Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Scott Delaney

My free play for tonight is on the New York Knicks, laying points to the visiting Sacramento Kings.

This is a horrible situation for the Kings, who could get blown out for 20 points. I mean seriously, how bad can Sacramento get, as it's becomes its own worst enemy. The Kings have looked out of sorts during their current four-game junket, and the lack of focus will be trouble against an explosive Knicks team that could throw a 120-spot up without blinking.

Dig it, over their last three games, Sacramento is averaging a mere 90.3 points per contest behind 38.7 percent shooting from the field. Now it gets a team that averages nearly 100 per game, but more importantly, the Kings allow 105.4 ppg on the road. They come in after giving up 109 in a 10-point loss to the Cavaliers last night. This will be Sacramento's fourth road game in six days, and it's yet to win one of them.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are trying to get right themselves, having lost four of five. But they are in after a 112-100 loss at Oklahoma City - a very tough game to play. They've had two days off and should be rested for this one tonight. Lay the points, as the Knicks roll to the huge win and cover.

2♦ NEW YORK

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Brad Wilton

The Huskies of Connecticut bounced-back very nicely with their Sunday romp of Central Florida in Orlando on Sunday, now Kevin Ollie's team is back home having won 7 of their last 9 straight up and more importantly having covered 8 of those 9 games.

I will back UConn as the double-digit home favorite on Wednesday as your free play winner over a South Florida side that hits Storrs with losses in 6 of their last 8 games. True, the Bulls have actually covered in 3 of their last 4 games, but this is also a "payback" game for Connecticut, as South Florida handed them a 65-51 gut-punch last March in Tampa Bay.

Yes, this is a big impost to cover, but keep in mind that the Huskies have made good in 7 of their 11 lined home games this season. Going to look for UConn to stretch the closing margin and get the cover on Wednesday night as the big home favorite.

2♦ CONNECTICUT

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Gabriel Dupont

My free play for today is on the Los Angeles Clippers, laying points at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Two of the Western Conference's top teams meet in Staples Center tonight, as the L.A. Clippers (36-18 SU, 31-23 ATS) host the Portland Trail Blazers (36-16, 28-24) in a key showdown. This is the second meeting of the season, as Portland won the first, at home, 116-112 in overtime back in December. The home team has won four straight meetings.

Why the L.A. Clippers can cover this number - Since Chris Paul has returned to the lineup, the Clippers are looking awfully dangerous, and playing with plenty of confidence heading into the All-Star break. They've won four straight at home against the Blazers, who have lost six of nine overall. Los Angeles is in a very good spot tonight, after having the past two nights off.

Why the Portland Trail Blazers comes in sluggish for this game - The team is taking this trip at the wrong time, there's no doubt about that. The Blazers hosted the conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder last night, lost on their own floor and now have to play a rested Clippers team that has won two straight behind an explosive offensive game, in Los Angeles. Yeah - no shot!

In conclusion, why Los Angeles is my SMART FREE PLAY in this game - What's impressed me about the Clippers most of all is their resiliency all season Even without Chris Paul, the Pacific Division leaders went on 12-6 run while he was dealing with a separated shoulder. Now, with him back in the mix, they've looked dominant every step of the way, and despite last week's loss to the Heat, I think they've emerged as the No. 1 contender to the Western Conference-leading Thunder.

The Clippers have been off since Sunday, when they set a franchise record for biggest margin of victory in a 123-78 rout over the Philadelphia 76ers. Blake Griffin had 26 points and 11 rebounds, DeAndre Jordan added a double-doublee of his own with 10 points and 20 rebounds, and Paul contributed with seven points and eight assists. Trust me guys, coach Doc Rivers has his troops ready to close the first half strong. Lay the points tonight, as Portland struggles.

5♦ LOS ANGELES

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Wunderdog

Game: St. Peter's at Iona
Pick: St. Peter's +13

The Iona Gaels have built a two-game cushion atop the Metro Atlantic Conference where they are 12-2 on the season. But this could be a place for them to be disinterested against a weak St. Peter's team, that they already beat this season. Iona has won seven straight games, and went over the 100-point mark in their last game for the second time this season. This game is very likely to be played at a much slower pace, as St. Peter's held the Gaels to 71 points in the last meeting, which was the lowest output by Iona in their last 20 games overall. That will make the big number here tough to take down, and Iona has shown a penchant for not bringing the "A" game vs. lesser opponents as they are just 15-34-3 ATS in their last 52 vs. a team below .400. Take the points on St. Peter's.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Joe Gavazzi

Toronto Raptors -6

Atlanta is limping into the All-Star break on a 4 game losing streak in which they have averaged just 87 PPG, including a 100-85 loss at Chicago last night in which they never mounted a serious 2nd half threat. Far prefer the upwardly mobile hometown Raptors, who since divesting themselves of Rudy Gay, have gone 20-11 SU and 22-9 ATS, behind a far improved defense. A double digit home court victory is the most probable outcome.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

