Handicapping Pick of the Day: Boston at Cleveland (10/27/09)

[FantasyBasketballDaily.com, October 27, 2009]  Today’s game of the day is the first game of the TNT Doubleheader at 7:30 pm EST.   Boston heads to Cleveland in what should be a low scoring defensive battle.  The current line on the game is Cleveland -4.5 with a total of 185.

This game started out at 186.5.  The pace of the game should be like watching paint dry.   Adding Shaq isn’t going to speed Cleveland up any, likewise for the recovering Kevin Garnett.  Last season Cleveland played at an 88.7 pace while Boston played at a 90.4 pace.  League average was 91.7.   In addition to the snails pace, both of these teams have excellent defenses.  Last season Boston was 2nd in the league with a 102.3 rating while Cleveland was 3rd in the league with a 102.4 rating.  League average was 108.3.   These defenses are so tough because they just suffocate opponents’ shooting.  Cleveland was the 2nd best in the league allowing opponents to shoot only 46.8 eFG%, while Boston was 3rd in the league only allowing opponents a 47.0 eFG%. 

Cleveland is missing Delonte West.  Boston will most likely limit Kevin Garnett to as few minutes as they can get away with.

Everything points to this being a low scoring affair and I’m going with the Under 185.

PICK:  Boston @ Cleveland Under 185

2009-2010 NBA Betting Season Win Totals (10/21/09)

I have posted the 2009-2010 NBA Season Win Totals below.  I’m really liking the over 41.5 for Washington, over 40.5 for Philadelphia and  over 40.5 for Toronto.  

2009-2010 NBA Season – 2009-2010 NBA Season Win Totals:

Atlanta Hawks

Over 45.5 (-115)

Under 45.5 (-115)

Boston Celtics

Over 57.5 (-115)

Under 57.5 (-115)

Charlotte Bobcats

Over 35.5 (-115)

Under 35.5 (-115)

Chicago Bulls

Over 41.5 (-115)

Under 41.5 (-115)

Cleveland Cavaliers

Over 61.5 (-120)

Under 61.5 (-115)

Dallas Mavericks

Over 48.5 (-120)

Under 48.5 (-115)

Denver Nuggets

Over 53.5 (-115)

Under 53.5 (-115)

Detroit Pistons

Over 40.5 (-115)

Under 40.5 (-115)

Golden State Warriors

Over 34.5 (-115)

Under 34.5 (-115)

Houston Rockets

Over 36.5 (-115)

Under 36.5 (-115)

Indiana Pacers

Over 34.5 (-115)

Under 34.5 (-115)

Los Angeles Clippers

Over 34.5 (-115)

Under 34.5 (-115)

Los Angeles Lakers

Over 62.5 (-120)

Under 62.5 (-115)

Memphis Grizzlies

Over 27.5 (-115)

Under 27.5 (-115)

Miami Heat

Over 41.5 (-115)

Under 41.5 (-115)

Milwaukee Bucks

Over 28.5 (-115)

Under 28.5 (-115)

Minnesota Timberwolves

Over 27.5 (-115)

Under 27.5 (-115)

New Jersey Nets

Over 27.5

Under 27.5

New Orleans Hornets

Over 46.5

Under 46.5 (-120)

New York Knicks

Over 31.5 (-115)

Under 31.5 (-115)

Oklahoma City Thunder

Over 34.5 (-115)

Under 34.5 (-115)

Orlando Magic

Over 57.5 (-120)

Under 57.5

Philadelphia 76ers

Over 40.5 (-120)

Under 40.5

Phoenix Suns

Over 40.5

Under 40.5 (-120)

Portland Trailblazers

Over 53.5 (-115)

Under 53.5 (-115)

Sacramento Kings

Over 23.5 (-105)

Under 23.5 (-125)

San Antonio Spurs

Over 54.5 (-115)

Under 54.5 (-115)

Toronto Raptors

Over 40.5 (-115)

Under 40.5 (-115)

Utah Jazz

Over 50.5 (-115)

Under 50.5 (-115)

Washington Wizards

Over 41.5 (-130)

Under 41.5 (even)

Odds to Win the 2009-2010 NBA Finals (10/10/09)

Posted Below are the odds to win the 2009-2010 NBA Finals.  Boston, Washington and LA Clippers have made pretty big moves up from the open, while Milwuakee, New Orleans, Phoenix and Houston have dropped.  Dallas at 12/1 and Washington at 25/1 might be decent plays and Philadelphia at 50/1 could be a longshot.  The one that really looks too expensive is Denver at 9/1. 

