NBA Odds: Friday, March 28, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/27/2014
It's one of the busiest nights the rest of the regular season on Friday with 24 of the 30 teams in action. You'd think there would be a very compelling game among the 12, but it's not really the case. The most important one is likely Memphis at Golden State as those two jockey for the final few playoff spots in the West. Here's a look at all of Friday's games in order of tipoff.
Bobcats at Magic (+4, 196)
Charlotte just completed a three-game homestand with two wins over playoff teams Portland and Brooklyn. Gary Neal, a trade acquisition, didn't play in Wednesday's 116-111 overtime win over the Nets, and he won't in this one, either. He averages 11.5 points per game. Could Orlando actually start a winning streak? The Magic haven't won two straight since taking a season-high three in a row in early February, but Orlando beat visiting Portland by 10 on Tuesday to end a nine-game skid. Orlando is likely to get back injured point guard Jameer Nelson for this one. While the Magic are one of the NBA's worst-ever road teams at 4-34, they are a decent 16-18 at home. One of those four road wins came on Dec. 11 at Charlotte, 92-83. The Bobcats won by 10 in Orlando in the last meeting.
Key trends: Charlotte has covered seven of its past nine against teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in Orlando's past five.
Early lean: Love the under more than a side choice.
Celtics at Raptors (TBA)
It's the second of a home-and-home in this one as Toronto won 99-90 in Boston on Wednesday night to take a 2-1 season series lead. It ended the Raptors' 11-game skid in Beantown. Kyle Lowry continued his terrific play with 23 points and nine rebounds. Jared Sullinger had 26 points and eight boards. The Raptors could officially clinch a playoff spot in this one. Presumably there's no line here because Boston's Rajon Rondo needed eight stitches after suffering a cut to his forehead in Wednesday's game. However, he did return and should play here as Boston doesn't play again until Sunday (Rondo skips one game of back-to-backs). Jeff Green played through a stiff neck Wednesday, so keep an eye on him as well.
Key trends: Toronto is 6-1 ATS in its past seven at home. The under is 4-1 in Boston's past five against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Celtics have given up, so lean Toronto no matter the number. It will probably be around -7, double what Wednesday's was.
Pacers at Wizards (+3.5, 190.5)
Letdown alert!!!! The Pacers won a crucial home game with Miami on Wednesday night, and I don't see how they aren't a bit drained. Washington needs this one, having dropped four of five and not looking good back at home Wednesday vs. Phoenix. The Wizards clearly would like to avoid Indiana in the first round of the playoffs as the Pacers have beaten Washington by 20 and 27 this season, both in Indianapolis. The Wizards scored a season-low 66 points in that latter loss on Jan. 10.
Key trends: The Pacers are 2-12 ATS in their past 14 after a win. The under is 4-0 in Washington's past four overall.
Early lean: Does Indiana have enough heart to move past Wednesday and focus on what's next? I'm not sold on that, so I lean Wizards.
Cavaliers at Nets (-8.5, 197)
Cleveland isn't out of this yet, now 3.5 games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot entering Thursday's action. The Cavs have won three straight, none of which I thought they would. Cleveland rallied from a 16-point fourth-quarter hole Wednesday night in Detroit and won it on Dion Waiters' buzzer-beater. The Nets are home after playing three straight overtime road games, losing the last two. They have won 11 straight at home, however. Cleveland and Brooklyn have split two meetings, each winning at home. Both were months ago, including the season opener for both.
Key trends: Nets are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 at home. The under is 13-3 in Cleveland's past 16 after a win.
Early lean: Brooklyn is a different team at home and should cover in a low-scoring game.
Heat at Pistons (TBA)
Letdown alert!! How will Miami react to Wednesday's big loss at the Pacers? The Heat certainly can't afford to let up here as the Pistons might actually play with heart for once, although they are finding new and creative ways to blow games. The TBA here is for Dwayne Wade, who was clearly bothered by a sore Achilles' late in that Pacers game and was taken out. I'd be surprised if he plays. Ray Allen should return from missing the game with an illness. Detroit managed to win a game in Miami back in early December -- Wade didn't play -- but has lost the past two meetings.
Key trends: Heat are 1-6 ATS in their past seven road games. The over is 5-1 in Detroit's past six at home against teams with a winning road record.
Early lean: Wait on Wade, but if this is above the Pistons getting six I'd take them.
Trail Blazers at Bulls (TBA)
Chicago will have fresh legs as it has been off since a 12-point home win over Indiana on Monday. Portland is going to be totally dead-legged in this one. This will be the Blazers' fourth game this week already, and they had to play in Atlanta on Thursday night. LaMarcus Aldridge was supposed to return in that one. At least it's the end of a five-game Eastern Conference road trip in which the Blazers have struggled. Chicago lost 98-95 in Portland on Nov. 22. That game changed the dynamic of the 2013-14 season as it was the one in which Derrick Rose suffered his season-ending knee injury.
