NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, February 6 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 2/5/2015
You know how when the NBA releases its schedule in the summer that sites like ESPN or SI.com or NBA.com come out with a list of Top 10 games? Those are usually dead on because there are so few surprise teams in the Association. You pretty much know who will be a title contender. Well, I guarantee you that Friday's Golden State at Atlanta matchup wasn't on any Top 10 list, but it's the clear game of the season thus far -- and sadly not on national television. A Hawks-Warriors NBA Finals matchup is priced at +700 at Sportsbook.ag, second to Cavs-Warriors (+500). Here's a look at every game on a busy Friday night.
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Knicks at Nets (-6, 191)
New York last played Tuesday and lost by 11 at home to Boston. Carmelo Anthony had 21 points, but the Knicks played without forward Amare Stoudemire and guard Pablo Prigioni. Both could return here. Stoudemire will be on a minutes limit of about 20 the rest of the season when he does get back. Brooklyn followed a surprising home win over the Clippers on Monday with perhaps an even more surprising 109-93 win in Toronto on Wednesday. It's the team's first back-to-back wins since a three-game run from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2. The Nets also have scored at least 100 points in a season-high four straight games. The Nets are 2-0 this season vs. the Knicks, holding New York under 100 points in each. The Knicks haven't lost a season series to their neighbors since the 2006-07 season. Brook Lopez has averaged 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Nets in the two games. Anthony has averaged 19.5 points.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-1 in the past six meetings. The "over/under" has gone over in the past four in Brooklyn.
Early lean: Nets and over.
Cavaliers at Pacers (+6.5, 196)
Potential letdown game here for Cleveland as it hosted the Clippers on Thursday. If the Cavs won that, they could tie the franchise record of 13 straight wins here. Indiana will try for its first two-game winning streak since right before Christmas as the Pacers beat visiting Detroit 114-109 on Wednesday. Point guard George Hill returned to the starting lineup and had 20 points. The Pacers shot a season-high 59.7 percent. Indiana lost the only meeting with the Cavs, 109-97 in Cleveland on Nov. 29. Kevin Love had a season-high 28 points, while Kyrie Irving had 24 and LeBron James 19. The Cavs jumped out to a 22-6 lead. Roy Hibbert missed that one for the Pacers.
Key trends: The Pacers are 0-4 ATS in their past four vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in Cleveland's past six in the second of a back-to-back. The home team has covered the past five meetings.
Early lean: It really depends on what Cleveland does Thursday.
Lakers at Magic (-4.5, 203)
L.A. has lost two straight. It was beaten 113-105 in overtime at Milwaukee on Wednesday. Carlos Boozer had a season-high 28 points for the Lakers, who lost for the 11th time in 12 games -- eight in a row on the road. Nick Young was back in the lineup after missing Sunday's loss to the Knicks and had 16 points. Starting forward Jordan Hill sat again, and don't look for him until after the All-Star Break. Orlando lost its 10th straight on Wednesday, 110-103 in San Antonio. All five Magic starters scored in double figures, but the Orlando bench was outscored 41-17. Rookie forward Aaron Gordon was a late scratch after experiencing pain in his left foot during the morning shootaround. He missed 31 games early this season because of a broken bone in that foot. Also, Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn was fired Thursday just as I was sending this story in. Los Angeles beat the visiting Magic 101-84 on Jan. 9 when Kobe Bryant was out resting. Jeremy Lin had 18 points and Boozer 12 points and 14 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Orlando.
Key trends: The Lakers have covered one of their past seven road games. Orlando is 0-5 ATS in its past five at home. The over is 7-1 in Orlando's past eight at home.
Early lean: Coach firings usually get a team's attention. Take Orlando and the over.
Clippers at Raptors (-2, 210)
L.A. could be in the same boat as Cleveland here, especially if the Clippers upset the Cavaliers on Thursday. Then I'd bet big on Toronto here. However, the Raptors have lost two straight at home in rather ugly fashion. They were beaten by 16 by the Nets on Wednesday. Also, DeMar DeRozan was ejected late in the fourth quarter for a Flagrant 2 foul, and that could mean a one-game suspension unless the NBA changes the call, which it can. The Clippers lost at home to Toronto 110-98 on Dec. 27. Kyle Lowry outplayed Chris Paul as Lowry had 25 points, seven assists and three steals. Paul was just 3-for-12 from the field for 10 points and was minus-20. The win ended L.A.'s eight-game home winning streak.
Key trends: The Clippers are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in the second of a back-to-back. Toronto has failed to cover seven straight at home vs. teams with a winning home record. The under is 8-0 in the Raptors' past eight home games vs. teams with a winning road record.
Early lean: Raptors if DeRozan plays.
Warriors at Hawks (+1, 214)
How can ESPN or NBA TV not pick this game up? The Warriors won their third straight in blowout fashion on Wednesday, 128-114 against Dallas, rallying from a 22-point deficit. Stephen Curry had a season-high 51 points (26 in third quarter), making him and Klay Thompson the first teammates since 1993-94 with 50-point games in the same season. Curry also had his second career game with 10 3-pointers. Atlanta's 19-game winning streak, the longest in the NBA this season (Golden State had a 16-game run), ended on Monday, but the Hawks bounced back with a 105-96 win over Washington on Wednesday. So much for Atlanta going into a minor funk. It was Atlanta's 11th straight home win, and the Hawks are 19-0 this season at home when leading at halftime. This is the first meeting of the season with Atlanta going to Oakland on March 18. Will both be leading the conference then as well? The Hawks have such a big lead over Cleveland that they probably will. The Warriors are the better team but have a lot better teams chasing them.