River City Sharps

Richmond +2.5

OK, we'll bit on this one. We watch all conferences carefully, but because of our rooting interest in Dayton basketball, we pay particular attention to the Atlantic 10 and know these teams pretty well. Chris Mooney has done a fantastic job at Richmond and they still have postseason life at 15-8 on the year, while Duquesne enters the game at 10-12 and losers of three straight. A couple of things you will always get with Richmond...Princeton-style offense and great defense. This year, their achilles heal has been their ability to consistently make shots, but the Dukes might be just the tonic these Spiders need. The Dukes are allowing teams to shoot 47.3% against them in conference play. Opponents are almost shooting 40% FOR THE SEASON against them from the 3-point-line. Richmond really needs this road game before they get three straight games at their place...the Spiders get this done tonight!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

Illinois/ Nebraska Under 127.5: (Added) I really hope this one is as easy as it looks. Illinois is one of te slower paced teams in the Big 10 and they really struggle to score away from home, averaging just 57 ppg on a mere 35.3% shooting in their road games this year. In their last 4 Big 10 road games they have averaged just 51 ppg, with those games averaging just 106.5 ppg. They really slow the pace down on the road and that will be just fine for a Nebraska team that plays at a slow pace as well. Nebraska's last 5 games overall have averaged just 123.6 ppg and just like Illinois, they have struggled on offense of late, scoring just 59.8 ppg on 40.7 shooting in their last 5 games. Now they face an Illinois team that has allowed just 64.2 ppg overall and just 55.5 ppg in their last 4 Big 10 road games. Now I have already stated the Illinois scoring problems on the road and that won't get any better in this one as the Huskers have allowed just 60.1 ppg on their home floor this year. This should a very slow paced game and with both offenses struggling and both teams playing very good defense, It's hard to see either team hitting the 60's in this one.     

3 UNIT PLAYS

Pittsburgh/ Syracuse Under 125: Pitt has really struggled on offense of late as they have scored just 51 ppg (regulation) in their last 4 games. Now they face one of the best defenses in the nation in the Orange, who have allowed just 58.4 ppg on 40.6% shooting this year. Now let's take out the 91-89 OT game vs Duke and we see that the Cuse have allowed just 51 ppg in 9 of their last 10 games. Now that is playing some defense. Pitt knows how to play defense as well as they have allowed just 60.1 ppg overall and 58.9 ppg at home. The Cuse are just average on offense and have put up just 62 ppg in 7 of their last 8 games (took out the OT game vs Duke). Last year both teams were in the Big East and played two games that put up just 121 and 120 points and that has carried over to the first meeting between the teams this year, in which just 113 points were scored. I see nothing that makes me think that this game can put up more than that here. Both defenses are very good and both teams play a slow brand of offense, which has lead to low scoring out puts for both of late. This one should finish around 115 at best. 

Washington State/ California Under 129.5: The Cougars have really struggled to score of late and without Lacy in there it has been even harder for this team to score as they have averaged just 55.2 ppg (Regulation) in the 10 games since Lacy has gone out. That is pitiful. The Cal Bears have allowed 74.4 ppg on the road, but the Cougars just don't have the kind of offense to take advantage. The Bears come in struggling on offense of late as they have scored just 68 ppg in their last 5 games and the Cougars have played excellent defense at home, where they have allowed just 61.6 ppg. The Cougars are an all out slow don team and that is their only chance to win games, as they just don't have the offense to go up and down the court with teams. Washington State's home games have averaged just 126.3 ppg this year, thanks to poor scoring and very good defense and I feel they can draw Cal into that slow paced type of game here. Even if Cal should put up 70 in this game, I don't see the Cougars being able to hit 60 points at all. they just don't have that many points in them. This one may not reach 120 points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Harry Bondi

DUKE (-2.5) over North Carolina

Tonight, we turn to a high-profile TV game and side with the Dukies. You will often hear that a home dog is live in a big rivalry game, keep in mind that Duke is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games on this floor and the road team has now covered five straight in the series and is 22-8 ATS in the last 30 meetings. Also, in the history of the storied rivalry, Duke has won 11 of 12 when NC is sitting outside the Top 25 with eight of those wins coming by double digits. We like the way Duke is playing right now and think this number is a bit short. Blue Devils prevail!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Dr. Bob

Opinion - INDIANA (-7½) over Penn State

Both of these teams have struggled a bit in conference play but Penn State is just 3-8 straight up an 3-8 ATS against Big 10 competition while the Hoosiers are 4-6 but have a positive spread record at 5-4-1 ATS. Penn State is still overrated, as my ratings favor the Hoosiers by 10 points. I’ll lean with the Hoosiers at -8 or less and I’d take Indiana in a 2-Star Best Bet at -7 or less.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Andre Gomes

Wizards / Rockets Over 204.5

I expect this contest to be a fast paced one w/ both teams having some good edges on the offensive end as my fair line in here is 208/210 points.

