NBA Odds: Friday, March 7 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/6/2014
While a potential NBA Finals preview between Miami and San Antonio highlighted the TNT national TV schedule on Thursday night, so does Indiana at Houston stand out in ESPN's doubleheader Friday night. That Finals matchup is +1700 at Sportsbook.ag. Here's a quick look at all of Friday's action, in order of tipoff.
Grizzlies at Bulls (TBA)
The total will be microscopic because both teams struggle on the offensive and are tremendous defensively, with Chicago ranking No. 2 in points allowed per game (92.3) and Memphis No. 3 (95.1). When the two met Dec. 30 the total was only 177.5, and the teams easily exceeded that with the Bulls winning 95-91 in Memphis as a five-point underdog. Each team turned the ball over 21 times. The Grizzlies didn't have star center Marc Gasol in that one, and they have been a different team since he returned from a long injury absence Jan. 14.
Both these teams generally win when scoring 100 points and lose when allowing it. The Grizzlies lost 103-94 on Wednesday in Brooklyn to end a two-game winning streak. The Grizz are still 21-9 in the New Year. Zach Randolph missed that game with the flu. Chicago won for the 10th time in 12 games Wednesday (10-2 ATS) with a 105-94 victory at Detroit. Joakim Noah had his second triple-double in the past three games with Chicago, and his matchup with Gasol is worth watching here. Noah did injure his thumb against Detroit but said it wasn't a big deal. Still, he's getting it looked at Thursday and thus with his status and Randolph's, no opening line.
Key trends: The Bulls have covered five straight at home. The “over” has hit in eight straight Grizzlies games.
Cavaliers at Bobcats (-5, 194)
Cleveland can help itself here as the No. 10 Cavaliers trail No. 7 Charlotte by 4.5 games in the East standings. In reality the only team Cleveland likely can catch is sinking Atlanta at No. 8, and the Cavs trail the Hawks by 3.5 games. Cleveland has dropped two straight blowouts to Memphis and San Antonio, allowing an average of 116 points in the two. The Cavs got back guard Dion Waiters from a long injury absence Tuesday against the Spurs, and he had 24 points on 11-for-18 shooting. However, big man Anderson Varejao remains out and isn't expected to play Friday, and neither is key bench player C.J. Miles.
Charlotte could be caught in a letdown game here after shocking the Pacers 109-87 on Wednesday night to end a three-game losing streak. Al Jefferson dominated with 34 points, while Pacers center Roy Hibbert had just four. The Bobcats shot 51 percent from the field against the NBA's top defensive team. Charlotte played again without starting swingman Gerald Henderson, and he's out Friday. The Bobcats are 14-3 at home when scoring at least 91 points. The Bobcats won two low-scoring early-season games against Cleveland: 90-84 and 86-80, both going “under” and both Charlotte covers.
Key trends: Cleveland is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 after a loss. The over is 8-2 in Charlotte's past 10.
Kings at Raptors (-5.5, 205.5)
Toronto has won four of five, and the best of those victories was Sunday's 104-98 victory over visiting Golden State. Yes, the Raptors have had four days off, practically an all-star break, so they could be rusty. On the bright side, the players should be quite healthy and have fresh legs. For example, starting guard Terrence Ross is likely to play after missing Sunday's game with an ankle injury.
Sacramento has won two straight, but don't get too excited as they were against New Orleans and Milwaukee. That Bucks win Wednesday started a season-high seven-game road trip. The Kings are only 9-20 on the road, but that's one more away victory than last year. Sacramento won 109-101 at home against Toronto on Feb. 5 as a one-point favorite. That was the teams' first meeting since the Raptors sent Rudy Gay to the Kings and got much better.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Nets at Celtics (+3.5, 195.5)
Brooklyn is surging, having won four straight. The Nets beat Memphis 103-94 on Wednesday night to get over .500 for the first time all season, so you know they don't want to lay an egg in what should be a victory in Boston, the only home dog Friday. Kevin Garnett missed the past three games for Brooklyn with back spasms and will be questionable for this one. Really the Nets shouldn't need him against Boston.
The Celtics have lost seven of eight and have allowed triple-digits in all of them while scoring at least 100 just once -- and that was in the lone win (vs. Atlanta). Brooklyn is 2-0 against Boston this year, winning 85-79 in Beantown on Jan. 26 as a 4.5-point favorite -- the return of Garnett and Paul Pierce to Boston -- and 104-96 in Brooklyn on Dec. 10 as a two-point favorite.
Key trends: The Nets are 11-1 ATS in their past 12 playing on one day of rest. The over is 12-1 in the Nets' past 13 Friday games.
Jazz at Knicks (-5, 195.5)
New York is rolling, taking a one-game winning streak into this one. Yes I'm being sarcastic. The Knicks ended a seven-game skid with a 118-106 win at Minnesota on Wednesday behind 33 points from Carmelo Anthony. Raymond Felton had by far his best game since his arrest on gun charges with 18 points. Utah is in the midst of a six-game road trip through the Eastern Conference, and the Jazz have started 0-4 (1-3 ATS), failing to score more than 91 points in losses to Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee and Washington (1-3 O/U). Utah's 7-24 road mark is the worst in the West. This is the first meeting of the season.
