 ATS their last 26 non-conf. lined games. It likely won't be easy but I look for them to get it done again tonight. *10 Main Event
|11-23-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Indiana Pacers +4.5||Top||104-97||Loss||-110||10 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. These teams met at San Antonio a few weeks ago. The Spurs were undefeated at the time while Indiana would end up going just 3-6 its first nine. Back on their home floor, I expect a much better effort from the Pacers in tonight's rematch.
The Spurs continue to play well. However, they're at least no longer undefeated, so other teams have at least proven that they can be beaten. They're off a solid win at Boston but are still just 2-2 SU/ATS their last four.
The Pacers have finally adjusted to life without Danny Granger. They're 2-0 SU/ATS their last two games (3-1 SU/ATS L4) and got a breakout performance from Paul George last time out, a player who's been asked to score in Granger's absence. George would finish with 37 points, including 33 in the second half. I expect the Pacers to carry the momentum from his hot shooting into this evening's game.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel noted: "We were waiting on a breakout game from him. With a player you're trying to develop, the biggest battle is confidence, and when you have a game like this, it shows what you can do.''
Meanwhile, Roy Hibbert is coming off his first career triple-double. The 7-foot-2 center will be hungry for a big game, after Duncan got the better of him at San Antonio.
The Pacers have won four of five games here this season and are 55-32 SU here the past 2+ seasons, slightly better than San Antonio's (56-34) road record, during the same period.
While the Spurs are a surprisingly poor 3-10-2 ATS (5-10 SU!) the last 15 times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range, the Pacers are 7-5 ATS the last couple of seasons as home underdogs in the 3.5 to 6 range. I expect a highly motivated effort and at least another cover. *10 Best Bet
|11-22-12||Clemson +12.5 v. Gonzaga||Top||49-57||Win||100||11 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEMSON. Gonzaga is one of the best-coached teams and most well run programs in basketball. The Bulldogs keep pumping out good teams, year after year. Not surprisingly, they're good again this year, too. Good teams can still be over-valued though and one can't be gun-shy to go against them. Just as I felt Indiana was laying too big a number vs. Georgia, given the situation, I feel Gonzaga, which lost its big center from last center from last year, is laying a few too many here. I look for the Bulldogs to receive a tougher test than most will be expecting.
True, the Tigers are a bit inexperienced and they're not likely to challenge the Duke, UNC's or NC States of their conference. However, they've got some talent and they're still an ACC team, one which enters tonight's game playing with confidence.
Off back to back double-digit wins, the Tigers are looking forward to the challenge here. They're a solid 9-6-2 ATS as underdogs the past few seasons, 2-0 ATS when playing a neutral court game with an O/U line in the low-mid 130s, as this one is.
The Tigers may not have any guys that are going to get them huge numbers on any given night. However, senior big man Devin Booker is good for double-digits and they've got a lot of players that can step up. While the competition level obviously wasn't what the Tigers will see here, eight Clemson players are averaging better than five points a game and the team is playing excellent defense.
The Bulldogs are just 2-4-1 ATS the last seven times that they were listed as neutral court favorites in the 9.5 to 12 range. While they'd never admit it, playing a "close" game would probably be good for them. They're listed as the home team here and they have won this tournament - but lets still remember that they're a long way from home. Don't be surprised if Gonzaga gets a scare. *9 Feast
|11-21-12||Brooklyn Nets v. Golden State Warriors -2||Top||93-102||Win||100||12 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. Situation favors the home team here. The Nets are off a hard-fought loss at LA last night. While they did cover, that loss snapped a 5-game winning streak.
While most teams have already been involved in at least one back-to-back spot, the Nets are in that situation for the first time this season. Thousands of miles away from home, off a battle against the "big name Lakers," a letdown wouldn't be surprising here. Note that the Nets are 6-14 SU and 7-12-1 ATS the last 20 times that they played the second of back to back games last season.
It should also be noted that the Nets were 1-4 SU/ATS as road underdogs of three or fewer points, the past couple of seasons, going just 20-57 on the road overall. The Warriors were above .500 at home during that stretch.
The Warriors won outright at Dallas last time out and they beat Atlanta in their last game on this floor. Including the win over the Hawks, they're 2-0 SU/ATS against teams from the East so far this season. With the schedule n their favor, I look for them to improve on those stats tonight. *9
|11-21-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. Cleveland Cavaliers +4||Top||83-92||Win||100||10 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. The Cavaliers have been struggling of late but I feel that this will be a good spot for them to break out with a win.
These teams just faced each other a few nights ago, at Philadelphia. The 76'ers took that 11/18 meeting by a score of 86-79, eking out the cover by a single point.
We're getting practically as many points with the Cavs tonight as we were for the game at Philly, due in part to the absence of Cleveland's Kyrie Irving. While Irving is certainly an important part of this Cleveland team, keep in mind that he only scored nine points, in shooting 4 of 14, in the 11/18 meeting. The Cavs still almost pulled it off. Teams often rally the first game that their star goes down and I won't be surprised to see that happen here.
Note that Cleveland did win four games without Irving last season. Coach Scott had this to say: "It's always one of those things where one of your best players goes down, it's an opportunity for other guys. The biggest thing is, we still know we can win. We've just got to play a little bit of a different style on the offensive end, but we still feel we've got enough guys in this room capable of winning.''
While the Cavs haven't played since, the 76'ers were involved in a hard-fought game vs. the Raptors last night. Philadelphia won and covered but Toronto gave the 76'ers all they could handle. Fatigue, mental and/or physical, could well be a factor here.
Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. "That was a win to remember. It could've easily been an L. We finished the third quarter very poorly. We had a lot of fight in the fourth quarter. I was proud of them.''
While they're 1-1 ATS in that situation so far this season, the 76'ers are an ugly 3-10 ATS the last 13 times that they played the second of back to back games, dating back to last February. With the schedule in their favor, I'm grabbing the points with the revenge-minded home dog. *10 Best Bet
|11-21-12||Hofstra v. Manhattan -7||Top||56-67||Win||100||9 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on MANHATTAN. The Jaspers had a great season under Steve Masiello, a Rick Pitino prodigy. All Manhattan did in Masiello's first season was improve by 15 games, instantly becoming a championship contender in its conference.
The Jaspers did get upset (in OT) by Siena in the MAAC tourney, which wasn't the way they wanted to end their otherwise excellent season.
That prompted Masiello to comment: "I'm very happy with the year, but disappointed with the finish. But, we got Manhattan back to again being relevant."
The Jaspers return most of the pieces from last year including "floor general" Michael Alvardo, who averaged better than three assists per game last season, while chipping in 8.5 points. They may be without senior Beamon here, which is a blow. However, this is a team loaded with depth, I believe with more than enough to handle in experienced Hofstra, a team they beat by nine (on the road) last season.
Hofstra coach Cassara said this entering the season: "We've got nine new guys who have never worn the uniform before. That certainly lends itself to taking some time to mesh, and my hope is that we can continue to get better and by the middle of January, middle of February, beginning of March, those nine new pieces have gelled together. And hopefully you
|11-20-12||Wisc-Green Bay v. Idaho -2.5||Top||62-72||Win||100||12 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on IDAHO. The Vandals are off to an 0-2 SU/ATS start while their guests come in with a 2-1 ATS (2-2 SU) mark. Those results have helped in keeping this line very low, to the point where a SU victory will likely also result in a cover. I believe that's providing us with excellent value on what I expect to be a highly motivated Idaho squad.
The Vandals were 19-14 last season, their best season since 1999. Six of their 14 losses came by six or fewer points, too. This year, despite the 0-2 start, Don Verlin's team is thinking NCAA Tournament. The Idaho coach had this to say: "I feel good about it to be honest with you." Center Kyle Barone (12 ppg and 8 rbg) returns as does forward Stephen Madison (12.1 ppg and 5.5 rbg). A senior, Barone was a second-team All-WAC choice in 2011.
The Phoenix aren't slouches. They won 15 games last year and return the starters they had at the end of last year. They do still only have one senior though and they lost their only true road game, a 2-point loss at Nevada. Keep in mind that they're only 7-26 on the road the past few seasons, including a 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS mark as road underdogs of three or fewer points.
These teams played a very close game against each other at Green Bay last season. The Vandals covered the spread but lost 63-61. Now playing at home, I expect the Vandals to return the favor. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-20-12||New York Knicks v. New Orleans Hornets +7||Top||102-80||Loss||-110||10 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. The Knicks are clearly off to a great start. However, I believe that this will prove to be a tough spot for them and they're laying too many points.
Yes, NY had yesterday off. However, the Knicks are still right in the middle of a difficult stretch. Sunday's game vs. Indiana was their third game in four days. All were against "quality" teams. They also have a rematch vs. Dallas on deck tomorrow, a team they recently faced at MSG. I feel a letdown could easily be in order.
While the Knicks have been poor road favorites in this range, the Hornets have fared well as home underdogs in this range. They're getting roughly as many points here as they were when the hosted OKC a few days ago. Yet, I don't think a banged-up Knicks team is as good as the Thunder.
Last time out, the Hornets lost but covered vs. Milwaukee, a 117-113 effort. They've had two days off since, coming in well rested. Note that New Orleans is 11-4 ATS the past few seasons when playing with two day's rest in between games and 11-5-1 ATS after scoring 105 or more in its previous game.
