Busy MLK Day

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

BUSY MLK DAY IN THE NBA GETS US BACK UP TO SPEED

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

What a great way to review several teams at once!

The NBA had its traditionally huge MLK-DAY card on Monday. Let's crunch some numbers and get caught up on everyone playing on the afternoon slate. Summaries are presented in rotation order for your convenience...

NEW YORK 99, DETROIT 91
Shooting Percentage: Detroit 41%, New York 49%
Three-Pointers: Detroit 0/12, New York 10/22
Free Throws: Detroit 13/19, New York 17/22
Rebounds: Detroit 46, New York 39
Turnovers: Detroit 12, New York 18
Vegas Line: New York by 7, total of 191
Comments: The Knicks are now 9-3 straight up their last 12 home games (8-4 ATS), and are at least looking like a team that might be in the playoff mix (granted that you can be pretty bad and be in the playoff mix in the East). Remember that New York started the season 3-14. Quickly want to mention that New York is playing a lot of Unders this year. The line is starting to catch up. But, this game shaded below the Vegas total...bringing the Knicks to 16-25 to the Under at their midway point. There's a bit more defense here than you realize...and a bit less craziness on offense. Detroit's loss ends a little three-game winning streak. That came on the heels of a 13 game losing streak! So, you can consider the Pistons 3-1 the last four, or 3-14 the last 17. We're not very excited about either team with their current rosters. We'll pick spots with either when we're getting word that they're motivated. Based on recent form, that would mean more plays on the Knicks than the Pistons.

WASHINGTON 97, PORTLAND 92
Shooting Percentage: Portland 45%, Washington 52%
Three-Pointers: Portland 3/17, Washington 2/8
Free Throws: Portland 15/16, Washington 25/28
Rebounds: Portland 39, Washington 33
Turnovers: Portland 14, Washington 13
Vegas Line: Washington by 2, total of 194
Comments: You regular readers know we&'d consider the loss of Gilbert Arenas a positive for Washington over the long haul. He's a selfish player who demoralizes his teammates by forcing up bad shots all the time. Demoralized players don't play defense, so Arenas kills them on both sides of the ball. They showed up here, and obviously played GREAT on offense without him. This isn't a talented squad, so we aren't expecting a dramatic improvement. We do expect to see a team that's going to try when they're supposed to. That will get you the money against Vegas lines if you stay in rhythm with the team. Three straight covers now for the Wizards. Portland just played nine of 11 games at home. They'll have to re-focus on playing 48 full minutes again. They faded at the end here in a game that was very winnable.

CHARLOTTE 105, SACRAMENTO 103
Shooting Percentage: Sacramento 49%, Charlotte 47%
Three-Pointers: Sacramento 7/27, Charlotte 5/16
Free Throws: Sacramento 14/21, Charlotte 22/33
Rebounds: Sacramento 46, Charlotte 34
Turnovers: Sacramento 20, Charlotte 10
Vegas Line: Charlotte by 7, total of 197
Comments: Sacramento rallied from way behind to get the cover if not the straight up win. They're still a poor 1-9 straight up the last 10 games after a stunning 14-16 start (stunning because they were supposed to be a doormat). The ATS mark is 2-7-1 ATS in that stretch. So, today's rally for a cover broke that tendency. Charlotte is now 10-3 straight up its last 13 games...but showed today that they can be hard to trust as a favorite of this size. Some teams just don't know how to win by big margins! We'll take the Bobcats in value spots (12-6 ATS their last 18 by the way), but we know to be careful once the prices get too high.

OKLAHOMA CITY 94, ATLANTA 91
Shooting Percentage: OK City 45%, Atlanta 40%
Three-Pointers: OK City 4/9, Atlanta 4/16
Free Throws: OK City 22/26, Atlanta 15/21
Rebounds: OK City 48, Atlanta 44
Turnovers: OK City 11, Atlanta 8
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 5, total of 194
Comments: This was the most appealing matchup of the day games (some of the big boys were saved for prime time TV). Atlanta is a clear 'fourth threat' behind Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando in the East. Oklahoma City has made great strides this year. Kevin Durant is a stud offensively...and the rest of the team is bailing out his soft defense. That was the story today, as Oklahoma City (getting respect in the line at +5) managed to win outright thanks to a solid defensive effort. They didn't force a lot of turnovers, but they didn't allow many open looks either. We like both of these teams this year. Atlanta will get the money against the patsy class (the bench loves running up the score), and there's a big patsy class this season. Oklahoma City is now 25-16 ATS for the year, better than 60% against Vegas expectations. Nice young teams that are fun to root for. Atlanta isn't a bunch of kids or anything...but so many of the contenders are loaded with old veterans that they seem young by comparison.

HOUSTON 101, MILWAUKEE 98 (in OT)
Shooting Percentage: Milwaukee 45%, Houston 42%
Three-Pointers: Milwaukee 9/25, Houston 6/24
Free Throws: Milwaukee 7/11, Houston 23/28
Rebounds: Milwaukee 50, Houston 49
Turnovers: Milwaukee 15, Houston 11
Vegas Line: Houston by 6, total of 194
Comments: See-saw game that had both teams posting hot quarters on the way to a tie at the end of regulation. Houston managed to get the win (similar to their victory in OT over Minnesota the other night) while not looking very impressive. Houston was outshot, out-treyed, and outrebounded. Free throws bailed them out, as they did a better job of attacking the basket and earning bonus points. Milwaukee has been in a bit of a slump lately. The Brandon Jennings era started off with a bang but petered out. Milwaukee is now 8-20 straight up its last 28 games. Houston is in a bit of a fade itself. The Rockets are 3-10 ATS the last 13 games. When you have role players trying to overachieve to make up for missing starts...those role players eventually run out of gas.


