Wednesday, Jan 23rd 2013

#1: Take LA Lakers +4 against Memphis Grizzlies risking 2 Units (8:05pm)

Have you heard the expression "Buy low and sell high"? That is exactly what we are doing in this game. The Lakers are at an ALL time low right now! They have struggled the better part of the season to find any sort of chemistry or rhythmn with their play-makers and EVERYBODY KNOWS IT. It's no secret that the Lakers pretty much stink this year and a lot of people have written them off, that's where our advantage is. People will look at this game and think "Memphis... great defensive team, tough and home, Lakers stink, Grizzlies beat Lakers once already, Grizzlies win"...simple right? I'm not so sure.

Not much has changed since these teams early meeting right before Thanksgiving in terms of the Lakers winning. Actually what I should say is not much has changed but a lot has changed at the same time. Let me explain.

On Nov 23rd, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph had great games. Gay finished with 21 points and Randolph got himself yet another double-double. Kobe Bryant had a 30 point game however none of the other Lakers contributed much in that contest yet the Lakers still were able to score 98 points and only lost by 8. I must remind everyone that that was 2 month ago when this Lakers team was fairly new to playing together. It doesn't appear that there is any more chemistry now than there was back then, but two months of playing together in a new scheme could make a bit of difference. The main difference in this game tonight however is the fact that Steve Nash will be in the line-up controlling the floor. Nash was sidelined during the first meeting. Nash is a key part of this Lakers offense and could be the difference maker in this game. Currently Nash has posted 11.2 points and 8.6 assists per game this season. He has also been remarkably accurate with his shots, shooting 52 percent from the field and 39 percent from long range. That is absolutely huge for this team in this matchup. This is the Lakers time right now to step up and show something. They are finally fully healthy and will have all of their key players on the floor tonight. Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will all be present and there is no reason that the run-and-gun game should not be in full force.

As good as the perception of the Grizzlies are, in reality they are slumping themselves right now. Memphis has lost four of its last six, and has averaged just 81 points scored per game over that stretch. Granted, Memphis is the second-worst scoring team in the league, but the Grizzlies still manage to put up 93 points per contest. The Lakers will need to take full advantage of this slump in spite of the fact that Memphis also ranks second in points allowed, at 89 points per game. The Lakers are fifth in scoring and can use their fast-paced approach to take advantage of the Grizzlies' struggles. The Lakers (3rd) are also a much better rebounding team than the Grizzlies (12th) which could be a major difference in this game.

For all of the Lakers struggles, I think they march into Memphis tonight and get a win. Yes, Memphis is the better defensive team, but the Lakers will be fully stocked and ready to play. The Grizzlies will put up a good fight and this game will more than likely be close however I see the Grizzlies offensive struggles continuing tonight and that is just not something that bodes well against a Lakers team that can put points up on the board. How many games do the Lakers have to lose before a fire is lit under them? I predict that Rudy Gay will have another sub-par shooting night, as will Zach Randolph. Those two are the team's best scorers and an off night from them will result in a loss for Memphis. For the Lakers, Steve Nash will be in full play-making mode and will distribute the ball and find the open man. Kobe Bryant will have a great game (as usual), as will Pau Gasol off the bench. Even Dwight Howard will likely show some semblance of his old self (which has been lacking recently) as I believe he matches up well with Marc Gasol. This will be a low scoring game and I believe the points will come into play...take them.

#2: Take Denver Nuggets +3 against Houston Rockets risking 2 Units (8:05pm)

The Denver Nuggets have won seven of their last 10 games which included a 121-118 overtime victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder as one-point home underdogs last time out, a game in which I thought the Thunder would have won. Corey Brewer was an absolute terror for the Thunder and has really started to come into his own. The Nuggets are asserting themselves as an extremely deep team and when all 10 players in the rotation come together, they are extremely efficient and very hard to stop. The Nuggets' depth is showing that they have the ability to hang in to the end with any team in the league.

The Houston Rockets ended their seven-game losing streak by beating the lowly Charlotte Bobcats the other night in a game where they were losing for the better part of 40 minutes! Houston had lost 7 straight up to that point and it's worth noting that they had compiled an 0-8 ATS record during that span. A win over a team like the Bobcats isn't exactly something to brag about, or even enough to really spark any excitement from their players. It was a game that they were "supposed" to win, but almost didn't. Part of that is due to the fact that the Rockets have the league's worst defense and are giving up an average of 103 points per game! They may also be the leagues highest scoring team at 104 points per game however that one-point margin per game is razor-thin especially when most of the offense comes courtesy of just two players- James Harden and Jeremy Lin. If either of those guys have an "off night", it typically spells a loss for this Rockets team. Over his last 10 games, James Harden has averaged over 24 points a game, but on just 38% shooting. Denver has a lot of momentum going for them right now while Houston has been struggling and I predict that Houston will continue to struggle. The Bobcats and 7 other teams prior have given the Rockets problems and I believe the Nuggets are a step up in competition from any teams that they have recently faced. The Nuggets are also the leagues best rebounding team (even on the road) so that is just another aspect that Houston is going to have to deal with. The only thing at this point that Houston has going for them is the fact that they are at home. In a game that could potentially go either way I am more inclined to take the points.

#3: Take Portland Trailblazers -1 against Indiana Pacers risking 2 Units (10:05pm)

Indiana is certainly one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference with a 16-5 record in its last 21 games. They have also won their last six games against Western Conference opponents which is an important statistic to consider when looking at this matchup. The Blazers picked up a win against Indiana, 99-92 as three-point home underdogs in the first meeting earlier this year. On the other side, Portland has lost six games in a row, including the first three of its current five-game home stand. The Trail Blazers suffered an upset loss to the lowly Washington Wizards last time out.

What I find interesting about this game is that Indiana is one of the hottest teams in the East right now, having won 16 of their last 21 games while Portland has lost 6 in a row, including 3 straight at home yet Portland is favored in this game? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense does it? A huge portion of public's money is coming in on the Pacers and yet the line still has not moved. This game simply reeks of a "trap". Do not fall for it. There are a number a factors that support a Blazers victory here.

The Trail Blazers have won the last three meetings against the Pacers at the Rose Garden and have covered in 6 of the last 7 meetings between these two teams. Also only two of the last seven games played in this series have been decided by less than 10 points. Portland has played 10 consecutive games decided by six points or less, which is not only a new team record but shows that they are competitive in the recent games that they have lost. Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge has nine double-doubles in the month of January and is tied for the most in the NBA. Portland is also 10-5 ATS as a home favorite of three points or less since 2010 while Indiana is 0-4 ATS this season as a road underdog of up to 3 points. Those are some pretty compelling stats and it makes a decent argument of why this line may seem off. Tonight we go against the public as Portland turns things around gets a much needed win.


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