NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, January 16 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 1/15/2015
One of the busiest nights of the year on the NBA schedule with all but four teams in action Friday. There are two terrific Western Conference matchups that could be playoff previews when the Warriors visit the Thunder (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) and the Trail Blazers are in San Antonio. Also a potential Eastern Conference playoff preview with red-hot Atlanta in Toronto. And, who knows, maybe an NBA Finals preview when the Cavaliers visit the L.A. Clippers (10:30 p.m., ESPN). Not saying I would exactly recommend that exact matchup wager, which is +2400 at Sportsbook.ag. Here's a look at every game on the schedule.
Pistons at Pacers (TBA)
Detroit was brought back to earth on Wednesday, 105-94 by New Orleans. The Pistons came in having won nine of their past 10. Andre Drummond had a terrible game with just two points and two rebounds in 22 minutes. He had been terrific during the winning run. Indiana lost its second straight Tuesday, 110-101 at home vs. Minnesota, which entered on a 15-game losing streak. Roy Hibbert was ejected with 5:47 left in the third quarter when he was called for a Flagrant 2 foul. Indiana lost in Detroit 119-109 the day after Christmas. That was the Pistons' first game since Stan Van Gundy released Josh Smith and everything changed. Detroit shot a season-high 54.7 percent in the game.
Key trends: The road team has covered five of the past six in this series. The "over/under" has gone over in the past five.
Early lean: Detroit wins outright. TBA likely in case of a possible suspension for Hibbert.
Grizzlies at Magic (+6.5, 194)
Orlando has won two straight over title contenders, beating the Bulls in Chicago on Monday and then the visiting Rockets 120-113 on Wednesday. All of a sudden this is an offensive dynamo! Victor Oladipo has had back-to-back 30-point games. Orlando is 11-1 this season when scoring 100 points or more. Starting forward Tobias Harris sat out for the third straight game with a sprained left ankle and is not expected here. Memphis won 103-92 in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Jeff Green finished with 10 points in 26 1/2 minutes off the bench in his first game since his arrival from Boston. Memphis won two low-scoring games against Orlando this year and has won six straight overall against the Magic and two in a row in central Florida.
Key trends: Memphis is 0-6 ATS in its past six Friday games. The under is 8-2 in Orlando's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The road team has covered four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: Orlando as the Grizzlies likely looking ahead to returning home Saturday and a big one vs. Portland. Go under.
Pelicans at 76ers (+9.5, 195.5)
New Orleans slowed the Pistons down Wednesday with an 11-point win in Detroit despite playing without point guard Jrue Holiday, who is battling an ankle injury and is day-to-day. Holiday, of course, was acquired from the Sixers at the 2013 draft for the rights to Nerlens Noel. Philly has lost two straight blowouts. Leading scorer Tony Wroten missed Wednesday's loss in Toronto with an ankle injury and is day-to-day. This game will be interesting to see former Kentucky big men Anthony Davis and Noel, who never played together at UK (each left after freshman season), face off. The Pelicans have won three straight in the series and averaged a whopping 128.0 points in last season's two wins.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after a win of more than 10 points. Philly is 0-5 ATS in its past five vs. the West. The under is 6-0 in the Sixers' past six games.
Early lean: Take the points and go under.
Nets at Wizards (-10.5, 192)
Brooklyn is in a free-fall and has dropped seven straight since reaching the .500 mark. The Nets played without Kevin Garnett in Wednesday's 103-92 loss to Memphis, so presumably he will be back in there for this one. Deron Williams remains out. The Wizards are coming off an impressive back-to-back in beating San Antonio on Tuesday and then winning in Chicago on Wednesday. Somehow this is the first meeting of the season, and the teams play again Saturday night in Brooklyn. The Nets have dropped three straight at Washington.
Key trends: The home team has covered seven of the past eight meetings. The under is 5-2 in the past seven in Washington.
Early lean: Wizards may be a bit flat after two huge wins. Take the points.
Bulls at Celtics (+4, 201.5)
Expect Chicago to be without Joakim Noah for this game and perhaps a few more. He missed the second half of the Bulls' home loss to Washington on Wednesday after rolling his right ankle. The Bulls have been terrible defensively in back-to-back home losses and will only get worse without Noah in there. Boston was no match for Atlanta on Wednesday and the C's already have cut loose recent trade acquisitions Nate Robinson and Tayshaun Prince (Prince's buyout not official as of this writing). It's full-blown tank time. This is the final meeting of the season between the teams, and Chicago has won two of three high-scoring matchups. In all three games the Bulls and Celtics each scored at least 101 points. They last met Jan. 3 in Chicago, a 109-104 Bulls OT win. Jimmy Butler missed that game for Chicago.
Key trends: Chicago has covered four straight in Boston. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Bulls play angry and cover. Go over.
Hawks at Raptors (-3, 207.5)
Toronto got back All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan on Wednesday, and the Raptors routed the 76ers 100-84. DeRozan, who had missed the past 21 games with a groin injury, had 20 points. The team was 12-9 without him. Toronto is 15-0 when holding opponents below 100 points. Atlanta brings a 10-game winning streak into this one after blowout out Boston on Wednesday. The Hawks also have won 10 straight on the road, a franchise record. This will be Atlanta's final trip to Toronto barring a playoff series. The Raptors won their season opener there vs. the Hawks 109-102 and then won in Atlanta 126-115 on Nov. 26. However, the Hawks are a vastly different team now. In fact, they took off right after that defeat.
Key trends: The home team has covered five of the past six meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Toronto and over.