Key trends: The Warriors have covered six of their past seven vs. teams with a winning record. Atlanta has covered its past seven at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The over is 5-1 in Atlanta's past six.
Early lean: No respect for Hawks as a home dog. I'll take the points. Go under.
76ers at Celtics (-8.5, 191.5)
Boston won its second straight Wednesday, 104-100 at home vs. Denver. For the second time in three games Jared Sullinger was benched for being late, this time for a shootaround. But Sullinger hit two free throws with 22.8 seconds left to break a 100-all tie. The 76ers also come off a win over Denver, 105-98 on Tuesday. Michael Carter-Williams had 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Philadelphia dropped the first two meetings this season with Boston at home, both by double digits. The 76ers were 2-0 in Boston last year, however.
Key trends: The road team has covered six of the past seven meetings. The under is 9-0 in Philly's past nine games vs. Atlantic Division foes.
Early lean: Sixers are playing much better. Take the points and go under.
Nuggets at Pistons (-5.5, 202.5)
Denver has lost four straight and frankly hasn't looked good in any of them. Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 23 points and eight assists in Wednesday's four-point loss in Boston. Backup guard Jameer Nelson missed that game because of a strained Achilles' tendon. Detroit's two-game winning streak ended with a 114-109 loss in Indiana on Wednesday despite 18 points and 16 rebounds from Andre Drummond and the team hitting 12 of 24 3-pointers. The Pistons opened the season with an 89-79 loss in Denver.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 1-5 ATS in their past six vs. the East. Detroit has covered five straight at home. The over is 8-1 in Denver's past nine vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Bucks at Rockets (-6, 199.5)
Houston beat visiting Chicago 101-90 on Wednesday again without Dwight Howard. James Harden scored 27 points, including 13 straight at one point. Despite no Howard, Houston outscored Chicago 50-28 in the paint and had eight blocks. Milwaukee won its fifth straight Wednesday, 113-105 in OT against the Lakers. O.J. Mayo hit a tough 3-pointer from the corner to send it to OT. Brandon Knight returned from missing a game and had 24 points, including 12 in overtime. The Bucks had four guys with at least 20 points for the first time in five years. Milwaukee lost at home to Houston 117-103 on Nov. 29. Howard missed that too, but Harden had 34.
Key trends: The Bucks have covered six of their past seven games. Houston has covered seven of its past eight at home. The underdog is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Grizzlies at Timberwolves (+7.5, 193)
Memphis won its eighth in a row on Wednesday, 100-90 in Utah. Zach Randolph had yet another double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Top reserve Vince Carter did not play due to a left foot tendon injury. He's questionable for this game. I doubt he plays since the Grizzlies don't need him to beat Minnesota. The Wolves do come off a 102-101 home win over Miami on Wednesday. Minnesota's not going to be that bad the rest of the way now that some guys are healthy. Forward Shabazz Muhammad (oblique) sat out again, but Coach Flip. Saunders estimated Muhammad could be back as soon as Friday.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 7-0 in the past seven in Minnesota.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Pelicans at Thunder (TBA)
No line here again because of Kevin Durant (sprained toe). He missed his second straight game on Wednesday, a 102-91 win at these Pelicans. Russell Westbrook dominated with 45 points (tied career high), six rebounds and six assists as OKC got back over .500. Westbrook is averaging 35.8 points per 36 minutes this season when Durant isn't on the floor with him. That number drops to 20.2 per 36 when Durant is. Westbrook, Klay Thompson and James Harden are the only guys with at least three 40-point games this year. Anthony Davis had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Pelicans.
Key trends: The underdog has covered four straight in this series. The under is 7-3 in the past 10 in OKC.
Early lean: Wait on Durant.
Jazz at Suns (-7.5, 204.5)
Let's see how much Phoenix has in the tank for this game after playing in Portland on Thursday. Utah has lost two straight, falling 100-90 at home to Memphis on Wednesday. Trey Burke led the Jazz with 21 points while Enes Kanter had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Utah handed Phoenix one of its worst losses of the season, 118-91 in Salt Lake City on Nov. 1. Derrick Favors dominated with 32 points and nine rebounds.
Key trends: Utah has covered five of the past seven meetings. The under is 5-2 in the past seven in Phoenix.
Early lean: Jazz and over.
Heat at Spurs (-11, 186.5)
The previous four NBA seasons this would have been one of those games you wouldn't miss. Amazing what a difference one player -- i.e. LeBron James -- can make. Miami lost its second straight on Wednesday, 102-102 in Minnesota. The Heat again played without Dwayne Wade and you won't see him here. Hassan Whiteside went off again with 24 points and 20 rebounds. He was the first Heat player with a 20-20 game since Shaq in 2004. San Antonio concludes a six-game homestand here and off a seven-point win over Orlando on Wednesday. The Spurs are now fully healthy for the first time all season as Marco Belinelli returned for that game after missing the previous 18.
Key trends: Miami is 6-2 ATS in its past eight after a loss. The Spurs haven't covered their past six. The under is 11-2 in Miami's past 13 after scoring 100 points or more in its previous game.
Early lean: Heat and over.
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