NBA Odds and Predictions: Tuesday, December 30 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 12/29/2014
There are some strong matchups on Tuesday: Cleveland-Atlanta, San Antonio-Memphis and Toronto-Portland especially stand out. So why feature the game between lottery teams Detroit and Orlando in this space? It's the first game back in central Florida for Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. He had five very successful years with the Magic, never winning less than 52 games (not counting lockout-shortened season) and reaching the 2009 NBA Finals. However, Dwight Howard forced Van Gundy out, and superstars always get their way. Of course, then Howard forced his own exit shortly after. Here's a look at that game and every other on the schedule.
Pistons at Magic (-2.5, 196)
Second of a back-to-back for Orlando as it was in Miami on Monday. Van Gundy's release of Josh Smith has clearly gotten the attention of the Detroit players. I loved the Pistons getting a few points in their first game post-Smith last Friday at home against Indiana, and Detroit won by 10. Can't say I saw Sunday's result coming as the Pistons clobbered the Cavaliers 103-80 in Cleveland. Brandon Jennings had 25 points and Andre Drummond 16 points and 17 boards. Detroit set a franchise record for made 3-pointers by going 17 for 31 from long range. Detroit lost at home to Orlando 107-93 on Nov. 17. Nik Vucevic had 25 points and 14 boards to lead the Magic.
Key trends: The Pistons are 1-4 ATS in their past five at Orlando. The "over/under" has gone under in Detroit's past five on Tuesday.
Early lean: I like how the Pistons are playing and Van Gundy's players will want to win this one for him. They win outright.
Cavaliers at Hawks (TBA)
I expect a very spirited effort from Cleveland here after getting embarrassed at home by the Pistons on Sunday. The Cavs led 32-17 early in the second before Detroit went on an 18-0 run. Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving missed his second straight game because of a bruised left knee, and he's questionable here. Sunday's 23-point loss was the worst defeat by a LeBron James team in his career against a team with a win percentage below .300 at least 20 games into the season. James was just 5-for-19 from the field against Detroit. Atlanta split a home-and-home over the weekend with Milwaukee but did it the opposite way I expected: losing at home and winning on the road. Cleveland's worst loss of the season was 127-98 at home to these Hawks on Dec. 17. Trailing 50-38 midway through the second quarter, Atlanta outscored Cleveland 89-48 the rest of the way. The Hawks were playing without leading scorer Jeff Teague, and he's back now.
Key trends: Cleveland is 1-6 ATS in its past seven vs. the East. Atlanta has covered seven straight vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Early lean : I think Cavs win whether Irving plays or not.
Spurs at Grizzlies (-3.5, 195.5)
San Antonio looks for its first back-to-back wins since early this month. The Spurs beat visiting Houston 110-106 on Sunday. Both Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard remained out with injuries in that one, although backup point guard Patty Mills made his season debut and had eight points in 20 minutes. Parker and Leonard almost surely won't play in this game. Be aware that the Spurs play at home Wednesday, so Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili could take a seat here. Memphis ended a four-game slide with Saturday's 103-95 victory in Miami. Zach Randolph missed his fourth straight game and doesn't appear all that close to returning. The Spurs and Grizzlies have split two meetings, each winning on the road.
Key trends: The Spurs are 5-1 ATS in the past six in Memphis. The over is 6-0 in the past six meetings overall.
Early lean: Grizzlies and over.
Suns at Pelicans (-3, 211)
Phoenix has followed a six-game losing streak with a six-game winning run. The Suns have scored at least 111 points in four of those six victories. Phoenix is also on its first five-game road winning streak since February 2011. The Pelicans lost 107-100 in Chicago on Saturday despite 29 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks from Chicago native Anthony Davis. This is the first meeting of the season between the teams. Phoenix swept four games last year and has won four of its past five in New Orleans.
Key trends: New Orleans is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 12-3 in Phoenix's past 15 vs. the West.
Early lean: Suns and over.
Nets at Bulls (-11, 197)
Both clubs played Monday night as the Bulls were at Indiana and the Nets home to Sacramento. It appears that Brooklyn is going to continue to bring Deron Williams off the bench and leave Jarrett Jack as the starting point guard for a while as Jack has been quite good. Williams has struggled since returning from injury as has center Brook Lopez. Chicago brought a season-high six-game winning streak into Monday. The Bulls have blown out the Nets twice this season.
