NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, November 7 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 11/6/2014
Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers look rather disorganized right now and are sitting at 1-3, the oddsmakers haven't lost faith. Cleveland remains the +260 NBA championship favorite at Sportsbook.ag. I was in the camp that believed it would take the Cavs a full season to learn each other and that a title wasn't in the cards. Much like LeBron's first season in Miami when the Heat were dominated in the NBA Finals by Dallas. Here's a look at the Cavs' game and the other 10 on the Friday NBA schedule. The ESPN doubleheader of Grizzlies-Thunder and Cavaliers-Nuggets will have live betting at the major books.
Hawks at Hornets (-2.5, 194)
Atlanta played admirably on Wednesday night in losing 94-92 in San Antonio. The Hawks finished with 92 shots, 23 more than San Antonio, in rallying from a 17-point deficit in the first half. However, the Hawks didn't get off a good shot to win it at the buzzer. The Hornets, as I projected, beat the Miami Heat on Wednesday night 96-89. That ended a 20-game losing streak to Miami, including last year's playoffs. Al Jefferson dominated with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed his second straight game with bruised ribs, so that's an injury you want to monitor here.
Key trends: Atlanta has covered six straight in Charlotte. The "over/under" has gone over in nine of the past 12 meetings overall.
Early lean: Hornets, MKG or not, and under.
Timberwolves at Magic (+2.5, 197)
Have to say that Minnesota is overachieving so far. I certainly didn't see the Wolves winning in Brooklyn on Wednesday, but they did 98-91. Minnesota scored the final nine points of that game. Rookie Andrew Wiggins had the best game of his young career (and most minutes) with 17 points and four rebounds. Ricky Rubio was two rebounds shy of a triple-double. The Magic got their first win on Wednesday in beating the Sixers in Philly 91-89. Tobias Harris sank a jumper at the buzzer. OK, this game is going to confuse me because sometimes I get Wolves center Nikola Pekovic and Magic center Nikola Vucevic confused. Both are pretty darn good.
Key trends: The Magic have failed to cover four straight at home. Minnesota is 1-6 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Like the points here and under.
Bulls at 76ers (+11, 188.5)
Rather shocked there's an opening line here. Will Chicago's Derrick Rose and/or Joakim Noah play? The Rose injury watch in Chicago is already old. He played Wednesday night in Milwaukee after missing two games with ankle sprains and had 13 points and seven assists in 31 minutes. And of course he tweaked the injuries in the game. So who knows if he plays here. Noah missed his second straight game because of flu-like symptoms, so he's questionable. Philly's Michael Carter-Williams, last year's Rookie of the Year, finally returned to practice on Thursday but he won't quite play yet as he recovers from May shoulder surgery. Also, 76ers rookie Nerlens Noel left Wednesday's loss to Orlando with a sprained ankle, so he might sit. The Sixers have yet to score more than 96 points in a game, and they are simply awful.
Key trends: The Bulls are 0-7 ATS in their past seven playing on one day of rest. The over is 10-3 in Philly's past 13 after a loss (so pretty much always).
Early lean: I don't expect Rose or Noah to play -- the Bulls play Saturday at home. Save them for that one. Take the points and the under.
Pacers at Celtics (-6, 191)
One of the most hilarious things you will see all season was that somehow Pacers 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert attempted the potential game-winning 3-pointer in Washington on Wednesday night in the final seconds of overtime. Shocker: He missed and Indiana lost. The Pacers' 1-4 record is their worst start since 1996, and last season they didn't lose their fourth game until Dec. 16. More bad news: Already without starters David West, C.J. Watson and George Hill, guard Rodney Stuckey will miss at least three games after aggravating a strained tendon in his left foot. Boston lost 110-107 on Wednesday at home to Toronto despite a triple-double (13 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists) from Rajon Rondo.
Key trends: Boston has covered six of the past eight meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven.
Early lean: Boston and over.
Knicks at Nets (-5, 193)
New York will get back J.R. Smith for this game -- is that good thing? He was suspended for Wednesday night's 98-95 loss in Detroit. The Knicks want to dump this guy, but who wants him? Smith is averaging 7.5 points and 4.0 assists in 24.5 minutes. Carmelo Anthony had only 13 points on 5-of-21 shooting in the loss to Detroit. As noted above, Brooklyn blew what should have been a sure home win Wednesday against Minnesota. The Knicks won three of four matchups last season -- all four were decided by double digits.
Key trends: The road team has covered four of the past five meetings. The over is 4-1 in the past five in Brooklyn.
Early lean: Nets and over.
