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Victims of circumstance: NBA spot plays

Victims of circumstance: NBA spot plays

Victims of circumstance: NBA spot plays

I’ve got to admit, this column is working out rather well. In my first two weekends writing it, I’ve listed four spot plays. Those four plays have gone 4-0 straight up and 4-0 against the spread. Let’s see if we can keep it rolling with two more spots that look good on paper for this weekend.

Friday, January 30th

Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

Single game road trips are often problematic for the visiting squad, particularly when their opponent is a difficult matchup. And when that single game road trip is on the first night of a back-to-back situation, with a very winnable home game on tap for the next night, focus and energy can be a problem.

The Heat find themselves in this very situation as they travel to Indianapolis to take on the Pacers Friday.

Indiana is playing its best basketball of the season, winning five of the last eight games and covering the spread at a 75 percent clip over its last dozen games. Even without Danny Granger in the lineup (listed as questionable for Friday), the Pacers are an extremely difficult team to defend since Mike Dunleavy returned from his season-long injury.

Indiana hung 107 points and covered in a win against the Bucks without Granger earlier this week,. Five players were in double figures and the team shot 52 percent from the floor.

“I feel we are …about to really get ourselves going,” forward Troy Murphy told reporters. “I feel more comfortable about myself and the team every game we play.”

Miami doesn’t have the same level of balance or depth. It's more of a one-trick-pony team. Dwyane Wade is capable of carrying this team to the playoffs but he's not been capable of getting the Heat into the win column in these one-game road-trip situations.

The results don’t lie. Miami is just 1-5 SU on single game trips like this one including SU and ATS losses at the Knicks, Bobcats and Grizzlies. All of which are sub-.500 teams like the Pacers. With trade rumors swirling around the Heat and a very winnable game at home against the Wizards Saturday, look for Friday night's affair to be a real flat spot for the road team.

Saturday, January 31st

Chicago Bulls at Phoenix Suns

This is one of my favorite situations in NBA betting. A bet-on spot for the home team coupled with a bet-against spot for the road team.

The only thing that makes this game problematic is the pointspread. This pointspread might not be too high, considering the fact that the Suns are currently the worst team against the spread and the betting marketplace is finally starting to catch up with them.

NBA teams are routinely bet-against squads in their first game back home off a road trip. The spot becomes even better to fade these teams when they return home fat and happy after ending the road trip on a positive note.

A loss in that first home game following a long road trip that ended with a positive finish sets up an excellent spot on the home team in their second game back. They are no longer fat and happy. Instead, they tend to be focused and hungry. That's exactly what we’re looking for when betting the NBA.

Whatever distractions they had upon returning home (wives, girlfriends, charity commitments) have already been dealt with. This is very much a bet-on spot for the home team, particularly as a favorite against a team they know they can beat.

The Bulls ended their five game losing streak with a win at the hapless Clippers to open up the West Coast portion of their road trip. Then they played Sacramento  Friday in another game that Chicago is more than capable of winning. They are favored in that game, after all.

The Saturday night game at Phoenix is on the second night of back-to-backs. We can expect Chicago to be fat and happy here. It's not what we want to support, particularly with the Bulls 2-6 ATS mark this season as big underdogs of eight points or more.

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