NBA Odds and Predictions: Friday, March 6 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/5/2015
Honestly, if I'm the Atlanta Hawks then I'm happy to lose Friday's home showdown with Cleveland in the game of the night in the NBA (sadly not on national TV). The Hawks are the first team to clinch a playoff spot and are going to be the East's top seed without question. What they need is to have Cleveland finish with either the No. 2 or 3 seed as opposed to the No. 4 to avoid the Cavaliers until potentially the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs remain the -180 East favorites at Sportsbook.ag with the Hawks next at +280. I think Cleveland will get to No. 2.
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Raptors at Hornets (TBA)
Toronto lost 120-112 at home to Cleveland on Wednesday. Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry was rested for the third straight game. He's probably not playing here, thus the TBA. Also, Toronto big man Jonas Valanciunas was called for a flagrant-1 foul on LeBron James. So that in itself won't mean a suspension unless the NBA upgrades it. The Hornets won their third straight Wednesday, 115-91 in Brooklyn to move into sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte won the only meeting with Toronto, 103-95 on the road Jan. 8. Gerald Henderson had 31 points and Kemba Walker (out still these days but perhaps back next week) 29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Lowry had 24 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in the loss. The Hornets' Lance Stephenson and Raptors' DeMar DeRozan were out.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The "over/under" has gone over in four of the past five.
Early lean: If Lowry sits, go Charlotte.
Bulls at Pacers (-6.5, 186.5)
Second of a back-to-back for Chicago, which hosted Oklahoma City on Thursday. Indiana won its third straight Wednesday, blasting the visiting Knicks 105-82. George Hill had a season-high 21 points. The Pacers are now 11-3 with Hill in the starting lineup (he was out injured much of the year) and have the NBA's best winning percentage (.818) since the start of February. Roy Hibbert got Wednesday off but will return here. Chicago and Indiana have split two low-scoring games (total in 180s for both), each winning on the road.
Key trends: The home team has covered six of the past seven meetings. The under has hit five of the past seven.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Kings at Magic (+2, 203)
Sacramento lost 112-85 in San Antonio on Wednesday. DeMarcus Cousins had one of his worst games with 14 points and only three rebounds while being in foul trouble. Orlando lost its fourth straight Wednesday, 105-100 against Phoenix despite a career-high 38 points from Victor Oladipo. Rookie forward Aaron Gordon was back after missing the past two games with a sprained right ankle. Orlando won in Sacramento 105-96 on Dec. 6 behind 27 points from Tobias Harris. The Magic were without center Nikola Vucevic and the Kings without All-Star big man Cousins.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-1 ATS in their past six after a loss. Orlando has covered three of its past 11 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 8-2 in the Magic's past 10 games.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Jazz at 76ers (+7.5, 185.5)
Utah lost 85-84 in Boston on Wednesday on a buzzer-beater to end the Jazz's three-game losing streak. The Jazz led by eight with under three minutes left. They were only 3-for-19 from long range. Philly lost its third straight Wednesday, 123-118 in OT in Oklahoma City. Isaiah Canaan had career highs of 31 points and eight 3-pointers for the Sixers. Guard Robert Covington, a pleasant surprise this season, sat out with a right elbow contusion. Utah beat the visiting Sixers 88-71 on Dec. 27. Derrick Favors had 17 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots to lead Utah. Former 76er Michael Carter-Williams had a game to forget, going 2-for-20.
Key trends: Philly is 4-0 ATS in its past four vs. the West. The under is 4-0 in Utah's past four on the road. The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Sixers and under.
Heat at Wizards (TBA)
Miami won its second straight Wednesday, 100-94 against the Lakers. Hassan Whiteside went off with 18 points and a career-high 25 rebounds. Interesting stat: Miami's Goran Dragic became the first player since 1993-94 to play against the Lakers five times in a regular season and win them all. Of course, he's formerly of Phoenix. Call Luol Deng questionable for this game with a deep thigh bruise. Washington lost 97-92 in Chicago on Tuesday. Forward Kris Humphries missed his third consecutive game with a strained left groin. This is the teams' final meeting of the regular season, with Washington winning the last two after falling in the season opener to Miami.
Key trends: Washington is 0-5 ATS in its past five vs. the East. The over is 5-1 in Miami's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The home team has covered the past six meetings.
Early lean: Wizards will win whether Deng plays or not.
