NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, November 1 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 10/31/2014
Is it too early to talk about New Orleans Pelicans' third-year star Anthony Davis for NBA MVP this season? Obviously yes, but Davis was just a monster in the Pelicans' season-opening blowout of Orlando. His chances for MVP obviously increased with Kevin Durant's injury. Of course, there's still some guy named LeBron James to deal with (although LeBron didn't look MVP worthy in his first game). Here is a look at all 12 games on a busy first Saturday of the NBA season.
Grizzlies at Hornets (-1, 182.5)
Second of a back-to-back for Memphis as it visited Indiana on Friday night. Charlotte played its first game back as the Hornets on Wednesday and beat Milwaukee 108-106 in overtime. Kemba Walker, who just got a $48 million extension, hit a 21-foot shot in overtime for the winner. He led the Hornets with 26 points and hit the tying 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation but was only 9 of 26 from the field. He's still not 100 percent off a preseason foot injury. Charlotte rallied from a 24-point third-quarter hole, the largest comeback win in franchise history. Lance Stephenson had seven points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in his Hornets debut. These were two of the NBA's best defensive teams last year and they split, with the losing team totaling 89 points in each.
Key trends: The "over/under" has gone under in Memphis' past five in the second of a back to back. The under is 7-3 in Charlotte's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. Home team has covered six of past seven meetings.
Early lean: Like the under better -- even as low as it is -- than the side but lean Charlotte.
Mavericks at Pelicans (+3, 200.5)
For some reason New Orleans hasn't played since Tuesday's opening 101-84 win over the Magic. All Davis did in that game was put up 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks, just shy of his first career triple-double. Omer Asik, acquired from Houston in an offseason trade, finished with 14 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in his first game. That frontcourt has the potential to be awesome. Dallas nearly won in San Antonio on Opening Night and then easily handled Utah in its home opener on Thursday, 120-102. Chandler Parsons struggled vs. the Spurs in his Dallas debut, including missing the winning 3-pointer. However, he had 21 points and seven boards vs. the Jazz. The Mavs also have added guard J.J. Barea after he was recently dumped by Minnesota. He was key part of the Dallas championship team a few years ago.
Key trends: Mavs are 4-0 ATS in the past four in New Orleans. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: I think the Pelicans are for real. Take the points as a home dog.
Raptors at Magic (+5.5, 194.5)
Toronto has been off since winning 109-102 in its home opener on Wednesday night. The Raptors aren't going to win many nights when their excellent backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan struggles, but they did, going 4-for-16 and 3-for-11 from the field, respectively. Amir Johnson, a really underrated player, had 16 points and 10 rebounds. If you believe preseason momentum carries over to the regular season then Toronto is a smart bet as the Raptors were an NBA-best 7-1 when it didn't count. Orlando dropped to 0-2 with a 105-98 home loss to Washington on Thursday. Center Nik Vucevic is off to a big start and had 23 points and 12 boards. Orlando's Channing Frye did play after sitting out the opener with an injury. He struggled, but the Magic need his offense.
Key trends: Toronto has covered the past five meetings. The under is 5-2 in the past seven.
Early lean: Raptors and the under.
Heat at 76ers (+7.5, 198.5)
Second of a back-to-back for Philly, which played in Milwaukee on Friday. The 76ers will be the lowest-scoring team in the NBA this season, and I'm half surprised they even reached 91 points in their season opener in Indiana. When Tony Wroten is your No. 1 scoring threat (Michael Carter-Williams remains out) then you have big problems. Nerlens Noel made his NBA debut in that game and had six points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. He can't shoot but will make a difference on defense immediately. Miami began the post-LeBron James Era with a 107-95 home win over Washington on Wednesday. I do believe Chris Bosh will have a huge season now that he's probably going to be option No. 1 -- sorry Dwyane Wade it's not you. Bosh had 26 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.
Key trends: Philly has covered four of its past five vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 8-1 in Miami's past nine playing on two days of rest.
Early lean: I doubt I would recommend Philly all season in the second of a back-to-back. Heat and under.
Bucks at Wizards (-9.5, 198.5)
Second of a back-to-back as Milwaukee hosted Philly on Friday night. Certainly Bucks fans had to be moderately disappointed with how Rookie of the Year favorite Jabari Parker played in Milwaukee's season-opening 108-106 OT loss to Charlotte. He finished with just eight points and was a team-worst minus-13. The Wizards are 1-1, bouncing back from a loss in Miami with a win Thursday in Orlando behind 30 points and 12 assists from John Wall. He's going to put up big numbers while Bradley Beal is out. Washington won three of four meetings last season and the Bucks' lone victory was in overtime.
Key trends: The Wizards are 1-4 ATS in their past five at home. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: This line is a few points too high in my opinion. Take the Bucks.
Nets at Pistons (-1.5, 197.5)
Will Brooklyn get Brook Lopez for this game? It's probably 50-50 as Lopez sat out Wednesday's opener against Boston with a right mid-foot sprain. Mason Plumlee started for him against the C's. Brooklyn was surprisingly stomped by Boston 121-105. Plumlee didn't do much in 11 minutes. This will be the season debut of Pistons forward Greg Monroe off his two-game suspension for an offseason arrest. He averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 boards last year but will come off the bench. Detroit was clearly inferior to Brooklyn last year but won three of four meetings.
