NBA Odds: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/8/2014
It's the penultimate Wednesday of the regular season, and that means an ESPN doubleheader for your live betting: Heat at Grizzlies and Thunder at Clippers. Here's a look at every game on the schedule in order of tipoff.
Pistons at Cavaliers (-5, 206.5)
Things could really melt down in Cleveland this week. Already you have Kyrie Irving and Browns receiver Josh Gordon trading barbs in the media. It's so clear that Irving doesn't want to play in Cleveland that the team almost has to consider trading him this offseason. The Cavs' loss in Atlanta on Friday all but ended their season, and they predictably followed it up with a home overtime loss to Charlotte (as projected here). This is a dysfunctional, unhappy bunch, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Cavs play like crap in the season's final few games. The Pistons played in Atlanta on Tuesday night. Cleveland leads the season series 2-1, but both Pistons losses were down to the wire.
Key trends: The Pistons are 5-0 in the past five meetings in Cleveland. The "under" is 7-0 in Cleveland's past seven against the Central Division.
Early lean: Even on the second of a back-to-back I believe the Pistons not only cover but likely win.
Nets at Magic (TBA)
This is the absolute definition of a trap game for Brooklyn as the Nets went for the season sweep in Miami on Tuesday night. Do you really think they will have anything left in the tank for this game? It wouldn't surprise me if a key Net or two doesn't play, really. One guy who apparently will is Kevin Garnett, although probably not more than 15-20 minutes. He's back playing but didn't Tuesday as the team doesn't want him playing back-to-backs. Brooklyn didn't want to risk further injury in a heated game against Miami. The Magic actually have won three of their past five at home, beating solid teams Portland, Charlotte and Minnesota. Orlando center Nikola Vucevic looks as if he will play after missing the past two.
Key trends: Orlando is 9-2 ATS in its past 11 home games against teams with a losing road record. The under is 6-0-1 in the Nets' past seven against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: An outright Magic victory.
76ers at Raptors (TBA)
This is still a very important game for the Raptors as they battle Chicago for the Eastern Conference's third seed. Toronto has won three straight and scored at least 102 in all three. That's somewhat rare for this team. Toronto starting guard Kyle Lowry and forward Amir Johnson are both questionable to return for this one. They did practice Tuesday. Perhaps the Raptors give them one more game off in assuming they can beat Philly without them. Center Jonas Valanciunas, who is really playing well, will be in the lineup despite a DUI arrest on Monday. The Raptors lead the season series 3-0, winning by an average of nine points.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-0 in the past six meetings. The under has hit in 12 of Philly's past 15 against teams with a winning home record.
Early lean: Wait on Lowry.
Bobcats at Wizards (-5, 194.5)
This could be a hangover game for Charlotte as it's the Bobcats' first since clinching a playoff spot with Sunday's overtime home win over Cleveland. It's only the second playoff berth in Bobcats history. However, this team plays hard just about every night for Steve Clifford and should here because potentially the No. 6 seed is on the line. Washington leads the Bobcats by a game for that spot. It looks like Nene could make his return from knee surgery for Washington, but swingman Trevor Ariza is questionable with the flu.
Key trends: Charlotte is 5-1 ATS in its past six road games. The under is 7-1 in Washington's past eight overall.
Early lean: Like the under more than any side.
Celtics at Hawks (-8, 203.5)
Atlanta's magic number was three for clinching a playoff spot heading into its home game against the Pistons on Tuesday, so any combination of Hawks wins or Knicks losses that equals three. New York doesn't play again until Friday, so that's the earliest day the Hawks can clinch. Hawks star Paul Millsap did start Tuesday vs. Detroit despite a thumb injury. Sixth man Lou Williams sat out with a sore hamstring. Boston has lost eight straight, and it appears the losing is already getting to rookie coach Brad Stevens. The C's should get Avery Bradley back for this one but won't have Kris Humphries (if that matters).
Key trends: The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The Hawks are 0-8 ATS in their past Wednesday games. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Atlanta.
Early lean: Wait on Atlanta's result Tuesday. A loss would make the Hawks more desperate here.
Heat at Grizzlies (TBA)
Wicked back-to-back for the Heat after they probably go all out to avoid a season sweep to Brooklyn on Tuesday night. As usual there is the Dwyane Wade question here. It would be an upset if he plays against Memphis. The Grizzlies absolutely need this, entering Tuesday ninth in the West, a game behind Phoenix. They were routed by 20 in San Antonio on Sunday and have lost four of six, allowing triple-digit points in all of the defeats. That's abnormal for this defense-first club. Memphis lost 91-86 in Miami on March 21.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 0-7 ATS in their past seven games. The under is 10-4 in Memphis' past 14 overall.
