NBA Odds: Friday, March 14, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/13/2014
I'm not sure what the biggest upset in the NBA has been in a single game this decade, but I'd venture to guess that if Philadelphia can beat Indiana on Friday night that would be on the short list. Here's what you need to know for all of Friday's games, in order of tipoff. Only Lakers-Spurs is on national TV (NBATV).
Timberwolves at Bobcats (+2, 206.5)
This could be a season-changing win for Minnesota should it pull out the victory. The Wolves would get to two games above .500 for the first time since Nov. 22. They are playing better, winners of eight of 11. Minnesota also has won three straight on the road and will be fully-rested, having last played Tuesday in an easy win over Milwaukee. Charlotte has won four of five and hasn't lost a home game since Feb. 8 against San Antonio. Bobcats guard Gary Neal should be back after sitting out Wednesday's win at Washington for an "internal matter." The Bobcats lost 119-92 in Minnesota on Jan. 10.
Key trends: Charlotte is 1-4 ATS in its past five against teams with a winning record. The "under" has hit in 11 of Minnesota's past 14 after allowing at least 100 points in its last game.
Early lean: Wolves keep rolling.
Wizards at Magic (+5, 204)
Perhaps Washington is starting to feel the loss of Nene as the Wizards have lost back-to-back games for the first time since mid-February. The offense has gone into a shell, managing 175 total points in the two losses, although it was against good defensive clubs in the Heat and Bobcats. Orlando has lost four straight, and its only win this month was against historically-bad Philadelphia. The Magic are an incredible are 0-31 when being outrebounded this season. The Wizards are 2-0 against Orlando this year, but both were at home.
Key trends: Wizards have covered seven of the past nine meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past four in Orlando.
Early lean: Wizards win outright but Magic able to cover.
Pacers at 76ers (+16, 204.5)
I'm at the point where I no longer know what to say about Philadelphia. The Sixers have lost 18 straight -- the team record is 20 -- and amazingly the last 10 were all by at least 10 points. Philly also has lost a franchise-record 14 consecutive games at home. Philly has a D-League roster at the moment other than Thaddeus Young and Michael Carter-Williams. The Pacers ended their four-game skid Tuesday, but Larry Bird wasn't all that pleased with the 94-83 home win over Boston. Andrew Bynum made his Indiana debut and was very good with eight points and 10 boards in 16 minutes. However, he won't play in this one, which is probably a good thing. Philly fans might riot if he did as Bynum is partly responsible for the mess the Sixers are in. Indiana beat the Sixers by 14 in their only meeting on Nov. 23.
Key trends: Philadelphia is 3-13 ATS in its past 16 against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in Indiana's past five against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: I don't think I've ever not taken a team getting 16 at home, but how can you possibly lean the Sixers here? Go over as well.
Grizzlies at Raptors ("pick'em," 188)
It's the No. 3 scoring defense in Memphis against No. 4 Toronto, so hence the low total. The Raptors have allowed triple digits in just three of their past nine games and has have won seven of them. They held the Pistons to 87 in an easy win Wednesday. Toronto has won 15 of 1its past 19 at home. Memphis has won four straight, three against likely playoff teams, not allowing 100 points in any of them. Mike Conley's layup with 1.5 seconds left Wednesday beat the Pelicans. Toronto won 103-87 in Memphis on Nov. 13.
Key trends: Toronto is 10-2 in its past 12 after a win of more than 10 points. The over is 8-1 in Memphis' past nine after a win.
Early lean: Huge on under with no strong opinion on side.
Suns at Celtics (+3.5, 207.5)
Rajon Rondo will be back in the lineup for Boston on Friday night after he sat out the Celtics' 116-92 home loss to the Knicks on Wednesday in the second of a back-to-back. Boston allowed 68 first-half Knicks points, the most scored by any team at Boston in the first half since 2005. Boston has lost nine of 12 overall. Phoenix is sliding in the West, having lost three straight. The first two, at Golden State and at the Clippers, were understandable. Not Wednesday's 110-101 home loss to Cleveland. Phoenix point guard Eric Bledsoe returned after missing 33 games and had 15 points and nine assists. The Suns played without forward P.J. Tucker due to suspension, but he'll be back.
