Friday Noir

  • Chicago 97 Boston 81

An easy cover. After a 2-7 start, I’m now 11-9 overall when betting the favorite and giving the points.

Which means I’m on a 9-2 run in this type of game.

Which means I must be learning. Or I’ve learned. Or I’m good at this.

Right?

Right?

Well, here’s another way to look at it: someone flipping a coin can easily go on a 9-2 run of heads. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a coin flip, and it doesn’t mean the coinflipper knows anything.

And another way: the coinflipping analogy is too reductive. Maybe there were a few random outcomes in that 2-7 debut and/or the current 9-2 streak, and yes, those are small samples, but it might matter that the good results have followed the bad in the timeline, and it’s the direction that counts.

And another way still: yapping about samples, random outcomes and directions fools no one–I’m moments away from asserting I have…a system. I can look at the 2-7 and 9-2 runs as unrelated sets, find the flaw in the former, note how it’s been corrected in the latter, and presto–anyone can do what I’ve done. Just note the insight and follow the steps.

Or maybe this is the truth: the mix of learning and luck is indivisible and unquantifiable. If there’s any revelation here, it’s that there is no system: NBA wagering is a game-by-game proposition, where the vast superiority of one team isn’t nearly enough to go on–not when one must contend with stalemates and mismatches at five positions on the floor, plus the bench, plus the coaches, plus the vagaries of garbage time, tired legs, bad shooting nights, midweek blahs and in-season trades clouding every oddsmaker’s line.

There. I feel better. Here’s what’s on tonight:

  • $220 to win $200 on the Los Angeles Clippers on the road getting 10 from Dallas

Kidd missed this morning’s shootaround. Chandler’s back hurts. If they play, it’s likely they’ll be limited. It’s also likely Juan Barea will spend a lot of time at the point with Roddy Beaubois at the two.

Which means the Clipper backcourt tandem of Williams and Gordon suddenly looks big by comparison. Or lightning fast, when the decrepit Terry and Stojakovich spell the Dallas newbies. Williams will drive and Gordon will get open looks, and because Nowitzki doesn’t defend even when hale (he isn’t), the air defense against the blitzkrieg of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan falls to a statue called Brendan Haywood.

Yipes.

The Mavs might win, but this looks like youthful speed versus worn-down expertise, and that’s too many points for Dallas to concede to a spry, rested team.

Go Clippers.

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It’s More Than A Feeling, Boston

Thursday’s early lines are up, and I’m jumping:

  • $165 to win $150 on Chicago at home giving 4.5 to Boston

Wadeless Miami’s Wednesday night loss seemingly boosts the Celtics’ incentive to win in Chicago, but then again, Boston is tired and battered; the Three Party has carried too much of the load in recent weeks, what with the spate of frontline injuries, the envervating swap of Perkins for Green, and the mysterious decline of Rondo.

Even with a loss tomorrow, the conference and head-to-head tiebreakers favor Boston, and the Celts will close out their regular season with three cupcakes and a road scuffle in Miami.

So the question is whether they’ll risk leaving blood on the floor in Chicago, failing, then facing the prospect of still having to beat the Heat once more.

I think the likelier scenario is Boston recognizing the path of least resistance to the East’s second seed doesn’t run through Chicago Thursday night, but rather Miami this weekend.

Chicago, meanwhile, is a young team with a chance to clinch the franchise’s first post-Jordan top seed before what should be a raucous home crowd. What’s old hat for the veteran Celts is prized by the Bulls; I expect early jitters followed by Derrick Rose, Derrick Rose, Derrick Rose.

Here’s hoping Boston sees the schedule as I do.

Go Bulls.

Dark Horses

  • Utah 86 Los Angeles Lakers 85

The losing streak ends at one, and everything I wrote yesterday came to pass save a Utah defeat.

I’ll say it again: the prose makes me happier than the win. Which explains why I’m writing rather than actually wagering.

I’m now 14-1 when taking points, and my dogs aren’t dogs–they’re dark horses, having sprung 7 upsets in 15 attempts.

While watching last night’s comfortable wager, I was tempted to jump on a couple of early Wednesday lines: Sacramento getting 12.5 at San Antonio, and the Golden State Warriors, at home, getting 7.5 versus the laconic Lakers. All four teams played Tuesday, so the draws were young legs against old, and superior squads conserving energy.

This morning, unfortunately, those lines have dropped two points each, and now the only temptations are Washington getting a preposterous 11.5 points at Indiana, and a rested New Orleans giving 2.5 at home to Houston.

I can’t see risking $150 on Washington playing well for a fourth consecutive game, particularly in a back-to-back after a flight to the Midwest, and especially because Andray Blatche is involved.

And while I suspect that New Orleans will win easily, there’s no way of knowing whether Houston is desperate or dispirited after last night’s Sacto debacle. The risk of the former could make 2.5 a good line, and the wager a coinflip.

So no bets tonight, and perhaps none for tomorrow’s two-game NBA slate, unless one of the Thursday’s early lines makes no sense. All I know is that next time I see an early line that doesn’t make sense, I won’t hesitate.

Broken. Tenacious.

Utah is rudderless and dreadful. Their backcourt has been abandoned and demolished by injury, and there’s no indication their coach can coach. They’ve lost eight in a row. Deservedly.

