NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, November 14 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 11/13/2014
Only one college football game on Friday this week, and it's the not-too-exciting American Athletic Conference matchup between Tulsa and Central Florida. So it's a good night to focus your betting action on the NBA. There are two national TV games for live betting at the various sportsbooks: Nuggets-Pacers on NBA TV and Spurs-Lakers on ESPN. Here's a quick look at every Friday matchup.
Nuggets at Pacers (-2, 197.5)
Keep an eye on how much -- or if at all -- that Denver shooting guard Arron Afflalo plays in this one. I thought the Nuggets would be much better this year after acquiring Afflalo this offseason in trade from Orlando after his career year there. However, the Nuggets are 1-6, and Coach Brian Shaw is really on the hot seat. In Wednesday's 17-point loss to Portland, in which Denver was down a whopping 34 points at halftime, Afflalo played just 10 minutes. Seems like a panic move for Shaw to bench one of his best guys. Put Shaw on the short list of first NBA coach to be fired. Indiana pulled quite the surprise on Wednesday, winning 81-75 in Miami behind 16 points and 15 rebounds from Roy Hibbert. Indiana was without G Rodney Stuckey (left foot), F C.J. Miles (migraine), David West (right ankle), George Hill (left knee) and G C.J. Watson (right foot). They all seem likely to sit again.
Key trends: Denver is 0-6 ATS in its past six overall. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Indiana and under. The Nuggets may have quit already.
Bucks at Magic (-2.5, 192)
Speaking of surprising wins that I didn't see coming, Orlando added to the Knicks' misery with a 97-95 upset at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. The Magic got a career-high 28 points from Evan Fournier, the guy they got in trade for Afflalo from Denver. Orlando has no right winning in New York on the second of a back-to-back when the Knicks were rested. The Magic have played two sets of back-to-backs. They are 0-2 on the first night and 2-0 on the second. Milwaukee has been off since beating Oklahoma City 85-78 on Tuesday. Milwaukee's reserves, who came in averaging a league-best 45.5 points per game, outscored their Oklahoma City counterparts 53-22. Milwaukee has won consecutive games for the first time since March 2013.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 in the past five meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Orlando and under. Neither team can shoot.
Heat at Hawks (-2, 195)
Atlanta enters on a three-game winning streak, but I'm not too excited about that considering two were against the Knicks and one vs. Utah. The Hawks played without two key guys vs. the Jazz, so monitor their status here: starting forward DeMarre Carroll and reserve forward Mike Scott, who combined for a 21.7 scoring average in the Hawks' first six games. The Heat are likely still shaking their heads after Wednesday's 81-75 home loss to injury-depleted Indiana. Fairly simple why Miami lost: It was outrebounded 53-28. Heat big man Chris Andersen (bruised ribs) returned after a five-game absence, but that obviously didn't help much.
Key trends: The under is 5-0 in Miami's past five. The home team has covered four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Cavaliers at Celtics (+6, 211.5)
Most expected Cleveland to be one of the best offensive teams in the NBA, and that wasn't the case for the first few games. However, in winning two straight the Cavs are averaging 114.0 points. Here they come! LeBron James had a triple-double in Monday's 118-111 win over New Orleans -- only then he didn't. The NBA took away one of his assists after reviewing game film on Tuesday (a rebound too). So he finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine helpers. Still pretty good. Boston ranks fifth in scoring and 28th in defense, so this should be a barn-burner. Although the C's played lousy on Wednesday, losing 109-94 to the Thunder. Rajon Rondo was one rebound shy of a triple-double. Nice matchup between him and Kyrie Irving here.
Key trends: Boston is 1-5 ATS in its past six after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game. The over is 8-0 in the Celtics' past eight at home.
Early lean: Like the over better than any side pick.
Jazz at Knicks (TBA)
Look, the Knicks aren't going to fire first-year coach Derek Fisher. But if they lose at home to Utah for a seventh straight defeat, the boo-birds will really be out. New York was held to just 19 points in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's shocking home loss to Orlando, and the Knicks still haven't scored 100 points yet. Fisher put Quincy Acy in the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 2. Is Quincy Acy going to solve your problems? The Jazz have lost two straight and have just one road win. They have no right winning this game.