ODDS TO WIN THE 2009-10 NBA FINALS

Team Open Current
LA Lakers 3/1  5/2 
Cleveland 9/2  3/1 
Boston 6/1  9/2 
Orlando 5/1  6/1 
San Antonio 10/1  7/1 
Denver 8/1  9/1 
Dallas 12/1  12/1 
Portland 12/1  14/1 
Utah 15/1  15/1 
Houston 10/1  20/1 
Miami 25/1  20/1 
Atlanta 30/1  25/1 
Washington 50/1  25/1 
Chicago 30/1  30/1 
New Orleans 15/1  30/1 
Toronto 50/1  35/1 
Phoenix 18/1  40/1 
Philadelphia 40/1  50/1 
Detroit 40/1  50/1 
Golden State 100/1  75/1 
Indiana 40/1  75/1 
L.A. Clippers 200/1  75/1 
New York 75/1  100/1 
Charlotte 50/1  100/1 
New Jersey 50/1  100/1 
Milwaukee 75/1  125/1 
Memphis 200/1  125/1 
Minnesota 250/1  200/1 
Oklahoma City 250/1  200/1 
Sacramento 250/1  250/1 

Fantasy Sports Games Played for Real Money: Is it Gambling? (9/25/09)

I’m not sure how many of you are playing the daily fantasy contests that are popping up around the web, but I got into a conversation with someone recently about whether these fantasy games were considered ‘gambling’.  In my opinion, they are absolutely gambling and as a smart gambler, you better treat them as such and heed the dangers that lurk within these fantasy gambling games. 

The guy I was discussing the matter with based his argument on the fact that these were games of skill and were therefore not gambling.  He even went as far as to say the goverment was even on his side, since they also consider them ’games of skill’ and even made them legal to play.  I had to disagree with him, the government is just wrong here.  By the way, the government is the very same entity that brings you the various state lotteries.  You think that isn’t gambling?  Is there any skill at all to the lottery?  But it is legal, right?  How about betting on real basketball games, is that gambling?  Is it legal?  Does it require skill and work to analyze matchups to determine a great betting opportunity?  Just because there is an issue of skill involved in something, that doesn’ t eliminate it from the category of ‘gambling’.   Analyzing and betting real NBA games requires just as much work as analyzing matchups and choosing a fantasy team to bet on.  Exact same skill, one is legal, one isn’t.

So what makes one legal and the other not?  Is it the ‘chance’ or ‘luck’ factor?  Is it the fact you can lose a real money bet on a last second fumble, miracle useless last second 3 pointer or missed kick?  Doesn’t that happen in real life AND in fantasy contests?  Maybe Gerald Wallace gets a concussion on the opening tip, you lose him and your fantasy team crashes and burns.  Unlucky?

My point here isn’t to decide the legality of fantasy betting versus real game betting or whether the government draws arbitrary definitions in their ‘game of skill’ reasoning.  My point here is that they are both gambling.  So what should regular gamblers take away from this?  That you better watch the things that would normally beat you as a gambler – THE JUICE.

I’ve bet on sports for a long time.  I even had periods of time where I supported myself solely through sports betting.   After thousands of bets, I’ve learned that it isn’t the last second field goal, the unexpected fumble or miracle 3 point shot that causes a gambler to lose.  Those things all even out in the long run.  I’ve probably won just as many bets in the last minute of the game as I’ve lost.  The thing that never evens out is the juice that you pay on your bets.  It grinds you down in the long run and if you don’t have some advantage against your competition, the juice will slowly make you a losing gambler.