Key trends: Bulls are 1-5 ATS in their past six overall. The over has hit in 10 of Chicago's past 12 against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: This looks like a Chicago rout.
Lakers at Timberwolves (TBA)
Pau Gasol will sit out his third straight for the Lakers. He missed Tuesday's blowout home win over New York with vertigo and didn't play Thursday night in Milwaukee, either. Steve Nash didn't play Thursday and won't here, not that he's relevant much these days. L.A. hasn't won four straight all year but would have a chance here if it won at the Bucks. The Wolves seem unlikely to have center Nikola Pekovic (ankle) again. Minnesota is 1-1 against the Lakers this season, but they haven't played since December.
Key trends: Minnesota is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home. The over is 8-1 in the Lakers' past nine in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: No opinion until after Lakers' game Thursday.
Jazz at Pelicans (-5.5, 194)
It's too bad New Orleans couldn't stay healthy this season because this club could be good with how much Anthony Davis improves game-by-game. The Pelicans have won four straight, the last three against title contenders Miami, Brooklyn and the Clippers. Eric Gordon has missed those past three, but there's a decent chance he could play Friday. Is that a good thing? Utah guard Alec Burks will miss another one. The teams each have a win at home against one another back in mid-November.
Key trends: Utah is 2-5 ATS in its past seven road games. The under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings in New Orleans.
Early lean: I don't expect this to be close unless New Orleans takes Utah for granted after those three big wins.
Kings at Thunder (TBA)
Likely no line here because Kings guard Isaiah Thomas missed his first game of the season in Wednesday's loss to the Knicks and is questionable. He has become a very good player, averaging 20.7 points and 6.4 assists. Oklahoma City can't afford a loss like this if it has any hopes of catching the Spurs for the West's top seed. The Thunder lost 128-119 in OT in Dallas on Tuesday despite 43 points from Kevin Durant, his 36th straight game with at least 25 points. That's fourth all-time. Wilt's record of 80 is safe. The Thunder are 2-0 vs. Sacramento this year and have won 10 straight in the series at home.
Key trends: Sacramento is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 after allowing at least 100 points in its previous game. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Thomas.
Spurs at Nuggets (+7.5, 216)
San Antonio won its 15th straight game on Wednesday in beating the visiting Nuggets 108-103 despite nearly blowing a 24-point lead. Tim Duncan dominated with 29 points and 13 rebounds. This screams a possible rest game for some of San Antonio's starters and/or Manu Ginobili. San Antonio also plays at home on Saturday and then has a big one in Indiana on Monday. Also Danny Green left Wednesday with a foot injury and probably sits.
Key trends: Denver is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 7-1 in San Antonio's past eight after an ATS loss.
Early lean: I said earlier this week I could see a Denver upset in this game in the second of a home-to-home, and I don't feel differently, especially with the Spurs likely sitting guys. In fact, I'd jump on this right now before it moves toward the Nuggets once that news officially comes out.
Knicks at Suns (-5, 211)
I expect a very tired New York team as it plays its fourth game in six nights and third in four. The Knicks did bounce back nicely from a terrible game at the Lakers with a 107-99 win at Sacramento on Wednesday. J.R. Smith finally did something with 29 points. Phoenix has won five straight, the last three on the road. Eric Bledsoe looks fully back in sync now. New York beat visiting Phoenix 98-86 in overtime on Jan. 13 behind 29 points and 16 rebounds from Carmelo Anthony. Phoenix didn't have a field goal in OT and blew a late five-point lead in regulation. Tyson Chandler missed that one for New York.
Key trends: Phoenix is 12-3 ATS in its past 15 against teams with a losing record. The over is 5-1 in New York's past six road games.
Early lean: Suns as I simply don't think the Knicks will have the energy. Huge on the over.
Grizzlies at Warriors (TBA)
It's still possible that Memphis could climb as high as No. 5 in the West or miss the playoffs entirely. I lean the former with how the Grizz are playing. Golden State has been off since a three-game winning streak ended with a 99-90 home loss to San Antonio last Saturday. Andre Iguodala missed his third straight game for Golden State with knee issues, but with all that time in between games he should play here. However, David Lee might not with a hamstring issue. Thus, you see why no line because of those two. Memphis won the first two meetings in November with Golden State, but the Warriors won the last in early December. Memphis has won five straight in Oakland.
Key trends: The under is 7-1 in the Grizzlies' past eight overall. Memphis is 5-0 ATS in its past five at Golden State.
Early lean: Wait on Iggy and Lee.
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