NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, January 9 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 1/8/2015
A couple of weeks ago when the Cavaliers were at full strength and playing well, I absolutely had circled Jan. 9 on the schedule as LeBron James and Co. made their only visit of the season to the team with the NBA's best record, Golden State. It certainly may still be an NBA Finals preview -- currently priced at +1100 as the exact matchup at Sportsbook.ag -- but the Cavaliers don't look like one of the East's best teams right now. Sadly, we also don't get to see MVP candidates James and Stephen Curry on the same court, either, with LeBron still out injured. Here's a look at that and every other game on Friday's schedule.
Celtics at Pacers (TBA)
The C's surprised me a bit with Wednesday's 89-81 win at Brooklyn to end a three-game losing streak. The Celtics had just seven turnovers, leading to four points for the Nets. Brooklyn turned it over 18 times, which Boston turned into 16 points. Indiana lost 117-102 in Golden State on Wednesday. Center Roy Hibbert left in the first quarter with a sprained ankle, so he's very questionable here. Guards Rodney Stuckey and George Hill missed the game with injuries. Boston beat visiting Indiana 101-98 on Nov. 7. Jeff Green rebounded an Avery Bradley miss with six seconds left and was fouled. He hit two free throws to clinch it. The Pacers were led by 22 points and 11 rebounds from Hibbert. They were missing several rotation guys with injury in that one.
Key trends: Indiana has covered six straight after a loss. The "over/under" has gone under in six of the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Hibbert, Hill and Stuckey.
76ers at Nets (-11, 193)
Philly lost 97-77 at home to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Philly shot only 30.1 percent from the field with leading scorer Michael Carter-Williams just 1-for-13. Streaky Brooklyn has lost three straight games, two at home. Nets point guard Deron Williams came on late in the first quarter Wednesday against Boston after missing a game with a sore left side, but he made it only four minutes before taking himself out and didn't return. He's probably out at least a few games now. Philadelphia is 0-2 against the Nets this year and lost 88-70 in the matchup in Brooklyn in mid-December. The Nets held the 76ers to 25 second-half points, tying the lowest second-half total for any opponent in franchise history. Philly had just 11 2-point field goals overall, the fewest made in an NBA game in the shot clock era. The 76ers' last victory over the Nets was a 105-87 win on April 23, 2012. That was in Newark, the Nets' final game before moving from New Jersey.
Key trends: The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under has hit in three of the past four.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Hawks at Pistons (+2.5, 205)
A preview of the Eastern Conference Finals? Don't laugh. I now believe in the Pistons, who have won seven straight. I was skeptical until the club won in San Antonio on Tuesday night and then by 13 in Dallas 24 hours later. Greg Monroe killed the Mavericks with 27 points, 18 rebounds and six assists. Atlanta has won six straight and 20 of 22. The Hawks schooled the visiting Grizzlies 96-86 on Wednesday. Detroit lost 99-89 in Atlanta on Nov. 21, but that was obviously a very different Pistons club. Josh Smith had a rare good game this year back then for Detroit with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Key trends: Detroit has covered seven straight games. The under is 6-0 in Atlanta's past six on Friday. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Team on seven-game winning streak getting 2.5 at home. Huh. I'll take the points.
Bulls at Wizards (-2.5, 197)
Chicago is a puzzling team as it has beaten some of the NBA's best teams but then really laid down against some of its worst. The latter happened Wednesday as the Bulls fell 97-77 at home to Utah. Utah! It was Chicago's season low in points, and it shot only 33.3 percent. Derrick Rose was 3-for-15 and is shooting 25.5 percent in his past six games. Starting forward Mike Dunleavy missed his third straight game with an ankle injury but is very close to returning. Washington beat the Knicks 101-91 on Wednesday in what could have been a major trap game. Paul Pierce got the night off, but he's not hurt. The Wiz gave him some rest knowing they didn't need him against New York. Chicago won in Washington 99-91 on Dec. 23, so this is the Bulls' final visit barring another playoff series. Rose improved to 5-0 against John Wall in the NBA with that victory and Rose led the Bulls with 25 points. Wall led the Wizards with 18 points.
Key trends: Chicago is 4-1 ATS in the past five at Washington. The under is 7-1 in the Bulls' past eight road games vs. teams with a winning home record.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
Jazz at Thunder (-12, 199)
Utah got back starting point guard Trey Burke from a one-game absence in Wednesday's surprising 20-point win at Chicago. The Jazz are playing better. They haven't lost consecutive games since mid-December. Rudy Gobert has really come on of late. Center Enes Kanter missed his third straight game Wednesday. OKC has lost two straight and was surprised 104-83 in Sacramento on Wednesday. The Thunder shot only 32.6 percent. Russell Westbrook was fairly dominated by his former UCLA teammate Darren Collison. These teams split two November meetings. In Utah the Jazz won 98-81 behind 20 points and 14 rebounds from Alec Burks, now out for the season. Durant and Westbrook missed that one. Eight days later in OKC the Thunder won 97-82 behind 22 from Reggie Jackson with Durant and Westbrook missing again.
Key trends: The home team has covered 11 of the past 12 meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven in OKC.
Early lean: Angry Thunder roll. Go over.