But the eyes don’t lie; the Jazz never quit. All appearances suggest the players believe in Ty Corbin, whom management has already signed to a long-term deal. There isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn’t want Jefferson and Millsap, nor a franchise that doesn’t look at the fight in Utah’s shorthanded crew and wonder if their team would react the same way if the chips were down.

So tonight’s bet is

  • $110 to win $100 on the Jazz on the road getting 14 from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Because the Lakers coast against teams that can’t hurt them. Because they know they have a tougher game in Oakland tomorrow night. Because Gasol and Bynum are banged up and likely won’t play their usual 36 minutes, if they play at all.

Because the Laker bench won’t shine in garbage time, and Utah will go down swinging.

Go Jazz.

Sumday

  • Sacramento 106 Utah 97
  • Houston 114 Atlanta 109

The Kings cover. The Rockets miss a push by a point.

My three doubling campaigns are 8-2 collectively, netting a mere $19 per wager, $5 less per pick than what I cleared when betting $100 almost every time out.

Oh, but the exponents…had one more Rockets shot found its way through the rim, that $19 average would have jumped to $103, and my profits would be double what they are now.

I had fun with the attempts, but I’m done with doubling, simply because I don’t want to risk more than half my current return on my next wager, which is what I’d have to do with a final campaign that now stands at 3-0 and $400.

I can get out of this season up at least 60% and 10 games over .500, so those are the baselines going forward. I’m currently 24-12, having won 21 of my last 25, with $815 in profit.

That means I have $215 to play with, and 2 losses to give in the final week of the NBA regular season. There are no games tonight, and if one doesn’t tempt in the next few days, I’ll write a wrap-up of what I learned (or what I thought I learned), enjoy the spring and summer, and return to the NFL and NBA when those leagues’ millionaires and billionaires work out their differences.

Waiting for the next set of lines…

Aren’t We All Day To Day?

  • Chicago 113 Toronto 106

With the Raptors getting 14.5 points from their hosts, I won this wager easily; the Bulls never led by more than 13, and the margin drifted between 4 and 9 most of the game.

I’m now 16-1 in my last 17 picks, thanks to a stressless bet by all accounts save one: I made the call just before gametime, only to discover Andrea Bargnani wasn’t playing. Had I known, I wouldn’t have taken the risk. I was only saved by the unexpected: the best game of the season by Bargnani’s replacement (a rookie named Ed Davis, who went for 17 and 11) in a passable impersonation of a dangerous starter. Whew.

Apparently, Day To Day is a meaningless injury designation in the NBA; Bargnani played well the game before, then sat (I suspect) because the Raptors have nothing to play for except next season, so players like Ed Davis are starting to get extended playing time.

Sunday’s slate appears to be loaded with temptations, but Day To Day clouds almost every scenario.

Detroit getting 10.5 at Boston attracts, but far more so if Nenad Kristic doesn’t play. Of course, he’s Day To Day, making the sussing out of a contest between a weary contender and a poor road team next to impossible.

And then there’s New Jersey at home getting 10.5 against Miami. Which sounds great now that Deron Williams is back, except rebounder extraordinaire Kris Humphries is Day To Day. If he doesn’t play, New Jersey will start Johan Petro out of position at power forward, and suddenly all those points don’t look so good.

Which leaves me with two wagers on a Sunday afternoon:

  • $220 to win $200 on Sacramento at home giving 6 to Utah
  • $440 to win $400 on Houston at home giving 6 to Atlanta

The Kings may be 21-54, but they’re healthy for the first time this season, they sport a huge front line that should match imploding Utah’s lone remaining strength (rhymes with both “Millsap” and “Jefferson”), and no one on the Jazz can guard Sacramento’s recent backcourt revelation, Marcus Thornton. Not to mention the fact that half the Utah roster is Day To Day. I think the Kings are primed to win handily in front of what may be the last weekend crowd to see an NBA in California’s capital. The fans have never abandoned this team, and I’m hoping the Kings respond with a fond farewell.

Meanwhile, the Rockets are peaking, at home, rested and desperate. Because of the talent in Atlanta’s front line and the streak shooting of Joe Johnson, the Hawks are always scary on paper. Largely though, this is a bet on guts versus lack versus lack of motivation, and the prowess of Rick Adelman over the struggles of Larry Drew. The Hawks are destined to finish fifth in the East, while every minute matters for Houston from here on out.

Should I lose these two, both my doubling campaigns end, and I think my NBA wagering for this season is done. Should the Rockets pick go my way, I’ll be one bet short of 5 in a row and the goal of a 32-fold payoff on a small stake. The Sacto wager could bring my lesser doubling campaign to three in a row.

Admittedly, they’re both riskier picks than I’ve made in recent days, and both are for higher stakes. I don’t know, of course. But I believe.

Go Rockets. Go Kings.

Saturday Night, Under the Wire

A Saturday night wager, 20 minutes before tipoff:

  • $220 to win $200 on Toronto getting 14.5 at Chicago

Because Noah isn’t playing, Chicago flew home for a second game in two nights, and Toronto is rested and has two scorers who can get off their own shots, even against good defenses. I like the Bulls to jump out early and coast, and I’m trusting all those points will pay off.

Go Raptors.