NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, December 27 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 12/26/2014
Some people believe the NBA season doesn't really starts until Christmas Day even though teams have played more than a third of their regular-season games. If that's the case, what a season we are in for because you could make an argument that 12 teams could win the NBA title in my opinion. Certainly the field opened up a bit when Cleveland lost Anderson Varejao for the year. The Cavs remain +350 NBA title favorites at Sportsbook.ag, but I really don't think they should be. The Bulls (+600) and Warriors (+800) both look better to name two. Here's a look at every game on the final Saturday of 2014.
Raptors at Clippers (-4.5, 213.5)
Only matinee on the schedule with a 3:30 ET tipoff. Toronto has been off since Monday when it lost 129-120 in Chicago to end a six-game winning streak. Toronto allowed Chicago 49 points in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors, who led by 12 in the third, with 34 points. The Clippers ended a two-game losing streak with an impressive 100-86 home win over the Warriors on Thursday. Jamal Crawford had 12 of his 24 points in the fourth. Toronto, which leads the NBA in road scoring this season, has lost four straight at the Clippers.
Key trends: The Clippers are 1-6 ATS in their past seven at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The "over/under" has gone over in Toronto's past five after a loss. The Clippers have covered four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: Over for sure and Clippers.
Magic at Hornets (-4.5, 191)
Second of a back-to-back for both. Orlando hosted Cleveland on Friday while Charlotte was in Oklahoma City. The Hornets hosted the Magic on Nov. 21, and Orlando won 105-100. Charlotte was up 23 points in the second half and 15 entering the fourth. The Magic shot 71.4 percent (15 of 21) in the fourth quarter and outscored the Hornets 41-21. It tied the third-largest comeback in Orlando history. The Hornets didn't have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for that one.
Key trends: Charlotte is 1-6 ATS in its past seven Saturday games. The over is 6-1 in Orlando's past seven vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Charlotte and under.
Celtics at Wizards (-9, 202.5)
The Celtics hosted Brooklyn on Friday. The Wizards played on Christmas for the first time in six years and got the perfect matchup against the awful Knicks. Washington ended a two-game losing streak with a 102-91 victory. John Wall was the best player on the floor with 24 points and 11 assists, and he frustrated New York's Quincy Acy so much that Acy appeared to punch Wall. Acy was ejected. It was Wall's ninth game with at least 20 points and 10 assists this season, the most of anyone in the NBA. The Wizards are 10-1 this season when Wall scores 20 or more points. These teams have split two meetings in 2014. Washington won its home game 133-132 in double overtime on Dec. 8.
Key trends: Boston has covered five straight in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 7-1 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Grizzlies at Heat (TBA)
The Grizzlies play their second game in 24 hours after hosing Houston on Friday night. It looked like starting guard Tony Allen was going to return from a two-game injury absence for that one but probably not Zach Randolph. Miami beat Cleveland 101-91 on Christmas in LeBron James' return to south Florida. That wouldn't have surprised me, and in fact I recommended the Heat if Chris Bosh played, but he didn't. Dwyane Wade had 31 to lead the Heat as we was clearly fired up to face LeBron. Bosh is targeting this game to return, but he's questionable. The Heat lost 103-87 in Memphis on Dec. 7.
Key trends: The Heat have covered four straight on Saturday. The under is 8-2 in Memphis' past 10 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Heat will be flat after Thursday emotional win. Memphis wins outright.
Pelicans at Bulls (-6, 200)
New Orleans hosted San Antonio on Friday. Expect a big game from Pelicans star Anthony Davis here as he's a Chicago native and only gets to play there once a year. Chicago looks like the best team in the East now as it has won five straight games. The Bulls surprisingly didn't have to deal with Kobe Bryant on Christmas (Bryant was probable to play) and beat the Lakers 113-93. Pau Gasol continued his All-Star season with 23 points and 13 rebounds against his former club. Derrick Rose had his third straight excellent game with 20 points and six assists. It's the first time he has scored at least 20 points in three straight games since the 2011-12 season.
Key trends: New Orleans is 10-1 ATS in its past 11 playing on zero days of rest. The over is 5-1 in Chicago's past six vs. the West.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Pacers at Nets (-1.5, 190.5)
Indiana was in Detroit on Friday night while Brooklyn was in Boston for a Friday matinee. So slight edge Nets there in terms of travel. Nets guard Deron Williams played Friday after missing two games with a calf strain. Brooklyn has lost four straight to Indiana and two in a row at home. Last year was the third time in five seasons that Indiana swept Brooklyn in their season series, Joe Johnson led the Nets against the Pacers last season in averaging 14.8 points. Williams averaged 13.3 points and 7.4 assists.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 7-1 in Indiana's past eight in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Hawks at Bucks (+3.5, 206)
Atlanta hosted Milwaukee on Friday night, and the Hawks had won seven straight in the series entering that. The Bucks have dropped four in a row at home in this series. Milwaukee's last win against Atlanta was a 108-101 home decision on March 27, 2012. Milwaukee is 7-5 at home this year (8-4 against the spread), while Atlanta is 8-5 on the road (9-4 ATS). The Hawks have won seven of their past eight away from home.
Key trends: Atlanta is 4-1 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. The Hawks have covered four straight in Milwaukee.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
76ers at Jazz (-8, 194.5)
Philly was in Portland on Friday. Utah has been off since surprising the Grizzlies 97-91 in Memphis on Monday, the Jazz's third win in their past four games. Alec Burks had 23 and Gordon Hayward 21 against the Grizz, and Utah crushed Memphis on the boards 49-34. That concluded a six-game road trip over nine days. Utah swept Philly last year with Burks averaging 22.5 points. Hayward averaged 19.5 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
Key trends: Utah is 5-1 ATS in its past six overall. The over is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Jazz and over.
Knicks at Kings (-8, 201.5)
Sacramento hosted Phoenix on Friday. New York dropped its sixth straight on Christmas in a home blowout against Washington. Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points for the Knicks, who have the most losses in the NBA. Quincy Acy has been suspended one game for that punch of the Wizards' John Wall. Be aware that the Knicks play again Sunday, so Amare Stoudemire will sit either for this game or that one. J.R. Smith has a small chance of returning from his heel injury for this one. The Knicks and Kings split last season. New York is 0-7 on the frontends of back-to-backs this season.
Key trends: New York is 3-9 in its past 12 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 4-0 in Sacramento's past four against teams below .500.
Early lean: Knicks will lose again but cover. Go over.
Timberwolves at Warriors (-16.5, 216)
The Wolves were in Denver on Friday, so I expect they have nothing left for this game in Oakland. I expect a spirited effort from the Warriors after they just lost back-to-back games in the Staples Center by double digits. Golden State has yet to lose three straight this season. Andrew Bogut is close to a return, but it's probably not for this game. Golden State won 102-86 in Minnesota on Dec. 8, win No. 13 of that franchise-record 16-game winning streak. That was the game Bogut left early with a knee injury. He hasn't played since.
Key trends: Minnesota has covered two of its past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 10-1 in Golden State's past 11 against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: I simply can't give that many points.
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