The Hornets upset the Knicks in last year's lone meeting, an 89-85 victory at MSG in 2/17/2012. Playing at home, I expect the Hornets to again give the Knicks all they can handle, with another outright win a real possibility. *9 Best Bet
|11-19-12||Milwaukee Bucks v. Charlotte Bobcats +5||Top||98-102||Win||100||9 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. Off three straight victories, the Bucks find themselves laying points on the road. While the Bucks are off to a good start, keep in mind that they're only 2-3 ATS as favorites. It should also be noted that Milwaukee is an awful 45-72-7 the last 100+ times that it was off three or more consecutive SU wins.
Looking at the Bucks' last win and we find that they were laying 8.5 points as a host of New Orleans. They won (117-113) but failed to cover. Even when hitting a season high 13 3-pointers and playing at home, they only won by four. (New Orleans would finish at better than 53% from the floor.)
I don't expect the Bucks to have nearly the success from beyond the arc here. Charlotte has held its last four opponents to 36.7 percent shooting and 25.3 percent from 3-point range.
Note that the Bucks have a game against the defending world champion Bucks on deck, followed by a home and home series vs. division rival Chicago. Off the three straight wins and with those "big games" on deck, it would be easy to look past lowly Charlotte.
The Bobcats lost last time out but the fact that they battled back in the fourth quarter was encouraging.
Kemba Walker, averaging 18.8 ppg thus far, had this to say of the new Bobcat attitude. "That's who we are and that's how we are going to be all season hopefully. When we are down, we are not going to put our heads down. We are going to try our best to close the game out and try to keep pushing. We don't want to give up."
While they came up a little short last time out, the Bobcats are also off to a solid start. They're 3-2 SU/ATS here at home, including 1-0 ATS as home underdogs in the 3.5 to 6 range. I expect them to give the Bucks all they can handle with an excellent shot at the outright victory. *9 Best Bet
|11-19-12||Georgia +20.5 v. Indiana||Top||53-66||Win||100||8 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. With the #1 Hoosiers off to a perfect start at the betting window, their lines are becoming inflated. Throw in the fact that the Bulldogs are winless against the spread and we're getting a very high number to work with this afternoon. I believes its providing us with excellent line value.
We know the Hoosiers are really good. With a #1 ranking, that goes without saying. They're not going to beat every team by more than three touchdowns though and I feel the Bulldogs will provide by far their toughest test yet. Note that Indiana is 3-6 ATS (4-5 SU) its last nine neutral court games, 8-15 ATS (7-16 SU) its last 23 against SEC teams.
The Hoosiers are playing their first game against a team from a major conference and they know that they've got a bigger game against UCLA (or Georgetown) on deck tomorrow, assuming they win this one. While they'd never "intentionally" let a team hang around, a closer game would probably be good for Crean's team.
This Georgia team beat Florida and Mississippi State down the stretch last season. This year's team won't win the SEC or anything but does figure to be improved.
Coach Mark Fox said this of his team before the season began: "I probably feel better about Georgia basketball today than I ever have."
I like that the Bulldogs have seen all three of their games decided by 12 or fewer points, two by six or less, and feel that the "close game experience" will serve them well here.
This will be an opportunity to prove how far Fox's Bulldogs have come, a chance to compete against the #1 team. I look for them to embrace the challenge, stepping up and covering the big number. *10 Best Bet
|11-17-12||Montana v. Idaho -3||Top||66-63||Loss||-110||10 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on IDAHO. I like how this one sets up for the home team. The Vandals got a wake-up call in losing their opener vs. Wright State. This is a team with big goals this season though and I expect them to bounce back with a highly motivated effort.
The Vandals were 19-14 last season, their best season since 1999. Six of their 14 losses came by six or fewer points, too.
This year, Don Verlin's team is thinking NCAA Tournament. The Idaho coach had this to say: "I feel good about it to be honest with you."
Center Kyle Barone (12 ppg and 8 rbg) returns as does forward Stephen Madison (12.1 ppg and 5.5 rbg). I expect those two to give the Vandals a significant edge in the frontcourt here.
A senior, Barone was a second-team All-WAC choice in 2011. He
|11-17-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Cleveland Cavaliers -2.5||Top||103-95||Loss||-109||8 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. I successfully played against the Mavericks last night. They lost 103-83 at Indiana. I feel this will be a good spot to go against them again.
Still without their best player, the Mavs are in a rebuilding phase. The players have now already accepted that fact. They're still being treated like they're a good team by bettors and oddsmakers though, which has led to an 0-6 ATS mark their last six.
The Mavs are in a tough spot. Not only is this the second of back to back games, it also marks their sixth game in nine nights. They'll be facing a young and rested Cleveland team which is happy to be back on its home floor.
In two previous b2b spots this season, the Mavs have gone 0-2 SU/ATS, losing 113-94 at Utah and 101-97 at Charlotte. I played against them there and am doing so again tonight. *9
|11-17-12||Memphis Grizzlies v. Charlotte Bobcats +6||Top||94-87||Loss||-105||8 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I won with the Grizzlies last night and am well aware that they're off to an excellent start. I feel that they're a bit over-valued tonight though and also that they're susceptible for a letdown.
The Grizzlies' last four games against Houston, a divisional opponent, Miami, the defending NBA champion, OKC, the defending Western Champs and New York, an undefeated team. Off all those big wins, it will likely be easy to look past lowly Charlotte.
Note that the Grizzlies are in one of their worst roles; they're 2-7 ATS as road favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range. They lost six of those outright, too.
While their streak isn't as impressive as the Grizzlies' current streak, the Bobcats have quietly gone 3-0 SU/ATS their last three games. They're 3-1 SU/ATS here on the season, outscoring teams by a 98.2 to 94.7 margin.
The Bobcats covered the spread against the Grizzlies here last season, losing by five. With the schedule in their favor, I expect at least another cover here. *10 Best Bet
|11-17-12||Utah Jazz v. Washington Wizards +2.5||Top||83-76||Loss||-102||7 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. The Wizards have yet to break through into the win column. However, with a 4-3 ATS record, they've been competitive. I feel tonight will provide them an excellent opportunity to earn that elusive first victory.
While the Wizards had the last two nights off, the Jazz are off a 99-93 loss at Philadelphia. They're playing the final leg of a 4-game road trip and their sixth game in last nights. All six of those games were in a different city.
The Jazz only played a road game, after playing the previous night, once this season. That resulted in a double-digit loss.
Including last night's loss, the Jazz are a money-burning 43-73-5 ATS the last 100+ times that they played a road game with an OU line in the 185 to 189.5 range, 3-7 ATS (2-8 SU) their last 10 in that situation. I'll grab the points but will not be surprised when the Wiz step up and score the upset. *9
|11-16-12||Vanderbilt v. Oregon -6.5||Top||48-74||Win||100||13 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on OREGON. Some will see Oregon, a "football school," favored against Vanderbilt, a "basketball school," and will be quick to grab the points. However, I believe that the Ducks are favored for good reason here.
Yes, Vanderbilt advanced all the way to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season. However, that's ancient history. All those players are long gone.
Coach Kevin Stallings acknowledged:
|11-16-12||New York Knicks v. Memphis Grizzlies -5.5||Top||95-105||Win||100||11 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. Both teams are off to great starts, each winning outright as an underdog in its last game. While both teams have been strong off an "upset" win, I feel that last night's hard-fought battle at San Antonio will catch up with the Knicks here.
While the Knicks are getting far more publicity for their fast start, the Grizzlies are 6-0 SU/ATS their last six. They beat OKC last time out, after beating Miami before that. Both victories came by double-digits. They're now 23-8 ATS the past few seasons, when off a SU victory as an underdog.
True, the Knicks are averaging more than 103 points per game. However, its also true that the Grizzlies are 49-23 ATS the past few seasons vs. teams that score 99 or more.
The Grizzlies, who had last night off, are very tough at home. They're 3-0 SU/ATS already this season, moving to 66-21 SU and 51-34-2 ATS here the past few years. When these teams met here last season, the Grizzlies won by a score of 94-83. A similar result won't surprise. *9
|11-16-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Indiana Pacers -2.5||Top||83-103||Win||100||9 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. Both teams are still without their best player. Each has struggled of late. The Pacers are 0-4 ATS their last four while the Mavericks are 0-5 ATS their last five. Playing at home, I expect the Pacers to be the team which bounces back with a win and cover.
The Pacers have still won two of three while the Mavs have lost three of four on the road.
Indiana won by 11 in last year's lone meeting and that was at Dallas. With that loss, the Mavs are just 3-12 ATS their last 15 against teams from the Central.
The Mavs have numerous new faces, are in a rebuilding mode and are likely in for a long season. The Pacers still have high hopes of being among the top teams in the East. If they want to keep those hopes alive, these are the kind of games that they need to win. I expect them to do just that tonight. *9
|11-16-12||Brigham Young v. Florida State +2||Top||70-88||Win||100||8 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA STATE. While I respect the Cougars, I believe the wrong team is favored in this one. The Seminoles are 7-3-1 ATS their last 11 as a neutral court underdog of three or less, or a pick'em. That includes a 2-1 ATS mark in that role the past couple of seasons, going 8-6 ATS overall in neutral court games. During that stretch, BYU is only 6-11 ATS on a neutral floor.
The Cougars had to replace leading scorer Noah Hartsock from last year. He did much for them, averaging 16.8 ppg and five rebounds. He hit better than 84% at the line and led the team with 55 blocked shots. His absence will be noticed with the team stepping up in class here. While Brandon Davies returns, he's a bit banged-up here, listed as probable.
