NBA Odds: Saturday, March 22, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/21/2014
Forecasting the Saturday NBA schedule of games is always the toughest a day ahead of time. Why? Many clubs play back-to-backs on Friday and Saturday because obviously teams draw better on weekends. Sometimes you can find great early value on these, but others you are pretty much grasping at straws in terms of possible injuries for the second of the consecutive games for teams. Here's a look at all of Saturday's games in order of tipoff.
Blazers at Bobcats (TBA)
Charlotte has been off since losing 104-99 at Brooklyn on Wednesday, the Bobcats' second straight defeat. Only Al Jefferson really showed up among the starters as he had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Kemba Walker had just seven points and four turnovers. Portland beat visiting Washington 116-103 on Thursday again without star big man LaMarcus Aldridge. He made the trip to Charlotte but is iffy to play (thus no line). The Bobcats allowed by far a season-high 134 points when they visited Portland on Jan. 2 in a 30-point loss the night after Charlotte was also blown out at the Clippers. The Blazers tied a franchise high with 21 made 3-pointers. Damian Lillard was 6-for-6 from long range and finished with 24 points.
Key trends: Charlotte has covered eight of its past 10 home games. The "over" is 6-0 in Portland's past six playing on one day of rest.
Early lean: Long trip for Blazers, and Jefferson should have his way without Aldridge. Bobcats are the pick as they are likely still to be slight dogs.
Rockets at Cavaliers (TBA)
What an unbelievable hard stretch of schedule for Cleveland . Here are the Cavs' past five games: at Phoenix, at Golden State, at the Clippers, vs. Miami and vs. Oklahoma City. It doesn't get much better as Cleveland visits the Knicks on Sunday and hosts Toronto on Tuesday. Yeah, forget the playoffs. The Cavs have lost their last three games. Houston routed visiting Minnesota 129-106 on Thursday playing its second straight game without Dwight Howard. He's very questionable for this one, and thus no line. The Cavaliers lost 106-92 in Houston on Feb. 1. Jeremy Lin had his first career triple-double for Houston. He was the first Rocket to get one of the bench since 1988. Howard had 26 points. Luol Deng had 24 and Kyrie Irving 21 for the Cavs. The latter is certainly out this game, and the former might be after missing the previous two with an ankle injury.
Key trends: Cleveland is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 against the Western Conference. The over is 5-2 in Houston's past seven after allowing at least 100 points in their previous game.
Early lean: No opinion until the status of Howard and Deng are made clear.
76ers at Bulls (-16.5, 196)
Second of a back-to-back for both. Chicago had to fly home after undoubtedly a rugged game in Indiana while Philly had to fly from its home after hosting the red-hot Knicks. That makes me think this game will be very ugly. The Sixers beat the Bulls Nov. 2 to complete a 3-0 start to the season, but Chicago has won the next two. The Bulls didn't play all that well Wednesday in Philadelphia, winning 102-94. It was 85-85 about midway through the fourth quarter. The Bulls got 39 combined points from bench players D.J. Augustin and Taj Gibson. The Philly bench had 31 total.
Key trends: The Bulls are 5-1 ATS in their past six in the second of a back-to-back. The "under" is 10-1 in Philly's past 11 playing with no day of rest.
Early lean: Two tired teams -- couldn't love the under more. Bulls aren't really built to slaughter teams, so I'd take Philly.
Pacers at Grizzlies (-2, 180)
Wicked tough second of a back-to-back for both as Indiana hosted Chicago on Friday and Memphis was in Miami. Indiana's bench will again be thin here with both guard C.J. Watson and center Andrew Bynum out (neither played Friday). The Pacers beat the visiting Grizzlies 95-79 on Nov. 11 behind Lance Stephenson's first career-triple double. It was Indiana's third straight win in the series.
Key trends: Indiana is 1-9 ATS in its past 10 road games. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Two tired teams here too -- couldn't love the under more again. I lean Memphis at home.
