NBA Odds: Friday, March 21, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/20/2014
While you also watch NCAA Tournament games on Friday, wonder to yourself if the Philadelphia 76ers would even be a top seed in the 2014 Big Dance. Seriously, could they beat Florida or Arizona (I'd say yes on Wichita State and Virginia)? How about Duke, Louisville or Michigan State? I say probably not. The Sixers look to take one step closer to infamy on Friday against the Knicks. Here's a look at every Friday game in order of tipoff.
Bulls at Pacers (-5.5, 181)
It's a potential Eastern Conference semifinals preview as Chicago visits Indiana for the last time in the regular season. The Pacers go to the Windy City on Monday. Indiana figures to be a bit grumpy after losing at the Knicks on Wednesday night and with a tough trip to Memphis on Saturday. Center Andrew Bynum has been ruled out at least the rest of this week. The Bulls clearly overlooked the 76ers on Wednesday night in only winning by eight. They are mostly healthy. These two have split two blowouts this season, both winning at home and both in November. Considering Derrick Rose was still around then, as well as Luol Deng, it doesn't mean much.
Key trends: Chicago is 0-5 ATS in its past five after a win. The "under" is 4-0 in Indiana's past four home games.
Early lean: I expect a very focused Indiana team and easy cover. It will be an upset if either teams scores 90.
Knicks at 76ers (+12.5, 210)
The Sixers actually might be due to end their 22-game losing streak and 17th in a row at home. The played the Bulls tough Wednesday and the Pacers close both Monday and last Friday. This screams trap game for a Knicks team having won a season-high seven in a row and off a huge win over Indiana. Philly has two victories since mid-January, and one of them was at the Knicks on Jan. 22. However, New York got payback on March 10, also at home, with a 123-110 rout. That was loss No. 17 in the Sixers' current skid. Tyson Chandler missed that one for New York.
Key trends: Philly is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The "over" is 7-1 in New York's past eight playing on one day of rest.
Early lean: I actually do think the Sixers could win this game, so I'd certainly take the points.
Thunder at Raptors (+3.5, 204)
I'm surprised there's an opening line here because Russell Westbrook was a game-time call for Thursday in Cleveland. If he played there, he won't in this one. If he didn't, he will. It's also not clear if Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will play after he missed Wednesday's win over New Orleans with a lower back sprain. Oklahoma City lost 104-98 at home to Toronto on Dec. 22, the Thunder's first home defeat of the season. The Raptors outscored OKC 6-0 in the final 1:25, all on free throws. Kevin Durant had a rare game under 25 with 24.
Key trends: The Thunder are 5-1 ATS in their past six in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 4-0 in OKC's past four against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: No opinion here with the Westbrook and Valanciunas situations.
Pelicans at Hawks (TBA)
No opening line here because New Orleans star big man Anthony Davis, who is playing out of his mind, sat out Wednesday's loss in Toronto with an illness. Davis did practice Thursday. His backup is Jeff Withey, just slightly a downgrade. Atlanta lost 105-100 in New Orleans on Feb. 5. That was when the Hawks really started falling off a cliff as they were still two games over .500 then. Davis had 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pelicans.
Key trends: New Orleans is 1-7 ATS in its past eight after a loss. The over is 10-2 in Atlanta's past 12 at home against teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Bet the farm on the Hawks if no Davis. Easy for me to say. I don't own a farm.
Celtics at Nets (-9.5, 195.5)
Could this be the last time that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett face their former Celtics team? Both could retire after this season, although I'm guessing Pierce won't. KG has missed 10 straight games with back issues and won't play. Brooklyn leads the season series 2-1 but lost the last matchup 91-84 in Boston on March 7. Not sure how the C's won that considering they turned the ball over a season-high 28 times. Yet Brooklyn never led. Rajon Rondo had one of his best games of the year with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Key trends: Brooklyn is 8-1 ATS in its past nine at home. The under is 8-2 in Boston's past 10 after scoring at least 100 points in its previous game.
Early lean: Nets have been unbeatable at home for a while and should win by double-digits.
Grizzlies at Heat (TBA)
This is TBA because of LeBron James. He was a surprising scratch for Wednesday's game at Boston because of back spasms, and the Heat lost. You also never know when Dwyane Wade will get a night off -- plus the Heat play again Saturday night, so it's likely Wade sits one of them. This if the first meeting of the season between the Heat and Grizzlies. Last year they split, each winning at home.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 10-1-1 ATS in their past 12 against teams with a winning percentage of .600 or better. The under is 8-2 in Miami's past 10 against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Can't make an educated guess here until the Heat reveal their lineup. Should be a defensive battle regardless.
Nuggets at Mavericks (TBA)
This no line is about Denver's Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. Neither played in Wednesday's 118-109 win over visiting Detroit. Aaron Brooks stepped in for Lawson and had 27 points and 17 assists. Consider both Lawson and Chandler questionable for this one. Denver really has the Mavs' number this year, winning all three meetings. The Nuggets are averaging 109 points per game in those three. They last met March 5 in Denver, a 115-110 Nuggets victory that ended their six-game losing streak.
Key trends: Dallas is 5-1 ATS in its past six after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game. The over is 5-1 in Denver's past six following a win.
Early lean: Heavy on Dallas regardless of number after the Mavs lost at home in overtime to Minnesota on Wednesday, and Dallas will want payback for earlier losses to Denver. The Mavericks had a chance to move a season-high 15 games over .500 if they had beaten Minnesota.
Pistons at Suns (TBA)
The key injury here is to Pistons center Andre Drummond after he sat out Wednesday's loss in Denver with a neck injury. He's pretty unlikely to play this one but hasn't been ruled out. Detroit beat visiting Phoenix 110-108 on Jan. 11. Josh Smith had a rare bright spot in his new Pistons career, hitting the winning bank shot with 1.2 seconds left. In typical Smith fashion, he was the reason it was tied. He fouled the Suns' Gerald Green on a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left, and Green hit all three free throws.
Key trends: The Suns have covered 10 of their past 12 against teams with a winning record. The over is 6-2 in Detroit's past eight on the road.
Early lean: Pistons are one of NBA's worst road teams right now, so Suns regardless of Drummond.
Spurs at Kings (+7, 209)
This could definitely be one of those games where Gregg Popovich rests one, two or all of his Big 3 because the Spurs have a game at Golden State on Saturday. In fact, I'd venture to say it's all but a sure thing at least one sits here. This is San Antonio's only visit to Sacramento this year. The Spurs are 2-0 against the Kings but didn't cover either. They last played Feb. 1, and San Antonio won 95-93. The Spurs didn't have Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green in that one. Sacramento didn't have DeMarcus Cousins.
Key trends: San Antonio is 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The under has hit in just one of those.
Early lean: Wait and see if the Spurs sit anyone.
Wizards at Lakers (+6.5, 219)
The Wizards could be worn out playing at up-tempo Portland on Thursday night. The Lakers are just porous defensively. They have allowed at least 110 points in their past seven, losing six of them. Washington beat visiting L.A. 116-111 back on Nov. 26. That was the day after Kobe Bryant signed his two-year extension. He didn't play. John Wall had 30 points for the Wiz and Nene 30, the first Wizards teammates to score at least 30 since Dec. 16, 2009. Over the past 30 years, the Lakers have lost just three season series to Washington.
Key trends: The over is 4-0 in Washington's past four road games against teams with a losing home record and is 9-3 in the Lakers' past 12 overall.
Early lean: I'd wait on the side to see how Washington fares on Thursday, but the over looks great here regardless.
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