NBA Odds: Friday, April 4, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/3/2014
It's the busiest night of the NBA season the rest of the way with 28 of the 30 teams in action. Which ones aren't, you ask? The Spurs and Clippers. Here's a look at every game in order of tipoff.
Nuggets at Grizzlies (-9.5, 199.5)
Memphis was totally gassed on Wednesday, clearly, in getting blown out at Minnesota in its fifth game in seven days, all on the road. Zach Randolph was essentially invisible against the Wolves. Denver, meanwhile, played one of its best games of the year Wednesday, beating New Orleans 137-107 to end a four-game skid. Kenneth Faried had a career-high 34 points. Wilson Chandler missed yet another game for Denver and is probably done. Memphis leads the season series 2-1 and won 94-92 in Denver on Monday.
Key trends: The home team has covered five of the past six meetings. The under is 11-4 in Memphis' past 15 against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Return home will energize Memphis, which has to have this. The Grizzlies cover.
Magic at Bobcats (-9, 195)
What has gotten into the offensively-challenged Bobcats? They have scored at least 100 points in four straight games and reached 110 in three of them. They won by 30 at Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Cody Zeller made his first career start in that one with Josh McRoberts out with an ankle injury. He's questionable for this game. All Charlotte needs to do here is shoot 50 percent. The Magic are 1-18 when their opponents do. Orlando actually leads the season series 2-1. The teams played last Friday, and the Magic won 110-105 in OT at home.
Key trends: Magic have covered one of their past 13 road games against teams with a winning home record. The under is 6-2 in Charlotte's past eight at home.
Early lean: Don't take Orlando on the road the rest of the way.
Pacers at Raptors (TBA)
This could be a second-round playoff matchup. Indiana ended its three-game skid with a 101-94 home win over Detroit on Wednesday, but I wouldn't exactly say that means the Pacers' issues are in the past. Roy Hibbert hit his head hard in the first quarter of that one and left but did return for the second half. He should play. The TBA is for Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. He missed Wednesday's home win over Houston with a sore knee. He's very questionable as is forward Amir Johnson, who left that game with a sore ankle early on.
Key trends: Toronto is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: Wait on Lowry. Under regardless of the number.
Cavaliers at Hawks (-4, 201)
Suddenly this is a very big game. The Hawks and Knicks are tied for the East's final spot, although Atlanta has two games in hand on New York. The Cavaliers are two games back. They have won two straight and welcomed back star point guard Kyrie Irving in Wednesday's blowout in Orlando. He looked healthy with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds. The Cavs scored a season-high 70 first-half points. Atlanta leads the season series 2-0 -- they haven't played since the day after Christmas -- and has won six in a row against Cleveland.
Key trends: Cavaliers are 8-1 ATS in their past nine games. The Hawks are 0-5 ATS in their past five at home.
Early lean: Cleveland is really playing with confidence, and this is a 100 percent must-win. The Cavs get it.
76ers at Celtics (-9, 208)
This is the biggest Boston, which is on a six-game skid, has been favored all season. That should tell you how bad Philly is. The question is whether Rajon Rondo plays because the Celtics play again Saturday in Detroit. Logic says he plays in the home game, especially as it's very winnable. Fellow guard Avery Bradley likely is out again. The teams have split two meetings but haven't played since early February.
Key trends: The Sixers are 8-1 ATS in their past nine against the Eastern Conference. The over is 5-2 in Boston's past seven.
Early lean: The Celtics aren't nine points better than anyone.
Pistons at Nets (-9.5, 206)
Brooklyn still has a shot at the Atlantic Division title and the third seed in the East, but it's looking more and more likely the Nets will finish at No. 5 in the conference. They looked terrible in Wednesday's 29-point loss at the Knicks, but at least they didn't have to travel far to get home. Brooklyn played again without Andrei Kirilenko and Kevin Garnett in that one, but it's possible both could return Friday, with Kirilenko deemed "likely."
Key trends: Detroit is 1-8 ATS in its past nine against the East. The over is 14-2 in Brooklyn's past 16 Friday games.
Early lean: Brooklyn has won 14 straight at home, and this shouldn't be close.
Timberwolves at Heat (TBA)
Look, there's probably not going to be a line on a Heat game until the playoffs. They are going to rest guys when possible. Dwyane Wade has missed four straight with a "hamstring" injury and Ray Allen five in a row with the "flu." Yet Miami has still won four in a row to take the Eastern Conference lead. For what it's worth, both Wade and Allen practiced on Thursday. Who knows if they play. Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic has been in and out of the lineup for over a month. He sat out Wednesday's win over Memphis and is iffy here. Heat won in a blowout in Minnesota early this season and have won seven straight in the series by an average of more than 16 points a game.
