NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, January 23 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 1/22/2015
The Atlanta Hawks can set a franchise record with their 15th straight victory Friday night in a terrific matchup against a Thunder team starting to play to pre-injury expectations but also off a draining victory. The Hawks are only the third Eastern Conference team in the last 30 seasons to have won 28 games during a 30-game stretch in a season. The previous two -- the 2012-13 Heat and 1995-96 Bulls -- won the NBA title. Here's a look at that matchup, which sadly isn't on national TV, and every game on Friday.
Raptors at 76ers (+10, 196)
Toronto lost for the third time in four games Wednesday, 92-86 in Memphis. The Grizzlies broke open a close game with a 13-3 run midway through the fourth quarter. The Raptors shot just 32 percent (27 for 85) from the field. DeMar DeRozan was 2-for-11 for only six points. Philly dropped its third straight Wednesday, 98-91 at home to the Knicks. The Sixers played without three key guys: Tony Wroten, Nerlens Noel and Luc Mbah a Moute. Wroten doesn't look like he will be back anytime soon. Noel and Mbah a Moute are day-to-day, and it appears at least Noel will play in this one. Toronto is 2-0 against Philly this year, winning both at home by 32 and 16 points, respectively.
Key trends: Toronto has covered just two of its past 11 overall. The "over/under" has gone under in Philly's past six at home. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: I think Sixers can cover if Noel plays. Go under.
Thunder at Hawks (-3.5, 207.5)
Oklahoma City won its fourth straight Wednesday in a great game, 105-103 in overtime at Washington. Kevin Durant had 34 points, while Russell Westbrook had 13 in OT, including the game-winning layup with 0.8 seconds left. Steven Adams had a career-high 20 rebounds. Atlanta won No. 14 in a row in a potential trap game Wednesday at home vs. Indiana, 110-91. What was really notable about that game? Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver dunked the ball, his first dunk since Nov. 16, 2012 and just the 16th of his NBA career. Atlanta's Mike Budenholzer clinched a spot as the Eastern coach in next month's All-Star Game in New York City. First meeting of the season. OKC was 2-0 in the series last year, winning by nine in Atlanta.
Key trends: OKC is 6-0-1 ATS in its past seven vs. the East. Atlanta is 9-0 ATS in its past nine vs. the West. The road team has covered the past four meetings.
Early lean: I'll take the points. Go over.
Hornets at Cavaliers (-9, 194)
Charlotte won its third in a row Wednesday, 78-76 against Miami. Kemba Walker returned after missing two games and had 15 points. The Hornets had a 56-41 rebounding edge against the Heat and held an opponent to less than 100 points for the 10th straight game. It's starting to look like last year's Hornets club. The Cavs routed Utah 106-92 on Wednesday for their fourth straight victory. All five Cavs starters scored at least 15 points for the second straight game -- a franchise first. Cleveland is 2-0 against Charlotte this season. The most recent meeting was Jan. 2 in Charlotte, a 91-87 final. LeBron James missed that one, but then so did the Hornets' best player Al Jefferson. Both are healthy now. It's possible Iman Shumpert makes his Cleveland debut in this one.
Key trends: Charlotte has covered four straight road games. The under is 4-0 in Charlotte's past four overall and 5-1 in Cleveland's past six at home.
Early lean: Cavaliers and over.
Pacers at Heat (TBA)
Indiana lost its sixth straight Wednesday, 110-91 in Atlanta. C.J. Miles led the Pacers with 18 points, but Indiana shot just 39.7 percent. This is the team's third losing streak of at least six games. Miami lost by 78-76 in Charlotte on Wednesday, its third loss in four games. Miami was without two starters in Hassan Whiteside (ankle) and Luol Deng (illness), so the Heat had to use their 17th different starting lineup this season. Both guys are day-to-day. Indiana is 2-0 vs. Miami, winning the one matchup in south Florida 81-75 early in the season.
Key trends: Indiana is 0-8 ATS in its past eight. Miami has covered one of its past nine at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The over is 8-2 in Indiana's past 10 after a loss.
Early lean: Heat should win even if those two guys sit out again.
Magic at Knicks (+1.5, 197)
New York is on its second two-game winning streak of the season, beating Philly 98-91 on Wednesday behind 27 points and 11 rebounds from Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks have won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 30-Nov. 2. Orlando dropped its third straight Wednesday, 128-118 in Detroit. The defense has been awful in the losing streak, allowing at least 106 points in all three. The Pistons' 128 were the most Orlando has allowed this season. The Magic's Tobias Harris had 19 points in his return after missing five games with a sprained left ankle. Orlando won the only meeting thus far, 97-95 at the Garden back on Nov. 12. The Knicks had won eight of the previous nine meetings.
Key trends: New York has covered four of the past five meetings at home. The over is 7-0-1 in Orlando's past eight after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game.
Early lean: This line surprises me -- I expected the Knicks to be a very slight favorite. Take the points as I believe they win outright.