From one gambler to another, I want you guys to realize the juice you are paying with these fantasy games and also how hard it is to overcome that handicap.  If you guys realize that handicap and think you can overcome it due to some other edge that you have over the competion, then by all means go for it.  But if you don’t have an edge or you don’t put in the necessary work to acquire that edge, then the massive juice on these games will beat you.

Consider this:  regular sports betting in Vegas requires a bet 11 to win 10 proposition, which equates to needing 52.4% winners to break even.  Sounds easy right?  But how many of you guys can truly beat that percentage over an entire season?   A majority of the bettors can’t, that is why Vegas and your local bookies thrive. 

Now consider a site like Snapdraft.com ( I hate to single them out, but what they are doing is wrong and just shouldn’t be allowed).  Snapdraft.com offers a bet 10 to win 6 proposition on their games.  They rake 20% right off the top.  It takes 62.5% winners just to break even at that site.  No matter how good you think you might be, myself included, you cannot beat that juice over a season.  You will lose.  For example, say you decide to invest $200 and make 20 bets on Snapdraft at $10 each.  You have a good night winning 11 bets and losing 9 bets.  Pretty good record, you won more than you lost, hitting about 55% winners.  There are guys in Vegas that would kill for a 55% record, and would also be very rich with that kind of winning percentage.  But what was your bottom line on these fantasy games?  You LOST $24.00 or about 11% of your $200 investment.  Getting the picture now?

I’m not telling you guys not to play, I’m simply telling you to be smart gamblers.  Shop around for the best commissions.  Keep an eye on the bottom line and the juice.  No matter how slick some of these fantasy game sites look, you have to remember that it is still gambling and you better treat is as such. 

Good luck.

Replacement Referees: Influence on 2009-2010 Handicapping and Betting? (9/20/09)

Now that the NBA referees have been locked out, we are stuck with replacement refs for at least a portion of the 2009-2010 season.  The real question for NBA bettors and handicappers is how this will influence the lines and game results.  As if the games weren’t hard enough to handicap based on the actual players, now we have to deal with the referees too.

As we have seen with the Tim Donaghy situation, the refs have tremendous influence over the game results.  I found this quote on Donaghy that I thought was fascinating:  “During the two years prior (i.e., 03/04 and 04/05) he called significantly less fouls than the average NBA referee (his games scored more than Las Vegas expected only 44% of the time). During his last two seasons he called significantly more fouls than average (his games scored more than Las Vegas expected 57% of the time).”  This tends to beg the question for this season’s bettors and linesmakers of ‘how frequently will fouls be called by the replacement refs’?  Will the refs allow a very physical game or will they seek to try and keep control of the games with nitpicky foul calling?  If they allow a physical game, then which NBA teams benefit from this style of play and how will this affect the point spreads in those games?

And what about the pressure to satisfy the home team?  Are these refs going to be biased to the actual court they are on so they don’t get booed out of the arena?  Subconciously those guys don’t want to be hated by the fans and even an extra call or two to keep that night’s home fans happy can really affect the line and betting results.  Same thing for calls on the ‘all-stars’.  Garnett, Allen, Pierce, Rasheed and Rondo on the court versus Harris, Lee, Simmons, Jianlian and Lopez?  Who do you think gets the best calls in that matchup from unskilled refs?

I doubt any of the replacement refs will actually do anything dishonest, but these guys get paid very little and have no job security at all since they will likely be fired when the lockout ends.  But you definitely have to ask yourself just how susceptible the situation might be to another ‘Donaghy’ type incident.  At the very least, the smart money will have a scouting report on most of these replacements and may have advance information on their tendencies to which the public has no access.  It definitely makes the first few weeks tricky.

I’m sure the NBA higher ups are meeting with these replacement referees and I’d love to be privy to the instructions they are getting.  It sure would make the first few weeks easier to bet knowing how these replacement referees were going to conduct the games. 

I wish I could tell you exactly how to use the replacement refs to your advantage, but all I really know at this point is that it might be prudent to be extra selective for the first couple of weeks and maybe keep the betting units small until things sort out.  Sometimes your best bet is not to bet.