Key trends: New York is 0-5 ATS in it past five at home. The under is 5-0 in Utah's past five against teams with a losing record. Utah has failed to cover its past nine in New York.
Early lean: It's rare I can't tell why a game opens as TBA. Not sure why here unless it's for the very outside possibility that Knicks point guard Jose Calderon makes his season debut. There are no major injuries to worry about as of this writing. Go under no matter the number.
76ers at Rockets (-15, 208)
It's Game 2 of Philly's three-game swing through the Texas triangle as the 76ers played -- and no doubt lost -- in Dallas on Thursday night to remain the NBA's only winless club. That game saw the season debut of Philly's Michael Carter-Williams, although I'm sure he will be on a minutes limit for a bit. Amazingly, all seven of Houston's wins are by double digits. As is the Rockets' only loss. Houston won 113-101 against Minnesota in Mexico City on Wednesday. Dwight Howard returned from a game off due to the flu and had 22 points and 10 boards. Houston again played without starters Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverley. I'd be stunned if they play here because the Rockets won't need them to.
Key trends: The under is 12-2 in Philly's past 14 playing on no days of rest. The home team has covered the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Unless Houston drank the water in Mexico on Wednesday, no way it loses. Still, I'm taking the points because I'm not sure the Rockets will be all that engaged here. Go under.
Timberwolves at Pelicans (-8.5, 204.5)
One interesting subplot here is the last three No. 1 overall pick are on display in New Orleans' Anthony Davis and Minnesota's Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. The latter two are worlds away from Davis' level of play right now. Wiggins has a shot to be a star, though. He had one of his better games thus far in Wednesday's loss to Houston with 15 points in 32 minutes. New Orleans failed to cover -- as I projected -- a big number in Wednesday's 109-102 win over the Lakers. Davis had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. The Pelicans probably could have covered if they wanted to after taking a 23-point lead.
Key trends: The home team has covered the past six meetings. The over is 5-2 in the past seven.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Pistons at Thunder (-1.5, 189)
Oklahoma City has shown some signs of life by winning two of three. The Thunder scored a season-high 109 points in Wednesday's 15-point victory in Boston. Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow, who just recently made his season debut off injury, each had 28 points. Thunder rotation guys Perry Jones and Andre Roberson remained sidelined. Detroit is on its second three-game losing streak of the season, falling 107-103 in Washington on Wednesday. Brandon Jennings had 32 points but only two in the fourth quarter. Andre Drummond was strangely invisible in 23 minutes.
Key trends: OKC is 1-7 ATS in it past eight vs. the East. The over is 25-9 in Detroit's last 34 against the West.
Early lean: Thunder and under.
Hornets at Suns (-5.5, 203.5)
Charlotte has been an early disappointment at 3-5 and enters off a 102-100 loss in Portland on Tuesday to start a West Coast trip at 0-2. Gary Neal appeared to send the game into overtime with a layup, but instant replay showed he didn't quite get it off before the buzzer. Charlotte blew a 23-point lead. Al Jefferson had his sixth straight 20-point game for the Hornets. Phoenix erased a 19-point hole Wednesday to beat Brooklyn 112-104 behind 28 points from reserve Gerald Green. The Suns have won two straight at home after losing two in a row.
Key trends: Phoenix has covered the past four meetings. The under is 6-1 in the Suns' past seven vs. the East.
Early lean: Suns and over. Hornets' defense is nowhere near as good as last year.
Spurs at Lakers (+9, 210)
Remember when this game used to matter? San Antonio actually played all its guys in the second of a back-to-back Tuesday in Golden State and pulled a 113-100 surprise. I do wonder if the Spurs are a bit flat here, even after a few days off, following that win and Monday's big one over the Clippers. Tiago Splitter (right calf tightness) and Marco Belinelli (mild groin strain) sat out both games and probably here as well. Los Angeles lost 109-102 in New Orleans on Wednesday despite Kobe Bryant's 33. He was just 10-for-28 as he continues to lead the league by a ton in shot attempts.
Key trends: The over is 6-0 in L.A.'s past six vs. the West. The Spurs are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: This is one of those games where Gregg Popovich will use his starters as little as possible with another game Saturday night in Sacramento Take the points.
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