Free NBA Picks: Thursday TNT Doubleheader
by Matt Severance - 3/11/2010
This is not exactly the best TNT doubleheader of the year with each game featuring a losing team and only the Orlando Magic are considered an elite club among the four playing. But in a way it’s nice change to see teams other than the Celtics, Lakers, Cavs or Nuggets get some national coverage.
Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic, 8 p.m.
The line: Orlando -11 (203.5)
How they enter: Chicago is in a free fall and is now on the outside looking in of the East playoffs. The Bulls have dropped a season-high-tying five straight (0-5 ATS) and clearly miss Joakim Noah. In Tuesday’s 132-108 home loss to Utah, the Jazz set opponent season highs for points, assists and three-point percentage. Orlando is going the other way with six straight victories (4-2 ATS). The Magic have won seven of eight at home, with the lone loss to the streaking Mavericks.
Scouting report: Chicago would seem to have no chance in this game, as starters Luol Deng, Brad Miller and Taj Gibson sat out Wednesday's practice. Miller usually gets practice off and, thus, should play, but Deng, the team’s second-leading scorer, is expected to miss a few games with a strained calf suffered against the Jazz.
Seldom-used rookie James Johnson would start at small forward. And Gibson is dealing with the same foot problem that Noah has and is questionable at best tonight. Hakim Warrick would start in his place. Chicago has allowed eight straight opponents to score at least 100 points, the first time that’s happened for the Bulls in 20 years. The Magic have won their past five home games by a combined 77 points and must be licking their chops. It’s hard to see the shorthanded Bulls score more than 96 points, and the Magic are 30-4 when they hold an opponent to that number or less. These two teams have split two games in Chicago this year, but Orlando has won four straight home games in the series.
Key trends: The Magic have held each of their past four home opponents to 94 points or less. The ‘under’ is 5-0-1 ATS in Orlando’s past six home games overall.
Orlando is 4-0 ATS in its past four at home vs. a team with a losing road record.
The pick: Chicago is at a pretty serious disadvantage at every position but shooting guard. Take Orlando and the ‘under’ even as bad as Chicago’s defense has been.
Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m.
The line: Portland –6 (215)
How they enter: Portland beat the Kings on Tuesday and have won four of five (3-2 ATS). Golden State, the league’s worst defensive team, has lost five in a row and seven of eight (4-4 ATS). New Orleans scored 135 on the Warriors on Monday, that franchise’s fourth-highest total ever and most since 1997.
Scouting report: You ever heard of Reggie Williams? No, not the former Georgetown player from a few decades ago, but the two-time former NCAA scoring champion from VMI. All Williams did Monday for the Warriors was score 28 points. Not bad for a guy on a 10-day contract from the D-League. He also became the ninth different player to score at least 25 points in a game for the Warriors this season. That’s an NBA high.
Yet the Warriors lost to the Hornets despite shooting 59 percent. Williams might not get many minutes tonight because Monta Ellis seems likely to return from injury. He missed the past six games with a back injury but practiced Wednesday. But the team may have only one center tonight in Chris Hunter (who?). Starter Andris Biedrins has been lost for the season and backup Ronny Turiaf is questionable. Frankly, the ‘over’ seems a very strong play here no matter what it’s posted as. The Warriors are allowing an average of 118 points during their five-game losing streak, while Portland has hit triple digits in 10 road games in a row. The teams have split two meetings this season, with the home team winning each game. In fact, the home team has covered in the past six.
Key trends: The Blazers somehow have lost nine consecutive games to the Warriors in Oakland (1-8 ATS), falling by an average of 12.2 points. Portland has allowed an average of 108 points in those nine losses.
The Trail Blazers are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 road games overall.
The ‘under’ is 4-1 in Golden State’s past five at home.
The pick: The Warriors might not want Ellis back, as they are 9-2 ATS when he sits this year. Thus, I am saying Portland not only covers but ends its losing streak in Oakland. And take the ‘over’.