NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, April 3 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/2/2015
Somewhat of an unusual schedule on a pretty busy Friday as only one game features two teams that for sure will make the playoffs: Thunder at Grizzlies in the first game of ESPN's doubleheader. The Thunder haven't clinched a spot yet, but it's probably only a matter of time -- although New Orleans still might have something to say about that. Memphis entered play Thursday tied with Houston (which was in Dallas on Thursday night) for the Southwest Division lead, and the winner of that probably gets the No. 2 seed in the West. Here's a look at every game Friday, with Blazers-Lakers also on ESPN.
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Hornets at Pacers (-4, 192)
Charlotte 100 percent couldn't lose Wednesday at home to Detroit and didn't, rolling to a 102-78 victory. Before the game, Hornets center Al Jefferson had his right knee drained for the third time in eight days but decided to play. He finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Coach Steve Clifford said Jefferson nearly sat out. I'm sure if the game meant nothing he would have. Lance Stephenson was benched a second straight game, and Clifford says Stephenson just doesn't "fit" right now. Indiana's playoff hopes are just about gone after a second straight loss Wednesday, this time 100-87 in Boston. Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles both played through injuries and combined for 28 points. They aren't 100 percent by any stretch. Indiana leads the season series 2-1. The Pacers defeated the Hornets 88-86 on Nov. 19 in Indianapolis and 103-102 on Feb. 8 in Charlotte. The Hornets defeated the Pacers 80-71 in overtime on Jan. 17 in Charlotte.
Key trends: The Hornets are 4-0-1 against the spread in the past five meetings. The " under" has hit in five of the past six meetings in Indiana.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Knicks at Wizards (-15, 191)
New York lost an eighth straight Wednesday but at least tried this time, falling 100-98 at home to Brooklyn. Rookie Cleanthony Early missed a 3-pointer that would have won it on the Knicks' final possession. Washington beat visiting Philly 106-93 on Wednesday. Otto Porter started in place of Paul Pierce (rest) and finished with 15 points. Forward Kris Humphries was back after missing 16 games. Washington swept last season's series and is going for the same in this one, meaning the Wizards have won six straight overall against New York. Two of those six have come in Washington. John Wall is averaging 17.7 points and .8.7 assists in this season's three games.
Key trends: The road team is 5-0 ATS in the past five. The over is 7-1 in Washington's past eight at home.
Early lean: Knicks and under.
Bucks at Celtics (-5.5, 193.5)
Milwaukee surprised Chicago 95-91 on Wednesday to avoid the season sweep. Didn't see that coming. Michael Carter-Williams had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Bucks ended a nine-game home losing streak in the series. The previous time Milwaukee won a home game against Chicago was Feb. 26, 2011. Boston won a second straight Wednesday, 100-87 over Indiana. Google "Kelly Olynyk eye" and you will see his ghastly bruised left eye suffered when teammate Shavlik Randolph elbowed him accidentally earlier in the day. I'm not sure how Olynyk could see, but he finished with 19 points. These teams have played only once but will close the regular season against one another. The Bucks won at home 96-93 over Boston on Feb. 7. Ex-Buck Brandon Knight was the star of that with 26 points and the key jumper with 6.7 seconds left.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 8-3 in the past 11.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Raptors at Nets (-2, 205)
Toronto won a third straight Wednesday, 113-99 at Minnesota. Six Raptors scored at least 13, and Toronto shot 55.3 percent from the field. All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry missed a fourth straight game with a back injury and is almost surely not going to play against Brooklyn. The Nets won a fifth straight Wednesday in edging the Knicks on a Brook Lopez tip-in rebound with two seconds left. Brooklyn had blown a 16-point lead to the NBA's worst team. Lopez finished with 18 points on his birthday. Toronto leads the season series 2-1 and won in Brooklyn 127-122 in overtime on Jan. 30. Jarrett Jack scored a career-high 35 points while playing 52 minutes for the Nets and had 13 assists and eight rebounds. Amir Johnson made the tying dunk late in regulation for the Raptors and the tiebreaking basket late in OT.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight in Brooklyn.
Early lean: Nets and over.
