NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, December 17 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 12/16/2014
I liked Milwaukee's Jabari Parker to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award before this season began, but his chances of doing so likely will be determined by the results of an MRI on Tuesday. He has a knee injury, and at least X-rays were negative. That often doesn't mean much, however. Parker was hurt in Monday's win over Phoenix, and the team is hoping it's just a minor sprain and he misses a few games. Here's a look at every game on Wednesday's schedule, with Nets-Raptors and Rockets-Nuggets on ESPN and available for live betting at WagerWeb.
Suns at Hornets (TBA)
Phoenix surprised everyone with small-ball last year, and it was largely successful. Not so much this year as Phoenix has lost six straight, the longest current skid in the NBA. The Suns were beaten at home 96-94 on Monday by the Bucks in a very entertaining game that saw several lead changes in the final minute. The Bucks won on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Suns played without leading scorer Goran Dragic, who sat out the second straight game with a lower back injury. He's questionable for Wednesday. Talk about coming out flat: the Hornets fell behind Cleveland 21-0 on Monday, losing 97-88. Charlotte center Cody Zeller left the game late in the fourth quarter after hitting his head on the floor while scrambling for a loose ball with Anderson Varejao.
Key trends: The Suns are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of Charlotte's past eight at home.
Early lean: Wait on Dragic.
Hawks at Cavaliers (-8, 204.5)
No team not named Golden State is playing better than Atlanta right now. The Hawks beat the visiting Bulls 93-86 on Monday for their 10th win in the past 11 games. Their only loss was on a buzzer-beater to Orlando on Saturday. Atlanta had to play Chicago without backup center Pero Antic, who was sidelined with flu-like symptoms. As noted above, Cleveland jumped out to a 21-0 lead over Charlotte on Monday. It was the largest lead a team had taken to start a game since Portland jumped out 22-0 against Boston in 2004. LeBron James had 27 points and 13 assists. His assist totals are way up this season. Cleveland, which began a five-game homestand, has won six straight at Quicken Loans Arena.
Key trends: The home team has covered the past four meetings. The over is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: Take the points and over.
Magic at Celtics (-5, 200)
First meeting of the season between these teams. The Magic lost 95-82 on Monday in Toronto, their third loss in four games. The Magic had just 30 second-half points. Orlando guard Evan Fournier took a wicked elbow to the mouth in the second quarter but returned in the third with stitches. So he should be fine to play here. Boston ended a three-game skid with a 105-87 win in Philadelphia on Monday. Kelly Olynyk blew up with a career-high 30 points. It was the first time a Boston reserve scored 30 points in 31 or fewer minutes since 1993. Boston remains without Marcus Smart (Achilles) and Marcus Thornton (calf).
Key trends: The Magic are 1-6 ATS in their past seven meetings. The under is 5-1 in Boston's past six overall.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Mavericks at Pistons (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for Dallas as it visited the Knicks on Tuesday night. Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons was questionable for that game with back stiffness that forced him out of the team's previous matchup. Detroit's season-high two-game winning streak ended with a 113-91 loss at the L.A. Clippers on Monday. Andre Drummond added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Pistons, who were coming off road wins against Phoenix and Sacramento after losing 13 straight. The Pistons haven't shot 50 percent or better from the field in any of their first 25 games.
Key trends: The Mavs have failed to cover their past four in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 7-1 in Detroit's past eight vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Pistons steal one against the Mavs.
Jazz at Heat (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for Miami, which was in Brooklyn on Tuesday and played without Chris Bosh, who is out indefinitely. Dwyane Wade was questionable for the game with an illness, but I'd imagine even if he didn't play Tuesday another 24 hours of rest would be enough to allow him to suit up in this home game. Utah was in New Orleans on Tuesday. The Heat won 100-95 in Utah on Dec. 12 behind 29 points from Wade, who was sick then too. Enes Kanter led Utah with 25.
Key trends: Utah is 1-7 ATS in the past eight in Miami. The under is 5-1 in Miami's past six overall.
Early lean: Have to wait on Wade.
Nets at Raptors (-9, 200.5)
As noted above, Brooklyn hosted Miami on Tuesday. The Nets will remain without center Brook Lopez for at least the next three games, but they have played better without him the past few seasons. Toronto beat Orlando 95-82 on Monday, its 10th straight win over the Magic. The Raptors finished with 25 assists, the sixth straight game they've had 20 or more. They are 11-1 this season against teams with losing records. The Raptors and Nets split four meetings in the regular season last year (all four decided by four points or fewer) and then they went seven games in the playoffs, with Brooklyn winning that Game 7 in Toronto. How rare is this game for the Raptors? The last time Toronto hosted an ESPN game in the regular season was Jan. 4, 2008 vs. Detroit.
Key trends: The underdog has covered seven of the past seven meetings. The over is 13-3 in Toronto's past 16 at home vs. teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Take the points and go over.
Grizzlies at Spurs (TBA)
Talk about a tough second of a back-to-back for the Grizzlies as they hosted the Warriors on Tuesday in trying to end Golden State's 16-game winning streak (and I think they do). San Antonio has alternated wins and losses over its past six games. It was beaten 108-95 in Portland on Monday. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter all sat that one out. The latter three are actually dealing with injuries. Duncan should play in this one but probably not the other guys. The Spurs won in Memphis 107-101 on Dec. 5 to end the Grizzlies' 22-game regular-season home winning streak. Duncan had a triple-double, just the fourth of his career.
Key trends: The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings. Memphis is 1-6 ATS in the past seven vs. San Antonio.
Early lean: Way too many questions for Spurs at moment to have an opinion.
Bucks at Trail Blazers (-8.5, 204.5)
Parker was hurt in the third quarter against Phoenix. His knee appeared to buckle on a drive to the basket before he collided with the Suns' P.J. Tucker, and Parker was unable to get to his feet immediately afterward. He's averaging 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Khris Middleton hit the 3-point buzzer-beater to beat the Suns in the game. However, Milwaukee's streak of nine straight games with 100 points came to an end. Portland swept the two-game series with the Bucks last year and is 6-2 in the past eight at home vs. Milwaukee. However, the Blazers are going to be without center Robin Lopez for about a month at least with a broken hand. Unlike his brother, Robin Lopez had been very durable.
Key trends: The Bucks are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 11-5 in Portland's past 16 vs. the East.
Early lean: Blazers and under.
Pacers at Clippers (-11, 200)
The Clippers ended a two-game skid with a 113-91 win over visiting Detroit on Monday, while Indiana ended an eight-game losing streak with a 110-91 win over the visiting Lakers on Monday. The Pacers' biggest lead was 39 points, and it came during the second quarter when they led 60-21. Indiana is 3-9 vs. Western Conference teams this season. One of those losses was Dec. 10 at home to the Clippers, 103-96. L.A. nearly blew a 20-point second-half lead.
Key trends: The over is 14-3 in the Pacers' past 17 road games. The Clippers are 6-2 ATS in their past eight after a win.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
Rockets at Nuggets (+3.5, 206.5)
It's the second of a home-and-home between these two. Houston beat visiting Denver 108-96 on Saturday. Dwight Howard returned after missing 11 games with a strained right knee and had 26 points and 13 rebounds. James Harden had a triple-double with 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. He got the 10th rebound with just one second left in the game. Danilo Gallinari (bruised knee) and JaVale McGee (leg strain) sat out again for Denver. So did Nate Robinson, but he might play in this one.
Key trends: Houston is 0-4 ATS in its past four in Denver. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Houston and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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