Friday February 22nd 2013 - Posted 5:30 PM Eastern Time

In this industry, handicappers are asked to perform the near impossible. We are asked to look at a particular game and decide not only who wins and loses but by how much of a margin they will either win or lose. We are asked to not only do it once, but to continue to do it and be correct with our predictions each and every time.

I wanted to take a moment to address something. Last night, while it was ultimately a winning night, didn't really sit well with me. For those who know me or have followed me for a while know that I am somewhat of a perfectionist and that when I release a play that I have every intention of being on winning side. For whatever my reasons are for a certain selection, whether it be stats, trends or just "gut feeling", I always feel that I am on the right side. When that doesn't happen and we are not on the right side I am extremely critical on myself and always try to look at where I possibly may have made a mistake. Sometimes losses can just be attributed to "bad luck", which could be a number of things but other times there really is not and explanation and those are the ones that seem to sting the most.

In the Chicago Bulls / Miami Heat game, things probably couldn't have played out worse for the Bulls. The Bulls were at home, getting 3.5 points against a Heat team that they had statistically dominated in the past. All of the stats and trends pointed to a close game with Chicago potentially winning outright, however that didn't happen. Kirk Heinrich who was listed as a game-time decision did not play. Although that was a blow to the roster, Heinrich not playing did not ultimately cause what happened last night, I believe his injury was a non-factor. The Bulls defense was able to hold a Miami Heat team who typically averages 104 points per game to 86 points for the game! That is what was needed in order for the Bulls to secure a win. That was a complete win and testament to the Bulls defense . Where they were lacking was on the offensive side of the ball. The Bulls shot only 37% for the game while committing close to 30 turnovers! I don't care which team does that, you can not win many games having that kind of performance. There is no excuse for scoring less than 70 points in a game, especially at home, but that's what happened. Had the Bulls offense actually "shown up" for the game, things will have probably played out differently and we would have swept the card winning all 3 plays. But that just goes to show that games like this happen in this business from time to time and no amount of analysis can predict something like that. A person can analyze statistics and trends and formulate what they feel is a winning selection, but besides that everything else is out of a person's hands. The players and teams are the ones who have to play the game in order to make the prediction valid. This is just one of those games that played out the way it did, with no rhyme or reason.

For those who know me know that I am not one to make excuses. A win is a win and ultimately a loss is a loss. I accept that and understand that losing sometimes is just part of the business. My intention was just to shed some light on the game for some who may see things in "black and white" when they should really be looking at things as a whole. It was still a profitable 2-1 night and now that that game is behind us it's on to today's card.

#1: Take Memphis Grizzlies at -14 spread against Orlando Magic risking 3 units. (8:05 PM)

When it comes to the NBA, laying 14 points against any team is always a risky proposition and is not something that I would advise against doing usually. However, when the circumstances make sense then there could actually be some value that presents itself when laying a number as big as this; this is one of those instances I feel.

The Orlando Magic have been a poor team for a while. They have a season record of 15 wins and 39 losses. They have just 1 win in the last 16 games and have covered the spread just twice in their last 16. The Magic is also a team that is beaten up. They currently have four players out on the injured list. To make matters worse for the Magic, they just recently traded arguably their best player to Milwaukee in JJ Reddick. Reddick was the driving force of this injury riddled team and accounted for an average of 17 points per game. Big Baby is out, Reddick is out, Jameer Nelson is out, Torkoglu is out, Harrington is out and all of the newly aquired talent that the Magic gained for Reddick will not start tonight. Who does that leave for the Magic?

The Grizzlies are one of the most dominant defensive teams in the league and are currently giving up just under 90 points per game. On their home court they are even more aggressive. Tonight the Grizzlies will have a completely healthy line up on the floor and coming in with a 5 game winning streak (4-1 ATS) the Grizzlies should be in full attack mode. The Grizzlies are also one of the strongest rebounding teams in the league and should be able to knock the Magic around near the glass to get second chance opportunities while adding to their possession time, which potentially equates to points on the board.

Right now the Magic are a team that is severely in re-building mode. They have never quite recovered from losing Dwight Howard and it appears that Orlando is simply "blowing things up" and starting fresh. The Magic have lost by 13, 15 and 32 in their last 3 games and tonight is another blowout waiting to happen. This is the type of game where you simply forget about the point spread and sit back and watch the blowout happen. This game is not going to be pretty. Lay the points.

Some trends to consider:

Memphis is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 Friday games (10-3 ATS on the season)

Magic are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 meeting with Memphis

Magic are 1-9 ATS when playing on 1 days rest

Magic are 0-4 ATS against SW division opponents this season

#2: Take Boston Celtics at -2 spread against Phoenix Suns risking 3 Units. (9:05 PM)

The only reason Boston isn't a bigger favorite here is due to the fact that they have struggled on the road lately dropping 6 of their last 7. The Celtics are the head and shoulder better team in this game. Phoenix has struggled a majority of the season while trying to adjust to life without Steve Nash. The Suns are just 18-37 on the year and most recently have dropped 5 of their last 6 games, failing to reach the 90 point mark in half of those games. The Suns just do not have the offensive firepower to hang with most teams in the league. They have no "go to" player that will carry them when times get tough. They are simply a group of individual players people playing basketball and are not necessarily a "team".

The Celtics on the other hand is the epitome of a "team". The Celtics have players all over the court who can and have stepped up in a moments' notice to carry the team when needed. Paul Peirce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Brandon Bass. All of these players have assumed and embraced their role in the so-called team and when one Celtic is struggling, another will step up and share the load. That's what being a team player is all about and thats what the Celtics do, they simply find ways to win. If you look at the Celtics' last 7 road games, I wasn't terribly surprised to see that they lost those games. At the time they were facing teams that were either "surging" like the Cleveland Cavs or Detroit Pistons or facing teams looking for revenge like the Denver Nuggets and LA Lakers. Boston has been competitive away from home, they just have not had what it takes to close out the games. I think tonight they figure it out.

Boston made a nice trade to get young guard Jordan Crawford. Crawford could immediately become a difference maker and gives Celtics an offensive scorer who can also guard bigger players, something the Celtics have been missing. Crawford is going to be able to score on his own or distribute the ball to the open man. Phoenix has won 3 games in their last 10 attempts and only one of those teams was a plus .500 team. The defense of the Celtics should be able to smother the already anemic offense of the Suns and give the Celtics their first win since the break. Lay the points as the Suns are simply out matched.


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