NBA Odds: Saturday, March 29, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/28/2014
Will history be made and the 76ers lose their record 27th straight game on Saturday night against Detroit? If there's one team boneheaded enough to lose to Philly, it would be the Pistons. Here's a look at all of Saturday's games in order of tipoff.
Pistons at 76ers (+8.5, 210)
I truly believed Philly would put up a fight Thursday, but the Sixers only did for a little more than a quarter in Houston, somehow failing to cover yet another 20-point spread. I don't know what the record for 20-point spreads in a season is, but 2013-14 has to have it. Detroit has quit, as evidenced by blowing a 16-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Cleveland on Wednesday. Detroit hosted Miami on Friday night, so the Pistons could go all out there and have nothing left. Too bad the Pistons can't play the 76ers 19 or so times like baseball intradivision rivals do. The Pistons are 3-0 against Philly, winning each by at least 10 points. The most recent meeting was Feb. 1 in Motown, a 113-96 Pistons victory that was defeat No. 2 on the 76ers' record run.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The "over" is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: The Pistons won't want to be embarrassed .... I think. Nah, take Philly to cover.
Clippers at Rockets (TBA)
Houston will be without starting point guard Patrick Beverley for this one and maybe for the season. He left Thursday's blowout of Philadelphia with what was first called a sprained ankle, but an MRI on Friday showed a torn meniscus. He will seek a second opinion. That would be a big blow. Jeremy Lin is solid offensively but nowhere near Beverley on defense. L.A. won impressively Thursday in Dallas the night after losing in New Orleans. The Clips rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavs. Blake Griffin was held to 18, his first game under 20 since Jan. 18. Danny Granger left that game with a hamstring injury and is questionable here. It looks like the Clippers and Rockets will avoid each other in the first round of the playoffs as they should finish No. 3-4 in whichever order in the West. Too bad for the Clippers because they are 3-0 against Houston, winning each by at least eight points and averaging 115 points per game.
Key trends: Houston is 5-1 ATS in its past six home games. The "under" is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: No way the Rockets will want to be swept. They are the pick.
Hawks at Wizards (-5.5, 204.5)
Should New York win Friday night in Phoenix and Atlanta lose this game, the Knicks would be just a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the East. I guarantee you No. 1 Indiana would much rather face the Hawks. Atlanta lost its fifth straight Thursday night, 100-85 against a Portland team that had been terrible on the road of late. Atlanta's Kyle Korver missed his fifth straight game because of back spasms, and center Pero Antic sat out after he twisted his right ankle in the previous game. Both are questionable. Washington hosted those Pacers on Friday. It has won its past two in the second of a back-to-back as this game will be. The Wizards lead the season series with the Hawks 2-1 and won the home matchup by seven in late November. They last played Feb. 19 in Atlanta, a 114-97 Wizards win.
Key trends: The Hawks have failed to cover in the past eight meetings. The over is 6-1 in the past seven.
Early lean: Both those trends sound right.
Kings at Mavericks (TBA)
Dallas really could have built some momentum this week. The Mavs had a great home overtime win against Oklahoma City on Tuesday and then took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter against the visiting Clippers on Thursday but lost 109-103. Keep an eye on Samuel Dalembert's status for this one. He played Thursday after being a game-time call with a stiff back, but if that flares up again he may have to sit vs. Sacramento. The Kings visited Oklahoma City on Friday night, and starting guard Isaiah Thomas was a game-time call with a bruised quad (thus no line here). It's 1-1 between these teams with Dallas winning the most recent meeting 107-103 at home on Jan. 31.
Key trends: The over is 5-0 in Dallas' past five overall. The Mavericks have covered five of the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Game means everything to Dallas and nothing to a Kings team that will be winded. Easy call.
Heat at Bucks (TBA)
Has a team ever gone an entire season not winning consecutive games? I would think no, considering the nine-win 1972-73 Sixers did win back-to-back twice. The Bucks haven't yet, but if they can pull a huge upset here they would. They beat the visiting Lakers on Thursday without one of its few bright spots this year. That would be forward Ersan Ilyasova. He's averaging 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds but has been shut down for the season with ankle issues that won't need surgery. That means more Bucks you've never heard of get more minutes. Also, rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo sprained his ankle on Thursday and could be out this game. Miami played in Detroit on Friday. Ray Allen didn't play in that one and most likely won't here. Dwyane Wade is a lock to sit out either Friday or Saturday -- if not both to get healthy. It seems forever ago for Milwaukee fans, but the Bucks actually played the Heat in last season's playoffs, getting predictably swept. The teams have played only once this year, a 23-point Heat rout on Nov. 12 at home.
Key trends: The Bucks are 6-0 ATS in their past six against teams with a winning percentage of at least .600. The over has hit just once in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: I don't imagine the Heat will care much here and it's the only game left that matters for Milwaukee, not to mention an actual sellout. I think Bucks cover if no Wade.
Pelicans at Spurs (TBA)
This is the only game featuring both teams that played Friday night. Theoretically that would benefit the younger Pelicans. Both have to travel, with New Orleans from home and San Antonio from Denver. Because it's the second of a back-to-back for San Antonio, the Gregg Popovich benching rules are in play. The Spurs go for the four-game sweep of the series, and they've hit triple digits in the previous three and the Pelicans haven't. What I'm watching for is a matchup between perhaps the greatest-ever power forward in San Antonio's Tim Duncan and the next great one in Anthony Davis. Duncan could well retire after this season and officially pass the torch to Davis.
Key trends: New Orleans is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 6-1 in the Spurs' past seven in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait to see which Spurs play.
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