NBA Odds: Saturday, April 5, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/4/2014
Here's an interesting twist on Saturday's NBA schedule: All six games feature both teams that will be playing in the second of a back-to-back. That should even the odds somewhat in terms of fatigue, but it's still an advantage for the six home clubs. Here's a look at all of Saturday's action in order of tipoff.
Timberwolves at Magic (+5, 207)
There's really nothing harder than playing in Miami one night and having to play, well, anywhere the next. Teams are usually worn out after playing the Heat because they want to beat the champs. Wolves center Nikola Pekovic was questionable for Friday, but it would be a minor upset if he played there or in this one. The Magic were in Charlotte on Friday and are as healthy as a team can be this late in the year. Orlando visited Minnesota way back on Oct. 30 and lost 120-115 in overtime as a 10.5-point underdog. Kevin Love hit the tying 3-pointer in regulation with 10.2 seconds left and finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds in the Wolves' season opener. Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 28 points and nine rebounds. He missed a baseline shot to win at the end of regulation.
Key trends: Minnesota is 0-5 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. Orlando is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 at home against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Orlando is pretty good at home, and Minnesota has been eliminated from the postseason. The Magic will win outright.
Bulls at Wizards ("pick'em," 185.5)
Chicago should be able to coast at home Friday against the terrible Bucks. It's very important for the Bulls to try and beat out Toronto for the East's No. 3 seed, which could mean a first-round matchup with these Wizards, who are currently No. 6. Why? With Indiana looking shaky of late, the Pacers seem likely to stay at No. 2. Thus, the No. 3 seed would then face the No. 2 Pacers in the conference semifinals -- presuming both advance -- instead of No. 1 Miami. The Bulls can beat the Pacers in a series but not the Heat. Washington certainly wants to avoid dropping to No. 7 and having to deal with Indiana. Plus, the Wizards have had success against the Bulls. These teams played a home-and-home over a four-day span in mid-January and Washington won by 14 in Chicago and three at home. The Wiz were -5 in the home game. Both went over low totals.
Key trends: The road team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 6-1 in Washington's past seven at home.
Early lean: The Bulls will want this one, plus have a much easier game Friday (Wiz at Knicks), so they win to avoid the season sweep.
Bobcats at Cavaliers (-2.5, 193)
How Cleveland plays in this game is 100 percent dependent on what the Cavs did Friday in Atlanta. A win against the Hawks keeps them very much alive in the playoff chase, but a loss all but ends it and really leaves the Cavaliers with little motivation here or the rest of the way. Cleveland is pretty beaten up as well. Anderson Varejao has a shoulder problem and Luol Deng a back issue. The latter should play in both games, but it's very iffy for Varejao. Charlotte, which hosted Orlando on Friday, is still hoping to climb to the No. 6 seed in the East. It will be without starting forward Josh McRoberts all weekend. He has become a decent player. If Cleveland misses the playoffs it can partly blame Charlotte as the Bobcats are 3-0 in the season series, covering all three. The under also hit in all three.
Key trends: The Bobcats are 1-4 ATS in the past five in Cleveland. The Cavs are 5-0 ATS in their past five at home.
Early lean: Wait on Cleveland's result Friday.
Celtics at Pistons (-6, 205)
Detroit had to fly back from a presumed beating in Brooklyn on Friday night, where it played without guard Will Bynum. The Pistons have won just two of their past six at home. This is their second-to-last home game of the year, so expect plenty of booing and calls for change. The Celtics have won back-to-back games once since mid-February but could have a chance here because I'm presuming they beat Philadelphia in Boston on Friday. Rajon Rondo was supposed to play there and thus won't likely here. Probably not Avery Bradley, either. Detroit won the first two meetings with Boston but lost the most recent one, 118-111 in Beantown on March 9. That was easily the highest-scoring of the three and was the only one this season in which Rondo played. He had 18 assists.
Key trends: The Celtics are 0-5 ATS in the past five in Detroit. The over is a combined 10-1 in the teams' past 11 Saturday games.
Early lean: Assuming no Rondo and Bradley the Pistons should get a rare blowout win in what should feature little defense.
Nets at 76ers (+12, 209)
This screams trap game for Brooklyn, which hosted Detroit on Friday, because it's the start of a three-game road trip and up next is a big one in Miami on Tuesday as the Nets go for the sweep against the champs. Brooklyn has lost three straight on the road and allowed at least 109 points in each. Andrei Kirilenko returned Friday for the Nets, but Kevin Garnett didn't. Thus, it's likely he will not 24 hours later. Philly actually has a victory in the three meetings against Brooklyn, 121-120 in overtime at home on Dec. 20. Former Sixer Evan Turner hit a buzzer-beater for the victory. Philly has won two home games since.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 11-0 in Philly's past 11 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Philly can cover here as the Nets won't be all that focused.
Raptors at Bucks (+7.5, 196)
The Raptors are in a dogfight with Chicago for the third seed in the East. They hosted Indiana in a tough on Friday and didn't know whether Kyle Lowry or Amir Johnson would play in that one. It probably won't matter if they do against the sad-sack Bucks. They have four home wins since mid-February and all against terrible teams. Toronto leads the series 2-0, and the clubs haven't played since Jan. 13. They play again April 14.
Key trends: Milwaukee is 4-1 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Milwaukee.
Early lean: If Lowry doesn't play take the Bucks to cover.
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