NBA Odds: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/1/2014
You know that the Brooklyn Nets would love nothing more than to help ensure that the New York Knicks don't make the playoffs. Well, at least Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov certainly would love nothing more than that. The Nets can put a big dent in New York's postseason hopes with a win Wednesday in the lone national TV game (ESPN) of the night. Here is a look at all of Wednesday's games in order of tipoff.
Pistons at Pacers (-10, 191)
It would be just like the Pistons to win a game like this a few days after being humiliated in a 25-point loss at Philadelphia on Saturday to end the Sixers' losing streak at 26 games. Of course, losing this one by 40 would also be very Pistons-like. Detroit has played the Pacers tough, winning one of three and sending one of the losses into OT. That was the game in which Indiana rallied from 25 points down. Indiana has to be feeling pretty desperate after getting blown out at home by San Antonio on Monday and now slipping behind Miami for the top seed in the East. The Pacers were the worst offensive team in the NBA in March and were just 8-9.
Key trends: Indiana is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The "under" is 7-0 in the Pacers' past seven at home.
Early lean: If Indiana has any team leaders, they better step up now. I think this will be a rout, but if the Pacers lose this, too, then things could really implode.
Nets at Knicks (-2.5, 196.5)
New York is now only a game behind Atlanta for that No. 8 spot, although the Hawks' schedule looks easier the rest of the way. New York won the final two games on its five-game Western Conference road trip but may not have Tim Hardaway Jr. for this game. It's the second of a back-to-back for the Nets as they had to host Houston on Tuesday. Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Garnett and Marcus Thornton all were unlikely to play in that one and probably all miss this one. KG will for sure. Brooklyn and New York have split two meetings, each winning on the road in a blowout.
Key trends: The Knicks are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 home games against teams with a losing road record. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings at the Knicks.
Early lean: New York is healthier and hungrier.
Cavaliers at Magic (TBA)
Cleveland is three games behind Atlanta, meaning the Cavaliers, who have won four of five, probably have to win out to have a shot. They do play in Atlanta on Friday. The good news is that Kyrie Irving could return from his biceps injury as early as this game in Orlando (thus no line until his status is cleared). However, injury-prone Anderson Varejao is hurt again and might be done for the season. Cleveland leads the season series 3-0.
Key trends: Cleveland is 6-0-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 7-1 in Orlando's past eight at home against teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Cavs have to have it and will get it.
Bobcats at 76ers (+8, 204)
Philly couldn't build off Saturday's blowout home win over Detroit as the Sixers returned to form with an eight-point loss in Atlanta on Monday. Charlotte will make the playoffs, but the team would badly like to finish with a winning record for the first time in years. This would be a game the Bobcats need to win then, and the remaining schedule is quite easy. Al Jefferson had to get seven stitches during Monday's win over Washington but should be fine to play. Philadelphia and Charlotte have split two meetings. The Bobcats haven't seen the stripped-down Sixers (i.e. post trade deadline) yet, however.
Key trends: Philadelphia is 8-0 ATS in it past eight against the Eastern Conference. The under is 5-1 in Charlotte's past five against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: The under seems like all but a sure thing.
Rockets at Raptors (TBA)
Dwight Howard sat out Tuesday's game in Brooklyn for Houston, and so did Patrick Beverley. Terrence Jones was game-time call with the flu. The Raptors lost by 10 in Miami on Monday to see a three-game winning streak end. Worse, Kyle Lowry hurt his knee in that one. X-rays were negative, but he's unlikely to play in this one. Toronto lost 110-104 in double overtime at Houston on Nov. 11. Jeremy Lin had one of his best games of the year with 31 points, while Howard had 18 points and 24 boards. Rudy Gay took a fairly incredible 37 shots for the Raptors and made only 11.
Key trends: Toronto is 4-0 ATS in its past four at home against teams with a winning road record. The over is 7-1 in Houston's past eight overall entering Tuesday.
Early lean: Battered and tired Rockets won't put up much of a fight.
Celtics at Wizards (-8, 195)
Washington's two-game winning streak ended Monday in Charlotte. The Wiz are counting the days until Nene returns from his knee injury. It's not likely to be here but perhaps by the weekend. The Celtics are likely to be without starting guard and defensive dynamo Avery Bradley for this one. Rajon Rondo sat out Monday's game, but that was planned rest and he should be in the lineup. Boston and Washington have each won on the other's court this season. The Wizards haven't seen Boston with Rondo yet.
Key trends: Washington is 1-7 ATS in its past eight against teams with a losing record. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: The Celtics have officially mailed it in for 2014, so Wizards should win handily.
