NBA Odds: Thursday, March 27, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/26/2014
The big game on Thursday night is also the biggest mismatch: Do the Philadelphia 76ers have any prayer of pulling a mammoth upset in Houston to avoid tying the NBA's longest-ever losing streak? Here's a look at all four Thursday games in order of tipoff (no TNT doubleheader this week, either).
Blazers at Hawks (TBA)
Portland better hope it gets LaMarcus Aldridge back for this one as it has lost three straight. Tuesday's 95-85 defeat at Orlando simply shouldn't happen, although you could see it coming. Portland played in Miami the night before and used all its energy to stage a late rally before falling short. That's three straight games under 100 points for the NBA's No. 2 scoring offense. Aldridge has missed seven straight with a back issue but plans to play Thursday barring a setback (no line until it's determined). The Hawks were in Minnesota on Wednesday and again without starting guard Kyle Korver. He's unlikely to play in this one considering he didn't even travel with Atlanta.
Atlanta visited Portland on March 5 and was blasted 102-78. That was the game in which Korver's NBA-record streak of 127 straight games with a 3-pointer ended. Nicolas Batum had 14 points and 18 rebounds for Portland. The Hawks were without all-star Paul Millsap, and the starters managed only 34 points. (109).
Key trends: Portland is just 2-5 ATS in its past seven against teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in the Hawks' past five against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: The side will depend on Aldridge. In eight of the last 10 meetings between the two teams, neither squad has scored 100 points, and the Hawks haven't scored 100-plus points against the Blazers since Jan. 21, 2008. So that says under to me.
76ers at Rockets (-20, 216)
Philadelphia, loser of 25 straight, could catch a major break here. Houston's Dwight Howard knocked knees in practice Wednesday and barely took part. Omer Asik would start if Howard can't go. If there's any doubt about Howard's health, I would imagine the team sits him here knowing it should win regardless. Plus, Houston has a big one at home against the Clippers on Saturday. The Rockets have won four straight in pretty lopsided fashion.
It seems impossible now, but the 76ers improved to 5-4 on the 2013-14 season with a 123-117 overtime win over visiting Houston on Nov. 13. Needless to say, the Sixers haven't been back above breakeven since then. Tony Wroten, who is out for this game, had his first career triple-double and James Anderson a career-high 36 for Philly, which didn't have an injured Michael Carter-Williams. Houston was without James Harden. Jeremy Lin had 34, thanks to nine 3-pointers, and Howard 23 points and 15 rebounds. Houston has lost nine of the past 12 in the series but has won two straight vs. Philadelphia at home.
Key trends: Houston is 2-6 ATS in its past eight following a win of at least 10 points. The over hasn't hit in Philly's past 12 road games against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: I do think the Sixers play about as hard as they can. The talent isn't there for a win but they should cover, especially if Howard sits.
Lakers at Bucks (-1, 219)
Los Angeles played one of its best games of the year Tuesday in crushing the visiting Knicks 127-96, a devastating loss for New York. The Lakers set a franchise record with a 51-point third quarter. No Knicks team had ever allowed 51 in a quarter. L.A. also got a whopping 82 points from its bench. Pau Gasol missed that game for the Lakers with vertigo and won't play here. Chris Kaman will start at center again. Milwaukee has lost eight straight, seven of those on the road. Ersan Ilyasova sat out Monday's loss to the Clippers and is questionable.
Los Angeles lost 94-79 to visiting Milwaukee on New Year's Eve as Brandon Knight scored a career-high 37 for the Bucks. Gasol had 25 points for the Lakers, who shot 35.8 percent from the field. Milwaukee has won four of its past five against the Lakers overall.
Key trends: The Lakers are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 road games vs. a team with a losing home record. The over is 12-5 in Milwaukee's past 17 overall.
Early lean: This is one of the few games left the Bucks can win, which they probably don't want to in terms of getting the most ping-pong balls over the Sixers. I actually think the Lakers are due for a letdown, which seems funny to say this season.
Clippers at Mavericks (+2, 213)
Los Angeles looked for its third straight win Wednesday night in New Orleans. L.A.'s only loss in the past 14 games entering that one was in the second of a back-to-back on the road (in Denver) as this will be. The Mavericks won one of the most entertaining games of the year Tuesday, a 128-119 overtime home victory over Oklahoma City. Dirk Nowitzki had been struggling of late but had 32 points, 10 boards and six assists.
Los Angeles has won two very high-scoring matchups with Dallas (both way over the total), 119-112 in Big D on Jan. 3 and 129-127 at home on Jan. 15. In that latter game, the Clippers trailed by 17 with 4 1/2 minutes left in one of the greatest rallies in team history. J.J. Redick had a career-high 33 points. Nowitzki had 27 but was only 8-for-22 shooting.
Key trends: The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings. Dallas has covered five of the past seven in this series at home.
Early lean: Dallas builds off that exciting win over the Thunder and obviously benefits from the Clippers playing on Wednesday night. Love the over again.
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