NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, December 19 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 12/18/2014
Don't be surprised if you see a trade by the end of Friday -- especially by Houston. I won't go into full detail, but essentially a player acquired by trade can't then be re-traded for two months. Dec. 19 is important then because two months after is Feb. 19. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 20. The Rockets have an $8.4 million trade exception they want to use but then still have the option to potentially flip said player before the deadline. In a deal, the Rockets can use any dollar amount up to the $8.4 million to balance out the incoming salary of a player. Houston got the exception in the trade of Jeremy Lin to the Lakers this offseason. Just something to think about. Here's a look at every game on Friday's schedule.
Jazz at Magic (-3, 189.5)
Utah pulled off a minor upset on Wednesday in Miami, 105-87, to end a three-game losing streak. It was only the Jazz's second win in 14 games. Utah shot 53 percent from the field and made 14 3-pointers against the Heat. The Jazz are 3-4 when visiting Eastern Conference teams, 0-6 when visiting Western Conference clubs. Orlando lost in Boston 109-92 on Wednesday for its second straight defeat and fourth in the past five games. The Magic won in Utah on Dec. 5, 98-93, behind 22 points from Tobias Harris. Orlando's best player, center Nikola Vucevic, didn't play in that one. Neither did Jazz starting guard Alec Burks.
Key trends: The road team has covered the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in four of those five.
Early lean: Orlando and under.
Hornets at 76ers (+4, 196.5)
You are a true NBA fan if you watch this game as the Hornets are 1-10 on the road and the 76ers are the only winless team at home. The Sixers have lost four straight overall as they steamroll toward perhaps 75 losses. The record for worst start to a season at home is 0-19 by the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks. Charlotte has lost four straight and is desperately trying to trade Lance Stephenson, who is probably going to miss this game with a pelvic strain. Al Jefferson had 28 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday's home loss to a Phoenix team that entered on a six-game skid. Charlotte won three of four against Philadelphia last season.
Key trends: Charlotte has covered only two of its past 13 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Won't do this often, but I like Philly to win outright.
Timberwolves at Celtics (-7.5, 213.5)
The hot rumor right now is that Boston and Dallas are talking about a Rajon Rondo trade, but that doesn't have to happen by Friday because obviously the Mavericks want to keep him. Boston has won two straight by double digits, but against lousy teams Philadelphia and Orlando. Rookie guard Marcus Smart has missed the past two with a strained left Achilles, and he's not expected Friday. Minnesota has lost three straight and hasn't scored 100 points in five straight games. The Wolves could trade Corey Brewer by Friday. They don't need him, and both the Rockets and Cavaliers want him.
Key trends: Boston is 4-0 ATS in its past four after a win. The over is 8-1 in Minnesota's past nine Friday games.
Early lean: Assuming Rondo is still in town, take Boston and the over.
Raptors at Pistons (+8.5, 198.5)
Detroit has lost two straight in blowout fashion, and the Pistons are open for business on every player other than Andre Drummond. He had 19 points and 24 rebounds on Wednesday, but the Pistons still lost by 11 at home to Dallas. Detroit has now lost 11 in a row at home. Toronto has won four in a row. The Raptors, who lead the Eastern Conference at 20-6, reached 20 wins before Christmas for the first time in their 20-year history. The Raptors are 12-0 this season when their opponent does not score 100.
Key trends: Toronto has covered seven of the past eight meetings. The under is 7-0 in Toronto's past seven following a win of more than 10 points.
Early lean: Too many points. Take the Pistons and under.
Nets at Cavaliers (-10, 200.5)
Cleveland played its worst game of the season on Wednesday, getting slaughtered 127-98 at home by Atlanta. The Hawks didn't even have leading scorer Jeff Teague in the lineup. LeBron James had 21 points and at least got the fourth quarter off because the Cavs were so far behind. It was the third-worst home loss in James' career. Brooklyn has lost two straight games. Kevin Garnett missed Wednesday's game just because it was the second of a back-to-back. He'll play here. The Nets lost at home to Cleveland 110-88 on Dec. 8. That was when the Cavs were playing their best basketball of the season.
Key trends: The Cavs are 1-5 ATS in their past six after a loss. The under is 8-1 in Brooklyn's past nine on the road.
Early lean: Expect a major Cleveland bounce back so give the points and go over.
Wizards at Heat (+4, 191.5)
Miami is just not a good team right now as there's no excuse for losing by 18 at home to Utah as the Heat did Wednesday despite 42 points from Dwyane Wade, his highest-scoring game in nearly four years. The Heat have lost four straight at home, all by double digits. Washington has won five straight and nine of 10. The Wizards are 12 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1978-79 season. Paul Pierce missed Tuesday's rout of Minnesota with a sore right toe but is likely to return. The Wizards lost their season opener by 12 in Miami but beat the visiting Heat 107-86 on Dec. 1.
Key trends: Miami has failed to cover eight straight at home. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Washington and over.
Bulls at Grizzlies (TBA)
Tough second of a back-to-back for Chicago as it hosted the Knicks on Thursday. In a moderate surprise, All-Star center Joakim Noah was expected to play in that one after missing four straight games with an ankle injury. However, fellow big man Taj Gibson was iffy with an ankle injury. So was Derrick Rose with an illness. The Grizzlies have to be totally spent. They ended Golden State's 16-game winning streak on Tuesday and then won a triple-overtime thriller at San Antonio on Wednesday. Memphis has won six straight overall. Last year the Bulls and Grizz split, each winning on the road. Both were very low-scoring.
Key trends: Chicago is 1-6 ATS in its past seven vs. the West. The over is 4-1 in Memphis' past five overall.
Early lean: Memphis will win outright.
Trail Blazers at Spurs (TBA)
San Antonio has lost two straight. Not a huge shock it was beaten at home by Memphis on Wednesday as the Spurs played without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker (he's definitely not playing in this game). They still should have beaten the Grizz, but Marc Gasol hit a lucky 3-pointer at the end of regulation to tie it. San Antonio has used 15 different starting lineups in 26 games this season. The team does play again Saturday night, so Gregg Popovich could rest some guys -- although he usually doesn't at home. Leonard is questionable to return. Portland has won three straight. That includes a 108-95 win over the visiting Spurs on Monday. Tim Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili all missed that game.
Key trends: The home team has covered six of the past seven meetings. The over is 8-1 in San Antonio's past nine vs. the West.
Early lean: Too early to tell, but I don't see San Antonio losing three in a row.
Clippers at Nuggets (+6, 214.5)
The Clippers have won two straight, although Wednesday's 102-100 victory over visiting Indiana was closer than expected. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 46 points and 39 rebounds in that one. Reserve big man Spencer Hawes miss a third straight game with a bruised left knee. Denver has lost three straight and seven of eight. This is the first meeting of the season between the two. They split last year. The Clippers have won four straight at home vs. Denver.
Key trends: The home team has covered seven straight in the series. The over is 5-1 in L.A.'s past six against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: L.A. and over.
Thunder at Lakers (+10, 212.5)
If Oklahoma City isn't totally flat here I'd be shocked after the Thunder took a seven-game winning streak into Golden State, the team with the best record in the NBA, on Thursday. The Lakers will have fresh legs as they have been off since a 110-91 loss in Indiana on Monday to end a season-high three-game winning streak. Kobe Bryant was just 8-for-26 in that game. The Lakers shot 16 percent from the floor for the entire first half and ended the game shooting 33 percent. The Thunder won last season's series 3-1.
Key trends: The home team is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Absolutely taking the points here.
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