Grizzlies at Pelicans (TBA)
Memphis fell by 10 in Atlanta on Wednesday. Zach Randolph missed his ninth straight game with a knee injury but did participate some in the team's shootaround so he appears to be getting close to a return. New Orleans has lost two straight and fell 98-94 in Charlotte on Wednesday. Anthony Davis had 32 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. It was his sixth double-double in the past seven games. Memphis won the only meeting thus far, 93-81 at home on Nov. 3. Marc Gasol had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Randolph 15 and 11. Davis was held to just 14 points.
Key trends: Memphis is 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 7-1 in the past eight.
Early lean: If Randolph sits again, Pelicans win outright.
Timberwolves at Bucks (-10, 202.5)
Minnesota lost its 13th straight Wednesday but did cover, as I recommended, in a 113-111 home loss to the Suns. The injury-ravaged Wolves saw guard Mo Williams sprain his ankle late in the game after scoring 23 points and handing out 11 assists. So he's clearly in question here. Milwaukee won by 20 in Philly on Wednesday. The Bucks shot 53.9 percent from the field in their fifth consecutive road win. This game might have been interesting if Jabari Parker wasn't out for the season. Parker, the No. 2 overall pick by Milwaukee, and Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick, never faced each other in college. When Milwaukee won 103-86 in Minnesota on Nov. 26, Parker had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Wiggins had 14 points and eight rebounds but also six turnovers. That game was the first in NBA history where four teenagers all played. Parker and Wiggins were two along with the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and Wolves' Zach LaVine. They all even started.
Key trends: Minnesota is 0-6 ATS in its past six vs. the East. The under is 8-0 in Milwaukee's past eight overall.
Early lean: Don't really like Bucks at double-digit favorites over anyone, but if Williams is out for Wolves they just have not much left other than Wiggins. Give the points and love under.
Suns at Spurs (-4, 209.5)
Phoenix has won four straight and has averaged more than 110 points per game in that run. The Suns won 113-111 in Minnesota in the second of a back-to-back on Wednesday. Gerald Green scored 15 of his 21 in the fourth quarter. The Spurs were upset at home by Detroit 105-104 on Tuesday. San Antonio turned the ball over in the final seconds, and it led to the game-winning shot from the Pistons' Brandon Jennings. Spurs point guard Tony Parker played only 13 minutes in his return from a five-game absence due to a strained left hamstring. Kawhi Leonard remains out. The Spurs lost their second game of the 2014-15 season in Phoenix, 94-89. The Suns didn't take their first lead until 3:34 remained in the game. Isaiah Thomas scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter when Phoenix outscored the champs 27-18.
Key trends: The Suns are 10-2 ATS in their past 12. San Antonio is 1-4 ATS in its past five vs. the West. The over is 11-2 in the Spurs' past 13 at home.
Early lean: As long as Spurs' Big 3 play, give the points.
Nuggets at Kings (-3, 211.5)
Denver started thinking toward the future with Wednesday's trade of center Timofey Mozgov to Cleveland for two protected first-round picks. Pretty good deal for Denver, which isn't going anywhere. That means plenty more minutes for Jusuf Nurkic, who is having a nice rookie year. Denver has won three straight games. Sacramento started a six-game homestand with a 104-83 blowout of Oklahoma City on Wednesday to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Thunder. It was only the Kings' fourth win in 11 games under new coach Tyrone Corbin. Sacramento swept a home-and-home with Denver early in the season -- both were very high-scoring. The second game was in Sactown and the Kings routed the Nuggets 131-109. The Kings scored 40 points in the first quarter, led by as many as 36 and had six players in double figures.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 6-1 ATS in the past seven in Sacramento. The over is 8-3 in the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Cavaliers at Warriors (-13, 206)
It's the first meeting of the season between the teams. They play again Feb. 26 at Cleveland, so circle that one. Presumably Timofey Mozgov will make his Cavaliers debut after being acquired for two first-round picks from Denver on Wednesday. Mozgov is exactly what the Cavaliers need: a rim protector. I'd say Cleveland is done dealing now but still hoping to lure Ray Allen out of retirement. The Cavs have lost three straight. Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game absence on Wednesday and had 38 points, but Cleveland still lost 105-93 at home to Houston. J.R. Smith went scoreless in 19 minutes in his Cleveland debut. Golden State is rolling again, winning five straight by at least 13 points. Better news: Center Andrew Bogut returned from a 12-game absence in Wednesday's 15-point win over Indiana. Expect his minutes to be limited for a while.
Key trends: The Cavs are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 after allowing at least 100 points in their previous games. Golden State has covered four straight vs. the East. The over has hit in all four.
Early lean: Cleveland will be fired up for this one and will cover even minus LeBron. Mozgov will help. Love the over.
Magic at Lakers (-4.5, 202)
Orlando has lost four straight and hasn't scored in triple digits in any of them. The Magic fell 93-90 in Denver on Wednesday. Former Nugget Evan Fournier had 14 points but missed on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer. Channing Frye failed to score in a little over 19 minutes after he was listed as questionable because of elbow and triceps soreness. The Lakers lost 114-89 against the Clippers on Wednesday. Kobe Bryant finished with only four points (none in first half) but did have eight rebounds and seven assists. Guard Ronnie Price missed the game for the Lakers with a broken nose and flu, so Jeremy Lin went back into the starting lineup. These teams split last season, and Orlando has won three of its past six at L.A. Before that, the Magic were only 2-16 all time at the Lakers.
Key trends: The Lakers are 4-0 ATS in their past four following an ATS loss. The under is 9-2 in the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: Take the points and go under.
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