Heat at Pelicans (TBA)
Another double back-to-back here with Miami hosting Memphis on Friday and New Orleans in Atlanta. LeBron James was expected to return Friday after missing Wednesday with back spasms. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Dwyane Wade sits this one out because it's the team's second game in 24 hours. New Orleans lost 107-88 in Miami on Jan. 7, the Pelicans' sixth straight loss in the series. Anthony Davis did his part with 22 points and 12 boards. Miami actually trailed by 11 early in the third quarter but closed on a 59-26 run. LeBron had 32 points. That was also the day New Orleans announced Ryan Anderson was out indefinitely with a herniated disc, which helped kill the Pelicans' season.
Key trends: The Heat are 0-5 ATS in their past five road games. The over is 6-1 in New Orleans' past seven at home.
Early lean: Too early to tell. Wait for Wade's status. I just want to see if LeBron guards Davis if both play.
Magic at Jazz (-5, 195.5)
This game is worth watching only because it's a matchup of rookie guards: Orlando's Victor Oladipo and Utah's Trey Burke, whom the Magic did consider for a bit with that No. 2 overall pick. I think both teams are happy with how things turned out. They should finish No. 2-3 behind Philly's Michael Carter-Williams for NBA Rookie of the Year. Orlando hosted Utah on Dec. 18 and lost 86-82. Burke was brilliant with 30 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He definitely was trying to make a point for being passed over. Oladipo struggled with three points on 1-for-12 shooting and five rebounds. Orlando was without starting point guard Jameer Nelson for Wednesday's 109-93 loss in Phoenix, and he may sit again. That would likely mean Oladipo shifts over to start at the point, meaning he and Burke will be going head-to-head plenty as they did in the Big Ten.
Key trends: Orlando has covered five of its past 25 road games. The over has hit in eight of Utah's past nine against teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: One of the few games left Utah can win, so it should easily cover.
Spurs at Warriors ("pick'em", 206.5)
The second of a back-to-back for San Antonio, which visited Sacramento on Friday on an 11-game winning streak. Thus, that brings into play Coach Gregg Popovich resting one to all of his Big 3 in this one if he doesn't Friday. The Warriors will again be without Andre Iguodala and backup center Jermaine O'Neal in this one, but center Andrew Bogut somewhat surprisingly returned for Thursday's win over Milwaukee and thus should be good to go. San Antonio has won two very different games against the Warriors this year: 76-74 at home on Nov. 8 and 104-102 in Oakland on Dec. 19. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all sat that one out. Tiago Splitter tipped in a rebound with 2.1 seconds left for the win.
Key trends: The road team has covered six of the past eight meetings, and the under is 5-2 in the past seven.
Early lean: Wait to see what Pop does.
Pistons at Clippers (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for Detroit after it visited Phoenix on Friday night. The Pistons were supposed to get Andre Drummond back for that one, but no line yet because of his iffy status here. Los Angeles apparently soon will be at full strength for the first time all season if you include new additions Glen Davis and Danny Granger. J.J. Redick returned to practice on Thursday. He hasn't played since Nov. 22 due to a back problem. He's not going to play Saturday but maybe next week. Sixth man Jamal Crawford, who has been out the past five and eight of nine, will return Saturday. So will fellow guard Darren Collison after missing the past two with an illness. L.A. won 112-103 at Detroit on Jan. 20 as DeAndre Jordan had 16 points -- seven dunks and a layup, 0-for-6 on free throws -- and 21 rebounds. Chris Paul was out injured. Drummond had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Brandon Jennings managed to go scoreless in 28 minutes.
Key trends: The Clippers have covered six of their past eight against teams with a losing record. The over is 13-3 in Detroit's past 16 against teams with a winning percentage above .600.
Early lean: A tired Pistons team against a rejuvenated, rested Clippers club. This could be ugly. L.A. should open around -14.
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