Wednesday's Results: 1-2
All Time Results: 17-13-1, +2.75 units of profit
Oklahoma City Thunder +2.5 @ Los Angeles Clippers - 1 Unit
1. The Los Angeles Clippers are riding high after dominating a soft part of their schedule and then ending the season of the "Big Brother" Lakers, Monday night. With their playoff status more secured - as the Wolves, Kings & Lakers have all cratered - and with time to luxuriate in their crown as the best team in Los Angeles, I expect this Clippers squad to come into this match up a little fat & happy. Let's just say Doc may have got in an extra 18 or two this week.
2. Even though the Thunder narrowly ended their 4-game skid last night @ Portland, they are still 1 loss away from losing 5 of 6 and 6 of 8 games. They can ill afford such a skid especially psychologically, as they are only 2.5 games out of the 6th spot. Home court advantage will be crucial for any of the teams in their tier. The Thunder's season will be an abject failure if they don't get out of the first round. The Clippers have 1st round exit written all over them whether they land 6th, 7th or 8th.
3. Clippers are 16-19 against teams above .500, the Thunder are 18-14 against winning teams.
4. Since Chris Paul left LA for Houston, the Thunder have won 5 of 6 against the Clippers & are 5-0 against them when Russell Westbrook plays. CP3's replacement, Patrick Beverley can frustrate a lot of half court magicians, but wrangling one of the most athletic players in the league in transition is an entirely different animal for the small guard.
5. I continue to think Westbrook can regain his shooting form from previous years. Not that he was ever great, but he was a lot better when he was an MVP caliber player. Shooting is a bizarre art & science and sometimes you're just one tweak away from regaining confidence. Agent 0 knocking down 5 of 8 threes last night was an encouraging sign.
6. Paul George has shown some rust in the 2 games returning from injury, shooting just 5 of 24 from 3. This might actually be a positive motivating factor for him to reassert himself in the MVP conversation. It also might be a reason for him to resist any effort the team makes to ask him to take the game off. He doesn't want to heal up nearly as badly as he wants to reestablish his rhythm, which recently described as "the best basketball of his life".
7. Caution: I know, I know. This is the 4th team I've picked on the road on a second night of a back to back, and so far I'm 0-3 on those picks. Don't get me wrong: I am learning and always noting these results. I have adjusted my standard B2B downgrade for a road team from 1.0 to 1.5 points. Even given this penalty for the Thunder, I'm still nowhere close to this current number. Should be a pick'em at the absolute best for the Clips.
Dallas Mavericks +7 @ Orlando Magic - .25 units
Dallas Mavericks +250 - .25 units
Story time: The Atlanta Hawks were the hottest team in the league in early March 2015. They had won 7 of 8 and 29 out of their last 34.
My friend Jay, the first professional sports bettor I've ever met, saw in their success a long term play that risked a lot to win a little. Neither of us were enamored with the intrinsic value of the 2014-2015 Hawks, who would go on to 62-win games and lose in the ECF. We didn't see a world beater, more just a team that was better than expectations in a conference where nobody else was. A well coached group, a talented group - a B to B+ group.
Next up for the Hawks was a 6 game Western Conference road trip against average to good teams, all of which would be underdogs to them. My friend made the following hypothesis: the surging Hawks will _not_ go undefeated on this trip.
To profit from his theory he outlined the following betting strategy, which profits so long as they Hawks would lose any one game on their road trip. He estimated what the money line would be for their opponent each game, given the Hawks kept winning.
Proposed bet#1: .1 unit on on Denver ML +200 ~ Potential profit = +0.2 units
Proposed bet#2 : .2 units on Phoenix ML +350 ~ Potential Profit= .7 units (Subtracted by the .1 unit from the Denver Bet) =+0.6 units.
Proposed bet#3: .3 units on LA Lakers ML +200 ~ Potential Profit = .6 units -(Subtracted by the .1 from Denver Bet & the .2 units from Phoenix bet) =+0.3 units
Proposed Bet #4: .3 units on Sacramento ML +330 ~ Potential Profit= +.99 units - (.1+2+.3) = +0.39 units
Proposed Bet #5: 1.1 units On GSW ML -110 ~ Potential Profit 1.0 units - (.1+.2 +.3+.3) = +0.1 units.
Proposed Bet #6: 2.0 units On OKC ML +130 ~ Potential Profit 2.6 units - (.1+.2+.3+.3+1.1) = +0.6 units.
Regardless of which game they loss, my friend Jay would profit between .1 and .6 units as long as they lost one game.
Of course there is one scenario where there would be no profit. If the Hawks won all 6 of these road contests, Jay would lose (.1+.2+.3+.3+1.1+2.0) 4.0 units. A bad loss but not crippling. Professionals are far more willing than recreational bettors to bet a lot to win a little.
My friend Jay was crazy like a fox, no doubt. Although I haven't employed such an ambitious strategy, I have always thought about the ways in which Jay would manufacture value by betting against a team multiple times - knowing that if he was wrong on the first game, he would get better value betting against them the next game. If the true value of the Hawks against OKC, the 6th game of their trip, was an even money proposition, by the time the Hawks won their next 5 games the market would make them significantly more expensive, and the Thunder would obtain more value, around at +130 or better.
I say all that to say that I don't think the Mavericks will lose all of their next 5 games. Not when ESPN runs the headline - "Are the Mavericks tanking too hard?". Someone in the organization noticed that story and didn't like it.
Every game the Mavs lose, the more important that at some point they actually win a game. They haven't won a road game since before the trade deadline. I am betting that they will win a road game again this season. Tonight might be their best shot, against a team that lacks top end potential on the perimeter and has shown a propensity to lose to the worst of the worst in the NBA.
2. The Orlando Magic are 1-4 in their last 5 against objectively terrible teams: only beating the Hawks & losing to the Cavs, Bulls, Knicks @ Wizards. They play their next 7 against below .500 teams - I also am betting that the Magic will lose to at least one of them.
3. Luka Doncic is getting out of his slump. After scuffling out of the All Star break, resting several games with soreness and playing badly in others, the presumptive ROY broke out for 31, 11 & 7 in his last game at Washington. He's looking like a difference maker again, and I like his match up tonight against a team that doesn't have a reliable wing defender to bother him nor a reliable offensive wing to keep him busy on the other end.