NBA Odds and Predictions: Tuesday, December 23 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 12/22/2014
A busy schedule on Tuesday night in the NBA because the league goes dark for Christmas Eve before its showcase day of the regular season on Christmas. The most interesting matchup, perhaps, on Tuesday, looks like a total mismatch on paper. That would be Minnesota at Cleveland, but of course it's a chance for Kevin Love to face his former team and Andrew Wiggins to show the Cavaliers what perhaps they might have missed out on. Here's a look at every game on the schedule.
Bulls at Wizards (-3.5, 197)
Second of a back-to-back for Chicago as it hosted Toronto on Monday night. It looked as if Derrick Rose was going to return from an illness and Taj Gibson from an ankle injury to play against the Raptors, but the team will certainly be very cautious with those two and Joakim Noah, who has his own ankle problem. Thus, you could see a guy or two sit this one out. It's Chicago's first matchup with the Wizards since they knocked the Bulls out of last year's playoffs. Washington was upset at home Sunday by Phoenix, 104-92, to end the Wizards' six-game winning streak. The Wizards had won eight straight home games.
Key trends: The road team has covered eight of the past nine meetings. The "over/under" has gone over in four of the past five.
Early lean: Washington wins comfortably. Go under.
Timberwolves at Cavaliers (-13.5, 208)
Minnesota brings a five-game skid into this one and had lost 11 of 12, but Wiggins is probably the Rookie of the Year favorite now that Milwaukee's Jabari Parker is out for the season. Wiggins is averaging 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds -- I wonder if the team would dare let him guard LeBron James? Small forward is Wiggins' position, so presumably he will have to. Cleveland has won two straight, beating Memphis 105-91 on Sunday in a possible NBA Finals preview. LeBron had 25 points and 11 assists. I wonder how focused James will be here because he's probably looking ahead to a return to Miami on Christmas.
Key trends: The Wolves have failed to cover their past seven on the road vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 4-0 in Cleveland's past four after a win of more than 10 points.
Early lean: Won't often give this many points but I will here. Go over.
Pelicans at Pacers (+1, 196)
New Orleans has won three of four and beat Oklahoma City 101-99 in the Thunder's gym on Sunday -- it obviously helped that Kevin Durant was out. Anthony Davis had 38 points and 12 rebounds. Starters other than Davis shot a combined 12 for 37. The Pacers come off a 100-96 win in Minnesota on Sunday behind 28 points from C.J. Miles. It was only Indiana's second win this month. The bench was huge with 48 points.
Key trends: New Orleans has covered four straight on the road. The under is 6-1 in Indiana's past seven at home vs. teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Pelicans and under.
Celtics at Magic (-2.5, 201)
Boston has gone 1-1 since trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas. The Celtics were routed 100-84 in Miami on Sunday. Rookie Marcus Smart got his first start at point guard but had just three points and four assists in 28 minutes. It was Boston's fifth different starting lineup of the season. Coach Brad Stevens said that as many as 11 Celtics are meriting consideration for starting jobs. The Magic have lost four straight. One of those was last Wednesday in Boston, 109-92, in the Celtics' last game with Rondo. He had 13 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds. Orlando's Tobias Harris should play despite injuring his finger in Sunday's home loss to Philadelphia.
Key trends: Boston has covered seven of the past eight meetings. The under is 7-2 in Orlando's past nine vs. the East.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Clippers at Hawks (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for the Clippers as they were in San Antonio on Monday night. Ditto for the Hawks as they were in Dallas to complete a very tough three-game road trip. Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague, who leads the team in scoring and assists, was questionable to return Monday after missing two games with a hamstring injury. The Clippers and Hawks split last season. However, Los Angeles has lost five straight in Atlanta. Of course Clippers coach Doc Rivers used to play for Atlanta.
Key trends: The home team has covered five of the past six meetings. The over is 6-1 in Atlanta's past seven in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Depends on Teague.
