NBA Odds: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/18/2014
What's more fun to follow in the NBA these days: Which teams will get the top seeds in each conference or whether the Philadelphia 76ers will win again? Loss No. 22 in a row seems quite likely Wednesday night against Chicago. Here's a look at all of Wednesday's games by order of tipoff.
Bulls at 76ers (+13, 198)
I leaned Philly in Monday's game at Indiana as I didn't expect the Pacers to be all that interested, and they played like it in winning only 99-90 as 20-point favorites. That's little consolation for Philadelphia in its 21st straight loss, which set the franchise record. The Sixers are the seventh team in league history to lose at least 21 in a row. Sixers guard James Anderson missed the game with a thigh bruise and is questionable for this one. Chicago was soundly beaten at home 97-85 by the Thunder on Monday. Philly beat the Bulls back on Nov. 2, but go ahead and obviously throw that result out because of how bad the Sixers are now. On Jan. 18 in Chicago, the Bulls rolled 103-78 as an 8.5-point favorite. Chicago led by as many as 36 in the laugher. Overall Chicago has won nine of the past 10 regular-season meetings.
Key trends: Chicago is 5-0 ATS in its past five after a loss of at least 10 points. The Sixers are 0-7 ATS in their past seven after a win. The "under" is 4-0 in the Sixers' past four.
Early lean: This could be huge sandwich game for Chicago as it comes after Monday's big one with the Thunder and then at Indiana on Friday. Plus, the Bulls play these Sixers again Saturday. Take Philly and the under.
Heat at Celtics (+8, 199.5)
It's the second of a back-to-back for Miami after visiting Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Heat lost the last time in this situation, but it was in a slightly tougher environment: Houston. The C's lost in Dallas on Monday night and finished the season winless on the road against Western Conference teams for the first time ever. Boston has lost five straight overall. Rajon Rondo sat out Monday's game because it was the second in two nights but should play here. Of course, the Heat and Celtics used to be blood rivals, so it's somewhat interesting this could be the final time Miami's Big 3 visits Boston should LeBron James and/or Chris Bosh leave as a free agent after this season. The C's stunned the Heat in Miami early in the season, but the Heat won 93-86 on Jan. 21. This is the only game in Beantown between these two.
Key trends: Boston is 8-1 ATS in its past nine against the Eastern Conference. The "over" is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Boston should be competitive against a tired Heat team.
Bobcats at Nets (-6.5, 194)
Brooklyn bounced back from a loss in Washington on Sunday with a 108-95 home win over Phoenix on Monday, the Nets' ninth straight home victory. Deron Williams had his best game of the season, shooting 11-of-13 for 28 points. Kevin Garnett missed his ninth straight game with back spasms and won't play here. Charlotte didn't look good Monday in losing by 14 at home to Atlanta. The Hawks just own Charlotte, having won 11 straight against the Bobcats. Brooklyn and Charlotte have split two meetings, each winning at home. They last played Feb. 12 in Brooklyn, a 105-89 Nets victory. It was a tough second of a back-to-back for Charlotte, which hosted Dallas the night before.
Key trends: Brooklyn is 8-0 ATS in its past eight at home. The under is 5-0 in Charlotte's past five.
Early lean: Nets keep it going at home in what should be a very low-scoring game.
Jazz at Grizzlies (-10.5, 186)
Utah was blown off the court in Houston 124-86 on Monday despite the Rockets not having Dwight Howard. It was the Jazz's fifth straight loss. Marvin Williams moved back into the starting lineup for Utah with Enes Kanter back to the bench, but Williams had only five points. Memphis has been off since blowing out Philadelphia 103-77 on Saturday. It was the second-fewest points allowed this season by the Grizzlies. Memphis and Utah have met just once, a 104-94 Grizzlies victory on Dec. 23. Memphis has won four straight in the series at home.
Key trends: Utah is 1-5 ATS in its past six on the road. The over is 6-0 in Memphis' past six at home.
Early lean: The Grizzlies have won eight straight at home and should easily cover here.
Raptors at Pelicans (+2.5, 195)
The second of a back-to-back for Toronto as it visited Atlanta on Tuesday night. The Raptors have lost their past two games in the second in two nights. Patrick Patterson didn't play Tuesday and won't in this one, either. New Orleans has been off since beating visiting Boston 121-120 in overtime Sunday behind Anthony Davis' career-best game. He finished with 40 points and 21 rebounds. He was the fourth-youngest player in NBA history with a 40/20 game. Toronto beat visiting New Orleans 108-101 on Feb. 10. The Raptors have won five straight and seven of eight in the series.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-4 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 5-1 in New Orleans' past five at home.
