NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, December 20 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Doc's Sports - 12/19/2014
A huge trade in the NBA on Thursday night made the Western Conference even more ridiculously difficult and may have elevated the Dallas Mavericks into a true championship contender. The Mavs acquired Boston point guard Rajon Rondo for the seemingly low price of Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, a 2015 first-round pick and 2016 second-rounder. That's a steal as long as Rondo re-signs in Dallas, as he has indicated he would be likely to do. This was a no-brainer move for Dallas as its starting point guard trio of Nelson (33 games), Devin Harris (three games) and J.J. Barea (one game) ranked in the bottom of the league in several categories. Rondo leads the league with 10.8 assists per game. He should debut Saturday for Dallas. Here's a look at every game on the schedule.
Suns at Knicks (TBA)
It's a 1 p.m. matinee from Madison Square Garden here -- the only day game on the schedule. You think I'm kidding, but that's a huge advantage for the Knicks because opposing players usually like to enjoy a night on the town in the Big Apple. The Suns ended a six-game skid on Wednesday with a 111-106 victory in Charlotte. Leading scorer Goran Dragic returned after missing two games with an injury and had 20 points. The Knicks lost 103-97 in Chicago on Thursday without Carmelo Anthony, who says he has been told by some to shut things down for a couple of weeks to rest his troublesome knee. So he's in question for this one -- there's your TBA. Ditto J.R. Smith, who has missed five straight with a foot injury. New York and Phoenix split last season. The Suns are 4-4 in their past eight trips to the Garden.
Key trends: New York is 3-9 ATS in its past 12 vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of the past eight at home. The Suns have covered their past four in New York.
Early lean: Too early to tell, but I lean Knicks if Melo plays. Suns if he doesn't.
Trail Blazers at Pelicans (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for Portland as it visited San Antonio on Friday night. New Orleans pulled a moderate surprise by winning 99-90 in Houston on Thursday for its second straight win. Anthony Davis was terrific as usual with 30 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. The Pelicans' second-leading scorer, Tyreke Evans, sat with a minor knee injury. Thus the TBA here. The Trail Blazers have won three straight in this series. Portland rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat New Orleans, 102-93, in the first meeting between these two teams on Nov. 17. Damian Lillard recorded team-highs with 24 points and seven assists. He had the game-tying 3-pointer with 1:14 left. Davis led New Orleans with 31 points and 11 rebounds. The Pelicans were without center Omer Asik.
Key trends: The over is 5-1 in New Orleans' past six overall. Portland is just 2-7 ATS in the past nine meetings.
Early lean: I like the Pelicans to win outright here.
Jazz at Hornets (-3.5, 191)
Second of a back-to-back for both as Charlotte was in Philadelphia and Utah in Orlando. The Hornets played the 76ers without Lance Stephenson due to a pelvic injury, and he's expected to sit at least this one out as well. Utah swept the season series a year ago by a combined six points in two very low-scoring games. Trey Burke averaged 20.5 points on 45.5 percent shooting and 4.5 assists vs. Charlotte in 2013-14. The Jazz have won 10 straight vs. Charlotte, their longest current win streak against any team. Five of those have come in Charlotte.
Key trends: Charlotte has failed to cover its past six Saturday games. The over is 4-0 in Utah's past four in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Hawks at Rockets (TBA)
Don't mess with Atlanta right now as the Hawks have won 11 of 12 and they destroyed the Cavaliers 127-98 in their gym on Wednesday night, the third-worst home loss in the career of LeBron James. Reserve guard Shelvin Mack went off with a career-high 24 points and was 6-for-6 from long range. The Hawks shot a silly 64.5 percent from the field. They did all that without starting point guard Jeff Teague, the team's leading scorer. He's called day-to-day with a hamstring injury (your TBA). Houston lost at home to New Orleans on Thursday. James Harden was just 8-for-23 from the field. Reserve guard Jason Terry sat out a second straight game to be with his wife and newborn daughter but will play here. The Rockets and Hawks split last year, each winning at home. Houston has won four straight home games vs. Atlanta.
Key trends: Atlanta is 5-1 ATS in its past six on the road. The under is 6-1 in Houston's past seven at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The home team has covered four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: Rockets cool off Atlanta.
Spurs at Mavericks (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for San Antonio as it played Friday night at home vs. Portland and was without Kawhi Leonard for a second straight game and Tony Parker for a third in a row. I highly, highly doubt Leonard plays here, and Parker's not going to. Because it's the second of a back-to-back, don't be shocked to see Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili sit as well. Dallas beat Detroit 117-106 on Wednesday for its second straight win. Chandler Parsons was questionable for that one but had a season-high 32 points. Dallas opened the season in San Antonio and lost 101-100 when Parsons missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Dallas has now lost 10 straight regular-season games in the series and four in a row at home.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-7 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 5-1 in the past six in Dallas.
Early lean: Think the Mavs might be jacked up in their first game with Rondo? The losing streak vs. San Antonio ends. I believe it's a blowout as Gregg Popovich essentially punts this game.
Pacers at Nuggets (-5, 202)
Indiana has lost nine of 10 but played pretty well Wednesday at the Clippers in a 102-100 loss that was the Pacers' seventh straight road defeat. Indiana led 85-81 with 8:50 to play, but it made only three field goals in the final 5:38, and C.J. Miles missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the final horn. It's the second of a back-to-back for Denver, which hosted those Clippers on Friday. The Nuggets won in Indianapolis 108-87 on Nov. 14 in a game that wasn't that close. Half the Indiana roster was out injured back then, however.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 7-2 in the past nine.
Early lean: Take the points and go over.
Bucks at Clippers (-11, 209)
As noted above, second of a back-to-back for L.A. as it was in Denver on Friday. Milwaukee won 108-107 in Sacramento on Thursday despite playing without big man Larry Sanders. He was suspended for the game and will return against Los Angeles. The Clippers lost in Milwaukee last Saturday, 111-106. Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 22 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 20. Chris Paul was just 5-for-15 from the field for 10 points, the same amount of points Blake Griffin had. It was the first time this season the Clippers lost the second game when playing on consecutive nights.
Key trends: The Bucks are 5-1 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 9-0 in the Clippers' past nine Saturday games.
Early lean: Way too many points. Take the Bucks and under.
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