WAS is coming from a competitive game @MEM played in "MEM's" terms - slow paced, grind out game. Note that HOU played twice MEM not a long time ago, and also both games were slow paced affairs as the Grizzlies really control the tempo of the game of their games.

The same thing won't happen tonight as both teams want to push the pace and have aggressive quick-footed guards…

WAS defense has been decent as of late, but there is a "bad" pattern for them related w/ their backcourt defense: last night, MEM's PG N. Calathes went 8-12 FG for 18 pts & 6 assists… SAC's PG Isaiah Thomas torched them w/ 11-24 FG, 8-8 FT for 30 points… and both CLE's guards Irving & Waiters combined to score 47 points against WAS. Obviously, there is a clear regression in WAS's P&R defense and unfortunately for them, they will face one of the best P&R offensive teams in the league in the Rockets, and so, I expect HOU to be efficient offensively.

On the other side, I expect WAS to cause some problems to HOU defense as well. HOU's best defensive guard P. Beverly is banged up (game time decision) and even though HOU is coming from b2b good perimeter defensive performances (6-15 & 6-25 3pts), we just can't ignore that they have faced MIL & MIN without their best shooter K. Martin, so they enjoyed some favorable matchups in the last games.

The first h2h between these two teams ended up w/ HOU winning 114-107 in an ultra fast paced affair w/ 36 total fast break pts scored & 106 points in the paint. I expect a similar type of game tonight and so, I'm taking the Over in here as my Single Dime Play.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Andre Gomes

Mavericks / Pacers Over 195.5

Well, DAL interior defense was completely dominated by Al Jefferson last night that destroyed them w/ 14-23 FG 30 pts while CHA as a team scored 60 pts in the paint and went 20-26 FG at the rim… Today won't be easier for them as IND has a strong frontcourt unit that is coming from a pure domination vs. DEN in the last game: West 11-13 FG + Hibbert 6-12 FG + Scola 4-8 FG and even Mahimni 2-3 FG.

Like I've said ton of times, IND's offense is streaky and they are coming from a monster offensive game so they are confident and rested = good sign for some offensive continuity.

Obviously, the X factor for this contest is related w/ DAL offense vs. IND defense…

DAL was humiliated last night and DAL's coach "rested" their key players, so we aren't dealing with a typical "letdown" b2b spot.

Having said that, DAL offense is actually a "bad matchup" for IND's defense…

IND's defense is predicated to "force" their opponents to shoot from mid range and… well, this is what the Mavericks do & w/ some great efficiency: DAL is ranked #5 from 16-23feet + ranked #4 from 10-15feet! Somehow, I think that this matchup is similar to the one IND vs. POR…and POR covered the spread in both games because their offense was able to be efficient vs. IND defense.

Despite last night's awful game, DAL offense has been sharp and I expect them to be decent while IND's offense will simply dominate down low.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

Andre Gomes

Heat / Warriors Under 205

It was interesting for me to watch MIA control the tempo of the game last night vs. PHX. I was expecting a fast paced contest, as this is usually the style that PHX wants to play especially at home, but the game had "only" pace factor = 89.6! Note that PHX's pace factor for the season is 94.35 so you can "see" the difference.

Their previous game @UTA had pace factor = 81.4 so this is IMO an obvious trend: MIA wants to slow down a bit the tempo of the game, and not enter in "track meats" vs. their opponents. Being this contest a b2b game, there is no reason to think otherwise for tonight…

I had MIA-3 last night vs. PHX w/ the X factor being:

"OK… MIA has by far the best P&R defense in the league and this is super important vs. PHX team that has Goran Dragic as their primary ball handler! MIA's biggest defensive weakness has been their "inability" to make the proper defensive rotations on the weak side and teams w/ great ball moment are torching them from the outside.

I don't think that PHX offense has such "good ball movement" that will be able to cause some serious problems to MIA defense - note that in L5 games, PHX is averaging just 16 assists per game! "

Well, GSW is somehow a similar team as PHX as their primary scoring source is on the perimeter and their ball movement is quite subpar - they are averaging just 19.8 assists per game in L5 games!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, February 12

OC Dooley

Timberwolves -6.5

Minnesota has been cast as a prohibitive favorite even though Denver has owned them in this “series” winning 13 of the most recent 16 head-on meetings.  The Nuggets also are on an 11-2 long term roll when visiting the T-Wolves in Minneapolis.  In addition Minnesota is a hefty favorite this evening even though losing four in a row outright including consecutive tilts in front of their own home fans.  However one can forgive Minnesota for dropping the last two games as they were against a pair of Western Conference powers (Portland and Houston).  My research indicates that in the past two years after a game where the defense allowed 60+ points in the opening half, Minnesota has been automatic (10-1 ATS) where it counts.  In the past couple of campaigns when shaking off a double-digit home loss Minnesota is UNDEFEATED (8-0 against the spread) where it counts.  While Minnesota recently got back the services of All-Star Kevin Love from injury, Denver has struggled ever since star point guard Ty Lawson (ribs) was felled and he is sidelined indefinitely

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