NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, December 31 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 12/30/2014
We have had one coach fired this season already in the Kings' Mike Malone. Could Cleveland's David Blatt be next? I doubt it, but you hear renewed reports that there are problems on the team between Blatt and his players. Apparently some players tune Blatt out at times and prefer to talk with assistant Tyronn Lue. If LeBron James wants the guy gone, he will be gone. It's worth keeping an eye on heading into 2015. Here's a look at every game on the final day of 2014. No opening line report story on Thursday with the holiday and light schedule.
Kings at Celtics (pick'em, 210)
There's an early start here for NBA bettors with a 1 p.m. tipoff from Beantown. The Kings' firing of Malone hasn't really worked out as Sacramento has struggled since then even with the return of star center DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings come off a 107-99 loss in Brooklyn on Monday. Cousins had a big game with 24 points and 13 rebounds to no avail. Kings backup guard Ramon Sessions missed his third straight game due to a lower back strain. Since Sacramento coach Tyrone Corbin replaced Malone on Dec. 15, the Kings have gone 2-5. Boston dropped its fourth straight Saturday, 101-88. Jared Sullinger twisted his right ankle late in the game, but he should play. Boston is 1-4 since trading Rajon Rondo. Boston has won six straight at home in this series.
Key trends: The Kings have failed to cover their past seven vs. the East. The "over/under" has gone over in Sacramento's past six overall. The home team has covered six of the past seven in this series.
Early lean: Boston and over.
Heat at Pacers (-3.5, 187)
Another matinee game as this one tips around 3 p.m. ET from Indianapolis. Miami lost 102-101 at home to Orlando on Monday despite the return of Chris Bosh, who had missed the previous eight games due to injury. The Heat blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Magic. Bosh finished with 20 points. The Heat finished their seven-game homestand 2-5. Indiana played pretty well Monday but lost 92-90 at home to Chicago. The Pacers rallied from a 21-point hole to take a late lead but couldn't hold it. The Pacers, who are No. 2 in the NBA in scoring defense, held the Bulls to 34.5 percent shooting. Indiana won 81-75 in Miami on Nov. 12. The Pacers were without a handful of key guys who were injured then but playing now.
Key trends: The Heat are 6-0 ATS in their past six road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Indiana.
Early lean: Indiana and under.
Knicks at Clippers (-13, 204.5)
New York brings an eight-game losing streak into this one. The Knicks were routed 101-79 in Portland on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony didn't play in the second half due to his troublesome left knee, but he says he expects to play in this one. I guarantee if this were in like Milwaukee or something he wouldn't -- Melo wants to play in front of the stars in L.A. Amare Stoudemire and Samuel Dalembert both missed the Portland game. Stoudemire should play Wednesday and Dalembert might. The Clippers beat Utah 101-97 on Monday. The victory was the Clippers' 12th straight against Utah, breaking the franchise record for consecutive wins against one team. Blake Griffin was everywhere with 24 points, seven assists, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Reserve big man Spencer Hawes was back in action and played 12 minutes after sitting out the previous nine games because of a bruised left knee. L.A. has won four straight against the Knicks.
Key trends: The Clippers are 1-7 ATS in their past eight overall. The over is 9-2 in New York's past 11 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. New York has covered five of its past six in L.A.
Early lean: Assuming Melo and Stoudemire play, I'll take the points. Go over regardless.
Hornets at Rockets (TBA)
Don't expect to see Charlotte's best player, Al Jefferson, in this one (thus the TBA). Jefferson left Monday's game against the Bucks in the fourth quarter with a strained groin and didn't return. The groin has been bothering him for a while, and the Charlotte media expects Big Al to sit for a game or two. The Hornets lost to the Bucks 104-94 in overtime despite 28 points in 49 minutes from Kemba Walker. It was Charlotte's third straight loss. Houston looks to avoid its first three-game skid of the year. It lost close in San Antonio and at home to Washington on Monday. The Rockets have won seven straight vs. Charlotte and nine in a row at home.
Key trends: Charlotte has covered three of its past 16 after a loss. Houston is 1-4 ATS in its past five vs. the East. The over is 5-0 in Houston's past five.
Early lean: This should be a blowout if Jefferson indeed sits.
Bucks at Cavaliers (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for Cleveland as it was in Atlanta on Tuesday for a tough one. Kyrie Irving was set to return from missing two games with a bone bruise on his knee, but LeBron suddenly became questionable with knee soreness. Be surprised if he didn't play on his 30th birthday Tuesday, but if his knee is bothering him I'd also be surprised if he plays both of a back-to-back. Milwaukee comes off that 10-point OT win in Charlotte on Monday. Brandon Knight's layup sent the game to OT. It was just the second time this season that Milwaukee won back-to-back road games. The Bucks lost 111-108 in Cleveland on Dec. 2. Irving had 28 points, Kevin Love 27 and LeBron 26.
Key trends: The Bucks have covered six straight on the road. The over is 5-1 in those six. The over is also 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Have to wait on LeBron.
Pelicans at Spurs (TBA)
Second game in 24 hours for both as San Antonio was in Memphis on Tuesday and New Orleans hosted Phoenix. This is a home game, so perhaps Gregg Popovich plays Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but I wouldn't exactly bet on that. Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard will surely sit again. New Orleans hosted Phoenix on Tuesday night. The Spurs used to own New Orleans, but the Pelicans are 2-0 this season in the series. It's the first time ever New Orleans has won back-to-back games against San Antonio. Parker and Leonard both missed the most recent game, a 97-90 Pelicans home win the day after Christmas.
Key trends: The over is 10-1 in the Spurs' past 11 at home. New Orleans has covered seven of the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Wait to see who the Spurs actually play.
Suns at Thunder (-7, 213)
Phoenix was in New Orleans on Tuesday on a six-game winning streak. There appears to be a good chance that Kevin Durant will return from his sprained ankle in this one. He practiced in full on Monday. He has missed the past six games in which the Thunder are 3-3. Phoenix visited Oklahoma City on Dec. 14 and was blown out 112-88. Russell Westbrook had 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Durant had 23 points and eight boards. The Thunder made nine of their first 11 shots and never trailed. Suns starting guard Goran Dragic missed that game with an injury, but he's back now. The Thunder have won seven in a row at home in the series.
Key trends: The Thunder have covered seven of the past 10 meetings. The over is 7-1 in the past eight in this series in OKC.
Early lean: Thunder and over if Durant plays. Oddsmakers obviously think he will.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NBA Handicapping
- NBA Commissioner Weighs In on Legal US Sports Betting
- Los Angeles Lakers vs Phoenix Suns NBA Playoff Series Predictions and Odds
- Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets NBA Playoff Series Predictions and Odds
- LA Lakers Could be in Real Trouble with LeBron and AD Injuries
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/20/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/15/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/13/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/8/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/6/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/1/2021 and Opening Line Report