NBA Odds: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/25/2014
The Miami Heat don't get too worked up about many regular-season games, but you can be sure they will Wednesday night in their final visit of the regular season to Indiana with the top seed in the conference perhaps hanging in the balance. Here's a look at every game Wednesday in order of tipoff.
Nets at Bobcats ("pick'em," 194)
Brooklyn blew a game Monday night as the Nets were up 22 in the third quarter in New Orleans but fell 109-104 in overtime. It ended the Nets' four-game winning streak and cost them a chance to get within a game of Toronto for the Atlantic Division lead. Brooklyn played without Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko. KG won't play Wednesday but Kirilenko might. Charlotte lost 100-89 to visiting Houston on Monday for its third defeat in the past four. Brooklyn lost its first visit of the season in Charlotte 95-91 on Nov. 20. The Nets beat Charlotte in both its trips to Brooklyn. They played last Wednesday, a 104-99 Nets victory. Brooklyn had only seven turnovers, tied for its fewest this season.
Key trends: The Bobcats are 4-0 ATS in their past four after a loss and have covered 10 of their past 12 at home. The "over" hasn't hit in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Charlotte a solid home team and shouldn't lose another. Under for sure.
Suns at Wizards (-1, 210)
Phoenix is playing better at just the right time and has re-taken the No. 8 playoff spot in the West. It has won four straight and six of seven. The last two have been on the road: Minnesota and Atlanta. The Wiz completed a four-game road trip at 1-3 with a 105-102 loss in Denver on Sunday. John Wall had a season-high eight turnovers. Washington won in Phoenix 101-95 on Jan. 24 as a 3.5-point underdog. That was likely a major letdown game for the Suns as it came 48 hours after blowing out Indiana. Phoenix coughed it up 21 times against the Wizards and was killed on the boards. Wall had 18 points and 12 assists.
Key trends: Phoenix is 5-1 ATS in its past six against teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0 in Washington's past five against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: I'm going against both trends and taking Washington and the "over".
Raptors at Celtics (+3, 194.5)
The Raptors played in Cleveland on Tuesday night looking for a season sweep. They remain without sixth man Patrick Patterson, who is hoping to get back early next week. Boston has been off since a 114-98 loss at Brooklyn on Friday, the team's sixth loss in the past seven games. It has topped 100 points in only two of those. These teams, which play again Friday in Toronto, have split two meetings, each winning at home. They haven't played since Jan. 15.
Key trends: Toronto is 0-8-1 ATS in its past nine in Boston. The over is 7-0 in the Raptors' past seven in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Well-rested Celtics will cover a defensive battle.
Cavaliers at Pistons (-6, 205)
Let's call this one the Disappointment Bowl as both clubs expected to be in the playoffs this year. The Cavaliers, again without Kyrie Irving, hosted Toronto on Tuesday night off a big win Sunday at the Knicks. Detroit beat Utah 114-94 in Salt Lake City on Monday, shooting a season-high 55 percent. Andre Drummond had 19 points and 14 rebounds as Detroit ended a 14-game road skid. This is the third of four meetings, with each team winning on the road thus far.
Key trends: The Cavaliers are 1-8 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over is 10-2 in Detroit's past 12 Wednesday games.
Early lean: As long as the Pistons aren't looking forward to Friday's game against Miami they should cover here.
Hawks at Timberwolves (TBA)
Atlanta is keeping the Knicks in the playoff race as the Hawks have lost three straight. They played Monday without sharpshooter Kyle Korver for the third straight game, and he's not going to play in this one. The Wolves also have dropped three straight, falling 102-92 in Memphis on Monday. Starting center Nikola Pekovic sat with an ankle injury and is questionable. Atlanta beat visiting Minnesota 120-113 on Feb. 1 as a three-point favorite and then promptly went on an eight-game losing streak and hasn't been back above .500 since. The Hawks outscored the Wolves by 17 in the third quarter. Kevin Love had 43 points and 19 rebounds for Minnesota. He became only the second player in the past 25 years with multiple 40-point, 15-rebound games on the road in a season.
Key trends: Atlanta has covered just two of its past 13 road games. The under is 7-1 in Minnesota's past eight home games against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Minnesota's playoff hopes are all but officially over, but it should roll the Hawks here while the Wolves still care a little.
