NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, November 19 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 11/18/2014
One of those games NBA fans and bettors circled back when the 2014-15 regular-season schedule was released arrives on Wednesday night from Cleveland as the NBA champion Spurs face off against LeBron James. Again. Of course, the Spurs and James' Heat played in the past two NBA Finals. San Antonio's demolition of Miami this past summer essentially was the impetus for James deciding to leave South Florida for Cleveland. You know he wants this win badly. Here's a look at every game on the schedule.
Mavericks at Wizards (+1, 199.5)
Dallas is just a fun team to watch, and the Mavericks, who lead the NBA in scoring, look like legitimate Western Conference contenders. Tyson Chandler has been all the Mavs could have hoped for in that Knicks trade. Point guard Raymond Felton has yet to play but began serving his four-game suspension on Monday. Dallas torched the Hornets 107-80 in Charlotte's gym on Monday for the Mavericks' fourth straight win. The Mavericks amazingly have had at least five players score in double figures in nine of their 11 games this season. Six did Monday. Washington enters on a three-game winning streak and is 4-0 at home. At 7-2, the Wizards are off to their best start since 1974-75.
Key trends: Washington is 1-6 ATS in its past seven at home. The "over/under" has gone under in six of Dallas' past seven games.
Early lean: Dallas and over.
Spurs at Cavaliers (-3.5, 202.5)
At Carbon Sports , this is your heavily-favored NBA Finals matchup at +500, with No. 2 being Bulls vs. Spurs at +1000. Cleveland totally got caught in a trap game Monday at home, somehow losing 106-97 at home to a really bad Denver team that was playing the second of a back-to-back. LeBron James played through the flu and finished with 22 points. He was selected the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for a record 46th time Monday. The Spurs weren't caught in a similar trap Monday as they destroyed Philadelphia 100-75. San Antonio never trailed, and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all played less than 20 minutes.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-1 in San Antonio's past seven on the road.
Early lean: Cleveland and over.
Clippers at Magic (+5.5, 203.5)
Los Angeles starts a season-high seven-game road trip Wednesday in Orlando. Perhaps the Clippers will be glad to leave Staples Center behind as they fell to 4-3 at home in losing 105-89 on Monday night to a Bulls team that didn't play either Derrick Rose or Pau Gasol. The Clippers were only 10 of 22 from the free-throw line, and they couldn't stop Jimmy Butler late in the game while trying to make run. Chicago had its own 51-18 run at one point in that game. That's not supposed to happen to a title contender at home like Los Angeles. Orlando will be without rookie first-round pick Aaron Gordon indefinitely after he fractured his left foot over the weekend. That's a shame because the Magic just got last year's top pick, Victor Oladipo, back from his own injury.
Key trends: The Clippers are 1-7 ATS in their past eight after a loss. Orlando is 7-0 ATS in its past seven games.
Early lean: Take the points and go under.
Celtics at 76ers (+4, 204.5)
I'm not going to say this many more times this season, but I believe this is a very winnable game for Philadelphia. How lousy is this roster? When the Sixers signed some dude named Robert Covington on Saturday, it marked the ninth undrafted player to be on the Philly roster already this season. And it's mid-November! Only two teams have ever fielded more undrafted players in a single season: Atlanta and Golden State with 10 in 2002-03 and 2009-10, respectively. Why do I think Philly (0-10) can win? The Celtics (3-6) aren't all that good and have lost three straight. They are terrible defensively, which is just what the NBA's lowest-scoring team needs. Also, the 76ers beat Boston twice a season ago.
Key trends: Boston is 1-4 ATS in its past five vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: I'll take the points. Go under.
Hornets at Pacers (+2.5, 181.5)
At 4-7, Charlotte has been a big-time disappointment. The Hornets lost by 27 at home to Dallas on Monday for their fourth defeat in five games. Charlotte was great defensively last year but has allowed at least 102 points in those past four losses. Charlotte also is short-handed. It played Dallas without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gary Neal due to injuries and then lost rookie P.J. Hairston in the second half to a sprained left ankle. Indiana had won three of four and pulled a shocker in Chicago on Saturday, 99-90. The injury-ravaged Pacers may get back guards Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles for this one. Every little bit helps.
Key trends: Charlotte is 1-6 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings in Indiana.
Early lean: Bit surprised the Pacers are home dogs here. They win outright.