Key trends: The Knicks are 1-6 ATS in their past seven after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game. The under is 9-1 in Utah's past 10 road games.
Pistons at Timberwolves (-8, 217)
It's two teams on the outside of the playoffs looking in meeting Friday in Minnesota, and neither can build up any sustained success. Detroit has lost eight of its past 10, and most of those have been blowouts. Wednesday's 105-94 loss to Chicago was. Detroit's bench had all of 12 points against the Bulls. Minnesota still hasn't been more than three games above .500 this season and dropped back to break even with an unexplainable 118-106 home loss to New York on Wednesday, ending the Wolves' three-game winning streak, all on the road. This is the first meeting of the season.
Key trends: The road team has covered five of the past six meetings. The under has hit in nine of Minnesota's past 11 after allowing at least 100 points in its previous game.
Bucks at Pelicans (-7.5, 200)
Here are two teams that would just as soon lose out to improve their draft stock -- the Pelicans only keep their pick if it's in the Top 5. Milwaukee actually has won three of its past eight games, which is considered a giant success in this lost season. The Bucks lost 116-102 on Wednesday to Sacramento 48 hours after the Bucks' biggest win of the season, 114-88 over Utah. They still haven't won consecutive games this season. New Orleans ended an eight-game losing streak with a 132-125 win at the Lakers on Tuesday behind 28 points and 15 rebounds from Anthony Davis. New Orleans' last win before that: 102-98 in Milwaukee on Feb. 12. The Pelicans were also 7.5-point favorites in that one.
Key trends: Milwaukee is 1-5 ATS in its past six in New Orleans. The over is 6-0 in the Bucks' past six games.
Trail Blazers at Mavericks (pick'em, 218.5)
There are few sure things in sports betting, but you had to see Portland's 102-78 home blowout of Atlanta on Wednesday coming. That's because the Blazers had a five-game winning streak snapped at home Monday night by the terrible Lakers. No doubt coach Terry Stotts got his team's attention the next day in practice. Dallas is going the wrong way if the Mavs want to hang onto one of those final playoff spots in the West. The Mavs have lost three straight, allowing at least 100 points in all three. It's the team's first three-game skid of the season. Portland and Dallas have split two high-scoring meetings (both "over"), each winning on the road.
Key trends: Dallas has covered five of the past six meetings. The over is 5-0 in the past five in Big D.
Lakers at Nuggets (-8.5, 225)
It's the second of a back-to-back for the Lakers on Friday, and L.A. is likely to be run ragged Thursday night at home by the Clippers. Los Angeles shockingly won in Portland on Monday and then gave up 132 points in a home loss to New Orleans the next night. Nothing is worse than playing in the altitude of Denver in the second of a back-to-back. The Nuggets ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a 115-110 win over visiting Dallas. The Nuggets haven't held a team below 100 points since Feb. 20. Denver has had two easy covers against the Lakers this season, winning 111-99 at home and 137-115 in the last meeting Jan. 5 in L.A.
Key trends: The Nuggets have covered five straight in the series. The over is 7-0 in the Lakers' past seven in the second half of a back-to-back.
Pacers at Rockets (-4.5, 202)
Perhaps it's just the dog days of early March, but the Pacers are in danger of coughing up the Eastern Conference lead perhaps by this weekend as they enter this marquee matchup having lost two straight. The team with the NBA's best home record was beaten 98-96 at home by Golden State on Tuesday. Maybe Indiana was flat Wednesday as it was routed 109-87 at Charlotte. Paul George was 0-for-9 from the field for two points and a whopping minus-38 rating. The irony here is that Indiana had one other two-game losing streak this season. In the next game, the Pacers routed visiting Houston 114-81. However, these Rockets are rolling, having won three straight and 13 of 15. In only three of those games did Houston fail to reach 100 points, and it lost two of them.
Key trends: Indiana is 0-5 ATS in its past five road games. The over is 4-0 in Houston's past four at home.
Hawks at Warriors (TBA)
Golden State is back home after going 4-2 on a six-game trip through the Eastern Conference, and the Warriors closed it strong with wins in Indiana and a blowout of Boston. Stephen Curry played only 22 minutes against Boston with right leg soreness, so his injury is the key thing to monitor here and why no opening line. Golden State would be a solid favorite without him but likely close to double-digits with. The Hawks have lost four straight and 12 of their past 13 (1-11-1 ATS) yet still hold the final playoff spot in the East. Kyle Korver's NBA-record streak of 127 games with a 3-pointer ended in Atlanta's 102-78 loss to Portland on Wednesday. Golden State won 101-100 in Atlanta on Jan. 3 on Andre Iguodala's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Key trends: Atlanta hasn't covered its past eight road games. The under is 6-0 in Golden State's past six after a win.
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