Clippers at Pelicans (TBA)
The Clips beat visiting Milwaukee 106-98 on Monday night for its second straight win after having an 11-game winning streak snapped. Blake Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds, his 29th straight game with at least 20 points. Keep an eye on J.J. Redick's status for this one as he's getting closer to a return for L.A. New Orleans rallied from a 22-point third-quarter deficit to beat Brooklyn 109-104 in overtime on Monday. Tyreke Evans had a season-high 33. Starting guard Eric Gordon missed his second straight game with a knee injury but could return Wednesday. Los Angeles is going for the four-game sweep, and all three have been decided by at least 13 points. They last met March 1, a 32-point Clipper home blowout. Anthony Davis was largely a non-factor after picking up three fouls in his first seven minutes. The Pelicans were 3-for-22 from long range. Los Angeles has won nine of its last 12 meetings with New Orleans.
Key trends: The under has hit in 10 of the Clippers' past 12 games. New Orleans is 5-1 ATS in its past six after a win.
Early lean: New Orleans isn't a pushover at home, but the Clippers are still playing for postseason seeding and should cover anything under -6.
Heat at Pacers (TBA)
Miami could close to within one game of the Eastern Conference lead and tie Indiana in the loss column with a victory here. The Pacers don't look right, having lost three of four. They haven't scored 100 points in five straight games and haven't topped 77 in the past two. Miami and Indiana have split the past 12 meetings, including playoffs, with the statistics nearly mirror images. I expect Dwyane Wade to play for the Heat after he sat out Monday's win over Portland but practiced Tuesday There won't be a line until that is official. How have these teams not played since mid-December? They each won low-scoring games at home against one another in the span of eight days back then. Indiana has won four straight regular-season home games in this series.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six. The under is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Only because it's home I lean the Pacers -- they better win or a crisis of confidence will ensue. Hard to imagine the total going over even though it will be low.
Nuggets at Spurs (-13, 216.5)
Denver was no match in Oklahoma City on Monday, losing by 18. Both Wilson Chandler and Jan Vesely, who was actually going to start playing decent minutes with J.J. Hickson's season-ending injury, missed the game and both are iffy here. San Antonio continues to amaze as it beat the 76ers by 22 on Monday for its 14th straight win, the longest ever under Gregg Popovich. He rested Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green against the sad Sixers, but all three are expected to play here. Monday was the first-ever meeting in league history between a team on a 10+ game win streak vs. a team on a 20+ game losing streak. In a scheduling oddity, these clubs haven't met since Nov. 5 in Denver, where the Spurs won 102-94.
Key trends: The Spurs are 10-1 ATS in their past 11. The under is 8-3 in Denver's past 11 following a loss.
Early lean: San Antonio keeps rolling, but it wouldn't shock me if it then lost Friday in Denver.
Knicks at Kings (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for New York after it visited a short-handed Lakers team on Tuesday night, and really both are must wins. The Knicks are 10-15 all time at Sleep Train Arena. Sacramento beat Milwaukee 124-107 on Sunday for its second win in the past three. The Kings' big three of DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay combined for 86 points. Gay played through a stomach bug while Cousins suffered a bloody nose. Thomas is questionable for Wednesday with a right quad contusion. New York had another one of those games in which it will be kicking itself after the season should it miss the playoffs when the Kings visited the Garden on Feb. 12 and won 106-101 in overtime. Gay hit the tying 3-pointer in regulation and gave the Kings the lead for good in OT. Jimmer Fredette actually had 24 points. The Kings didn't have Cousins late in the game as he limped off with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation. Carmelo Anthony had 36 points but none in OT and missed the potential winner at the end of regulation.
Key trends: New York is 2-5 ATS in its past seven in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 11-4 in the Kings' past 15 against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Sacramento deals the tired Knicks another crushing loss.
Grizzlies at Jazz (+7.5, 185)
No Western conference team will want to face Memphis in the playoffs as that defense is humming. The Grizz have held five straight opponents to 92 points or less, winning four of them in blowout fashion, and no one has scored 100 on them since March 5. Swingman Tony Allen missed Monday's win over Minnesota with a stomach bug but should return. Utah has dropped eight of 10 to sink to the bottom of the West again. Guard Alec Burks (14.4 ppg) has missed the past two games with an ankle injury and is doubtful. Memphis goes for the season sweep. The teams played last Wednesday with Memphis winning 96-86 at home. The Jazz never led. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 41 points and 21 rebounds.
Key trends: Memphis is 9-2 ATS in its past 11 road games against teams with a losing home record. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings in Utah.
Early lean: Grizzlies won't overlook the Jazz to kick off a tough five-game trip.
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