Key trends: Detroit is 0-6 ATS in its past six home games. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: The Pistons look terrible, but I guess you have to lean them in the home opener, with Monroe back and Lopez probably out.
Pacers at Hawks (-9.5, 188.5)
Atlanta hasn't played since an opening 109-102 loss in Toronto on Wednesday. Atlanta's Al Horford, limited to 29 games last season by a torn right pectoral muscle, had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Paul Millsap also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Atlanta had 19 turnovers, leading to 23 Toronto points. Indiana hosted Memphis on Friday night. Starters David West and George Hill both missed that one and won't play in this one, ether. The Hawks and Pacers split four regular-season meetings last year then Atlanta pushed Indiana to seven games in the first round of the playoffs before falling 92-80 in Indianapolis.
Key trends: Indiana is 1-5 in its past six playing the second of a back-to-back. The under is 6-0 in the past six meetings in Atlanta.
Early lean: Tired, injury-ravaged Pacers team visiting a city where they rarely play well? Easy call here on Atlanta. For sure under as well.
Bulls at Timberwolves (+4.5, 189.5)
Well here is a letdown game for Chicago as the Bulls played in a extremely hyped home opener on Friday night against LeBron's Cavs. That's the new big rivalry in the NBA, and Bulls fans have barely seen Derrick Rose play at the United Center in the past two seasons. How can Chicago not be sluggish here? I predicted a Minnesota cover in Thursday's game against Detroit and indeed the Wolves did in a 97-91 victory. Kevin Martin made his season debut after missing the opener with a sore left ankle. Normally a starter, he came off the bench and had 12 points in 19 minutes. Rookie Andrew Wiggins has been mostly quiet in the team's first two games.
Key trends: The Bulls are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 playing the second of a back-to-back. The under is 5-1 in Chicago's past six in that scenario. The road team has covered six straight in this series.
Early lean: I have to take the points here. I would switch if the Bulls play lousy on Friday.
Celtics at Rockets (-11.5, 204.5)
Boston looked great in its opening 16-point rout of Brooklyn on Wednesday. Rajon Rondo did play after a broken hand kept him out all preseason. Rondo had 13 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds in 30 minutes. Houston hasn't been challenged yet in two wins, beating the Lakers and Jazz by double digits on the road. James Harden is averaging 25.0 points in the young season. It's the first time since 2008-09 that the Rockets have opened with two straight double-digit wins. The Rockets -- who have been mentioned as Rondo suitors -- had zero trouble with Boston in winning both games by at least 12 points last season.
Key trends: Boston is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 following a win of more than 10 points. The over is 14-3 in Houston's past 17 at home.
Early lean: Maybe Boston isn't all that bad. Take the points and the over on the highest total on board.
Nuggets at Thunder (+4.5, 198.5)
Huge news Thursday night for Oklahoma City, which of course is without Kevin Durant for another six weeks at least. In Thursday's 93-90 loss to the Clippers, Russell Westbrook suffered a fractured right hand and probably misses six weeks or so himself. This is now one of the worst teams in basketball, and I find it hard to imagine how this team lands a Top-4 seed in the crazy deep West because I expect the Thunder to be in a huge hole by the time their stars return. If you bet on Portland to win the Northwest Division, you have to be feeling great right now. It's possible that Reggie Jackson might play in this one after missing the first two games with an injury. He becomes offensive option No. 1. The Nuggets beat Detroit by 10 in their season opener on Wednesday behind 22 points and 17 rebounds from the "Manimal," Kenneth Faried. Denver's Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson and JaVale McGee, all coming off major injuries, will be eased back into action and play limited minutes for a while.
Key trends: Denver is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under his hit in four of the past six.
Early lean: Thunder +4.5 at home. Wow, who say this coming? It's OKC's home opener, but so what? Take Denver.
Suns at Jazz (+2.5, 202.5)
Phoenix hosted San Antonio on Friday night, so the Jazz might be able to steal one here in a letdown game. The Suns put up 119 points on Wednesday in a rout of the Lakers, and they are going to be one of the Top-5 scoring teams in the league. New addition Isaiah Thomas had 23 points in just 20 minutes off the bench. I expected Utah to be better this year, but not so much yet, having lost to Houston and Dallas each by at least 11 points. Derrick Favors is off to a solid start, averaging 16.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. Utah is not a good defensive team. Utah and Phoenix split four meetings a season ago.
Key trends: The under is 7-1 in Phoenix's past eight road games. Utah has covered four of the past five meetings at home.
Early lean: Like Utah straight up here and the over.
Lakers at Warriors (-13.5, 202.5)
Really rough second of a back-to-back for the Lakers as they hosted the Clippers on Friday night and no doubt will lose that and get run off the court. The Lakers, who already have lost their first-round pick Julius Randle for the season, were routed by Houston and Phoenix in their first two games. Folks, this is the worst team in the Western Conference. I don't think it's close. Golden State will be plenty rested, not playing since an opening 95-77 win in Sacramento on Wednesday. Steph Curry had 24 points and 10 rebounds in Coach Steve Kerr's first game. Golden State played without power forward David Lee (strained left hamstring) and reserve Brandon Rush (lower back spasms). They are questionable for this. The Warriors were 3-1 vs. L.A. last year, with all three wins blowouts.
Key trends: The Lakers are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 11-2 in L.A.'s past 13 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: I'm taking the points only because L.A. will score in garbage time to get under that line.
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