NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, November 21 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 11/20/2014
The NBA isn't college football or the NFL. One win or loss does not a season make and will not change futures odds. Thus, even though Cleveland was beaten on Tuesday night at home by San Antonio in a potential NBA Finals preview, the Cavs remain +250 title favorites at Sportsbook.ag, with San Antonio still No. 2 at +400. Both sides could be caught in letdown games on Friday night. Here's a look at the full schedule.
Suns at 76ers (+10, 208)
Well, that's what I get for believing in Philadelphia. I truly thought the Sixers had a shot to get their first win Wednesday night, so of course they lost again by double digits, this time 101-90 against Boston. This might not be just the worst team in NBA history but major American sports history. At least in my lifetime. Philadelphia (0-11) is seven defeats from tying the 2009-10 Nets for the worst start in NBA history. I sure don't see a win before then unless Philly gets a disinterested team in the second of a back-to-back. The Suns have won two straight, both on the road. They won 88-86 in Detroit on Wednesday. Maybe Phoenix is caught looking ahead to Saturday night's game in Indiana?
Key trends: Philly is 6-0 ATS in its past six after a double-digit loss at home. The "over/under" has gone under in Philly's past five after a double-digit loss. Phoenix has covered the past four meetings.
Early lean: Suns may take it easy with another game Saturday. Take the points.
Magic at Hornets (-5, 192.5)
Definitely disappointed in Orlando's effort Wednesday as I believed the Magic had a shot at beating a struggling Clippers team on the second of a back-to-back, but Orlando lost 114-90. The Magic bench was destroyed 60-23 by the Clippers' reserves. The Magic's starting backcourt of Victor Oladipo and Willie Green combined for 5-for-23 shooting as the Magic hit just 39.5 percent for the game. Green was starting because Evan Fournier missed the game because of a bruised left heel. Fournier, who has been a pleasant surprise, should return for this one. Charlotte lost 88-86 in Indiana -- called that one -- as the Hornets played without three regulars: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gary Neal and rookie P.J. Hairston. Doubtful any return for this one.
Key trends: The Magic have covered six straight vs. the East. Charlotte has covered eight of the past 11 meetings. The under is 4-0 in the Hornets' past four overall.
Early lean: Charlotte and under.
Pistons at Hawks (-6, 197)
Atlanta showed what kind of character it has by following a blowout loss in Cleveland on Saturday with an embarrassing home loss to the Lakers on Tuesday. How do you give up 114 points to that Lakers roster? Jeff Teague scored 23 for the Hawks, who lost for the first time at home. Starting Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll missed his fourth straight game with a strained groin, but it's looking good that he returns for this one. Detroit has lost three straight and not topped 93 points in any of them. It's the Pistons' third three-game skid already. New boss Stan Van Gundy so badly would love to dump former Hawk Josh Smith but can't find any takers. Smith will hear the boo-birds in this one.
Key trends: Detroit is 6-0 ATS in its past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 4-0 in Atlanta's past four after a loss.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Bucks at Raptors (-10, 202)
Milwaukee was never as bad as its record last season, and the Bucks are one of the NBA's surprises this year at 7-5 under first-year coach Jason Kidd. They have won three straight after a 122-118 triple-overtime victory in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Brandon Knight made the tying 3-pointer in the second overtime and the clinching free throws with 5.6 seconds to go in the third in Kidd's return to Brooklyn. Rookie Jabari Parker scored a career-high 23. Milwaukee is already nearly halfway to last season's wins total. Toronto won (called it) Wednesday night in a big one at home against Memphis, the team with the NBA's best record. The Raptors outscored a short-handed Grizzlies group 27-17 in the fourth quarter. Toronto was held below 100 points for only the second time this season.
Key trends: The Bucks have covered six of the past eight in Toronto. The over is 7-0 in the past seven meetings there.
Early lean: Too many points. Go Milwaukee.
Cavaliers at Wizards (+1, 206)
Here is your game of the night. Could the Cavs actually fall below .500 after 11 games? They are on their second two-game skid of the season after falling 92-90 at home to the Spurs on Wednesday. LeBron James struggled, shooting just 6-for-17 from the field and had a crucial turnover in the final seconds. Kevin Love was just 4-for-12 for 10 points. He seems to be a bit lost in this offense at times. I write these stories largely to give injury updates, and I was shocked that Washington star guard Bradley Beal made his season debut Wednesday as that rather came out of nowhere. He had just recently returned practicing from his left wrist fracture. Washington lost to Dallas 105-102, but Beal looked good, coming off the bench and scoring 21 points in 26 minutes. He may come off the bench a few more games to get his conditioning. Wednesday's loss was Washington's first at home.
Key trends: Washington is 1-5 ATS in its past six. The over is 4-1 in the Wizards' past five at home.
Early lean: Cavaliers and over.