Suns at Pistons (+3.5, 203.5)
Phoenix ended a two-game skid Monday with a 118-114 win in Boston. Markieff Morris scored a career-high 30 points. Phoenix played without forward P.J. Tucker, who was suspended after missing the team bus to the airport. Presumably he will be active for this one. The Pistons have lost five of six. I thought Stan Van Gundy would get the best out of young center Andre Drummond, but Drummond has regressed offensively thus far. He's shooting only 41.4 percent and averaging 8.7 points. Phoenix and Detroit split last year, each winning at home.
Key trends: Phoenix has covered five of its past six vs. the East. The Pistons are 0-5 ATS in their past five following a double-digit loss at home. Detroit has covered the past four meetings.
Early lean: Like the over more than any side.
Bucks at Nets (-6, 195.5)
Second of a back-to-back for Milwaukee as it looks for a 24-hour sweep of the New York teams after hosing the Knicks on Tuesday. The Nets last played Monday and were beaten 95-83 at home to Miami despite the Heat not having Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points for the Nets, who returned home from an 0-3 road trip and were held to their lowest point total of the season. Of course, this is the return to Brooklyn for former Nets head coach Jason Kidd, and I don't expect a warm welcome after Kidd forced his way out after just one season.
Key trends: Brooklyn is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 5-2 in Brooklyn's past seven at home.
Early lean: Nets will want to stick it to Kidd. They win in a blowout.
Grizzlies at Raptors (-2, 200.5)
With all due respect to Spurs-Cavs, this is the matchup of the night at least in terms of how the teams are playing right now. Memphis has the NBA's best record at 10-1 after impressively thumping Houston 119-93 on Monday. Memphis took a 16-point lead in the first quarter and extended it in each of the remaining quarters. Seven players finished in double figures for Memphis, which won its fourth straight overall. Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley left in the third quarter with a sore left shoulder and didn't return, but he should be fine. Toronto (8-2) has been off since beating visiting Utah 111-93 on Saturday. The Raptors scored 100 or more for the ninth time in 10 games this season. Good luck making it 10 of 11 as Memphis is No. 1 in defense.
Key trends: Memphis is 1-5 ATS in its past six games. Toronto is 7-1 ATS in its past eight at home against teams with a winning road record. The under has hit in 11 of the Raptors' past 13 against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Raptors and under.
Knicks at Timberwolves (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for New York after visiting Milwaukee on Tuesday. The Timberwolves will have fresh legs as they have been off since a 131-117 loss in Dallas on Saturday. Kevin Martin scored a season-high 34 points for the Wolves, who again played without starting forward Thaddeus Young after the death of his mother. It's not clear if he be back for this one, thus no line. I'm excited to see Wolves rookie Andrew Wiggins attempt to guard Carmelo Anthony here. Wiggins still can't do much offensively, but he's a great athlete and could give Melo some trouble. Or Anthony will teach the rook a lesson.
Key trends: New York is 6-1 ATS in its past seven in the second of a back-to-back. Minnesota is 0-5 ATS in its past five. The over is 4-1 in the Wolves' past five.
Early lean: Like Minnesota to win outright.
Thunder at Nuggets (-7, 199.5)
I've said it many times and will again: No back-to-back is tougher for a team than playing the second in Denver. That is what is facing the Thunder here as they had to play in the thin air of Utah on Tuesday night. The Nuggets got their best win of the season on Monday with a surprising 106-97 win in Cleveland. Ty Lawson had 24 points and 12 assists and Arron Afflalo had 23. If you saw that upset coming then you are smarter than I am. Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson missed the game because it was the second of a back-to-back for Denver. He will play here. he averages 7.3 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Key trends: Denver is 0-8 ATS in its past eight vs. the West. The under is 4-1 in OKC's past five in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Huge on the under.
Lakers at Rockets (-13, 211)
This could be ugly as the Lakers had to play in Atlanta on Tuesday night and Houston is going to be pretty PO'd after getting destroyed 119-93 in Memphis on Tuesday. Houston fell behind by 16 after one quarter and essentially quit. The Rockets entered the game allowing an NBA-low 89 points per game. James Harden was awful, going 1-for-8 for six points. "The good thing about this, it is only one loss. Now we will take it out on the Lakers," Houston's Jason Terry said afterward. The Rockets opened the season with a 108-90 win at the Lakers. That was the game L.A. lost rookie Julius Randle to a season-ending broken leg.
Key trends: The over is 13-3 in L.A.'s past 16 in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 11-2 in Houston's past 13 overall. Houston has covered four straight meetings.
Early lean: I rarely like having to give that many points, but take Houston and under.
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