NBA Odds and Predictions: Thursday, November 6 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 11/5/2014
As usual, a very light Thursday schedule in the NBA. TNT likes to keep it that way -- and the NBA obliges its TV partner -- so it can have the full attention of basketball-watching fans for its weekly doubleheader night. It's a good one this week with all four teams expected to be Western Conference contenders, and the major sportsbooks will offer live betting on both. Here's a breakdown of the two games.
Spurs at Rockets (-3.5, 204)
At 5-0, Houston has the best record in the NBA and is off to best start since 1996-97 when it began 15-1. All five wins have been by double digits (four covers) and four on the road. I'm still not buying the Rockets as a top contender ahead of San Antonio, Golden State or the L.A. Clippers at a minimum. Probably not Oklahoma City, either, once the Thunder are whole again in a few months. Four of Houston's wins were against cupcakes, but the Rockets were impressive as slight dogs in Miami on Tuesday night in the second of a back-to-back. I leaned Heat there, but Houston rolled 108-91. James Harden had 25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds and Dwight Howard 26 points and 10 boards. They were clearly the best two players on the court. Starting point guard Patrick Beverley returned after missing two games with a hamstring injury, but he looked fine and scored 15 points. Now Houston plays eight of its next 11 at home. The Rockets still do have one injury question: forward Terrence Jones. He played 30 minutes in Monday's win in Philadelphia but bumped knees and then sat out Tuesday. Doesn't sound serious, and I'm guessing he returns here. If not, Donatas Motiejunas would start again.
It's the second of a back-to-back for San Antonio, which had played just two games entering Wednesday's home matchup against Atlanta. The Spurs didn't look like Western Conference favorites in their first two, barely beating Dallas at home and then losing in Phoenix. To be fair, Kawhi Leonard didn't play in the opener with an eye infection and was ineffective against Phoenix on Friday. He should be much better going forward. Center Tiago Splitter missed the first two games with a calf injury but was set to play Wednesday. Of course this being the second of a back-to-back you can never be too sure who Gregg Popovich might sit. I would think nobody this early in the season, but it's Pop's world and we are all just living in it.
Houston had its way with the Spurs last regular season, sweeping the four matchups, all by at least six points. Now that's surprising.
Key trends: The Spurs are 0-6 ATS in the past six meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in Houston's past seven games dating to last year. The under is 8-2 in San Antonio's past 10 playing in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Have to lean Rockets with the Spurs having to play Wednesday. Go over.
Mavericks at Trail Blazers (-2.5, 206)
Portland didn't look very good in its first three games -- especially All-Star point guard Damian Lillard -- but that all changed on Tuesday night as a clearly fired-up Blazers team thrashed NBA title favorite Cleveland 101-82 at the Moda Center (when did it stop being Rose Garden?). Lillard broke out of his slump with 27 points after averaging just 13.7 points on 11-for-41 shooting in the first three games. Wesley Matthews added 21 points -- and was a team-best plus-27 -- and LaMarcus Aldridge 16 points. Portland shot 49.3 percent and held Cleveland to 36.5 percent.
Dallas improved to 3-1 with a 118-113 home win over Boston on Monday. The Mavericks nearly blew a 31-point lead but held on. Chandler Parsons had his best game in a Dallas uniform with 29 points, while Dirk Nowitzki had 27. The Mavericks had at least 66 points at halftime for the third straight game, all wins. They lead the NBA in scoring. However, they have been outscored in the third quarter of all four games, three times by at least 10 points. Reserve forward Al-Farouq Aminu left Monday's game with a knee injury but should play. He really only contributes on defense.
Dallas won two of the three meetings last season. In one, Dallas blew a 44-14 second-quarter but then still rallied to win. The one Portland victory was a blowout. Since the 2011-12 season, Dallas has won three of four matchups at the Moda Center.
Key trends: Dallas is 10-1 ATS in its past 11 against the West. Portland is 2-10 ATS in its past 12 vs. the West. It is 0-4 ATS in its past four following a win of more than 10 points. The over is 11-1 in the Mavs' past 12 playing on two days of rest. The over is 6-2 in Portland's past eight vs. teams with a winning record. Dallas has covered six of the past seven meetings. The over is 8-3 in the past 11.
Early lean: Possible letdown game for Blazers after thumping LeBron? Love the over. I'd probably take the points.
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