NBA Betting and Handicapping: Scouting The Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 1/30/2012
I really hate the Orlando Magic.
Dedicated readers no doubt saw my preview story for last Thursday’s NBA on TNT opener, the Boston Celtics at the Magic. I expected a Magic blowout and thus predicted an easy cover of the eight-point spread. And things sure looked good as Orlando took a 27-point lead on Boston, which was without Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo (Rondo was supposed to play but was a late scratch).
But the Magic imploded. They led by 11 points entering the fourth quarter before shooting 2-for-17 from the field in the final 12 minutes. They scored just eight points in the period to lose, 91-83. That followed a 31-point loss at Boston last Monday (Orlando did surprise Indiana on Tuesday). And then the Magic went out and quit again, losing 106-85 to those same Pacers back in central Florida.
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I think the Dwight Howard mess has finally caught up to this team. Notice how he’s adding new clubs to his desired location list? Recently it was the Celtics and now he says the Bulls would be OK as well. Howard can opt out of his current deal after this season and had listed the Lakers, Nets, Mavericks and the Clippers as preferred teams. He also recently publicly ripped his teammates.
I guess my betting point here is that I would steer clear of backing Orlando (9-10-1 ATS) for a while. Things could get worse, too. The Magic play at Philadelphia (-7) on Monday, continuing a stretch of six games in eight nights.
Previewing the week
Another toxic team right now is the New York Knicks – let the Phil Jackson Watch begin in the Big Apple.
The Knicks have lost three in a row and nine of 10 entering Tuesday’s home game against the Detroit Pistons. It is pretty evident that the Carmelo Anthony-Amare Stoudemire pairing isn’t working and it could cost coach Mike D’Antoni his job (think regrets not taking the Chicago job when he had the chance?).
D’Antoni is supposed to be an offensive guru, but the Knicks haven’t even reached 90 points in five of their past seven games. In fairness, the Knicks haven’t had Carmelo the past two games due to ankle/wrist injuries, but he had been pretty lousy for a couple of games before he was shelved.
New York should get a win on Tuesday night with the wretched Pistons visiting as Detroit has one road win all season and is just 2-8 ATS. But it appears Anthony won’t play again – look for him in Thursday’s TNT game vs. the Bulls – and the Knicks are a terrible bet at the Garden, going a ridiculous 1-8 ATS at home. If New York loses that one, D’Antoni better get his resume out.
It’s a good ESPN opener on Wednesday night when Oklahoma City visits Dallas. The Mavs recently got the injured Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter back in the lineup but lost point guard Jason Kidd again. He’s likely to miss at least a week with a strained calf suffered Friday night. Kidd, 38, missed four games earlier this month and has already nearly tripled the number of games missed this season than in any of his past six seasons. The Mavs really miss Roddy Beaubois with Kidd showing his age.
As long as Dirk plays look for the Mavs to be favored by a couple points, but I love the Thunder there. OKC does have a rough week, playing at the Clippers on Monday and then following the Dallas game by hosting Memphis on Friday and visiting San Antonio on Saturday.
I mentioned that Bulls-Knicks opens Thursday’s TNT doubleheader, followed by the Nuggets visiting those Clippers in what should be a very entertaining matchup. I like Denver to steal that one as a likely five-point underdog as Los Angeles will be playing the second of a back-to-back after visiting Utah on Wednesday.
On Friday the game I most look forward to is the Heat visiting the surprising 76ers. It’s the No. 1 offense of the Heat against the NBA’s top defense of Philly. The Big 3 against one of the deepest teams in the league. The Sixers have been great for bettors, leading the NBA with a 15-5 ATS mark entering this week. Miami is just 3-6 ATS on the road entering the week. ESPN’s doubleheader that night is solid: Knicks at Celtics and Lakers at Nuggets.
Rather odd that the NBA makes Denver fly back home to face the other L.A. team the night after playing in Hollywood. And I am going big-time against Denver on Saturday as the Nugs finish their back-to-back-to-back by visiting Portland in an NBA TV game. Blazers should be about a six-point favorite there on the NBA odds barring injury, but I am all over them – Portland is 8-2 ATS at home entering this week. Of course, Denver has the same road ATS mark. But three games in three nights will kill any team.