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MINNESOTA 108, PHILADELPHIA 103 (in OT)
Shooting Percentage: Philadelphia 48%, Minnesota 47%
Three-Pointers: Philadelphia 6/19, Minnesota 7/12
Free Throws: Philadelphia 17/24, Minnesota 19/22
Rebounds: Philadelphia 39, Minnesota 43
Turnovers: Philadelphia 14, Minnesota 16
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 3, total of 204
Comments: Big rally for Minnesota after falling way behind in the first half. They weren't rewarded the other night in Houston, but were here against a Philadelphia team that's much worse than it has any right to be. Allen Iverson is back in the lineup, but they can't beat Minnesota! The Timberwolves were 1-9 straight up the prior 10 games, and are one of the worst teams of the decade. The Sixers are 8-21 straight up their last 29 games. It was just two years ago that we were raving about what a great 'hidden' team Philly had become. For three months they literally matched eventual champion Boston game for game. Now, they're about the same as the Timberwolves. Stunning development. Like a slow moving train wreck.

LA CLIPPERS 106, NEW JERSEY 95
Shooting Percentage: New Jersey 46%, Clippers 56%
Three-Pointers: New Jersey 3/13, Clippers 3/12
Free Throws: New Jersey 16/20, Clippers 23/29
Rebounds: New Jersey 29, Clippers 37
Turnovers: New Jersey 11, Clippers 17
Vegas Line: LA Clippers by 8, total of 195
Comments: We got down on the Clippers early in the season when they weren't living up to preseason hype. They've actually become a decent team. Not that beating New Jersey is cause to throw a parade. The Nets are now 3-37 straight up at the 40-game mark. The Clippers are playing like they care. And, they had a 22-point lead here entering the fourth quarter. Their scrubs are lousy, but the starters have triggered a 9-2 ATS run the last 11 games. We have to say we're surprised that Vegas oddsmakers have been so slow to punish the Nets for their horrible play. New Jersey is 13-27 ATS (failing to cover more than two-thirds of the time) even though EVERYONE knew they&'d be awful from the opening game. How can it take THIS long for a line to catch up? That's what happens when sportsbooks pay more attention to college football, pro football, and college basketball than they do the NBA.

SAN ANTONIO 97, NEW ORLEANS 90
Shooting Percentage: San Antonio 42%, New Orleans 46%
Three-Pointers: San Antonio 7/18, New Orleans 4/13
Free Throws: San Antonio 24/38, New Orleans 10/12
Rebounds: San Antonio 50, New Orleans 38
Turnovers: San Antonio 9, New Orleans 9
Vegas Line: Pick, total of 189
Comments: San Antonio led by 17 points entering the fourth quarter, and relaxed a bit too soon. They don't have that blowout energy that some superpowers enjoy. They want to get the game over with and move on to the next battle. That can make them a team to avoid as big favorites. Here, it was just pick-em...and they were the superior side by a good bit. Note the free throw advantage for the visitors. To win attempts by THAT much on the road, you really have to be attacking the basket aggressively. Big edge on the boards too. San Antonio is now 16-6 straight up its last 22 games...and is suggesting they might be a force in the playoffs after all. Can they reach the postseason healthy? Big question for this group.

GOLDEN STATE 114, CHICAGO 97
Shooting Percentage: Chicago 37%, Golden State 44%
Three-Pointers: Chicago 5/10, Golden State 9/22
Free Throws: Chicago 22/33, Golden State 21/32
Rebounds: Chicago 53, Golden State 57
Turnovers: Chicago 13, Golden State 13
Vegas Line: Chicago by 2, total of 216
Comments: Golden State has been covering games lately without winning them. They managed to both here. This makes the Warriors 9-3 ATS the last 12 games even if they don't strike anyone as a particularly hot team (still 6-17 straight up the last 23 games). Either they played great defense today, or the Bulls didn't show up. With Vinny Del Negro's bunch, that's a definite possibility. Chicago had been on a good run of late though, and is still 8-4 straight up, 9-3 ATS over its last 12 games. Is the sign of a new slump, or just a blip on the radar? Time will tell. We don't think too highly of Del Negro at this point. The Bulls are getting some recent results (before today anyway), so we'll stay in close contact with our sources on the issue.

If you're like most do-it-yourself handicappers, you're having trouble in the NBA this year. You don't have sources in all the pro hoop cities (like JIM HURLEY does), you don't know any stat handicappers who work exclusively in this sport (JIM HURLEY has always hired pro-hoop experts through his 25 years running NETWORK). You don't have state-of-the-art computer simulation programs spitting out the final scores of games before they're played. You don't have Wise Guy connections behind the line in Las Vegas and offshore telling you what the smart money is doing.

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Thanks for joining us today for some NBA commentary. Back tomorrow to talk college hoops. Make sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's really happening in the world of sports handicapping!

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22
Nov

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