Friday NBA Betting Report: Schedule Handicapping Breakdown
by Aaron Smith - 3/2/2012
The all-star break was a chance for players to get a break from the daily grind. However, it’s back to work now for the entire league. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat top the Western and Eastern Conference, respectively, at the halfway point. There are still plenty of teams in contention in both leagues, and the trade deadline is only two weeks away.
The teams did get a nice break for a few days, so fatigue might be a little bit less of a factor than it normally has been thus far this year. Still, there are some interesting scheduling spots that stand out on tonight’s schedule. The goal of this weekly NBA article is to help bettors learn how to take advantage of these unusual situations. Every Friday we’ll break down a few of the games on that night’s slate where some tough scheduling could play a major role in the outcome of the game.
Friday March 2 Games of Note
Chicago (-9.5) at Cleveland – 7:30 p.m. EST
The Heat have the best record in the East, but Chicago is nipping at their heels. Derrick Rose and the Bulls picked up a big road victory in San Antonio Wednesday night. There is no doubt that this Bulls team is a very dangerous one, especially when everyone is healthy. Cleveland is a much-improved team from last year, thanks largely to rookie season Kyrie Irving’s terrific play this season.
These teams met once earlier this year and Chicago won, 114-75, in Cleveland. The Bulls are 6-0 against the spread in their last six games as a road favorite of five to 10.5 points. Chicago is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a single day of rest. The road team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams.
Score Prediction: Chicago 101 Cleveland 89
Miami (-5) at Utah – 9 p.m. EST
While Jeremy Lin has been the top story in the NBA over the last few weeks, the Miami Heat have been playing the best basketball in the league. This team is clearly leaps and bounds ahead of where they were last year at this time. They won their final nine games before the all-star break. Utah is definitely not an easy place to play, and the Jazz are 13-6 at home this year.
The Heat will likely be without Chris Bosh in this one. Bosh missed Thursday night’s game against the Blazers due to the death of his grandmother. LeBron James is shooting 55 percent from the floor, and he has been the Most Valuable Player in the NBA so far this year. Miami is 5-0 ATS in their last five road games, but they are only 6-8 ATS this year on the second end of a back-to-back scheduling spot. Utah will be playing its third game in four nights. Miami is 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games at Utah.
Score Prediction: Miami 105, Utah 96
Los Angeles Clippers (-3) at Phoenix – 10:30 p.m. EST
The latest NBA odds show the Clippers are a small road favorite. Both teams will be playing the second game of a back-to-back in this matchup. These appear to be two franchises moving in different directions right now. The Clippers are better than they have been in quite some time, while the Suns are no longer a real contender in the Western Conference.
The Clippers are 6-2 ATS this year when playing on no rest, while Phoenix is 5-5 ATS in that situation. The core of the Suns team is getting fairly old, and in games like this you’ll often see Steve Nash and Grant Hill get less minutes than normal. Phoenix is just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. I think this is a good spot for the younger and more athletic Clippers squad.
Score Prediction: Los Angeles 102, Phoenix 95
Dallas (-6.5) at New Orleans- 8 p.m. EST
Dirk Nowitzki is listed as questionable in this one due to back pain. Lamar Odom will likely miss this game as he deals with personal issues. Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith, and Carl Landry are all listed as questionable for New Orleans as well.
No team has a busier schedule coming out of the break than the defending champions. The Mavericks will play a ridiculous 10 games in 13 days. New Orleans is playing its third game in four days. The Mavericks are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games at New Orleans. Chris Kaman has been playing very well since coming back from injury. The Hornets are 7-1 ATS since Kaman returned to the lineup.
Score Prediction: Dallas 91, New Orleans 90
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