Bulls at Hawks (+2, 187.5)
Chicago will be sad to see Boston go as the Bulls beat the C's in a home-and-home on Sunday and Monday. They are 10 games over .500 for the first time this season and looking in good shape to snag the No. 4 seed in the East. Atlanta's Kyle Korver returned from a six-game injury absence in Monday's 103-95 win over the Sixers that ended the Hawks' six-game skid and kept them a game up on the Knicks for the No. 8 seed. Chicago leads the season series 3-0.
Key trends: The Bulls are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-1 in the past eight.
Early lean: Chicago usually fares well against Atlanta because the Bulls play so hard and the Hawks always don't. However, I think they do in this game and cover if not win outright.
Bucks at Heat (TBA)
Milwaukee is doing everything in its power to stay ahead of Philadelphia for the worst record in the NBA. I'd be somewhat surprised if the Bucks win again this season to thus finish 14-68. This might be a trap game in some regards for Miami, but now that the Heat have the top spot in the East, I don't think they will want to lose that. Sometimes any little motivation helps against such a bad team like Milwaukee. The question is whether Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen play here. I lean no on Wade because the Heat can win without him. Allen's issue is just a stomach bug, so he could. Miami has blown out Milwaukee twice, including 88-67 in Wisconsin on Saturday when Wade, Allen and Mario Chalmers all sat out.
Key trends: The Bucks are 7-0 ATS in their past seven road games against teams with a winning record. The over has hit just once in the past nine meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Wade, but I expect this will be monstrous, so I'd lean Milwaukee to cover.
Grizzlies at Timberwolves (+4, 198)
Remember when Ricky Rubio was supposed to be a star? He just hasn't been the same since that knee injury. It's too bad. The Wolves are now playing out the string here. They probably won't have center Nikola Pekovic against Memphis as he left Monday's loss to the Clippers with ankle pain. I'm guessing he'll just be shut down. I wonder if Kevin Love will be too at some point. Memphis leads the season series 2-1. The Grizzlies played last on March 24, a 17-point Grizzlies home victory. It was the second of a back-to-back for the Wolves, and they looked tired, falling behind by double digits barely three minutes in.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 6-0 in the past six at Minnesota.
Early lean: Grizzlies are still fighting for their lives and will win going away.
Warriors at Spurs (TBA)
Be warned here that San Antonio plays Thursday night in Oklahoma City, so it seems likely a key Spur or two or three could sit here. I wouldn't think Gregg Popovich would do it against the Thunder as San Antonio could all but wrap up the West's top seed with a win. Also, the Warriors played in Dallas on Tuesday night and were without both David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Lee could play in San Antonio, but Bogut won't.
Key trends: The under is 5-0 in Golden State's past five in the second of a back-to-back. San Antonio is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Early lean: No opinion yet but could Spurs be caught looking ahead to Thursday?
Pelicans at Nuggets (-4, 210.5)
Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence (ankle) in Monday's 102-97 loss to the Kings, but he didn't look 100 percent. Don't be surprised if the Pelicans rest him in some road games the rest of the way to keep their franchise player sound. Denver has lost four straight and probably won't have forward Wilson Chandler for a sixth straight game. New Orleans leads the series 2-1 but lost the lone trip to Denver back in mid-December.
Key trends: The home team has covered eight straight meetings. The over is 8-2 in New Orleans' past 10 overall.
Early lean: I'll stick with the home trend.
Clippers at Suns (-1.5, 215)
The big question here is whether the Clippers will have Blake Griffin. He missed Monday's 114-104 win over Minnesota with lower back spasms. It's doubtful he plays. Ditto Jamal Crawford with a sore left Achilles'. Los Angeles has won the past two with Phoenix after getting blown out at home by the Suns on Dec. 30.
Key trends: The under is 6-0 in the past six meetings in Phoenix. Suns are 11-1 ATS in their past 12 after a loss of at least 10 points.
Early lean: Phoenix has to have this, especially after a bad loss at the Lakers on Sunday. No Griffin should lead to a Suns win.
Lakers at Kings (TBA)
It's the second of a back-to-back for L.A. as it hosted Portland on Tuesday, and half the team is nursing injuries and questionable for Tuesday, so there won't be a line here until Wednesday morning. The Kings probably will be without starting guard Isaiah Thomas for a fifth straight game. Here's why I don't get the Kings: They have by far more talent than the Lakers yet are 0-3 against them this season. DeMarcus Cousins missed the most recent matchup, a 126-122 home Lakers victory on Feb. 28 when they made a franchise-record 19 3-pointers.
Key trends: Lakers are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-1 in Sacramento's past seven against the West.
Early lean: Kings at least have the motivation of avoiding a sweep, and that should be enough to rout a tired Lakers squad.
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