The Seminoles got a "wake up call" in their opener, losing vs. S. Alabama, a loss that dropped them out of the Top 25. I like how they responded with a 95-68 destruction of Buffalo and I look for them to follow it up with another win here. *9
|11-16-12||UNC Asheville +8.5 v. Akron||Top||63-82||Loss||-106||2 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on UNC Asheville. I won with Akron yesterday. The Zips lost by four as a 4.5 point underdog. That loss figures to be a bit tough to bounce back from though, as Akron fought hard the entire way, only to lose in OT.
Akron has now seen two of three games decided by four points. That includes a 74-70 loss vs. Coastal Carolina. I don't feel the Zips deserve to be laying this large a number.
True, the Bulldogs suffered some key losses. However, they're again talented.
Coach Biedenbach, who doesn't generally toss around such assessments lightly, had this to say of this year's team: "We're inexperienced, but talent-wise we're as good as last year. We're a little bigger and look more like a basketball team."
The Bulldogs lost by eight vs. Tennessee yesterday, moving to 7-1 ATS their last eight lined neutral court games, 10-1 ATS their last 11 tournament lined games overall. They won one game and have seen both losses decided by eight or less. In a game that could easily again come down to the wire, grab the generous points. *9
|11-14-12||Indiana Pacers +4.5 v. Milwaukee Bucks||Top||85-99||Loss||-110||10 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. We're getting a little extra value with the visiting Pacers here based on the fact that they played last night. However, each back to back situation needs to be looked at closely. In this case, the Pacers had the previous two days off. So, its not like they're in a three games in four days, or four in five, situation. Obviously the Pacers can't be too happy with the fact that they were beaten by the Raptors last night; I expect that loss to provide some added motivation here.
Note that the Pacers are already 2-0 SU when playing the second of back to back games this season and that they're now 8-1 SU the last nine times that they were in that situation, dating back to last season.
The Pacers have had some recent success here. They were a 3.5 point underdog in their most recent visit here and won outright by six. Note that the Pacers were also playing the second of back to back games for that one too, as they'd hosted Cleveland the previous night. Including that victory, the Pacers are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS the last five series meetings, 3-0 SU/ATS their last three here at Milwaukee. They were underdogs for all three of those games but won by 6, 21 and 6 points.
The Pacers are also in one of their better roles here. Including the win in their last game here, they're 12-7-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 6 range. With the Bucks getting outscored by an average of 102 to 95.7 at home so far this season, I expect at least another cover for the Pacers here. *9
|11-13-12||Toronto Raptors v. Indiana Pacers -9||Top||74-72||Loss||-110||9 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANA. I played on the Raptors when they hosted the Pacers in their opener. The Raptors were coming off a great preseason and I felt that they would be "pumped up" for their home opener. That was indeed the case. The Raptors got a great debut from Kyle Lowry and played the Pacers tough the entire way. They would eventually lose by two points, which could have been an ATS win, loss or a push, depending on when and where one played.
Things don't set up nearly so well for the Raptors this time. The "good feeling" from the preseason is long gone. The Raptors have dropped four straight and are now 1-6 on the season. (They might want to think about sending me some season's tickets as I attended their lone victory, while recently visiting Toronto; they remain 100% when I've watched them.)
They're also on the road, at a very difficult venue, one where they've really struggled. The Raptors have lost seven straight at Indiana and they've gone 1-6 ATS in those games. Three of their last four trips here resulted in losses of 15 or more points.
Making matters worse, the Raptors are short-handed and they're in an awful scheduling spot. Coming off a triple-OT heartbreaker and now playing their third game in four nights, they'll be facing a rested Pacers team which has had the past two days off.
Sure, the Raptors would love to avenge the loss in the home opener. They're just 17-27-2 ATS (7-39 SU) the past few seasons when attempting to avenge a home loss though and this isn't the spot for them to do it.
The Pacers have won both their games here. With the schedule in their favor, I expect them to put it all together with a double-digit win. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-12-12||Boston Celtics v. Chicago Bulls -3||Top||101-95||Loss||-103||10 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Bulls have been winning but not covering. They're 4-2 SU but only 1-5 ATS. Tonight, however, the line is low enough that a SU victory has an excellent chance in also resulting in a pointspread cover.
Note that Boston is 45-47 SU on the road the past few seasons while Chicago is 73-18 SU at home. That includes a 5-3 ATS (7-2 SU) mark as home favorites of three or fewer points.
The Celtics had last night off, as did the Bulls. However, the Celts were in a back-to-back spot before that, which wasn't the case for Chicago. That means that Boston is playing its third game in four days, while also playing its second straight on the road.
While the Bulls are outscoring teams by a 94.5 to 88.7 margin, the Celts are being outscored by a 99.5 to 96.7 margin.
The Bulls have dominated the Celtics here in recent seasons. In fact, they're 5-0 SU/ATS the last five meetings here. All five of those victories came by a minimum of seven points, too. Note that Chicago was laying -6.5 and -7.5 points in last year's two games and that we're getting a far better line to work with here.
The Bulls are closing out a 5-game homestand. With five straight road games on deck, they should really want to make this one count. A team which seemingly loves its home cooking, the Bulls are 18-6 ATS (20-4 SU) the past few seasons, after playing their previous three or more at home. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion tonight. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-12-12||Central Michigan v. Iowa -22||Top||61-73||Loss||-110||8 h 60 m||Show|
I'm playing on IOWA. I believe this will prove to be a real mismatch. The Hawkeyes have a game under their belts, a confidence-building 86-55 rout. Central Michigan, on the other hand, hasn't played yet.
The Hawkeyes are feeling good and their fans are excited. Nearly 15,000 (14,859) watched their opener, the highest attendance figure for an Indiana opener since 2001.
Iowa's Aaron White, who had 16 points and four steals, said this of the opener: "We played well as a team, good pressure, everyone was making shots. Everyone was contributing. That's a pretty good team we played, and it was good to come out with that intensity and push the lead up to 20 at the end; it was a good team win."
Four Iowa players scored in double-figures in the opener, while 14 players saw at least three minutes on the floor. That type of balance should serve the Hawkeyes well against an outmatched opponent playing its first game.
Coach Fran McCaffery had this to say: "That was kind of the plan, to be able to rotate players. The concern is always if we are going to get chemistry at the right time. We received great contributions from a lot of different people -- good assist-to-turnovers, rebounds."
Central Michigan has not been good in the underdog role, going 14-24-3 ATS when getting points the past few seasons, including 3-5 ATS as a road underdog of greater than a dozen points.
While totals are subject to change, with an O/U line currently in the high 130s, note that the Hawkeyes are 9-1 ATS the last 10 times that they played a home game with an O/U line the 135 to 139.5 range. They're 4-1 ATS (5-0 SU) their last five against teams from the MAC and 3-1 ATS (4-0) their last four as a home favorite of greater than a dozen points. I expect this one to turn ugly. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-12-12||North Dakota State +21.5 v. Indiana||Top||61-87||Loss||-106||8 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTH DAKOTA STATE. I watched the Hoosiers first game and am well aware that they are a very good team. However, they're stepping up in class here and I feel that the number, which has climbed from its opener, will prove to be a little on the high side.
The Bison come in with plenty of confidence. They won their opener by a scores of 93-47, shooting 59% and owning a 42-16 edge on the boards. Obviously, that was against an inferior opponent. However, a blowout victory to begin the season should do wonders for their confidence and have them believing that they can compete tonight.
It should be noted that the Bison have actually won two of their last four against ranked opponents including a 64-60 win over Tom Crean's Marquette team in 2006.
The Bison are 18-4 ATS their last 22 non-conference lined games and 7-1 ATS their last eight November lined games. Don't be surprised if they hang around a lot longer than expected. *10 Best Bet
|11-11-12||Montana State v. Seattle -9||Top||72-87||Win||100||10 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. Some might see the teams involved here and wonder why Seattle is laying nearly double-digits. However, I feel that the line could be even higher and am expecting a double-digit win.
Tonight's game is a big deal for Seattle. The Redhawks begin their first season of play in the Western Athletic Conference and they're eligible to play in the NCAA tournament for the first time since returning to Division I, five years ago.
Junior guard Sterling Carter had this to say: "Knowing we can play in the tournament is big," said junior guard That's something big that we want to accomplish this year and we are not going to take our time to get there. I feel like our goal is to win the WAC this year and make a statement."
Coach Cameron Dollar, now in his fourth year here, is also extremely optimistic. He was quoted saying: "I think we've got all the components to where, in March, we will be able to do some things and make some noise, for sure."
Four players who started at least nine games last season return for Seattle and the Redhawks are deeper than they've been in the past.
Typically a fast paced team, I expect the determined Redhawks to run their outmatched opponent right out of the building tonight. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-10-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Charlotte Bobcats +6.5||Top||97-101||Win||100||9 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I believe that we're getting excellent value with the home underdog here. Both teams played and lost last night. I expect that to affect the Nowitzki-less Mavericks more than it does the Bobcats.
For starters, the Bobcats are at home. So, they got to sleep in their own beds.
Perhaps more importantly, the Bobcats early schedule has been far more manageable. This will be just their fifth game of the season and only the third since playing at Dallas on 11/3.
On the other hand, during that stretch, the Mavs have squeezed an extra game in there. This will be their fourth game since hosting Charlotte on the 3rd. It also marks their seventh game overall, four of those on the road.
In other words, fatigue may be a bigger factor for the Mavs than it is the Bobcats. Also, note that the Mavs played next on 11/12 when the Bobcats don't play again until 11/13.
While they did get blown out at Dallas earlier this season, the Bobcats covered the spread in last year's lone meeting. Playing at Dallas and getting 14.5 points, they lost by only five.
