NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, November 8 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 11/7/2014
There have been some fine early-season matchups in the NBA's first week-and-a-half or so, but very clearly the best thus far we will see on Saturday night as Golden State travels to Houston in a battle of unbeatens. Unfortunately it's not on national TV -- only Pelicans-Spurs is (NBA TV) -- so I guess I'll be needing to order NBA League Pass. Oddsmakers still aren't convinced these are the two best teams in the league. At Sportsbook.ag, the Warriors are +500 third favorites to win the West, and Houston is fourth at +750.
Trail Blazers at Clippers (-4.5, 207)
This is the lone matinee on the schedule with a 3:30 Eastern tip. I am very interested to see how the Clippers play because Doc Rivers ripped into his team after Wednesday's 121-104 loss at Golden State. The game was practically over almost before it started, with the Warriors going up 25 points in the second quarter. "I didn't say much," Rivers said. "I just let them blow smoke up each other's [expletives] because that's all they did in my opinion." How can a team with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan be last in rebounding? It's Game 4 of a really tough stretch for Portland. It opened that run with home loss to Golden State but then beat Cleveland on Tuesday and Dallas on Thursday, each by double digits. The Blazers rested their stars in the fourth quarter against the Mavs. Portland's bench outscored the Mavericks' 52-35.
Key trends: Los Angeles is 0-7 ATS in its past seven at home. The "over/under" has gone under in Portland's past seven. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Love the under here with the 12:30 local time start. Guys won't be used to that. Also lean L.A. as I'm assuming the guys play with some fire after Rivers chided them.
Wizards at Pacers (+4, 186)
Second of a back-to-back for each as Washington was in Toronto on Friday and Indiana in Boston. The Wizards took a four-game winning streak into Toronto, while the Pacers took a four-game skid in Beantown. These teams met on Wednesday in D.C. and the Wizards won 96-94 in overtime. John Wall had seven of his 31 points in overtime for the Wizards, who blew a 12-point, second-half lead. Donald Sloan led Indiana with 31 points -- nearly double his previous career high. Chris Copeland added 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. The Pacers' Rodney Stuckey aggravated a tendon in his foot and will miss at least the next three games. The Wizards shot only 37 percent but made 21 of 23 free throws and had a 23-10 edge in fast-break points.
Key trends: The road team has covered the past seven meetings. The under is 7-1 in the past eight at Indiana.
Early lean: Big on under despite the low number. Lean Washington as well.
Knicks at Hawks (-5, 194.5)
Second of a back-to-back for each here as New York was at Brooklyn and Atlanta in Charlotte on Friday night. So I guess traveling to Atlanta is a wash. Neither team has been very good offensively thus far, with the Knicks second-to-last in points. Backup point guard Pablo Prigioni was iffy to play Friday with a sprained ankle, so keep an eye on him here because if he's out, that leaves youngster Shane Larkin as the team's only healthy point guard with Jose Calderon remaining out. Last season these teams split four meetings, each going 1-1 on the road.
Key trends: New York has covered six straight in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 7-1 in Atlanta's past eight at home.
Early lean: Another under with tired teams. Lean Hawks.
Timberwolves at Heat (-7.5, 202.5)
Minnesota played in Orlando on Friday night, so at least it will be a short flight down to south Florida. The Heat were clearly somewhat fraudulent in their 3-0 start as they have followed that with a 17-point home loss to Houston on Tuesday and a seven-point defeat in Charlotte on Wednesday. Chris Bosh did have his fifth straight 20-point game Wednesday. The Heat were killed down low playing again without big men Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem. They are questionable for Saturday.
Key trends: Minnesota is 1-8 ATS in its past nine in the second of a back-to-back The over is 7-2 in Miami's past nine at home.
Early lean: A few too many points. Take the Wolves and the under.
Celtics at Bulls (TBA)
It's the second of a back-to-back for both teams as the Bulls were in Philly on Friday and Boston hosted Indiana. No surprise there's no early line here as it's not clear if Derrick Rose will play for Chicago. He was a game-time call on Friday with sprained ankles. My guess would be the team sits him because the Bulls shouldn't need Rose to beat Philly. Plus, I know Rose wants to be able to compete against Rajon Rondo. Joakim Noah was expected to play Friday after missing two games with flu-like symptoms. The Celtics' only injury worry was to guard Avery Bradley, but he was expected to play Friday through an elbow issue. Chicago was 3-0 vs. Boston last year.
Key trends: Boston has covered just once in its past nine in Chicago. The under is 6-2 in the Bulls' past eight in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait on Rose, but under no matter the number.
Warriors at Rockets (-4.5, 205.5)
If Memphis were to lose in Oklahoma City on Friday -- which I highly doubt -- then these would be the last two unbeatens in the NBA. Golden State looked great in Wednesday's 121-104 victory over the visiting Clippers. The Warriors were up 25 in the second quarter, and that was pretty much that. Steph Curry had 28 points and Draymond Green a career-high 24. Starting power forward David Lee scored six points in seven minutes in the first half and did not return because of a strained left hamstring. He's not playing in this game (and at least one more) so Green will start. Houston routed a depleted Spurs team 98-81 on Thursday despite the Rockets also playing without injured starters Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverley. They could play here. Houston is the first team in the NBA to win its first six games by at least 10 points since the 1985-86 Denver Nuggets. Houston won two of three vs. Golden State last year.
Key trends: The Warriors are 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Houston as long as Beverley plays. He's great defender and can help lockdown Curry and/or Klay Thompson. If he doesn't, take the Warriors. Over regardless.
Grizzlies at Bucks (+5.5, 186)
Second of a back-to-back for Memphis after playing in Oklahoma City on Friday. Milwaukee played in Detroit. The Bucks are struggling to score while Memphis is the NBA's best defensive team so this one could stay in the 80s. The Grizzlies won 82-77 in Milwaukee last season and then beat the visiting Bucks 99-90 a few weeks later.
Key trends: Memphis has covered four of its past five in the second of a back-to-back. Milwaukee is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. the West. The under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Under, under, under!
Pelicans at Spurs (-7, 197)
I literally laughed out loud when I heard that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in the second of a back-to-back on Thursday night against Houston. What can the NBA really do about this? Fine him again? Certainly TNT can't be happy. I mean, we are four games into the season and Pop already is resting his guys? Classic. He also sat starting center Tiago Splitter, but he was legitimately injured and could miss a few more with a calf problem. Predictably, the short-handed Spurs were crushed by the Rockets 98-81 as Dwight Howard had his way with the San Antonio frontcourt. I think you are safe to assume Duncan and Ginobili play here. I think. Be nice to see Duncan and Anthony Davis go at it as most consider Davis the next Duncan. The Pelicans have been off since a 100-91 home win over Charlotte on Tuesday. Davis had 24 points and 13 boards. San Antonio won all four matchups last year, each by at least six points.
Key trends: New Orleans has covered in only five of its past 19 on the road. The Spurs are oddly 1-9 ATS in their past 10 vs. the Southwest Division.
Early lean: Spurs and over.
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