Early lean: Memphis will win outright, and this will stay under whatever number.
Pacers at Bucks (+8, 186)
I'm very serious here: Should Indiana somehow manage to lose to the worst team in the NBA in Milwaukee, Larry Bird absolutely has to fire Coach Frank Vogel and move down from the front office to the bench. There's really no precedent for this type of late-season fade as Indiana is putting on right now. The good news is the top seed in the East is still possible. Let's see if Vogel starts Roy Hibbert after he was benched the entire second half of Sunday's inexplicable home blowout loss to Atlanta. There was talk Tuesday afternoon that both Paul George and David West will get this game off for rest. Indiana is 3-0 vs. Milwaukee, with just one game decided by less than 10 points.
Key trends: The Pacers are 1-10 ATS in their past 11 following a loss of at least 10 points. The "over" is 6-0 in Indiana's past six following a double-digit loss at home. The home team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Bucks cover as the Pacers are a mess.
Bulls at Timberwolves (+2, 194)
Minnesota played at home against San Antonio on Tuesday, and it looks like guys such as Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger are done for the season. The Bulls will happily take that as they badly want the No. 3 seed in the East and need a win. Chicago has won five straight and seven of eight. The Bulls played one of their best road games of the season last time out, winning by 18 in Washington on Saturday.
Key trends: Minnesota is 3-13 ATS in its past 16 in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 6-2 in Chicago's past eight against teams from the Western Conference.
Early lean: Battered and tired Wolves won't put up much of a fight.
Suns at Pelicans (TBA)
This is a game Phoenix can't afford to lose with Memphis hot on its tail for the West's final playoff spot. It has the potential to be a trap game with Phoenix coming off a big home win over Oklahoma City on Sunday and traveling to San Antonio in a possible first-round preview on Friday. The Pelicans were competitive there for a while as Anthony Davis went nuts. However, he has been bothered by back spasms recently and hasn't looked the same. I'm not even sure why the team continues to play him. There's a chance he doesn't here as Davis is questionable (thus TBA). Phoenix has won all three previous meetings.
Key trends: The Suns are 5-1 ATS in their past six after a win. The over is 7-1 In New Orleans' past eight home games.
Early lean: Neither team is very good on defense, so this should cruise by the over.
Rockets at Nuggets (+5, 224)
Houston played at the L.A. Lakers on Tuesday night, and it's always tough playing in the thin air of Denver in the second of a back-to-back. Dwight Howard didn't play against L.A. and thus is unlikely to here. Denver played at Houston on Sunday without its best player, Ty Lawson, and lost 130-125 in overtime. Aaron Brooks was great in his place with 24 points and 15 assists in 47 minutes. The Nuggets rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit and then blew a late eight-point lead late in regulation. Lawson is likely out again.
Key trends: Houston is 1-6 ATS in its past seven road games against teams with a winning home record. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: This should be another offensive orgy.
Kings at Blazers (TBA)
Sacramento hosted the Thunder on Tuesday night once again without starting point guard Isaiah Thomas. It's also possible that Rudy Gay would miss that game and/or this one. His wife is due to give birth any day now, and he already has gotten permission to leave the team to be there when it's imminent. Portland still has an outside shot of catching Houston for the No. 4 seed in the West. The Blazers have won five of six overall. They are 2-1 against the Kings this season, but the teams haven't played since early January.
Key trends: The Kings are 1-4 ATS in their past five in Portland. The under is 9-1-1 in the Blazers' past 11 at home against teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Should be a Portland rout.
Thunder at Clippers (TBA)
This may be for the No. 2 seed in the West and home-court advantage against one another in the conference semifinals. Thus, I fully expect that OKC sat Russell Westbrook for Tuesday's game in Sacramento so he can play in this one. The Clippers may not have Matt Barnes after he missed practice Tuesday with an illness and for sure won't have Jamal Crawford, who probably sits until the postseason begins. That means more minutes for J.J. Redick, who is back in the starting lineup, and Darren Collison. L.A. leads the season series 2-1.
Key trends: OKC is 1-4 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: The over regardless of the number. The side very much depends on what the Thunder do Tuesday.
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