Key trends: Heat are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. Under is 5-0 in the past five.
Early lean: Too many variables until we know the lineups. Full strength Heat should win by at least 10.
Wizards at Knicks (-5, 197)
The Knicks look like a totally new team now -- it can't be because of Phil Jackson, can it? They have won 12 of 15 and played one of their best games of the year on Wednesday with a 110-81 home destruction of the rival Nets. New York shot a season-high 60 percent from the field. You know how there are no early MLB lines late in the season for a potential game after a team clinches a playoff spot? That's because clubs are out partying the night before and have little reason to try the next day. I wonder if that happens to Washington here. It clinched a playoff berth with Wednesday's blowout of Boston.
Key trends: Washington is 1-7 ATS in its past eight road games. The under is 5-1 in the Knicks' past six after a win.
Early lean: Wizards suffer a bit of a hangover and the Knicks romp.
Bucks at Bulls (-12, 186)
I have nothing interesting to say about this one. Just that Milwaukee is desperately trying to finish with the worst record in the NBA. Chicago has won three straight and five of six. My lone worry if I'm backing the Bulls here: They might be looking ahead to Saturday's game in Washington because the Wizards will be going for the season sweep and the Bulls are a prideful bunch.
Key trends: The road team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 6-1 in Chicago's past seven after a win.
Early lean: No opinion on the side, but it should stay under.
Pelicans at Jazz (TBA)
The TBA here is for the status of young Pelicans star Anthony Davis. He was limited to 11 minutes in Wednesday's blowout loss in Denver because of back spasms. The Nuggets had their way down low without Davis in there. Davis is officially day-to-day, but it goes without saying the team will play it cautious with its franchise player. I wouldn't be surprised if he sits until the team's next home game on April 9. Utah enters having lost five straight and 11 of 12.
Key trends: New Orleans is 2-9 ATS in its past 11 after a loss. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Obviously wait for Davis, but I expect a Jazz easy cover if he sits.
Thunder at Rockets (TBA)
This screams letdown game for Oklahoma City after the Thunder played San Antonio on Thursday night. Plus, you have the whole Russell Westbrook thing. If he played that one, he won't against Houston. The Rockets, on a three-game skid, won't have Dwight Howard or Patrick Beverley again and maybe not forward Terrence Jones, who is battling an illness.
Key trends: Houston is 1-6 ATS in its past seven against teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: I love Houston if the Thunder lose with Westbrook on Thursday because there's really nothing left for OKC to play for, and obviously he won't play here. Other than that, too many variables.
Suns at Blazers (-4, 215)
Huge one for Phoenix as it's tied with Dallas and Memphis for the final two playoff spots in the West, although the Suns technically are ninth as things stand. They have lost two straight and allowed a combined 227 points in the process to the Lakers and Clippers. Portland is rolling again, winning four straight by double digits, and has been off since Tuesday. That run has coincided with LaMarcus Aldridge's return, and he put up 31 points, 15 rebounds and six assists in Tuesday's win over the Lakers. The Suns lead the season series 2-1, but somehow the teams haven't played since Nov. 27.
Key trends: Phoenix is 7-0 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 4-0 in Portland's past four.
Early lean: Points galore here and the teams could reach the 215 total by the end of the third quarter.
Kings at Warriors (TBA)
The TBA here is because there's no clue if Golden State's Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut will play. None of them did in Wednesday's 21-point loss in San Antonio. Sacramento probably will be without guard Isaiah Thomas again because of his quad injury. The Warriors are going for the season sweep.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-1 ATS in the past six at Golden State. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Obviously wait on the Warriors' trio.
Mavericks at Lakers (+9, 221)
It's the second of a back-to-back for Dallas as it visited the Clippers on Thursday night, and playing them will take a lot out of a team. At least the Mavericks don't have to travel or even change hotels. The Lakers have allowed at least 107 points in their past 16 defeats, and if there's one thing Dallas can do it's score. The big injury question is whether Pau Gasol plays. He had a recurrence of vertigo and missed Wednesday's loss to Sacramento.
Key trends: The Lakers are 1-5 ATS in their past six against teams with a winning record. The over is 8-3 in L.A.'s past 11 at home.
Early lean: This is a must-win for Dallas, but nine points seems like too many for what will be a tired team, Gasol or not. It should go well over the total, however.
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