Key trends: The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings. The Bulls are 5-1 in the past six vs. the Nets.
Early lean: Take the points and go under.
Wizards at Mavericks (TBA)
Tough second of a back-to-back for Washington as it was in Houston on Monday. Dallas has won two straight. Dirk Nowitzki matched his season high with 30 points in Sunday's 112-107 win over Oklahoma City. Nowitzki made his first start at center in almost five years because Tyson Chandler was out with back spasms. Thus, he's questionable. Monta Ellis missed the end of Sunday's game after tweaking his left ankle, but he intends to play vs. the Wizards. Dallas won 105-102 in Washington on Nov. 19 behind 34 from Ellis.
Key trends: Dallas is 0-7 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Dallas' past five at home.
Early lean: Wait on Chandler and Ellis.
Lakers at Nuggets (-7, 214.5)
Los Angeles has lost three straight. Kobe Bryant returned from a three-game absence due to rest Sunday in a loss to Phoenix and had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes. The Lakers want to limit Kobe to 32 minutes a night. Before the game, Los Angeles claimed center Tarik Black off waivers from Houston and waived injured guard Xavier Henry. Black could debut here. The Nuggets have lost three of four. Randy Foye and JaVale McGee remain out injured. Denver won at the Lakers 101-94 in overtime on Nov. 23. Ty Lawson had 18 points and 16 assists. It was Denver's seventh straight win in the series. The losing streak against Denver matches the Lakers' longest against any club since an eight-game drought against Portland from Feb. 18, 1993, through Jan. 9, 1995.
Key trends: The over is 7-1 in the past eight meetings. The Lakers are 1-6 ATS in the past seven.
Early lean: Lakers and over.
Timberwolves at Jazz (-8, 204)
Utah played at the L.A. Clippers on Monday having won four of its past five games. Minnesota lost its eighth straight game Saturday, 110-97 at Golden State -- I gladly took the 16.5 points on that one, The Wolves turned it over 25 times. Zach LaVine had a nice game with 12 points and a career-high 14 assists. Minnesota won three of four against Utah last season -- all three in blowout fashion -- including both in Salt Lake City. The Wolves' last road win this year was Nov. 28 at the Lakers.
Key trends: The road team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 6-0 in Minnesota's past six vs. the West.
Early lean: Wolves and under.
Raptors at Trail Blazers (TBA)
Toronto has started a very tough six-game road trip at 2-1. The Raptors surprised the Clippers on Saturday and didn't have a letdown Sunday in Denver with a 116-102 victory. Kyle Lowry had 30 points and 11 assists against the Nuggets while Lou Williams had 31. Portland has won three straight games. It routed the Knicks 101-79 on Sunday. Portland shot a whopping 36 3-pointers in that one and made 16 of them. LaMarcus Aldridge missed his third game in the past four with an upper respiratory illness. He's day-to-day. Portland swept the season series from Toronto last season and has won 10 of the past 11 games against the Raptors dating back to the 2008-09 season.
Key trends: Toronto is 2-8 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 6-1 in Portland's past seven vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Wait on Aldridge.
76ers at Warriors (-18, 206)
It's the end of a five-game road trip for Philly. The Sixers have lost the past two, in Portland and Utah, by at least 17 points. Michael Carter-Williams was a ghastly 2-for-20 from the field against the Jazz. I could do that. Nerlens Noel came down awkwardly on his ankle in that game but was able to return after X-rays were negative. Still, the team will play it safe with Noel, so it wouldn't shock me if he sits here. The Warriors ended a two-game skid with a 13-point home win over Minnesota on Saturday. Andrew Bogut has been out since Dec. 8 but is close to returning. The Warriors have won nine straight home games, their longest home winning streak since a 10-game stretch in 1994. The Warriors swept the season series last year.
Key trends: The Sixers are 6-2 ATS in their past eight vs. the West. The under is 7-2 in Golden State's past nine at home. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Way too many points. Warriors will certainly win but sleepwalk through it.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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