NBA Odds: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/22/2014
Is Wednesday night the first time in these playoffs that the home team wins every game? It hasn't happened yet entering Tuesday's action, but I believe it will on Wednesday. Here's a look at each postseason game on the schedule.
Bobcats at Heat (-10.5, 186)
No one really thought the Charlotte Bobcats had any shot of winning this series, if even a game, but now it's very unlikely. That's because by far Charlotte's best player, center Al Jefferson, suffered a plantar fasciitis injury in his left foot in the opener. I'm not going to go into what that is, but it's quite serious and extremely painful. Jefferson had two painkilling injections during Saturday's 98-88 loss in Miami just to stay in there. He says he will play Wednesday even though he's been in a walking boot since after Saturday's game and won't be practicing again. It's a darn shame because Jefferson was the one matchup problem for Miami. He averaged 25.3 points and 13.0 rebounds in three games this season against the Heat and was the only Eastern Conference player to average at least 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds this season. Jefferson looked dominant early in Saturday's game with eight first-quarter points before hearing a pop in his foot. He could barely move downcourt late in the game. Good luck working the pick-and-roll or chasing Chris Bosh around.
The Heat didn't turn it on until the fourth quarter Sunday, no doubt helped by a gimpy Jefferson. It was Miami's 17th straight win over the Bobcats. While Bosh didn't do much in the opener, Dwayne Wade looked great, hitting 10 of 16 shots for 23 points in 34 minutes. He looked very healthy. LeBron James was his typical self with 27 points and nine rebounds. The Heat turned the ball over only seven times.
Key trends: Miami has covered six of the past seven vs. Charlotte. The "over" is 4-0 in the past four meetings. The "under" is 6-1 in Miami's past seven after a win.
Sportsbook.ag updated series line: Heat -6000, Bobcats +2000
Early lean: Bobcats have to be deflated with the Jefferson injury, and the Heat want this over as quickly as possible to rest up for likely Brooklyn in the next round. Miami covers.
Mavericks at Spurs (-8, 198)
Dallas really blew a chance to have any shot to upset San Antonio in their Western Conference first-round series by losing Game 1 90-85 on Sunday. I say blew it because the Spurs did not play well. They were only 3-for-17 from 3-point range, got a scant 23 points from their bench and were down 10 points with a little under eight minutes left. However, the Mavericks managed just one field goal in the final seven minutes. It was San Antonio's 10th straight win over its in-state rivals. Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 27 points, and the team shot 50 percent from the field and was plus-24 when Duncan was on the court and shot 17.6 percent and was minus-19 when Duncan was on the bench. The Spurs have had some good news during the off days as well: Manu Ginobili welcomed another child, and Gregg Popovich deservingly won NBA Coach of the Year honors. He joins Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only coaches to win the award three times in their career. The Spurs have won 24 of 28 playoff series under him when taking Game 1.
The Mavericks aren't a good defensive team, so they have to outscore teams to win. They shot only 41.2 percent, and Dirk Nowitzki was just 4-for-14 from the field for 11 points. That tied for the most points among the starters. There was some talk the Mavs might start Devin Harris over Jose Calderon at the point for Game 2, but Rick Carlisle will stick with Calderon even though was largely invisible in 19 Game 1 minutes and Harris had 19 points off the bench.
Key trends: The road team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 6-1 in San Antonio's past seven after a win. The over is 8-0 in the Mavericks' past eight playing on two days of rest.
Sportsbook.ag updated series line: Spurs -1300, Mavericks +800
Early lean: Spurs take a 2-0 series lead, but the Mavericks cover. This game will be much higher scoring.
Trail Blazers at Rockets (-6, 214.5)
Sunday's Game 1 of the series between Portland and Houston was one of the best playoff games so far this decade -- easily. The Blazers won 122-120 in overtime in a truly entertaining game. No surprise these teams put up 242 points as they were among the scoring leaders in the NBA, and all four of their regular-season games went over. Most gave Houston the edge in this series because their all-stars, Dwight Howard and James Harden, were considered better than Portland's two, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. That wasn't the case in Game 1. Aldridge was a beast with a franchise playoff record 46 points and 18 rebounds, while Lillard had 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Lillard, in his playoff debut, took over when Aldridge fouled out with about a minute left in OT.
That play on which Aldridge was whistled for his sixth foul was nearly a disaster for Houston. Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley hurt his knee on the play, the same knee that caused him to miss a handful of games late in the season. But an MRI showed no new damage, and he should play. Beverley is a tremendous defensive player, and Lillard wasn't the same going against him. When Jeremy Lin was in there, Lillard couldn't be stopped. Howard and Harden certainly weren't bad, each with 27 points. Howard did foul out (questionably), and Harden missed shots on Houston's final two possessions of OT. The Rockets blew a 13-point lead with 10 minutes left. It's only the eighth time in the past 15 postseasons a team has lost with a 13 points lead and anywhere between 10-12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Key trends: Portland is 5-0 ATS in its past five road games. The Rockets are 3-9 ATS in their past 12 against teams with a winning record. The over is 8-0 in Portland's past eight against teams with a winning record. The over is 8-1 in Houston's past nine after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game. The over is 8-0 in the past eight meetings.
Sportsbook.ag updated series line: Blazers -135, Rockets +115
Early lean: I don't know why this total isn't in the 220s -- take advantage of that fact and lean over. I do believe Houston will cover as well but not as strongly as the total.
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