Nuggets at Nets (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for Denver as it was in Charlotte on Monday. In Saturday's win over Indiana, the Nuggets lost Danilo Gallinari for at least a month with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Now he has no good knees after missing nearly 18 months following three surgeries for a torn ACL in his left knee. Gallinari is averaging 7.8 points in 18.8 minutes this season. Denver was without guard Randy Foye (right quad) and center JaVale McGee (leg strain) on Monday, and they obviously are in doubt here. Will the Nets have point guard Deron Williams when they take the court? He has been rumored in a trade to Sacramento. Brooklyn broke a three-game skid with a 110-105 win over Detroit on Sunday.
Key trends: The Nets have covered six of their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 8-3 in Denver's past 11 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Nets should roll here.
76ers at Heat (TBA)
Miami ended a five-game home losing streak with a 100-84 win over Boston on Sunday. The Heat did it without both Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Bosh has missed five straight with a left calf strain, and he's not going to play here. Wade is day-to-day with a bruised knee. It was the first time in 154 games that the Heat didn't have Bosh, Wade or LeBron James for a game. This might be the Sixers' best chance to win two straight all year. They pulled a moderate upset in Orlando on Sunday to end a five-game slide. All three Philly wins have come away from home. The 76ers lost 114-96 at home to Miami on Nov. 1.
Key trends: The Heat have failed to cover their past eight after a win. The under is 10-1 in Philly's past 11 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Anything 8 or over, take the points for Philly.
Hornets at Bucks (-5, 199.5)
Charlotte took a season-high-tying two-game winning streak into Monday's home game with Denver. The Hornets' Lance Stephenson was going to sit that one out again with a hip injury, and he's not going to play in this one, either. It's pretty clear the Hornets are better off without him. The Bucks ended a four-game West Coast trip a solid 2-2. They lost by four at the Clippers on Saturday night. Leading scorer Brandon Knight finished with eight points, ending his streak of four consecutive games with 20 or more -- one shy of his career best from December 2012. The Bucks opened their season in Charlotte and lost 108-106 in overtime.
Key trends: The road team has covered four of the past five meetings. The over is 5-2 in Milwaukee's past seven at home.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Trail Blazers at Thunder (TBA)
The TBA here is for the Thunder's Kevin Durant. He has missed the past two with a sprained ankle and is day-to-day. So he could play. The Thunder were lucky to beat the Lakers without Durant and then lost at home to New Orleans on Sunday. Second of a back-to-back for Portland as it was in Houston on Monday night. The Blazers opened the season with a 106-89 home win over Oklahoma City. Of course no Durant then, but Russell Westbrook had 38 points. Portland, led by LaMarcus Aldridge's 27, outscored the Thunder 31-12 in the fourth quarter. Aldridge was questionable for Monday with an illness.
Key trends: Portland is 1-4 ATS in the past five in OKC. The under is 15-3 in the Thunder's past 18 at home.
Early lean: Depends on Durant.
Mavericks at Suns (+3.5, 213.5)
Phoenix has won three straight games, all on the road. The Suns were very impressive on Sunday with a 12-point win at the Wizards to get back over .500. Coach Jeff Hornacek's strategy of using three point guards, Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, to close games on the road trip worked wonders. Second of a back-to-back for Dallas as it hosted Atlanta on Monday. The Mavs took a three-game winning streak into that one and were 1-0 since acquiring Rajon Rondo. Dallas lost at home to Phoenix 118-106 on Dec. 5 as Dragic had 28 points and 13 assists.
Key trends: The Mavs are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 5-2 in the past seven.
Early lean: Suns are home and getting points against a tired team? Sign me up.
Warriors at Lakers (TBA)
You may not see Kobe Bryant in this game. He's not hurt but admitted after Sunday's 108-101 loss in Sacramento, the Lakers' third straight, that he was fatigued. I would think Kobe would want to play on national television on Christmas, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the bench vs. Golden State. The Warriors hosted the Kings on Monday and were expecting David Lee to play just his second game of the season. Andrew Bogut remains out, however. Golden State is 2-0 vs. the Lakers this season, winning both in high-scoring routs.
Key trends: The Warriors are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 5-2 in L.A.'s past seven vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: If this hits double digits, take the points unless Kobe does sit.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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