NBA Odds: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/18/2014
We have a rarity on Tuesday's NBA schedule as nary a nationally-televised game -- perhaps because of the start of the NCAA Tournament's First Four. The most intriguing matchup is Miami at Cleveland. It's the Heat's final visit of the season, so could the next time that LeBron plays in Cleveland be back in a Cavaliers uniform? Here's what you need to know for all of Tuesday's games, in order of tipoff.
Heat at Cavaliers (+8.5, 201)
Miami has lost five of seven, but it still appears the Heat can flip a switch whenever they want to. They did just that Sunday in the fourth quarter against Houston when Ray Allen, who hasn't been very good this year at age 38, had 14 of his season-high 25 points as the Heat rallied for a 113-104 win. Cleveland had a two-game winning streak snapped in blowout fashion Sunday night at the Clippers, 102-80. That was hardly the big news. All-star point guard Kyrie Irving left in the first quarter to a biceps injury, and early reports are he could be done for the season. He was to have an MRI on Monday, but it sure seems unlikely that Irving will play in this one. Expect the Cavs to go in full tank mode if Irving is gone.
Miami hasn't had much trouble against the Cavs this year, winning 95-84 on Nov. 27 in Ohio and 114-107 at home on Dec. 14. It should be noted that Cleveland didn't have Luol Deng for either of those, and he's one of the best defenders of James in the NBA.
Key trends: Cleveland is 1-7 ATS in its past eight games following a loss of at least 10 points. The “under” is 7-3 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: This might normally be a bit of a trap game, but I'm sure James wants to put on a show in Cleveland as he usually does. Heat it is, especially with Irving likely out.
Raptors at Hawks (+2.5, 202.5)
It's the second of a back-to-back for Atlanta as the Hawks had to fly home Monday night after playing in Charlotte. The Hawks entered that one on a three-game winning streak but against lousy teams Utah, Milwaukee and Denver. The Raptors played Sunday night and lost 121-113 at home to Phoenix as the Toronto reserves were outscored a whopping 59-11. Kyle Lowry had 28 points and 13 assists, but the Raptors had a four-game winning streak snapped. Keep an eye on Lowry's status for this one as he was kneed in the head twice in that game but kept playing. He doesn't have a concussion but does have the flu. The Raptors remain without sixth man Patrick Patterson.
Toronto lost 102-95 in Atlanta on Nov. 1, but that was back when the Hawks were whole. The most recent meeting, Feb. 12 in Toronto, was a 104-83 Raptors blowout. The two play again Sunday back in Toronto.
Key trends: Toronto is 4-1 ATS in the past five in Atlanta. The Hawks have covered one of their past 10 against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Hawks are much better at home but lean Toronto because of the fatigue factor for Atlanta only if Lowry plays.
Bucks at Blazers (TBA)
Milwaukee is doing its best to hang onto the worst record in the NBA ahead of Philadelphia as the Bucks have dropped four straight and eight of nine. Things don't figure to get any better soon as Tuesday's game in Portland starts a four-game road trip out West. Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova is questionable for this one after missing Sunday's game due to a sore right ankle. The Blazers lost a thriller at home to Golden State on Sunday, 113-112, Portland's fifth loss in the past six -- it blew an 18-point third-quarter lead. Blazers all-star forward LaMarcus Aldridge missed his second straight game with a lower back contusion, and it's very unlikely he plays here (thus the no line). Reserve guard Mo Williams was expected to miss two weeks with a strained right hip muscle but returned Sunday after missing two games and had 12 points.
Portland won 91-82 in Milwaukee on Nov. 20 behind 21 points and seven rebounds from Aldridge. That was when the Blazers were playing their best basketball and was their eighth straight win and completed a 4-0 Eastern Conference road trip.
Key trends: Milwaukee is 4-0 ATS in its past four road games against teams with a winning home record. The “over” is 10-1-1 in Portland's past 12 at home against teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Blazers start to turn things around with a blowout victory even without Aldridge. Love the over.
Wizards at Kings (+2, 203)
Washington had one of its better wins of the season Sunday night, rallying from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat a streaking Nets team. Drew Gooden (!?!?) had 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. Not bad for a guy on his second 10-day contract. John Wall had 33 for Washington. The Wiz swept the Nets this year in a potential playoff preview. Sacramento lost 104-102 in Minnesota on Sunday night playing without star center DeMarcus Cousins. Apparently it was simply a day off for rest, which I'm sure the Timberwolves were more than grateful for. Cousins should be in there Tuesday.
Washington could be quite winded here as it's the Wizards' third game in five nights and had to fly out to the West Coast to begin a four-game trip. Washington beat visiting Sacramento 93-84 on Feb. 9. Cousins struggled, hitting just 3-of-16 from the field. The Wiz still had excellent post defender Nene then, however.
Key trends: The Kings are 10-3 ATS in their past 13 at home against teams with a winning road record. The under is 6-0 in Sacramento's past six overall.
Early lean: Sacramento if Cousins plays, but Wizards if for some reason he doesn't.
Magic at Warriors (TBA)
Golden State rallied from an 18-point third-quarter deficit Sunday night in Portland and won 113-112 thanks to Klay Thompson's go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.1 seconds left. He had 23 of his 27 points in the second half after missing the previous game to attend his grandfather's funeral. Backcourt mate Stephen Curry had 37 points. Orlando has been off since losing 105-101 in overtime at home to Washington on Friday. Center Nikola Vucevic twisted his ankle in that game, so monitor his status. He didn't practice Monday, thus no line. The Magic have lost five straight and 11 of 14.
On New Year's Eve, the Warriors won 94-81 in Orlando, victory No. 6 of their season-high 10-game winning streak. It was 26-15 after one quarter and never in doubt. Curry had only nine points but didn't even play the fourth quarter. Vucevic left the game midway through the first quarter with a finger injury and didn't return. No surprise then that the Magic were outrebounded 56-37.
Key trends: Orlando has covered once in its past 11 road games against teams with a winning home record. The under is 7-0 in Golden State's past seven Tuesday games.
Early lean: This could be a trap game for the Warriors off that big win against Portland, but the Magic are just putrid on the road so I still lean Golden State, especially if no Vucevic.
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