Back home, playing with recent "revenge" and having a scheduling edge, I expect at least another cover here. *9 Best Bet
|11-09-12||Detroit Pistons +11.5 v. Oklahoma City Thunder||Top||94-105||Win||100||10 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. Tough start for the Pistons but they've been competitive and this is a good spot for them. While the Pistons are 0-5 SU, four of their five losses have come by less than a dozen points, three of those losses coming by eight or less. Last time out, they lost by only two. Of course, a "close loss" here will get them the cover.
While the Pistons had last night off, the Thunder are off a hard-fought victory at Chicago. That was a big "TV" game against an elite team and a letdown, physically and/or emotionally, would not be surprising. Note that three of OKC's victories have come by 11 or less. While they are a young team, this is their sixth game in the first nine nights of November, which I feel may catch up with them here.
The Pistons are 9-6 ATS the last 15 times that they'd played at least three consecutive games on the road. During that stretch, they're also a lucrative 30-15 ATS when off a game in which they allowed 105 or more points. I expect them to improve on those stats, giving their hosts a much tough game than most will be expecting. *10 Best Bet
|11-08-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Chicago Bulls +2.5||Top||97-91||Loss||-104||10 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. With Rose out, we're getting the Bulls as an underdog here. With all due respect to the Thunder, who are indeed a very good team, I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
Sure, the Thunder beat up on the Raptors last time out. However, that game was at OKC and Toronto was short-handed, as its best player and leading scorer (Lowry) left with 1:29 left in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain and did not return.
Prior to that victory, the Thunder hadn't looked all that impressive and appeared to be missing Harden. They lost their lone road game and they were also beaten by double-digits by Atlanta.
The Bulls haven't been covering but they've still won three of four.
The Bulls are at their best when getting "disrespected." They're 17-9 ATS as underdogs the past few seasons and that includes a perfect 5-0 ATS record as home underdogs of three points or less. I expect them to step up and improve on those stats tonight. *9
|11-06-12||Orlando Magic v. Chicago Bulls -8.5||Top||93-99||Loss||-110||10 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. While they've gotten off to a 2-0 start in the "post Howard era," I believe that the Magic are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While taking the points may seem like an attractive option, note that the Magic have long struggled as road underdogs in this range.
The well-coached Bulls have had a couple of days off since getting upset here by New Orleans. They should be anxious to make things right. Note that they're 34-15 ATS (38-11 SU) the past couple of seasons, after facing a team from the Western Conference in their previous game. During that stretch, they're also a dominating 23-9 ATS (25-7 SU) when off an upset loss.
The Bulls have beaten the Magic five of the last six times the teams have faced each other, including a 26-point destruction (at Orlando) last meeting. I expect another double-digit win tonight. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-05-12||New York Knicks v. Philadelphia 76ers -3||Top||110-88||Loss||-110||9 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. The Knicks are off to a 2-0 start and NY fans are already starting to get excited. I expect the revenge-minded 76ers to put a temporary halt to the NY love in this evening though.
Outplayed on the road while playing an early game, the 76ers should be far more comfortable now that they're back on their home floor. I'm aware that Bynum and Richardson are out - but still feel this team has enough to defend its home floor and that we'll be seeing an inspired defensive effort tonight.
Note that the 76ers permitted a mere 75 points in their lone home game, an 84-75 victory over the Nuggets. Meanwhile, the Knicks will now be playing their first road game.
Even with yesterday's loss, the 76ers still 26-12-1 ATS the past couple of years, during the first half of the season. During that time, they're 13-6 ATS (14-5 SU) when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 184.5 to 189 range.
Ultimately, I look for the 76ers to want it a little more and for them to outwork the Knicks, en route to a win and cover. *9 Personal Fav
|11-04-12||Minnesota Timberwolves v. Toronto Raptors -3||Top||86-105||Win||100||8 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. True, the Raptors are off a hard fought loss at Brooklyn last night. However, they had each of the previous two nights off, so its not all that grueling, as far as back-to-back spots go. Also, the fact that they are in a b2b spot has actually worked in our favor by keeping this line lower than it would have been otherwise.
Yes, the T-Wolves have an exciting young team. Yes, they're off a 92-80 victory in their first game. However, that win was at home (against Sacramento) and this is a team which was an awful 7-16-1 ATS the past couple of seasons, when off a double-digit win.
More importantly, let's not forget that both Rubio and Love, the two players which make this "an exciting young team" are both out.
The Raptors have fought very hard in each of their two games and could have easily won both. I expect a similar effort today and this time, I look for it to translate to a win and cover. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-02-12||Houston Rockets v. Atlanta Hawks -6||Top||109-102||Loss||-103||8 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. The new look Rockets got off to a great start. Harden had a huge debut and they won outright at Detroit. The Hawks represent a significant step up in class, however. Playing their home opener, I expect a highly motivated performance leading to a big win.
While the Rockets, who are young and still adjusting to their new teammates/roles, have struggled away from Houston, the Hawks have been getting it done here for years. The Rockets were only 31-44 on the road, the Hawks were 53-30 at home the past couple of seasons.
Yes, the Hawks have a number of new faces of their own. They've still got a very solid nucleus though and I like some of the moves they made. While Johnson had very good numbers of the years here, I feel it was time that the Hawks got rid of him. The Hawks have plenty of scoring options and should have no trouble running with the Rockets.
I believe we're getting very fair value with the Hawks, based partly on Houston's big win.
Ultimately, I expect homecourt to be the difference and the Hawks to begin the "new era" with a double-digit win. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-02-12||Indiana Pacers v. Charlotte Bobcats +7||Top||89-90||Win||100||8 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. The Pacers, playing without leading scorer Granger, had real trouble with Toronto in their opener. They did eke out a SU victory in that game but it only came by two points; and they trailed much of the way. Now, they find themselves laying roughly a "touchdown" on the road. I feel that is asking too much of them right now.
The Bobcats are playing their home opener, as was Toronto. They've got a new coach and some new players. While it may not last the whole season, for right now that gives this team new hope.
Coach Dunlap has brought a "no-nonsense" fundamental approach and has been practicing his new team hard. I expect his team to play hard here.
The Pacers are only 1-4 ATS the last five times that they were listed as road favorites in the 6.5 to 9 range. Look for them to have their hands full, again. *9
|10-31-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Utah Jazz -8||Top||94-113||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. Difficult spot for the Mavericks here. They came through with a big win at LA last night, having to work hard to do it. That puts them in a natural letdown spot, both physically and emotionally. Not only are the Mavs short-handed (no Dirk and likely no Kaman) on players, they're also still adjusting to numerous new faces in the lineup; a team still very much in transition.
The Jazz are almost always tough here at Salt Lake City and they should be fully "pumped up" for their home opener. Note that the Jazz were 3-0 here in the preseason, after going 25-8 here last regular season.
The Jazz are deep up front and I expect them to have a big edge against the depleted Mavs in that area.
Bottom line. I'm not convinced the Mavs are "back" based on one win and am expecting a blowout win for a rested Jazz team, looking to get rid of the bad taste of last year's postseason. *9
|10-31-12||Indiana Pacers v. Toronto Raptors +2||Top||90-88||Push||0||10 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Pacers won a playoff series last season and expectations are high in Indiana. With a game against lowly Toronto, many are going to jump on the chance to play the "better" team at such a low number. I'm expecting an upset though.
A new season brings new hope. The Raptors are off an excellent preseason and are playing with confidence. They were 4-0 in the preseason here, going 5-1 overall. They closed out the exhibition campaign with five straight wins. The Pacers, on the other hand, were 1-3 on the road. True, preseason results certainly need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, my point is that the Raptors bring some confidence to the table.
Last year, the Raptors played a lot of games without their "superstar," Andrea Bargnani. They're a much better team with him in the lineup and he'll be in there tonight.
On the other hand, the Pacers will be without their top scorer, as Granger is out with an injury. Note that while Granger averaged nearly 19 points (18.7) per game, no other Indiana player averaged 13 points last season.
Note that the Pacers were only 3-5 ATS as road favorites of three or fewer points the past couple of seasons. (All five ATS losses were also "SU" losses.)
It should also be noted that Raptors coach Dwane Casey is 3-0 in season openers. I expect him to have his team ready to go, as they shock their short-handed guests with their hustle and determination. *10 Best Bet
|10-30-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Lakers -8||Top||99-91||Loss||-110||13 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. At first glance, this line may look a little high to some. While the Lakers are normally quite a "public darling," the current sentiment is that they will need some time to gel. A winless preseason certainly supports that view. I'm not buying it though. While they may hit a couple of skids through the season - most teams do - I feel the Lakers are capable of dominating from Day 1. I expect them to give us a taste of how good they can be tonight.
While the Lakers may be without Kobe, currently a gametime decision, the Mavs are definitely without Dirk. I expect Kobe to play - but am fine even if he doesn't, I expect a comfortable win for the home team.
Coach Brown said this of Kobe's status: "I know he's hurt and I don't know what exactly that means. He's a tough guy and one of the toughest guys I've ever been around."
While the focus is on LA's big acquisitions, the Mavs have made plenty of offseason moves of their own - and will also need time to gel. Indeed, they've not no fewer than eight newcomers this season. They've got other injuries too, not just Nowitzki. Those injuries may force Eddy Curry into a starting role; he's only played 24 games the past four years.