Pistons at Bulls (-8.5, 195)
Chicago's three-game winning streak ended 95-91 in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Jimmy Butler had 25 points and seven rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the Bulls' seven-game winning streak in the series ended and it dropped Chicago into a tie for the No. 3 seed with Toronto. Bulls backup guard Kirk Hinrich left with an injury, so he's probably out Friday. Detroit lost 102-78 in Charlotte on Wednesday as star center Andre Drummond battled foul trouble. Greg Monroe missed yet another game for the Pistons. Chicago won the first meeting at home very early in the season but has lost the past two in Detroit. The Pistons look to win the season series for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
Key trends: The Pistons are 4-1 ATS in their past five in Chicago. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings overall.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Thunder at Grizzlies (TBA)
Oklahoma City lost a wild game 135-131 at home to Dallas on Wednesday. How wild? Russell Westbrook had his 10th triple-double of the season with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and Anthony Morrow added 32 points and Enes Kanter 30. The Thunder became the first team to lose with three players scoring at least 30 since Portland lost to Phoenix in four overtimes in 1997. Memphis has been off since ending a three-game losing streak with a 97-83 home win over the Kings on Monday. Guard Tony Allen missed a second straight game with a left hamstring injury and probably won't play here. Zach Randolph injured his elbow late in the game, but it doesn't seem serious (but why TBA). Memphis leads the series 2-1 and won the home game 85-74 at the end of January.
Key trends: The home team has covered the past four meetings. The over is 9-2 in OKC's past 11 on the road.
Early lean: Wait on Randolph. Grizzlies win if he plays.
Magic at Timberwolves (TBA)
Minnesota lost a fifth straight, fourth in a row by double digits, 113-99 at home to Toronto on Wednesday. The Wolves are so injury-riddled right now they started three rookies and two players the team picked up off waivers during the season. It actually looks possible for Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin to return for this game. Orlando dropped a fourth straight Wednesday, 103-91 at home to San Antonio. Dewayne Dedmon returned to the starting lineup after missing four of the last five games with a sore left ankle. If Dewayne Dedmon is starting, you have problems. Orlando beat visiting Minnesota 113-103 in overtime on Nov. 7 for its seventh straight home win in the series and 10th overall in the past 12 meetings.
Key trends: The Magic are 0-4 ATS in their past four vs. teams with a losing record. Minnesota has failed to cover five straight at home. The over is 4-0 in the Wolves' past four.
Early lean: Wait on all the Wolves.
Nuggets at Spurs (-12.5, 208)
San Antonio officially clinched a playoff berth with Wednesday's easy win in Orlando. It was the second of a back-to-back, and Coach Gregg Popovich played his key guys, but Tim Duncan was on the floor for only 12 minutes. No Spurs starter played more than 22 minutes. The Spurs are 15-3 since Feb. 27 and have now made the postseason in 18 consecutive seasons. Denver lost a second straight Wednesday, 98-84 at Utah. The Nuggets are 8-8 since Melvin Hunt took over as interim coach March 3. San Antonio is 3-0 against Denver, winning each by at least eight points. The Spurs have won six straight overall in the series and four in a row at home.
Key trends: Denver is 10-2 ATS in its past 12 at San Antonio. The under is 5-0 in the Spurs' past five after a win.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Pelicans at Kings (+6, 207)
New Orleans is not dead in the playoff race and won its third straight Wednesday, 113-92 at the Lakers. Anthony Davis scored 20 points as the Pelicans moved within 1.5 games of No. 8 Oklahoma City. Reserve forward Ryan Anderson played for the first time since Feb. 21, getting 17 points in 22 minutes after missing 18 games because of a sprained right knee. Sacramento lost 115-111 in Houston on Wednesday. DeMarcus Cousins surprisingly played and had 24 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists and six blocks, but Rudy Gay was out injured and probably won't play in this one. New Orleans is 2-1 vs. Sacramento and just beat the Kings 102-88 in the Big Easy on March 27 despite 39 points and 20 rebounds from Cousins. Davis, another former Kentucky star, wasn't so bad himself with 24 points, nine rebounds and six blocks.
Key trends: The road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 4-1 in the past five in Sacramento.
Early lean: Kings (as long as Cousins plays) and over.
Trail Blazers at Lakers (+8.5, 200)
I'll admit I thought Portland would beat the visiting Clippers on Wednesday with L.A. coming off a crushing home loss to the Warriors, but the Blazers lost 126-122 to end their four-game winning streak. A win would have clinched the Northwest Division title for Portland, which led by as many as 19. The Blazers suffered yet another injury when it was announced that reserve Dorell Wright had fractured his hand. He's obviously out a while. L.A. lost by 21 at home to New Orleans on Wednesday. Jeremy Lin scored 10 points in 28 minutes after sitting out two games with an upper-respiratory infection. The Lakers have now been swept in a season series of four or more games by three teams in 2014-15. Portland has won all three games between these two teams this season (98-94, 106-94, 102-86) and has swept the Lakers in a season series since 1993-94. The Blazers also have won three straight at Staples Center.
Key trends: The road team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past four.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
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