NBA Odds: Friday, April 11, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/10/2014
Pacers at Heat on Friday will probably be for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so might we actually see all the regulars play in a late-season game? It hasn't been happening much around the league. Here's a look at every game on Friday's schedule, with Pacers-Heat and Warriors-Lakers on national TV (NBATV).
Wizards at Magic (TBA)
Washington might not have much in the tank for this one after losing a very important game Wednesday at home to Charlotte, 94-88 in overtime. That gave the Bobcats the tiebreaker over the Wizards for the No. 6 seed should both end up with the same record, which is where they are currently. On the bright side, Nene returned Wednesday after missing more than six weeks due to a sprained left knee. He finished with 10 points in 17 minutes. John Wall had a triple-double against Charlotte, the third of Wall's career. The Magic have won two straight at home, beating short-handed Minnesota and Brooklyn there. They are 0-3 vs. Washington this year. Presumably this TBA is for Magic center Nikola Pekovic, who has missed three straight games. Doubtful he returns.
Key trends: Washington is 2-7 ATS in its past nine road games. The over is 7-1 in Orlando's past eight Friday games.
Early lean: Orlando can get to .500 at home with a win, and it will do so.
Knicks at Raptors (-5, 194.5)
Should Atlanta win in Brooklyn on Friday night and the Knicks lose this game, New York is officially eliminated. The games are at the same time, so the Knicks presumably will still go all out. Carmelo Anthony is dealing with a sore shoulder, but he will play -- don't be surprised if Melo is perhaps shut down after should New York be out of the playoff chase. The Raptors are still tied with Chicago for that crucial No. 3 seed in the East. They got point guard Kyle Lowry back in Wednesday's 125-114 home win over Philly. Amir Johnson missed his third straight game but is 50-50 to return here. Toronto leads the season series 2-0, but those were both in late December.
Key trends: New York is 1-4 ATS in the past five in Toronto. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings overall.
Early lean: Knicks cover as they haven't played since Sunday, will have fresh legs and give it one last hurrah in hoping for a Hawks collapse.
Bobcats at Celtics (+4, 194)
Charlotte suddenly looks a bit dangerous for the postseason. The Bobcats play great defense and have a dominant big man in Al Jefferson. They have won five straight, including back-to-back overtime games. Starting forward Josh McRoberts returned from injury in Wednesday's big win at the Wizards. Charlotte most definitely wants to hang onto that No. 6 seed over Washington, so it has plenty of motivation the rest of the way. The C's have mailed it in, losing 14 of 15. They did get Avery Bradley back for the first time in a month in Wednesday's loss to Atlanta. Rajon Rondo should play in this game, meaning he won't Saturday in Cleveland for Boston.
Key trends: The Bobcats have covered 10 of their past 13 against teams with a losing record. The "under" is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Unless the Bobcats have a letdown there's no reason they shouldn't cover.
Hawks at Nets (-6, 203)
As noted above, Atlanta will clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with a win and a Knicks loss in Toronto. The Nets were caught in a total trap game and lost in Orlando on Wednesday, something I projected to happen. They didn't play Paul Pierce, Shawn Livingston or Andray Blatche in that one because of minor injuries/illness/rest. Frankly, the Nets have nothing to play for at this point. Don't be surprised to see a regular or two (struggling Deron Williams?) get a night off here. Brooklyn has won 15 straight at home. The Nets lead the season series 2-0.
Key trends: The Nets are 8-1 ATS in their past nine after a loss. The under is 7-1 in Atlanta's past eight road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Early lean: Prefer the total -- under -- to the side here because I'm not sure how motivated the Nets will be.
Pacers at Heat (TBA)
So who is going to play? The Pacers incredibly rested all five starters Wednesday in Milwaukee even though they are still fighting for home-court advantage in the East. Frank Vogel's motivational tactic worked as the Indiana backups pulled it out. I fully expect all five back here. Also expect the Heat to go full bore as well because the winner here almost surely will get the East's top seed. In addition, Miami needs to snap out of a funk after losing back-to-back games. Dwayne Wade, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem all sat for Wednesday's loss in Memphis. Wade did nearly play. If he's going to return during the regular season, it has to be here.
Key trends: Indiana is 0-7 ATS in its past seven road games against teams with a winning home record. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: When the Heat want to make a statement, they usually do. Miami wins by double-digits.
Pistons at Bulls (-10.5, 191.5)
You never have to worry about the Bulls possibly resting guys this time of year -- it's not in Coach Tom Thibodeau's DNA to give away any game. The Bulls also are playing perhaps their best ball of the year, having won an NBA-high six straight games. They generally own the Pistons, too, in recent years. Chicago had won 14 straight at home in the series before the Pistons pulled an upset early this season not long after Derrick Rose's injury. Detroit's Josh Smith has missed two straight games and is questionable.