The Lakers swept the Mavs last year. I expect another victory, the home team earning the cover along the way. *9 Personal Favorite
|06-21-12||Oklahoma City Thunder +3.5 v. Miami Heat||Top||106-121||Loss||-110||12 h 16 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. Since successfully backing the Thunder in Game 1, I've been sticking with the Heat in these Finals. I'm switching sides in Game 5 though, as I don't think this talented Thunder team is quite ready to say die. History says that teams that are up 3-1 in the Finals go on to win the series. Those teams don't always win Game 5 though - and the Thunder are the type of team that doesn't care about what history says. While this is an elimination game, in a way, the pressure is off the Thunder. They know they are now expected to lose. As a result, I expect them to be loose. Let's not forget that every game has basically come down to the wire. By no means do the Thunder feel outclassed or intimidated. Despite the last couple of losses, note that the Thunder are still a terrific 66-38 ATS the past 100+ times that they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting. They're also still 9-4 ATS the past few playoffs, when trailing in a series. The Heat, who have now won three consecutive games, are just 11-15 ATS when having won their previous three games. Off three straight loses, note that the Thunder are a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they'd lost three in a row. The only time that they were in that situation this season, they responded with a convincing 16 point victory. With the pressure off, I expect them to "relax" and respond with their best effort of the series. *10
|06-19-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Miami Heat -3.5||Top||98-104||Win||100||12 h 6 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. These are both excellent teams and this has been a close series so far. As you know, Miami has won and covered in each of the last two games, since dropping the opener. As the Thunder had quite a chance to cover the spread in Game 3, many will look to 'zig-zag' and back them in Game 4. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the Heat, as the Game 4 line is now even lower than it was for Game 3. I also look at things a little differently. Rather than assume that the Thunder will bounce back, just because they were "very close" in Game 3, I feel that the close loss can be hard to recover from. And that Miami's "close win" can be both a "wake up call" (not that the Heat need one!) and a source of momentum. While there are plenty of stats one could point to for both teams, I feel that homecourt, "Finals Experience" and Lebron's desire to win will ultimately again prove the difference. Even though the games in this series have been close, each one has still ended up being decided by a minimum of four points and the winning team has covered in each case. Given the relatively low number, I feel that's likely to be the case again. The Thunder are a very respectable 25-16 on the road. However, the Heat are a commanding 37-7 at home. Obviously, they really really want to win this series. However, the Thunder have already taken the next step, by winning the West. Even if they lose here, they've established themselves as a top Western team for many years to come. They're likely to be back in the Finals again, perhaps several times. Unlike the Thunder, the Heat have been here before and lost. (They won before Lebron came but are 0-1 in the Finals with him.) They're on a mission and anything less than winning this series will be considered a massive failure. They know they can seize control by winning this pivotal game but also that the Thunder will gain the advantage if they win it. I don't expect any letdown whatsoever. Rather, I feel that Lebron will be "all business" and in "smelling blood" mode. He desperately wants this championship, arguably more than any other player. The Heat are 3-1 ATS (4-0 SU) as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. With Lebron willing them to victory, I expect them to improve on those stats Tuesday night. *10
|06-14-12||Miami Heat v. Oklahoma City Thunder -5.5||Top||100-96||Loss||-104||17 h 7 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY in the FIRST HALF. Perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder were a little nervous due to Tuesday being their first game in the NBA Finals. Perhaps they were a bit rusty, due to having had a much longer layoff than the Heat. Or, perhaps they just ran into a Miami team which was still rolling with momentum from its big Game 6 and Game 7 victories over Boston in the previous series. Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, the Thunder stumbled out of the gate in the opening game. They were down 29-22 at the end of the first half and 54-47 at halftime. That's actually the second time in a row they were down at half. However, before that, the Thunder had been leading at halftime in five of their previous games, including three straight. They had halftime leads of 52-44, 55-43 and 54-41 in those games. In other words, although we saw differently the last couple of games, this OKC team has shown an ability to start fast. The Heat may have had the lead at halftime of Game 1 but they haven't really been a very good first half team in the playoffs. While there certainly are exceptions, Lebron often tends to look to get others involved in the first half, before taking over in the second. Getting ahead in the first half didn't work for the Heat in Game 1 and they may sub-consciously no longer even think leading at the break is all its cracked up to be. You may recall the Heat were trailing 53-46 at the break in Game 7 vs. Boston and still came back to win by 13. They did have a halftime lead in Game 5 and Game 6, going 1-1 ATS. However, they were down big in Game 4 and down big in Game 3, Game 2 AND tied (when favored) in Game 1. Add it up and prior to Tuesday's first half victory, the Heat had gone 1-6 ATS (2-4-1 SU) in the first half of the Boston series. In other words, although we saw differently on Tuesday, this team has shown a tendency to start off a bit slowly. They won't have any rust this time and they shouldn't be nervous. They dominated the fourth quarter of Game 1 and I expect them to pick up right where they left off. Look for them to take the lead into the break, covering the small number along the way. *10
|06-12-12||Miami Heat v. Oklahoma City Thunder -5||Top||94-105||Win||100||35 h 18 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. I rode the Heat in Game 6 and Game 7 of the Boston/Miami series. I think Tuesday's game will prove much more difficult. Lebron and co. have had a couple of days off. However, they're still off an exhausting 7-game series with a bitter rival. Now, they've got to travel to take on a very well-rested and very talented opponent. Note that the Thunder are a perfect 4-0 ATS the last four times that they played with three or more day's rest. While the Heat won as short favorites at Boston in Game 6, they're an ugly 1-5 ATS the last six times that they were listed as underdogs. The Heat were crushed by 16 points by the Thunder here back in late March. While the Heat are 22-19 on the road, outscoring opponents by a mere 95.7 to 94.2 margin, the Thunder are a commanding 34-7 at home. They outscored visiting teams by a 105.3 to 95.5 margin. They hit 49% of their shots here while holding opponents to a 42.5% mark. Some could argue that Lebron, Wade and Bosh are a better "Big 3" than Durant, Westbrook and Harden. (Really, that's debatable and will be better answered after this series.) However, I like the Thunder's "secondary" players better, at least for an opening game at OKC. Looking at some more stats, we find the Heat at just 41-42-1 ATS the past few seasons against teams from the West, including 8-10 ATS this season. Meanwhile, the Thunder ware 50-28 ATS against teams from the East, including 13-5 SU/ATS this season. They've played arguably tougher competition (Dallas, LA and San Antonio compared to NY, Indiana and Boston) and I look for them to improve on those numbers with a win and cover on Tuesday. *10
|06-09-12||Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat -7.5||Top||88-101||Win||100||10 h 9 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. *10 In my analysis of Game 6, I noted the following: "...As usual, there are plenty of stats one could use to make an argument for either side. In the end, however, I believe it will come down to Lebron refusing to be denied ... " That sure proved to be the case. Lebron had arguably the best game of his entire career and the Heat crushed the Celtics, essentially from wire-to-wire. I expect James and co. to ride the positive momentum from that clutch performance into Game 7. At one point in Game 5 of the Thunder/Spurs series, when OKC won on the road, TNT analyst Steve Kerr commented: "It just feels like Oklahoma City senses it. They are ready to break through. It's like a changing of the guard right before our eyes." I believe that's also what we witnessed in Game 6 at Boston. The Celtics have given the Heat fits in this series and many times over the years. However, with Bosh back on the floor to take some of the Celtics' attention off Wade and more importantly with Lebron taking his game to another level, I believe we witnessed a "changing of the guard" in this series. I believe the younger Heat "officially have their number" right now and I expect another dominating performance. The Celtics are only 5-9 ATS the last 14 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier home loss and they're also only 3-5 ATS (2-6 SU) the last eight times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. So, this isn't one of their best roles. After losing two straight in the series vs. the Pacers, the Heat got it together with a big road win at Indiana. They then proceeded to return home and follow it up with a commanding 115-83 victory the next game, the first of five straight wins and four straight covers. Having again snapped their skid on the road, I expect the Heat to again build off their big road win, closing out the series in convincing fashion. *10
|06-07-12||Miami Heat -1.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||98-79||Win||100||11 h 13 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. Things have sure changed in the Eastern Conference. After Rose went down and the Bulls got knocked out, many expected the Heat to practically coast all the way to the Finals. Off to a 2-0 lead after two games against the Celtics, it appeared that might indeed be the case. However, as you know, the Celtics have suddenly won three straight. Now, they get a chance to close things out on their home floor. Can Lebron and co. step up and get it done, in hostile territory against this veteran Celtic group? I believe the answer will prove to be yes. Bosh gave them 14 minutes, nine points and seven rebounds last time out. With that playing time under his belt and some more time to recover, hopefully he'll be able to give them more minutes here. Either way, whatever he can contribute, the Heat won't be sitting around waiting for him to lead them. I expect them to get right after it. As usual, there are plenty of stats one could use to make an argument for either side. In the end, however, I believe it will come down to Lebron refusing to be denied. Both he and Wade can get to the basket and/or foul line nearly any time they really want to. I expect them to do so early and often here. This is just the second time that the Heat found themselves trailing in a series this postseason. The previous time, they responded with an 8-point road win at Indiana. Meanwhile, the Celtics are only 2-4 SU/ATS when leading in a series. While it may not be easy, I'm not counting out the Heat quite yet. Behind a big game from their stars and an improved defensive effort, I expect them to find a way to force Game 7. *10