Early lean: Davis is going to win an MVP Award in the next few years and will lead a win here.
Pacers at Knicks (+4.5, 195)
Is New York's six-game winning streak for real? That's debatable for sure as the Knicks have beaten the Timberwolves, Jazz, Cavaliers, 76ers, Celtics and Bucks. I guess it is impressive that all have been by double-digits. New York certainly will have fresh legs here as it has been off since Saturday's rout of Milwaukee. Tyson Chandler left the Knicks on Monday to continue dealing with a personal issue, but he's expected to rejoin the team in time for this one. Indiana will be without two key bench players: center Andrew Bynum (knee) and guard C.J. Watson (hamstring). Indiana is 2-0 against New York this year, covering both, but the teams haven't met in two months.
Key trends: Indiana has covered once in its past 10 against Eastern Conference teams. The over is 5-1 in the Knicks' past six at home.
Early lean: Phil Jackson was officially unveiled as New York's new boss on Tuesday, and I think that actually gives the Knicks a mini-boost. They win.
Timberwolves at Mavericks (TBA)
Minnesota has alternated wins and losses over its past seven, meaning it's due a loss here as the Wolves beat Sacramento 104-102 on Sunday. Center Nikola Pekovic missed that one with an ankle injury and isn't expected to play in this one (thus no opening line). That means rookie Gorgui Dieng could get another start. He was very good against the Kings with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Dallas has won three straight and five of six and still has hopes of climbing as high as the No. 5 seed in the West. The Wolves lead the season series 2-1 and have won six of the past 10 against Dallas.
Key trends: Minnesota is 0-4 ATS in its past four games. The under is 4-0 in Dallas' past four home games against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Mavs are playing some of their best ball and will cover.
Pistons at Nuggets (-6, 219.5)
I wouldn't be surprised if the Pistons are ready to mail it in on the season, especially after blowing a 25-point lead in Saturday's overtime home loss to Indiana. The future of the franchise, Andre Drummond, was hurt in a scary collision in that one and taken to the hospital with a neck injury. It's nothing serious, but he won't play here. He's averaging 13.1 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. Detroit brings a 10-game road skid into this one, and the Pistons are 2-14 in their past 16 on the road overall. The Pistons beat visiting Denver 126-109 on Feb. 8. Brandon Jennings led the Pistons with a season-high 35 points. Randy Foye led the Nuggets with 25 points. Detroit has lost four consecutive road games to the Nuggets, however. Denver is playing better, winning three of four. It ended the Clippers' 11-game winning streak Monday.
Key trends: Detroit has covered one of its past 10 Wednesday games. The over is 7-1 in the Nuggets' past eight against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: With no Drummond in there, this should be a Denver rout.
Magic at Suns (TBA)
Orlando is in full tank mode, having lost five straight entering Tuesday night's trip to Golden State, which almost certainly will be No. 6. There's no line here because Magic center Nikola Vucevic may not play Tuesday with an ankle injury and thus could be iffy here. The Suns have lost four of six as they try to hang around the Western Conference playoff chase. Phoenix has been pretty bad defensively of late, allowing at least 108 points in six of the past seven games. Orlando lost 104-96 at home to Phoenix on Nov. 24. That was interesting because Phoenix was 1-for-3 from the free-throw line, becoming the first team since 1977 to win while making just one free throw. Eric Bledsoe, whom the Magic almost acquired this offseason before the Suns got him from the Clippers, missed that game with an injury.
Key trends: The Suns are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 against teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in Orlando's past five in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Always take the team with something to play for against one with nothing, especially when that club is playing its second game in 24 hours.
Spurs at Lakers (+13.5, 221.5)
The Spurs are getting into playoff mode in having won 10 straight games, now the longest active streak in the NBA. The last three have been blowout victories. San Antonio leads the season series 2-0 and has held the Lakers to 85 points in each. L.A. hasn't played since last Friday's 119-85 blowout in San Antonio, the Spurs' largest-ever win against the Lakers. How bad was it? Five Spurs reserves scored in double-figures because the starters barely played. That loss for Los Angeles came the night after a 29-point loss in Oklahoma City. The Lakers could get back Nick Young for this game but likely won't have Jordan Farmar or Jordan Hill.
Key trends: San Antonio is 5-1 ATS in its past six road games, and the over is 7-1 in San Antonio's past eight on the road.
Early lean: This might be a trap game for some teams, but the Spurs are too well-coached. They have covered five of the past six meetings and will again.
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