Key trends: Phoenix is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 against teams with a losing record. The under is 7-0 in Boston's past seven following a double-digit loss at home.
Early lean: Phoenix will play desperate and cover.
Nuggets at Heat (-10, 214)
Miami looks tired as its 96-95 home loss to Brooklyn was the Heat's fourth in the past five games, and the offense is largely struggling. LeBron James had just 19 points against Brooklyn and hasn't had more than 23 since his career-high 61-point night on March 3. Denver ended a four-game road losing streak with a 120-112 win in Orlando on Wednesday, rallying from a 13-ponit deficit. Denver is pretty good when it reaches triple-digits but 2-24 this season when scoring less than 100 points. Miami beat Denver 97-94 on Dec. 30 in the Mile High City as James had 29 on his birthday.
Key trends: Denver is 0-6 ATS in its past six after a win. Under is 7-0 in Miami's past seven following a loss.
Early lean: Miami could be looking ahead to Sunday's big payback game against Houston. Denver it is. Love the under.
Trail Blazers at Pelicans (+3, 206.5)
The big news here is that Portland all-star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge almost certainly will not play after he landed hard on his back in Wednesday's 103-90 loss at San Antonio. X-rays were negative, but he could barely walk. The Blazers have lost a season-high four straight games and have allowed at least 103 points in each of them. New Orleans had a three-game winning streak snapped against Memphis on Wednesday, 90-88. Pelicans guards Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon both sat out. Both were ill, not hurt, so could return for this one.
Key trends: New Orleans is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 9-2 in Portland's past 11 overall.
Early lean: Depends on Evans/Gordon. I like the Pelicans to win outright if they play.
Lakers at Spurs (-17.5, 227.5)
I thought oddsmakers might wait to see how destroyed the Lakers got on Thursday night in Oklahoma City before posting a line here. The big Lakers news this week was that not only will Kobe Bryant not return this season -- no surprise there -- but he reportedly won't play for Mike D'Antoni, either. Think L.A. regrets not hiring Phil Jackson when it had the chance? The Spurs have won eight straight and five of those by double-figures. Gregg Popovich probably will want to limit his starters' minutes here because it should be a cakewalk.
Key trends: The over is 8-0 in the Lakers' past eight in the second of a back-to-back. San Antonio is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home against teams with a losing record
Early lean: Lakers as the Spurs will empty the bench early. Thus hard to see reaching this total.
Clippers at Jazz (+8.5, 206.5)
Utah has lost seven of its past eight, and its only win doesn't count: last Saturday at Philadelphia. About the only bright spot of late has been rookie point guard Trey Burke, who has had back-to-back 20-point games for the first time in his career. Los Angeles is on an NBA-high nine-game winning streak despite playing five of those games without sixth man Jamal Crawford. He's not likely to be back here. Also news has come out that J.J. Redick may be officially shut down the rest of the year. Expect Blake Griffin to extend his franchise record of consecutive 20-point games to 25 in this one. He's averaging 32.5 points in two games against Utah this season.
Key trends: L.A. is 7-1 ATS in its past eight Friday games. The under is 6-0 in Utah's past six on Friday.
Early lean: Little bit of a letdown game for L.A. so Utah. The Clips rarely play well there.
Cavaliers at Warriors (-12, TBA)
Golden State's five-game winning streak ended in Wednesday's 111-98 loss at the Clippers. I'm guessing there's no total here because of Stephen Curry, who was limited to 29 minutes against the Clips because he's playing through a quad injury. Still, there is little doubt he will play. Actually it could be because Klay Thompson will sit it out because of a death in the family. He's averaging 17.9 points per game. The Cavs ended their four-game losing streak with a 110-101 win at Phoenix on Wednesday. Cleveland has won five of its past seven against the West. Golden State won 108-104 in overtime at Cleveland on Dec. 29. That was in the middle of the Warriors' season-high 10-game winning streak. Curry missed a triple-double by one rebound. The Warriors have won six straight in this series.
Key trends: Cleveland is 7-1 ATS in its past eight after a win. The over is 8-2 in Golden State's past 10 against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Cavs should hang close without Thompson in there.
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