|06-04-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. San Antonio Spurs -5||Top||108-103||Loss||-105||10 h 16 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. So far, the home team has won all four games going 3-1 ATS. I won with the "under" in Game 1, avoiding the side. That was the game in which Harden hit two 3-pointers in the final five seconds, one of them at the buzzer, to give the Thunder a very fortunate cover. Since then, the home team has won each game by at least six points and by an average of nearly 12. I've been on the right side of each of those games, winning with the Spurs in Game 2 and the Thunder in Game 3 and Game 4. With the series shifting back to San Antonio, I'm coming back with the Spurs on Monday night. When the Spurs had won 20 in a row, some felt they might just run the table. At the time, I stated that I felt all that talk was far too premature and that they were still in for a major fight with the Thunder. Of course, OKC crushed them in Game 3, snapping the streak. In the next game, I noted that many will assume the Spurs, who had just won 20 in a row, couldn't possibly lose two in a row. I also pointed out that streaks are funny though and that often when a big winning streak is snapped, it can be followed with a second straight loss. Sure enough, that's what happened. The Spurs have now had their wake-up call though. They wanted to be challenged and now they have been. Returning home, I expect them to respond with their very best game. This is a Spurs team which is an outstanding 28-9-2 ATS on this floor. Note that the Spurs are also still a solid 16-10 ATS (19-7 SU) when facing an opponent which defeated them in the previous meeting. The Thunder are just 9-18 ATS after scoring 105 or more in their previous game. They're also only 3-7 ATS (4-6 SU) when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 200 to 204.5 range. On the other hand, the Spurs are 6-2 ATS (7-1 SU) when playing a home game with an O/U line in that range. The Thunder are a very good team. They're talented, athletic and hungry. The Spurs are still playing as well as they have in years though and they've got all kinds of experience in this situation. While the Thunder are only 2-3 SU/ATS the last five times that they were tied in a playoff series, the Spurs are a highly profitable 19-8-1 ATS (20-8 SU) their last 28 that situation. The home team is a 3-point buzzer beater away from being a perfect 4-0 ATS in this series. In the end, I look for homecourt to again be the difference as the battle-tested Spurs step up, extend their home winning streak and cover the relatively short number along the way. *10
|06-03-12||Miami Heat -1.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||91-93||Loss||-115||10 h 7 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing MIAMI for the first half. The Celtics are now 3-0 ATS for the "first half" in this series. The teams were tied 46-46 at halftime in Game 1. Boston led 53-46 at the break in Game 2. Last time out, the Celtics held a 55-42 lead going into the locker-room. I expect a much different result this evening though. Off their first loss in the series and having been dominated in the first half last time out, I expect a determined effort from James and co. right out of the gate. Off their first loss in the Indiana series, although they would go on to lose that one too, the Heat took control right out of the gate. They led 26-17 after one quarter. It wasn't until the second half that they fell part, getting outscored 51-32. Off their first (and only) loss in the Knicks' series, the Heat responded by jumping all over NY out of the gate. They led 28-24 after one quarter and 55-44 at halftime. I expect James to do his thing and also expect a much better performance from Wade. The Celtics were a little more hungry/desperate last time out. I don't expect that to be the case here - at least not in the first half. The Heat will make adjustments, which I expect to pay immediate dividends and I look for them to take their first lead into the locker-room. *10
|06-02-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -3.5||Top||103-109||Win||100||11 h 4 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. I won with the Thunder (and the under) last game and I'm coming right back them again in Game 4. After they reeled off 20 straight victories, many people will feel that the Spurs can't possibly lose two in a row. Streaks are funny though. Often, when a long winning streak is snapped, we'll see that team follow it up with another loss. Likewise, a team that snaps a long losing streak will often follow up their initial victory with another one. In this case, the Spurs have now lost that "unbeatable" feeling. Meanwhile, the Thunder have regained their confidence and swagger. Keep in mind that its still the Thunder who need this game more and that they're now an excellent 8-3 ATS the last 11 times that they were trailing in a playoff series. While the Spurs are a very solid 26-12 on the road, the Thunder are an even better 32-7 at home. I expect them to improve on those stats Saturday night, covering the small number along the way. *10
|06-01-12||Miami Heat +2 v. Boston Celtics||Top||91-101||Loss||-100||11 h 50 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing MIAMI for the 1st Half. I'm a little on the fence about who I feel will ultimately win this game. However, I do expect the Heat to come out "on fire" in the first half and believe they have an excellent shot of leading, going into the break. As you know, the Heat are up 2-0 in the series. They won and covered in Game 1. In Game 2, the Heat won but failed to cover. Despite the 2-0 series lead, the Heat have actually been trailing at halftime of each game. The score was tied (46-46) at halftime of Game and the Celtics led 53-46 at the break in Game 2. Having played the Heat tough in each of the first halves hasn't helped Boston yet. That being the case and off their devastating Game 2 loss, I won't be surprised if the Celtics come out a little flat here. The Celtics are very disappointed with the Game 2 loss, as they easily could have won that game. They wasted a remarkable performance from Rondo and have been complaining about the officiating. They could easily be hanging their heads a bit right out of the gate. The Heat know this is their chance to grab control of this series. A win here and its essentially over. A loss and the series is back on. That being the case, I expect James and co. to be all business right from the opening tip. The last time these teams met here was on 4/24. Boston won 78-66. However, the Heat had a 34-28 lead at halftime. I expect the Heat to again have the lead at the break here. *10
|05-31-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -4||Top||82-102||Win||100||13 h 19 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. I won with the Spurs last game, after cashing with the 'under' in the opener. Obviously, with 20 straight wins, the Spurs have been very impressive and are playing at an extremely high level. Still, with the series shifting to Oklahoma City and the Thunder now fully in "must win" mode, I expect San Antonio's remarkable run to come to an end. The Spurs are an impressive 26-11 on the road. However, the Thunder are an even better 31-7 at home. The teams split two meetings here this season. The spread wasn't a factor in either game. The Spurs won one by nine. The Thunder won the other by 12. It should, however, be noted that each of those lines were higher (-5 and -6) that tonight's game. The Thunder are favored by less here, which I feel is providing excellent value. While the Spurs are outscoring teams by three points (101.1 to 98.1) on the road, the Thunder are outscoring teams by nearly 10 points (105.3 to 95.5) here at OKC. Although they came up short in Game 2, the Thunder are still an excellent 64-36 ATS the last 100 times that they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting, 12-6 ATS their last 18 in that situation. They're undefeated on this floor during the postseason, crushing the Lakers by 16 points the last time that they played here. Even with the Game 2 loss, the Thunder are still a profitable 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they were trailing in a playoff series. Many are already giving the Spurs this series. I think its still got a LONG way to go though. Playing on their home floor with the fans providing extra energy, I expect the OKC "Big 3" to get more help from their supporting cast and for that to lead to a badly needed victory. *10
|05-29-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. San Antonio Spurs -4.5||Top||111-120||Win||100||15 h 37 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. After the Spurs won but failed to cover in Game 1, the line has dropped a little lower for Game 2. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the home team. True, the Thunder are a very talented team. They've been great during the playoffs and gave the Spurs a battle in the opener. However, as good as the Thunder have been, the Spurs have been better. They've simply been playing at another level. With 19 straight wins, this team is starting to set records. A win here will break the record for longest winning streak extended in the playoffs. I didn't play a side in the first game, instead winning with the total. So, I was able to watch the game objectionably - although this is something I always strive for. That said. I feel the Thunder were very fortunate to get the cover. It took a wild series of events concluding with a James Harden 3-pointer at the buzzer, his second from beyond the arc in the final five seconds. Despite failing to cover on Sunday, the Spurs are 30-13-1 ATS against winning teams this season and 39-18-3 ATS when laying points and 33-5 SU and 27-9-2 ATS at home. The Thunder, on the other hand, are 22-15-1 ATS on the road and only 21-21-1 ATS against teams with a winning record. Off their huge fourth quarter and Game 1 victory, I look for the Spurs to keep on rolling into the history books, this time covering the small number along the way. *10
|05-26-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. Boston Celtics -5.5||Top||75-85||Win||100||33 h 22 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on BOSTON. Great run by Philadelphia. The 76'ers have exceeded everyone's expectations. Granted, they caught a major break when Derrick Rose went down early in the first round. Still, they deserve plenty of credit and respect. The 76'ers will get that credit and respect, at least from their home fans, no matter what happens here. Just like the Indiana Pacers' fans were still proud of their team when they lost to Miami, even the demanding fans in Philadelphia will give this team a hero's welcome when it returns. In the end, that's what I believe will happen - as I do feel that the 76'ers will be returning home - rather than traveling to Miami. The Celtics may be "old" and a bit "banged-up." However, this is still a team of former champions. They know Miami is without Bosh and they truly believe that they can beat the Heat. I don't feel that the 76'ers feel the same way. Some will doubt the Celtics due to their inability to seal the deal in Game 6. However, the fact is that the Celtics have rarely fared well when trying to close out a series on the road. They have had numerous huge Game 7 victories though. They've been here before and that big game experience - combined with the fact that they're playing on their home floor - should be the difference. The 76'ers were terrible (17 of 28) from the free throw line last time out - and that may be in their heads here. The experienced Celtics seemingly have ice in their veins (20 of 23 last game) when at the line though, a trait which should serve them well down the stretch, should Philadelphia be fortunate enough to still be in the game. The Celtics also shot much better (42 of 52) from the line than the 76'ers (35 of 52) each of the previous two games. While Allen may be a bit hobbled, he remains dangerous. The two days off in between games should help him. Note that Boston is 26-12 SU the past few seasons when playing with two day's off in between games. Meanwhile, the trio of Rondo, Garnett and Pierce is unstoppable when they're all clicking, as they were the last game here. Boston won that game by a score of 101-85. In the end, experience, pedigree and homecourt should prove the difference once again. *10