Warriors at Thunder (-2, 216.5)
Tough second of a back-to-back for Oklahoma City as it was in Houston on Thursday night. Golden State won its eighth straight on Wednesday, 104-89 over the visiting Heat. Golden State has won by an average of 19.8 points per game during its current streak. Sadly, this is the final meeting of the regular season, but I'm guessing that I'm not alone in hoping the teams face off in the playoffs. The Warriors go for the sweep, with two of the three previous wins coming with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the Thunder lineup. The most recent was 117-91 in Oakland on Jan. 5. The Warriors led by 20 at halftime and never let the Thunder get close after that.
Key trends: The home team has covered four straight in this series. The over is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: I'm torn here because you know the Thunder don't want to be swept but they also playing their game in 24 hours and the Warriors are just killing people right now. Take the points and go over.
Nuggets at Mavericks (TBA)
Second straight meeting between the clubs as on Wednesday in Denver the Nuggets won 114-107 for their fifth straight victory -- in four of which the team has scored at least 110 points. Ty Lawson had 29 points and 12 assists and Kenneth Faried 22 points and 14 rebounds. Don't read a lot into that game as Dallas rested Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo after an overtime victory Tuesday night in Sacramento. Those three should be in there for this one, although Chandler and Rondo technically do have minor injuries.
Key trends: Dallas is 1-11 in its past 12 vs. the East. The under is 6-1 in the Mavs' past seven at home.
Early lean: Dallas should win comfortably.
Trail Blazers at Spurs (-3, 197.5)
San Antonio won 98-93 in Charlotte on Wednesday, and I'm moderately surprised that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both played in the second of a back-to-back. Kawhi Leonard remains out, however. The Blazers' four-game winning streak ended with a 100-94 home loss to the Clippers on Wednesday in a game I thought would be very high-scoring. Portland is 2-0 against the Spurs this season, averaging 118.5 points in those games. Both were in a four-day span in mid-December, and the most recent was a triple-overtime thriller. Parker didn't played in either game, and Duncan, Ginobili and Leonard played in just one each.
Key trends: The Blazers are 1-4 ATS in their past five in San Antonio. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings overall.
Early lean: Spurs and over.
Timberwolves at Suns (-14, 216.5)
Minnesota looks for its first two-game winning streak of the season as the Wolves knocked off the Pacers 110-101 on Tuesday to end a 15-game losing streak behind perhaps the most unlikely 50-point game in NBA history: 52 from Mo Williams. That's a franchise record. Willing to bet my house that Williams doesn't reach 30 in this one. Phoenix ended a two-game skid with a 107-100 win over Cleveland on Tuesday behind a career-high 35 points from Markieff Morris. Phoenix won in Minnesota 113-111 on Jan. 7 in what at the time was the Wolves' 13th straight loss. Gerald Green scored 15 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for Phoenix. Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points, but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game for the Timberwolves.
Key trends: Minnesota has covered four straight in Phoenix. The over is 6-2 in the Suns' past eight after a win.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
Lakers at Jazz (-5.5, 198.5)
Already it has been made public that Kobe Bryant will play Thursday night against Cleveland but sit this one out. Two injured Lakers, guard Ronnie Price and big man Jordan Hill, were also expected to play against the Cavs and thus should here as they don't get rest days like Kobe. Utah lost by 11 at home to Golden State on Tuesday for its third straight defeat. The Jazz are 0-6 this season when allowing 110 points or more -- I don't see the Lakers sniffing that total. First meeting of the season. The teams split last season, each winning once on the road. Gordon Hayward averaged 20.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists against the Lakers.
Key trends: Lakers are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. Under is 10-2 in Utah's past 12.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Heat at Kings (TBA)
Sacramento has been off since a 108-104 home overtime loss to Dallas on Tuesday. DeMarcus Cousins had another monster game with 32 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists. The last Kings player to put up at least each of those numbers in a game was Billy Owens on March 1, 1997 vs. Milwaukee, The Kings, who blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, were just 1-for-18 from 3-point range. Sacramento lost Rudy Gay, its second-leading scorer, late in the first quarter with a left knee strain, so keep an eye on his status, although the team's official game notes list Gay as a starter for this game. The Heat could be without Dwyane Wade a second straight game as he missed a 104-89 loss in Golden State on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. Miami had won 10 straight in this series before an overtime loss at Sleep Train Arena on Dec. 27, 2013.
Key trends: The Heat are 7-1 ATS in their past eight road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The Kings have covered just one of their past 11 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 6-0 in Miami's past six games.
Early lean: As this is the final game of a West Coast trip, I highly doubt Wade is in there. Kings win easily.
Cavaliers at Clippers (-7, 208.5)
Second of a back-to-back for Cleveland but at least it didn't have to switch hotels as the Cavs played in Staples Center on Thursday night against the Lakers. I wonder if the next time that Cleveland's Kevin Love plays in L.A. it's for the Lakers as this guy is clearly very, very unhappy with the Cavs, and the Lakers covet the former UCLA star and will have the cap room to pay him max money (although the Cavs can still give one year more). The Clippers took an impressive 100-94 win in Portland on Wednesday behind 17 points and 18 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan. Do you realize he is shooting an absurd 71.5 percent from the field this season?
Key trends: The Cavs are 1-4 ATS in their past five in the second of a back-to-back. The Clippers are 2-6 ATS in their past eight vs. the East.
Early lean: Maybe I'm drinking too much Cavs Kool-Aid, but I'll take the points here. Go over.
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