Celtics at Grizzlies (TBA)
Boston ended its three-game skid with Wednesday's 101-90 win in Philly. The C's have not been a good defensive team this season but held the 76ers to a season low for a Boston opponent. Really this game is who suits up for Memphis off Wednesday's loss in Toronto. The Grizzlies were ravaged by a stomach virus, with five guys ruled out, led by starters Courtney Lee and Tony Allen. Memphis had to sign two guys from the D-League just to have 10 players available for the game. The team planned to give players surgical masks for the flight to Boston. Obviously keep an eye on this and it's why no line.
Key trends: Memphis has covered just two of its past 10 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 6-0 in the Grizzlies' past six after a loss.
Early lean: Have to wait here.
Spurs at Timberwolves (+6.5, 203.5)
Keep an eye on Gregg Popovich perhaps resting a few guys here. San Antonio comes off that big win in Cleveland, a game that even Manu Ginobili admitted wasn't just your run-of-the-mill regular-season matchup. The Spurs play again Saturday night at home. This really smells like a game where Pop sits some guys. Forward Matt Bonner should return for San Antonio after missing the Cavs game with a stomach virus. Minnesota routed visiting New York 115-99 (called that) on Wednesday as the Knicks were playing the second of a back-to-back. Kevin Martin had 37 points as the Wolves ended a five-game losing streak. Center Nikola Pekovic missed the game with wrist injury, and forward Thaddeus Young remained out following the death of his mother. It appears both will miss this one as well.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 7-0 in Minnesota's past seven playing on one day of rest.
Early lean: I would take the Wolves if Pekovic and Young were playing. Assuming not, go Spurs.
Nets at Thunder (-1, 193.5)
Brooklyn apparently misses Kidd as the Nets are struggling with a 4-7 record and enter this one on a five-game losing streak. I wonder how much the Nets have in the tank after being dragged into triple overtime by Milwaukee in Wednesday's loss. Brook Lopez scored a season-best 26 points for the Nets. The Thunder have lost four straight. The Thunder remain without Perry Jones, who had been very good in Kevin Durant's spot earlier this season. OKC's worst loss of the season was in Brooklyn on Nov. 3, 116-85.
Key trends: The Nets are 0-5 ATS in their past five road games against teams with a losing home record. The under is 8-2 in OKC's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Lakers at Mavericks (TBA)
I honestly would have bet that Los Angeles wouldn't have a three-game winning streak all season. I'll still take that even though the Lakers enter off wins in Atlanta and Houston. The Hawks one isn't a total shocker, but beating the Rockets in the second of a back-to-back? Shocker. The Lakers were 13-point dogs in that one. Does Nick Young make this much of a difference? L.A. is 2-0 with him back, and he's averaging 16.5 points in the two games. Dallas has won five straight but got a scare in Wednesday's victory in Toronto as Dirk Nowitzki left for a bit with an ankle injury. He expects to play here but why no line.
Key trends: The favorite has covered the past four meetings. The under is 5-1 in the past six.
Early lean: Mavs likely to open at least -10 if Dirk plays. Take the points as he may not be 100 percent.
Pelicans at Nuggets (+1, 208)
The big question here is whether New Orleans center Omer Asik will play. He missed the past two games, a loss in Portland and win in Sacramento, with a back injury. Asik is officially day-to-day. Alexis Ajinca would start in his place again if Asik sits. That's a downgrade. Denver is starting to show a bit of heart, having won two straight and three of four. Point guard Ty Lawson has played very well in that stretch. These teams split four games last season.
Key trends: The home team has covered the past nine meetings. The over is 6-1 in New Orleans' past seven overall.
Early lean: Denver and over.
Jazz at Warriors (-11.5, 203)
Utah rallied from a 17-point deficit last time out against the Thunder and still managed to win 98-81 behind 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds from Alec Burks. The Warriors had essentially their own little All-Star Break as they haven't played since a 136-115 win at the Lakers on Sunday. Steph Curry had 30 points and 15 assists. It was his NBA-high fifth 30/15 game since the start of last season. The Warriors won all four matchups last year vs. Utah. Golden State has never won five straight games in this series.
Key trends: Utah is 1-5 ATS in its past six after a win. The Warriors are 8-1 ATS in their past nine after a win. The under is 5-1 in Golden State's past six after scoring at least 100 points in its previous game.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Bulls at Trail Blazers (TBA)
Chicago is the only team playing in the second of a back-to-back on Friday. Neither Derrick Rose (he was lost for the season last year in Portland) nor Pau Gasol played in Sacramento on Thursday night. Thus, obviously they are very much in question here. So the Bulls will perhaps be short-handed and tired, while Portland has been off since a 102-93 home win over New Orleans on Monday. The Blazers may get back starting forward Nicolas Batum here. He has been out since Nov. 9 with a knee injury. Batum practiced on Wednesday. However, the Blazers just lost reserve guard C.J. McCollum to a broken finger.
Key trends: The Blazers are 7-1 ATS in their past eight. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings in Portland.
Early lean: Chicago has lost six straight in Portland. Make it seven. Blazers in a rout.
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