|05-21-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Oklahoma City Thunder -7.5||Top||90-106||Win||100||13 h 5 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. With Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and a whole lot of playoff experience, the Lakers remain a very dangerous team. If they could have found a way to win either Game 2 OR Game 4, I feel that they'd still have a fighting chance in this series. They didn't though, suffering close losses in both those games. Losing Game 2 was a heartbreaker, as they had that one in hand late. However, at least it came on the road. Losing Game 4 at home was the real killer. The Lakers now find themselves down 3-1 and knowing they have to win three straight, two here at OKC. That's a daunting task, to say the least. (Even if they did manage to win in seven games, they'd then go on to face a rested Spurs team.) Faced with enormity of that task, while they'd naturally say otherwise publicly, I believe the Lakers have now accepted the fact that this isn't going to be their year. After coming up just short in Game 4, the Lakers are now just 14-28-2 ATS the last 44 times that they were trailing in a playoff series, 2-5-1 ATS their last eight. You may recall last year's playoffs when the Lakers faced the Mavericks. After having lost a couple of close games earlier in the series, when faced with elimination, the Lakers packed it in and lost by 36 points. While the Lakers may have accepted defeat, if only sub-consciously, the Thunder smell blood in the water. They're younger more hungry, arguably more talented and arguably better coached. With a chance to seal the deal in front of the home fans, I expect them to be at their very best. The last thing they want to do is to give the Lakers any life and to have to extend this series while the Spurs get to rest. They're 30-7 on this floor, outscoring teams by an average of 105.3 to 95.7. I expect them to close out the series with a double-digit victory. *10
|05-20-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Los Angeles Clippers +7.5||Top||102-99||Win||100||13 h 58 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. When a team gets down 3-0 in the NBA, history tells us that the series is over. I'm not about to argue. Bettors know this and many aren't willing to back the team that's down 0-3. That helps to create additional line value with the team that's down 0-3, as the books are forced to post a big number. I spoke about the same thing in the Heat/Knicks series. Just as I won with the Spurs in Game 1 of this series, I successfully backed the Heat in Game 1 of that Miami/NY series. I avoided the Knicks in Game 2 and Game 3 of that series, just as I have avoided the Clippers in Game 2 and Game 3 of this one. I did come back and play on the Knicks as a fairly large home underdog in Game 4 though. Not only did they cover, they won outright. The Heat relaxed a little while the Knicks dug deep and decided to try and salvage some pride. The Spurs are a better coached and a generally more disciplined team than the Heat. They could still let down slightly here though. Meanwhile, with Chris Paul leading the team, I feel that the Clippers are highly unlikely to go down without a fight. The competitive Paul has a ton of pride and should make sure his team gives a maximum effort the entire way. While I don't normally pay much attention to the day, its interesting to note that the Clippers are 9-1 their last 10 Sunday games, the Spurs going 5-3 during the same stretch. Yesterday's game between the Lakers and Thunder was the second of back-to-back games, a relatively rare occurrence in the NBA playoffs. That game came right down to the wire, decided by only three points. This game is also the second of b2b games. With Paul and co. showing some prided, I expect this one to also come right down to the final buzzer and am grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|05-18-12||Boston Celtics v. Philadelphia 76ers -1.5||Top||83-92||Win||100||11 h 36 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. After earning a split at Boston - and nearly winning both games - the 76ers got a rude awakening in Game 3. The Celtics' stars all clicked at the same time and Boston won by double-digits. Many will now be writing off the 76ers. I'm not ready to do so though. This team has done an excellent job of bouncing back from a loss of late and I expect them to be at their best here. The 76ers are 3-0 when coming off a loss this month. Off a loss in Game 1 at Chicago, they responded with a 109-92 victory in Game 2. Off a loss in Game 5 of that series, they bounced back with a win in Game 6. Then, off a loss at Game 1 at Boston, the 76ers followed it up by taking Game 2. While they gave up 107 points in Game 3, the 76ers had previously allowed 92 or fewer points in seven straight games. They're a modest 4-3 ATS after allowing 105 or more points. That's a lot better than Boston's 2-4 ATS record after scoring 105 or more. Looking back further finds the Celtics at a dismal 21-39 ATS their last 60 in that situation. During that stretch, Boston is also a money-burning 30-53 ATS when off a double-digit win. As we saw in the first two games, both teams are very capable defensively. Boston is now allowing 88.7 points per game, 93.3 on the road. Philadelphia is allowing 89.1, just 85.7 here at home. The matchup of two stingy teams figures to favor the 76ers. Boston is just 5-9 ATS (6-8 SU) when facing a team which allows 91 or fewer points per game. Meanwhile, even with the Game 3 loss, the 76ers are 13-7 SU/ATS when facing a team which allows 91 or fewer points per game. Desperate for a win, I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats Friday evening. *10
|05-16-12||Los Angeles Lakers +8 v. Oklahoma City Thunder||Top||75-77||Win||100||13 h 19 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on LA. I won with the Thunder in Game 1. Clearly, they are a very good team. I feel the same can still be said of the Lakers though. This is still a big, talented and experienced team, one with a lot of pride. They were embarrassed in Game 1 and I expect a much better effort here. The Lakers have seen it all and they've deal with their share of blowout losses, most recently in Game 6 of the last series. They know how to bounce back. As Kobe said: ''We're a team that doesn't get down when we get blown out. We've been blown out a bunch of times this season, blown out last series a couple times. We're used to dealing with that.'' Kobe went on to say: ''Everything's fixable. It's just about making adjustments. That's really what the postseason is. 'They came out, took us out back and whooped us. It's on us to make adjustments, to make changes and come back with a better effort - and we will.'' Including the Game 7 win vs. Denver, the Lakers are 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS the last dozen times that they were off a double-digit loss, going 11-4 SU when off a game in which they allowed 105 or more points. On the other hand, the Thunder are an ugly 7-17 ATS the last 24 times that they scored 105 or more points in their previous game. Teams off blowout losses of 25 or more have historically been a profitable bet in the NBA playoffs. Off the Game 1 debacle, I expect Kobe and co. to show their pride, bouncing back with a far better effort, leading to AT LEAST a cover. *10
|05-15-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. San Antonio Spurs -11.5||Top||92-108||Win||100||13 h 38 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. While I'd won with the Grizzlies earlier in the series, including Game 6 at LA, the Clippers beat me in Game 7. Off their grueling 7-game series, I expect them to be in over their heads against the rested #1 seed though. We saw what happened to the Lakers against a well-rested OKC team yesterday. Off their big Game 7 win, the Lakers got crushed by the well-rested Thunder. This is a similar situation. The Clippers are coming off an exhausting and physical series. Now, with very little time to catch their breath, they take to the road and face a well-rested, well-coached and powerful San Antonio team. That Game 7 victory was arguably the biggest in the history of the Clippers. It came on Sunday afternoon and they had to fly out here Sunday night. Prior to that, they'd been playing at LA Friday night. The Clippers are banged-up. Griffin is likely to play but he's still less than 100%. Paul and Butler will both play. Each is also less than 100%. Blake Griffin noted: "Going through a seven-game series is definitely exhausting,'' Griffin said. ''We may have some guys that are a little beat-up. That's how it is ... we can't use that as an excuse.'' Sounds like he already is, to me. The Clippers actually won here back in March. That was a game that Parker didn't play though and the Spurs have been practically unbeatable since. (The previous meeting here saw San Antonio win by 25.) While the Clippers are 5-10 ATS when off a double-digit win, the Spurs are 4-0 ATS the last four times that they attempted to avenge a home loss. They're 27-11-1 ATS against winning teams on the season and I expect them to start this series off win a blowout victory. *10
|05-14-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Oklahoma City Thunder -7.5||Top||90-119||Win||100||12 h 16 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. I won with the Lakers in Game 7 vs. Denver. This is a much tougher opponent though and they'll be playing a very difficult venue. I expect the Lakers to struggle against a young powerful, hungry and well-rested Thunder team. The Thunder actually lost the last meeting vs. the Lakers, in double OT. That 4/22 game was at LA though. Given the stats, it could make OKC even more determined here. The Thunder are an outstanding 61-35 ATS the last few seasons, when facing a team which defeated them in the most recent meeting. Of course, seeing World Peace figures to motivate the Thunder and their crowd even more. You may recall that World Peace (Ron Artest) recent served a 7-game suspension for a viscous elbow to James Harden's head. The Thunder come in very well-rested. That's not a bad thing though. They were 2-0 SU/ATS this season when playing with three or more day's rest in between games. The lone time that they were at home, when playing with three or more day's rest, they won by 26, a 111-85 blowout vs. Utah. The Lakers, of course, are off a hard-fought series vs. Denver. Its possible that the Lakers could have an early edge, as they've been playing more recently. However, even if that were the case, the Thunder should warm up quickly and I expect the Lakers' more tired legs and bodies to potentially be an issue down the stretch. One might think the Lakers would be a good bet, when getting this many points. They're 0-3 ATS as road underdogs in the -6.5 to -9 range though. This season's lone meeting at OKC saw the Thunder win by a score of 100-85. A similar score won't surprise tonight. *10