Key trends: Detroit is 0-7 ATS in its past seven following a loss of at least 10 points. The under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings in Chicago.
Early lean: Motivated team with heart against one with neither heart nor motivation. This is easy.
76ers at Grizzlies (-15, 199)
Memphis saved its playoff chances with a big 107-102 victory Wednesday against a short-handed Heat side. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol dominated in the paint. Memphis has won 12 straight at home and probably has to win out to get in. Monday's matchup in Phoenix could be the decider. The Grizzlies aren't a great offensive team but might look like it in this one. The 76ers are last in defense and have allowed triple digits in eight straight games. The Sixers lost by 26 at home to the Grizzlies on March 15.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 3-8 ATS in their past 11 at home against teams with a losing road record. The under has hit in 12 of the past 15 Sixers games after they scored at least 100 points in their previous game.
Early lean: The Grizzlies won't lose but will have a Heat hangover and fail to cover.
Rockets at Timberwolves (TBA)
Houston could start nearly all backups in this game. It appears both Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley will sit out again. Don't be shocked if James Harden gets this game off as well. He has played monster minutes and suffered a minor knee injury in Wednesday's 123-116 loss in Denver. Houston plays again Saturday at home, so this sets up perfectly for Coach Kevin McHale to go with many substitutes. The only Minnesota starter likely to play is Ricky Rubio. Kevin Love is dealing with back and elbow injuries and struggled in Wednesday's loss to Chicago. Expect him to sit. Houston has won all three meetings this season by at least 11 points, and it scored at least 107 in all three.
Key trends: Houston is 1-7 ATS in its past eight road games against teams with a winning home record. The over is 7-0 in Houston's past seven against the Western Conference.
Early lean: Over no matter the number. Reserves don't play defense.
Pelicans at Thunder (TBA)
This screams letdown game for Oklahoma City. The Thunder got a huge win Wednesday night at the Clippers to all but lock down the No. 2 seed in the West. Russell Westbrook was brilliant with 30 points and 11 rebounds. OKC also is likely looking ahead a bit to Sunday's national TV game at Indiana in a possible Finals preview. Look for Kevin Durant's minutes to decrease significantly in the season's final four games. He's in a mini-slump and may be worn down. The Pelicans have punted on the season in losing six straight. Anthony Davis sat Wednesday with back spasms and has been ruled out the season as a precaution. New Orleans won't win again.
Key trends: The road team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: The Thunder will race to a big early lead and led the backups take over and still win by at least 15.
Cavaliers at Bucks (+4.5, 200)
Plenty of good seats available! This one means nothing as Cleveland was eliminated from the playoffs Wednesday despite a 122-100 home win over Detroit. This is Cleveland's final road game of the year, and it plays again Saturday back at home, so the Cavs might sleepwalk here. It's sad the Bucks couldn't beat a Pacers team full of backups Wednesday. UConn probably could have.
Key trends: The Cavs are 7-1 ATS in their past eight against teams with a winning percentage below .400. The over is 9-2 in Cleveland's past 11 against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: When you don't care, it shows most on defense. Take the over.
Suns at Spurs (TBA)
San Antonio was in Dallas on Thursday night and likely to rest guys, so who knows what the plan is here. I would say for sure Tony Parker doesn't play again. It really doesn't matter, because this is all about Phoenix. The Suns continue to hang onto the final playoff spot and have won three straight. They need this one much more.
Key trends: The road team has covered five of the past seven meetings. San Antonio is 7-1 ATS in its past eight at home.
Early lean: Every intangible points to not only a Suns cover but a victory.
Trail Blazers at Jazz (+7.5, 198)
Portland has won six of seven, and this is the Blazers' final road game. Might Portland rest a key player or two with little to play for? The No. 4 seed is technically still in play, but the Blazers are unlikely to catch Houston. The Jazz have lost seven of eight and are 0-3 in the season series.
Key trends: Portland is 1-5 ATS in its past six against teams with a winning percentage below .400. The under is 6-1 in the past seven in Utah.
Early lean: I don't see the Blazers caring much. Take the Jazz.
Warriors at Lakers (+9, 219)
Los Angeles has largely gotten destroyed in a five-game losing streak and is absolutely putrid on defense. The only interesting thing here is if home fans chant for John Calipari because Mike D'Antoni will be coaching his second-to-last home game. It's the second of a back-to-back for Golden State after hosting Denver on Thursday. Golden State would clinch a playoff spot with a win vs. the Nuggets, which should happen. Thus, it would have little to play for here, and Mark Jackson can give some guys the night off.
Key trends: The Warriors are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 9-4 in the Lakers' past 13 home games.
Early lean: Over, over, over! Presuming the Warriors win Thursday, take the Lakers on the side.
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