NBA Odds and Predictions: Thursday, October 30 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 10/29/2014
Not sure if you heard, but LeBron James was in the news a bit this summer for his decision to shift locations. His return to Cleveland on Thursday night's first TNT doubleheader game should draw some very big ratings and betting action as the Cavs host the New York Knicks. Get used to Cleveland being on national television occasionally this season. Bovada will offer live betting on Knicks-Cavaliers as well as the second TNT game, Thunder-Clippers. Here's a look at every NBA game on the schedule. Taking a rare weekday off for Friday's action but will be back at it for Saturday's games.
Wizards at Magic (+2.5, 191.5)
It's the second of a back-to-back for Washington as the Wizards play in Miami on Wednesday night. I will mention again that the Wiz are without Bradley Beal for at least the first month of the season. Washington played without Nene on Wednesday (and DeJuan Blair) as he was suspended for the opener for a preseason altercation. Thus, Nene will debut here. A lot of teams will do the back-to-back in Florida this season. The Magic have some good young players, but they are going to be awful again, and they were in Tuesday's 101-84 loss in New Orleans -- I took the points and the Pelicans there, so that worked out. Orlando shot just 38.1 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton started and had seven assists, five rebounds and four points. Fellow rookie Aaron Gordon came off the bench and had 11 points and three boards in 28 minutes. Nik Vucevic was a beast with 15 points and 23 rebounds. Washington swept last season's series with only one game very close.
Key trends: The road team has covered one of the past seven meetings. The under is 5-1 in Washington's past six in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Love the under for sure -- the Magic can't shoot. I like taking the points not quite as much.
Knicks at Cavaliers (-12, 198.5)
Real tough back-to-back for New York as the Knicks had to host the Eastern Conference's second favorite on Wednesday night, Chicago, then had to fly out and meet the overall NBA championship favorite Cavaliers. Might surprise you to know that Carmelo Anthony actually has an 11-10 edge over LeBron in their career regular-season meetings. Presumably they guard one another all night since LeBron is now almost entirely a small forward. Thus, I don't see one single position where New York is better on the court in this matchup. I would tell you the Knicks-Cavs season series last year, but what would be the point?
Key trends: New York has covered four straight playing with no days of rest. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: This line surprises me (I think it drops some). I thought it might open around 8-9. No doubt there will be electricity in the building, but the Knicks aren't a bad team even in the second of a back-to-back. Those guys will be jacked up to face LeBron in his home return. Take the points and the over.
Pistons at Timberwolves (-1.5, 204.5)
It's the second of a back-to-back for both teams, which figure to be among the two worst defensive clubs in the NBA. It's going to be a really rough one for Detroit as it had to play in the thin air of Denver on Wednesday, and the Nuggets like to run all night. One reminder on Detroit that I did forget about: Greg Monroe is suspended the first three games for an offseason DUI. He's likely going to come off the bench, but it's still a big loss. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, might be physically beaten up after playing at plodding Memphis on Wednesday. Minnesota won both meetings by double digits last season against Detroit.
Key trends: The Pistons have covered once in their past seven in the second of a back-to-back. The Wolves have covered only three of their past 18 in that scenario.
Early lean: Wolves won't be favored often this year, but I do like them here as well as the over.
Jazz at Mavericks (-10.5, 195.5)
It's the second of a back-to-back for the young but talented Jazz as they hosted Houston on Wednesday night. Both Trey Burke and Derrick Favors are dealing with minor injuries but should play in both games (obviously barring something Wednesday night). The Mavericks did cover as I projected in their opener in San Antonio on Tuesday night. Dallas lost 101-100 when new addition Chandler Parsons missed an open 3-pointer in the final seconds. He was just 2-for-10 from the field. Monta Ellis had 26 points and Dirk Nowitzki 18 for the Mavs as the only starters in double figures. Dallas was 4-0 vs. Utah last year, all wins by at least seven points.
Key trends: Utah is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 9-3 in Dallas' past 12 at home.
Early lean: Dallas will roll in its home opener and score plenty, so go over.
Thunder at Clippers (-10.5, 206.5)
This should have been a great early-season matchup, but the Thunder are so injured with Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson, Anthony Morrow, Jeremy Lamb and rookie Mitch McGary all out injured. Plus, this is the second of a back-to-back for OKC, having to deal with the up-tempo Blazers in Portland on Wednesday night. Thus, you have a starting five of Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and then Andre Roberson, Perry Jones and Steven Adams. Yikes. The Clippers are the last team to open the season. L.A. didn't look great in the preseason, but I take nothing from that. This club is largely back intact sans Darren Collison and with the additions of Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes. Both those guys will come off the bench. How many shots of new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer do you think we will see? The guy is enthusiastic, that's for sure.
Key trends: OKC has covered four straight in L.A. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Clippers can get some payback for last season's playoff loss against the crippled and likely tired Thunder. This shouldn't be close, so take L.A. and the over.
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