|05-14-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. Boston Celtics -4||Top||82-81||Loss||-110||10 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on BOSTON. Everyone saw what happened in Game 1 of this series. The Celtics were down much of the way and only won by a single point. As a result, many will want to take the points with the 76ers here, the biggest reason why the line is slightly lower on Boston for this game than it was for the opener. I like how this sets up for the Celtics though and feel that the relatively low line is providing us with excellent value. When the road team nearly wins Game 1 of a series, many expect them to come back and steal Game 2. It often goes the other way. Having come very close to winning the opener, the road team can be a little flat for the second game. They gave it everything they had in the opener and could have won, only to lose. Trying to duplicate that energy for Game 2 can be difficult. On the other hand, the home team receives a wake-up call. They know they got a bit lucky to be up 1-0 and know they have to play better in the second game. While some teams tend to let up when leading in a series, note that the Celtics are 11-6 ATS (12-5 SU) the last 17 times that they were leading in a playoff series. Even with the cover in the opener, the 76ers are just 3-5 ATS (1-7 SU) as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. They're also a surprisingly bad 14-25 ATS (15-24 SU) against teams with a winning record. They had their chance to steal a game and squandered it. Having received its wake-up call, I expect Boston to be better out of the gate this time en route to a win and cover. *10
|05-13-12||Indiana Pacers +8.5 v. Miami Heat||Top||86-95||Loss||-110||8 h 12 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on INDIANA. Both teams were impressive in their first round series. Still, not many are giving the Pacers much of a chance in this series. I feel that the enter the series a bit under-valued and that this opening game may be the perfect spot for them to step up and surprise the Heat. I played on the Heat in the opening game of the last round. They crushed the Knicks, taking the life out of them for the entire series. That was against a banged-up NY team though, one they had dominated all regular season. This Indiana team is tougher and better than the Knicks and also much better coached. I don't think the Knicks truly believed they could ever win that series. I feel the Pacers believe they have a chance. Lets not forget that this Indiana team quietly racked up 42 wins during the regular season - not all that far behind Miami's 46. Also, keep in mind that the Pacers are a commanding 16-4 since the beginning of April - only the Spurs have a better record during that stretch. The Heat had the advantage in the first two meetings of the regular season series. However, the last two meetings figure to give the Pacers plenty of confidence here. The last time that the teams met was on 3/26, at Indiana. The Pacers won by 15 points. The previous meeting was here at Miami. The Heat won that game. However, it was a battle the entire way and the final score was only 93-91. While the Heat are 8-10-1 ATS the last 19 times that they were off a double-digit win, the Pacers are 10-6 ATS when off three or more consecutive victories. They got their "wake up call" from the Magic in the opener of the last series and figure to have learned a lesson about the importance of showing up for the opening game of a series. Note that the well-coached Pacers have had an extra day of rest than the Heat have and that they're 3-1 ATS when playing with three or more day's rest in between games. Indiana coach Vogel had this to say: "'I feel great. You never know how it's going to go once you get out there, but we're as prepared as we have been for any game this year and I feel good about what we can do.'' Including the outright win vs. the Heat on 3/26, the Pacers are 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as underdogs. Just as the 76ers gave the Celtics all they could handle in the opener of that series yesterday, I look for the Pacers to take this one down to the wire with a real shot at the outright upset. *10
|05-13-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Memphis Grizzlies -7.5||Top||82-72||Loss||-110||6 h 43 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MEMPHIS. I've backed the Grizzlies each of the last two games in this series and I'm coming back with them in Game 7. Off their epic comeback in Game 1, the Clippers had a lot of momentum early in this series. Things have changed. Now, its the Grizzlies who are playing with confidence. They were already written off. Now, they're back from the dead and playing at home. That's very significant given that they're 28-8 here. This is a short turn-around between games along with a very early start time. Already, I would feel that would typically favor the home team, particularly with the Clippers hailing from the Pacific Time Zone. (Although both teams have been on the time zone this entire series, the Clippers are permanently on "West Coast Time" while the Grizzlies were just visiting.) Likely more important than the time zone factor, the short turn-around doesn't give the banged-up Clippers much time to recover. Chris Paul is a great player but he's not at 100%. Griffin is a great talent - but he's not a good shooter yet and he's also at less than 100%. The Clippers, 0-4 ATS the last four times they were tied in a playoff series, are only 10-17-1 ATS (6-22 SU) the last 28 times that they were road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. During the same stretch, the Grizzlies were 14-9-2 ATS (20-5 SU) as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. I feel that the Grizzlies are the better team right now. I believe they "smell the blood in the water" and I look for them to win this one in convincing fashion. *10
|05-12-12||Denver Nuggets v. Los Angeles Lakers -5.5||Top||87-96||Win||100||13 h 35 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. Earlier in this series, when it was 2-0 for LA, I successfully played on the Nuggets in Game 3. At the time, I noted that the betting public had jumped with both feet onto the Laker bandwagon and that many were thinking they were unbeatable again. I felt the Nuggets would be tough at home and that the Lakers were over-valued. The betting public are fickle though. Now that the Nuggets have won a couple in a row, all of a sudden they're calling the Lakers old and dysfunctional. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. And, while the Lakers may not be unbeatable, I do feel that they've got enough left in the tank to win Game 7 at home, covering the relatively small number along the way. The Nuggets came out on fire last time out. Before the Lakers knew it, they were down double-digits. With Kobe under the weather, overcoming that early deficit would ultimately prove to be too much for them. The Lakers back at home now though and its reasonably safe to assume that the Nuggets won't get off to the same kind of start they did in Game 6. Kobe should be healthier. Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) is back from suspension. Peace should help the Lakers establish the tempo they want to play at while significantly improving them on the defensive side of the ball. Pau Gasol should hungry and determined to show his passion, particularly after Kobe not so subtly blasted his effort. Gasol was quoted as saying: ''Everything that has happened in this series has to be behind us, whether it's good or bad. We've got to rely on aggressiveness tomorrow, on energy. We've got to want it more than they do.'' Note that the Lakers are a dominating 21-8-1 ATS (23-7 SU) the last 30 times that they were tied in a playoff series. In the end, Kobe is still the best player on the floor. He's 4-1 in Game 7's and I expect him to move to 5-1, spoiling George Karl's birthday along the way. *10
|05-10-12||Atlanta Hawks +6.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||80-83||Win||100||10 h 5 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ATLANTA. The Celtics will surely be hungry to close this thing out tonight. Obviously, the last thing they want to do is to have to go back to Atlanta to play Game 7. I don't expect Atlanta to just roll over though. Rather, I expect Boston to have its hand full the entire way; if the Hawks do go down, I believe that they'll do so kicking and screaming right up until the final buzzer. The last game here at Boston was indeed a blowout. The Celtics were hitting their shots at a remarkable rate out of the gate and had a 64-41 lead at halftime. However, that was the only game in this series which wasn't decided by single-digits. The other game at Boston saw the Celtics win by six. That game went to overtime. So, it was even closer than the final score suggests. Meanwhile, last game was decided by a single point. I believe that these teams are more equally matched than many others probably feel they are and I'm expecting another game which comes down to the wire. That being the case, I feel the fairly large number is providing us with very fair value. It should also be pointed out that with such a low O/U number, every point becomes a little more valuable - than say, a game which has an O/U line of 200. Many will expect the Celtics to come out with a vengeance, set on getting payback from the Game 5 loss and ending this thing once and for all. It may well happen. But, we should at least consider that the Celts are only 13-17 ATS (14-16 SU) the last 30 times that they faced a team which had defeated them in the previous meeting. So, payback is not always a certainty. Additionally, note that the Celts are also just 13-17 ATS their last 30 as home favorites in the -6.5 to -9.5 range. So, this isn't one of their best roles, either. It should be noted that the blowout in Game 4 was the game which Horford returned. Sometimes it can be hard for a team to adjust to the return of a player. Whether or not that had anything to do with Game 4 being the only lopsided game, the Hawks are getting healthier now, as Horford has a couple of games under his belt. He returned to the starting lineup last time out and had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Smith who had got knocked out of Game 3 also had a double-double last time out. Coach Drew noted: "I know Josh is still having a little discomfort in his knee but he is playing through the pain. I think everybody else is fine.'' In addition to being healthier than they were, the Hawks also have no pressure on them, as they are expected to lose. Down 3-1, they were already written off. They've been here before (now 11-7 ATS in 1st round last three years) and I look for them to put up a much tougher fight than many will be expecting them too. *10
|05-09-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Memphis Grizzlies -6||Top||80-92||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MEMPHIS. We have to lay a little larger of a number because the Grizzlies are in a "must win" situation here. I feel that it will prove to be well worth it though, as I expect Memphis to respond with its very best effort. While the Clippers are in control of the series, the Grizzlies have been in every single game and could easily be the team which has the series lead. As a result, they remain confident. They won the last game here by seven points, after their memorably meltdown in the opener here. Keep in mind that the Grizzlies are 27-8 here while the Clippers are 17-18 on the road. While their chances of winning the entire series are obviously pretty slim now, I still believe this the Grizzlies are both talented and well-coached. Lets also not forget that this Memphis team beat the Spurs last playoffs and went all the way to Game 7 against the Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals. They're battle-tested and not about to just pack it in, based on a few tough losses. Mike Conley summed up the team's mindset: "It could be the last game for us. We've got to give everything we got regardless if guys are happy, if guys are not. You have got to play for one another and understand that winning is all that matters at this point. It doesn't matter how we do it. It doesn't matter who steps up or who doesn't. We have to win.'' Coach Hollins added: "We have to win one game, that's the game here at home before us and that's basically all we can worry about." I feel that Hollins' crew can and will get the victory (and cover!) and that's all I'm going to worry about too. *10