Bulls at Mavericks (-8, 207)
Very tough second of a back-to-back for the scuffling Bulls as they hosted San Antonio on Thursday. This starts a stretch of seven road games in the next eight for Chicago, which has been much better away from home. Dallas won its third straight Wednesday, 98-75 in Minnesota. Chandler Parsons had 22 points as the Mavs shot 51 percent. Dallas beat the Bulls 132-129 in double overtime on Dec. 2 in Chicago in one of the most entertaining games of the season. Kirk Hinrich stupidly fouled Monta Ellis while he was attempting a tying 3-pointer, and Ellis made all three to send it to the first overtime. Derrick Rose banked in a 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to force double OT but had missed a 3 at the end of regulation after Ellis tied it. Taj Gibson missed the game for Chicago.
Key trends: The Mavs have covered only three of their past 13 at home. The under is 7-1 in Dallas' past eight at home. Chicago has covered six straight in Dallas.
Early lean: Really depends on how the Bulls play Thursday. If they win, I like them to cover here. Another lousy game and they likely get routed in Dallas.
Pelicans at Timberwolves (+6, 203.5)
New Orleans beat the Lakers 96-80 on Wednesday but learned that starting point guard Jrue Holiday will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a stress reaction in his lower leg. On the bright side, Anthony Davis returned from a three-game absence in that one and had 29 points and eight rebounds. The Wolves have dropped two in a row and not topped 80 points in either. The team did get back center Nikola Pekovic from a 31-game injury absence Wednesday, and he had 14 points. Guard Kevin Martin is about to return from his own long absence. This is the second career meeting between No. 1 overall picks Davis and Anthony Wiggins of Minnesota. The Pelicans blasted the Wolves 139-91 on Nov. 14 in New Orleans in the first. New Orleans' point total, 56 made field goals, 66.7 percent shooting and 48-point margin of victory all set franchise records for a game.
Key trends: The home team is 7-0 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Lakers at Spurs (-13.5, 202)
San Antonio completed a quick two-game road trip on Thursday night in Chicago. L.A. lost its sixth straight on Wednesday, 96-80 in New Orleans. Kobe Bryant returned after missing two games due to rest and had 14 points. However, he had to shoot left-handed late in the game after injuring his right shoulder and he's off to get an MRI. Thus, no way he plays here or likely a while. One of the Lakers' most unlikely wins this season was Dec. 12 in San Antonio, 112-100 in overtime. Nick Young had 29 points, including the go-ahead 30-foot 3-pointer with 7.4 seconds left in OT. The Spurs played without Kawhi Leonard.
Key trends: The Lakers are 0-5 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record. The road team has covered the past four in this series. The under is 7-0-1 in L.A.'s past eight road games.
Early lean: I'd be shocked if every key Spur plays here, so I'd take the points. The Lakers are better without Kobe at this point.
Celtics at Nuggets (-7, 208)
Boston is playing its second game in 24 hours Friday as the C's were in Portland on Thursday. Denver lost its fourth straight Tuesday, 109-99 to San Antonio despite 26 points and 14 rebounds from Kenneth Faried. Danilo Gallinari missed a 15th straight game because of a torn meniscus in his right knee but he has been targeting this one as a return and looks probable to do so. First meeting of the season between the teams, who a little more than a week ago completed a trade of point guards, with Nate Robinson going to Boston and Jameer Nelson to Denver. Robinson was immediately bought out by the C's. He'll sign with a contender soon. Denver has won five straight at home in this series.
Key trends: Denver is 0-8 ATS in its past eight playing on two days of rest. The over is 6-0 in Denver's past six vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Rockets at Suns (-3, 219)
Houston is likely to be a bit ornery after getting routed 126-113 by Golden State on Wednesday as the Warriors completed a one-sided season sweep. James Harden had 33 points for the Rockets but didn't get much help. Dwight Howard had only seven points and was in foul trouble. Josh Smith was ejected after getting two technicals. Phoenix won its fourth straight Wednesday, 118-113 against Portland despite blowing a 25-point lead. Eric Bledsoe had a season-high 33 and Isaiah Thomas a season-high 27. It was Phoenix's seventh straight home win. Houston won the first meeting 100-95 at home, which started Phoenix on a season-high six-game skid. Howard was out injured and so was the Suns' Thomas.
Key trends: Houston is 5-0 ATS in its past five after a loss. The over is 6-0 in the Rockets' past six. The over is 5-1 in Phoenix's past six at home vs. teams with a winning road record.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Kings at Warriors (-13.5, 217.5)
Golden State won its third straight by dominating Houston on Wednesday for its franchise-record 17th straight home win. Stephen Curry had 22 points and 10 assists and nearly got into a fight with Houston's Trevor Ariza. Golden State swept the four-game season series against the Rockets for the first time since 1973-74. All four wins came by at least 10 points. Sacramento dropped its fifth in a row Wednesday, 103-100 vs. Brooklyn. DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings, who nearly rallied from a 23-point hole. Reserve guard Ramon Sessions was back on the court after missing the previous 13 games with a low back sprain. He had four assists in 22 minutes. Golden State has blown out Sacramento twice, last 128-108 in Oakland on Dec. 22 despite Andrew Bogut sitting out. The Warriors have won six straight vs. the Kings overall.
Key trends: The Kings are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
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