Bucks at Pistons (-6, 193.5)
Really thought Milwaukee had a chance to upset the visiting Bulls on Wednesday as Chicago was on the second of a back-to-back, but the Bucks fell 95-86. They scored just 33 points in the final two quarters. Bucks rookie Jabari Parker struggled again, scoring eight points on 4-for-12 shooting. Detroit got win No. 1 by beating New York on Wednesday behind 23 points and 18 rebounds from Greg Monroe. Stan Van Gundy started him for the first time this season. The Pistons had a season-high 11 3-pointers, which offset shooting 17-for-47 in the paint.
Key trends: Milwaukee has covered four of the past five in Detroit. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Wizards at Raptors (TBA)
Nice matchup of 4-1 teams here. Washington beat Indiana 96-94 in overtime on Wednesday behind 31 points and 10 assists from John Wall. The Wizards weren't three games over .500 until March last season. The Wizards shot only 37 percent but made 21 of 23 free throws. Toronto got a rare win in Boston on Wednesday, 110-107. Kyle Lowry led the way with 35 points. However, the Raptors played without starting forward Amir Johnson and center Jonas Valanciunas. All signs point to both playing on Friday, which will be needed against a big Wizards frontcourt. But their status why no opening line. Raptors will be favored regardless.
Key trends: Washington is 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The under has hit in four of those.
Early lean: Need to wait and see on the Raptors duo.
Grizzlies at Thunder (+8.5, 185)
Oklahoma City fell to 1-4 with Tuesday's 100-88 loss in Toronto. Serge Ibaka had 25 points and 11 rebounds for an Oklahoma City team playing the second game of a back-to-back. Reggie Jackson added 13 points and a career-high 14 assists. However, surprising Perry Jones left early in the second half with a knee injury. He's questionable to play in this one. The Thunder already were without guard Andre Roberson, who left Monday's game with a sprained left foot and was wearing a protective boot Tuesday. He's not likely to play. It's almost sad how injury-ravaged this team is. Memphis improved to 5-0 with a 102-91 victory in Phoenix on Wednesday. The Grizzlies lead the NBA in defense, and I see no way this Thunder team can score much.
Key trends: The Thunder are 0-4 ATS in their past four against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings -- but disregard that with this current Thunder team.
Early lean: No opinion on side, but jump the under even on the lowest total on the board. Can OKC score 70?
Kings at Suns (-4.5, 209.5)
Phoenix star Goran Dragic struggled in Wednesday's loss to Memphis, going just 3-for-9 for six points. If the Suns' three guards (Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas) don't all play well, they just aren't going to win. I called Sacramento's cover on Wednesday, a 131-109 win over Denver, the Kings' second straight victory over the Nuggets. DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 11 rebounds. Sacramento led by as many as 36 and had six players in double figures. The Kings improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2001-02, back when they were probably the most entertaining team in the NBA. The Kings won the first two meetings with the Suns last year but Phoenix won the final two.
Key trends: The road team has covered four of the past five meetings. The over has hit in five of the past seven.
Early lean: Suns cover behind a huge game from Isaiah Thomas, whom the Kings cut loose this offseason.
Mavericks at Jazz (+3.5, 204)
Yep, I called Utah's upset of Cleveland on Wednesday night. The Jazz won 102-100 against the tired Cavs on Gordon Hayward's buzzer-beater. It wasn't a fluke win as Utah led almost the entire game, including by as much as 16 points. The Jazz had 26 assists to only six for Cleveland and outrebounded the Cavs 41-30. Utah gets another tired opponent in Dallas, which played in Portland on Thursday. Just so happens that's where Cleveland played on Tuesday. Dallas beat visiting Utah 120-102 on Oct. 30. That was a tough second of a back-to-back for Utah, which played Houston the night before and was routed.
Key trends: Dallas has covered the past four meetings. The over is 4-1 in the Mavs' past five on the road.
Early lean: Take the points. It's hard to win in Salt Lake when playing the night before.
Cavaliers at Nuggets (+3, 207.5)
Very interested to see how the Cavs respond to back-to-back losses here, and obviously the thin air of Denver is never a good place to end a losing skid. We all knew Cleveland's defense would be iffy, and it most certainly has been. But 19th in points and last in assists? Shocking. Kyrie Irving is shooting way too much, and it seems like LeBron James is already tired of Dion Waiters, who came off the bench on Wednesday in favor of Shawn Marion. I can assure you that Waiters isn't happy about that. Denver is one of the NBA's worst defensive teams and allowed the Kings 131 points on Wednesday. Nuggets center JaVale McGee continues to get limited minutes while still recovering from last season's broken leg. Ditto Danilo Gallinari off ACL surgery.
Key trends: Denver has covered six straight against the East. The over is 6-1 in the Nuggets' past seven after a loss.
Early lean: Angry Cavaliers win in a rout. Go way over.
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