Cavaliers at Hawks (pick'em, 200)
Cleveland won its second straight Wednesday, 120-112 in Toronto. LeBron James had 29 points and a season-high 14 assists. He scored or assisted on 21 of the Cavs' final 25 points. Cleveland's 15 3-pointers were the most by a Toronto opponent this season. Atlanta won its fifth straight Tuesday, 104-96 over Houston. The Hawks were down 18 at one point. Atlanta was destroyed 127-94 in Cleveland on Nov. 15 but won the next two, both in December (including a 29-point shocker in Cleveland).
Key trends: Cleveland is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. the East. The Hawks are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The over is 6-0 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Cavs as a pick'em? I'll take that every day.
Suns at Nets (-3, 208)
Phoenix ended a two-game skid with a 105-100 win in Orlando on Wednesday. Brandon Knight had 28 points and seven assists in his best game since joining the Suns, and they overcame a 15-point deficit. Brooklyn's two-game winning streak ended with a 115-91 home loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. Brooklyn had won 10 in a row at home in March dating to last season. Brooklyn lost in Phoenix 112-104 on Nov. 12 as the Suns rallied from a 19-point deficit. Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak vs. the Nets..
Key trends: Phoenix is 1-8 ATS in its past nine following an ATS win. The Nets are 7-1 ATS in their past eight against the West. The home team has covered four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: Nets and over.
Pistons at Rockets (-7.5, 205)
Detroit lost its fourth straight Wednesday, 88-85 in New Orleans. That Reggie Jackson trade doesn't seem to be working out all that well. He had only 14 in that game. Houston got James Harden back from a one-game suspension Wednesday but lost its second straight, 102-100 at home to Memphis. With the game tied, Marc Gasol blocked Harden's layup with 6.4 seconds left to give the Grizzlies the ball back and Gasol hit the winner. Of course, Houston's Josh Smith was cut by the Pistons in December. Detroit beat Smith and the visiting Rockets 114-101 on Jan. 31. Smith was 3-for-11 for seven points in that one. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 28 points for the Pistons.
Key trends: The Pistons are 6-1 ATS in their past seven after a loss. Houston is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. the East. The over is 8-1 in Detroit's past nine against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Lakers at Grizzlies (-12.5, 194)
Los Angeles lost its third straight Wednesday, 100-94 in Miami. Lakers leading scorer Nick Young (sore left knee) sat out his fifth straight game. Memphis beat Houston 102-100 on Wednesday. Marc Gasol made a jumper with 0.1 seconds left. Starting power forward Zach Randolph returned after missing Tuesday's loss to Utah with an illness. As one might expect, Memphis is 3-0 against Los Angeles this year but all three have been close. The biggest margin of victory was six.
Key trends: Memphis hasn't covered in the past eight meetings. The over is 5-1 in the past six in Memphis.
Early lean: Lakers and under.
Celtics at Pelicans (-6.5, 201)
Boston ended a two-game skid with an 85-84 win over Utah on Wednesday. Tyler Zeller banked in a close-range shot at the buzzer for the win off an inbounds play. Kelly Olynyk returned after missing 18 games with a sprained right ankle. New Orleans welcomed back Anthony Davis on Wednesday and beat Detroit 88-85. All Davis did was put up 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks. Boston beat visiting New Orleans 108-100 on Jan. 12 behind 27 points and 10 rebounds from Jared Sullinger, who's now done for the year. Davis had 34 points for the Pelicans.
Key trends: Boston is 8-1 ATS in its past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1 in New Orleans' past six at home. The underdog is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Nuggets at Spurs (-13, 204)
Denver won its second straight under interim coach Melvin Hunt on Wednesday, 100-85 in Minnesota. The Nuggets, who clearly had quit on former coach Brian Shaw, have won back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 14. San Antonio won its third straight Wednesday with a blowout of Sacramento in the Spurs' first home game since Feb. 6. They shot 53 percent from the field and were 10-for-23 on 3-pointers. San Antonio had five players in double figures and everyone scored. The Spurs are 2-0 vs. Denver this season, winning by a combined 18 points and holding the Nuggets under 100 points in both.
Key trends: The under is 7-1 in San Antonio's past eight after a win. The Nuggets are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Nuggets and under.
Mavericks at Warriors (-9, 215)
Killer second of a back-to-back for Dallas as it was in Portland on Thursday. Dallas center Tyson Chandler was probable to return from a three-game injury absence for that one, but Chandler Parsons was ruled out again. Golden State played its first home game in a few weeks on Wednesday and beat the Bucks 102-93. Draymond Green had 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Warriors improved to an NBA-best 25-2 at home. Golden State leads the season series 2-0, winning the most recent game 128-114 at home Feb. 4. You may remember that one as the game in which Steph Curry scored a season-high 51 points. The Warriors rallied from an early 22-point hole.
Key trends: The road team is 8-3 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The under is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
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