NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, April 4 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/3/2015
Unlike Friday's schedule, there are some pretty good NBA matchups on Saturday night featuring likely playoff teams. There are few bigger fans of the Association than I, but I'll certainly be watching the Final Four instead of the professionals on Saturday night. But, hey, there are always potential NCAA/NBA parlay options. Here's a look at every game on the penultimate Saturday of the 2014-15 NBA regular season.
76ers at Hornets (-10.5, 191.5)
Charlotte was in Indiana on Friday and without both Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller. Philadelphia lost a fourth straight on Wednesday, 106-93 in Washington to start a three-game road trip. Ish Smith tied his season high with 23 points, and Isaiah Canaan added 18 for the 76ers, who have lost 18 of 19 on the road. Canaan probably won't play here as he was on crutches after the game with a sprained ankle. The 76ers and Hornets have split two meetings this season, while Charlotte has won three in a row at home against Philadelphia.
Key trends: The Hornets are 1-7 against the spread in their past eight at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The "over/under" has hit in six of Philly's past seven against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Love Philly at this number and under.
Nets at Hawks (-7.5, 202.5)
Brooklyn hosted Toronto on Friday, and if the Nets finish eighth in the East, which is quite possible, they will open the playoffs in Atlanta. The Hawks had a puzzling 105-95 loss in Detroit on Tuesday, although it was the second of a back-to-back. I guess there are no more puzzling losses this season because Atlanta has nothing to play for. In that game, Coach Mike Budenholzer went to a full platoon rotation. He played the starters for 11 or 12 minutes at the beginning of each half and then made a five-player switch to the reserves for the rest of the half. Expect that the rest of the way. Atlanta is 2-0 vs. Brooklyn this season, winning each by double digits.
Key trends: The road team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 10-2 in the Hawks' past 12 vs. the East.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Heat at Pistons (TBA)
Detroit was in Chicago on Friday. Miami lost a second straight Thursday, 114-88 in Cleveland. Dwyane Wade left the game with a knee injury but hopes to play Saturday as it wasn't a severe issue. Miami was without Udonis Haslem, who missed his second straight game with the stomach flu. These teams have split two meetings, each winning at home. They played last Sunday in south Florida and the Heat won behind 40 points from Wade, 19 coming in the fourth quarter. Hassan Whiteside and Chris Andersen missed the game, and Luol Deng and Michael Beasley each left in the first half. Andre Drummond had a career-high 32 points for the Pistons and Reggie Jackson 31. Overall the Heat have won nine of the past 11 meetings, but those were mostly with LeBron.
Key trends: The Heat are 1-5 ATS in their past six on the road. Detroit has covered four straight at home. The under is 6-2 in Miami's past eight.
Early lean: Heat win if Wade plays.
Celtics at Raptors (-5, 207.5)
Boston hosted Milwaukee on Friday, reportedly getting back injured forward Jared Sullinger in a surprise, and Toronto was in Brooklyn. The Raptors were to play the Nets without All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, and don't look for him here, either. Thus, Greivis Vasquez would start again. Toronto is 2-0 against Boston this season -- averaging 109.5 points -- and Lowry has averaged 27.0 points, one of his highest marks against and team, 5.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Overall the Raptors have won four straight in the series.
Key trends: Boston is 9-2 ATS in its past 11 on the road vs. teams with a winning home record. Toronto is 1-4 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 4-1 in Boston's past five in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Wizards at Grizzlies (TBA)
Washington hosted the Knicks on Friday and Memphis was home to Oklahoma City. The Grizzlies were hoping Zach Randolph was to play against the Thunder with an elbow injury, and as of this writing he was going to. Memphis lost in Washington 107-87 on March 12, but that's very misleading. Coach Dave Joerger sat Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen, with only Conley even dealing with a minor injury. The Wizards' John Wall took that almost personally: "I think we're a team that's on the rise, and teams respect us now. And I guess they don't respect us."
Key trends: Washington has failed to cover its past seven in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 5-1 in Memphis' past six Saturday games.
Early lean: Make sure Randolph plays both ends of the back-to-back.
Magic at Bucks (-7.5, 194.5)
Orlando was in Minnesota on Friday and Milwaukee in Boston. The Magic won the first meeting with Milwaukee in central Florida 101-85 early in the season. The Bucks won 115-100 in Orlando in late January and 97-91 at home on March 11 as Khris Middleton tied a career high with 30 points and set a career high with 12 field goals. It was Milwaukee's fifth straight win at home in the series.
Key trends: Orlando is 5-2 ATS in the past seven in Milwaukee. The under is 10-1 in the Bucks' past 11 on Saturday.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Warriors at Mavericks (TBA)
I mentioned that Thursday night's home game with Phoenix really shaped up as a letdown game for the Warriors, and I took the Suns and the double-digit points. Golden State escaped with a 107-106 victory, its 11th straight win. Harrison Barnes -- not Steph Curry or Klay Thompson -- hit a running shot in the lane with less than a second remaining. It was a fantastic game if you watched on TNT. Curry finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Steve Kerr's next win will set an NBA record for most by a rookie coach. I don't expect to see Warriors forward Draymond Green as he has missed three straight with a shin issue. Dallas lost 108-101 at home to Houston on Thursday (called that result too). Mavs forward Chandler Parsons seems unlikely for this game after leaving Thursday with right knee soreness. Golden State is 3-0 against Dallas this season, winning each by at least seven points and scoring a minimum of 104 points in each. Overall, the Warriors have won six straight in the series, including two straight in Big D.
Key trends: Golden State is 5-1 ATAS in the past six in Dallas. The under is 7-2 in the past nine meetings overall.
Early lean: I think Mavs win this game even without Parsons. No reason for the Warriors to care on the road.
Clippers at Nuggets (+6.5, 216.5)
Denver was in San Antonio on Friday. The Clippers bounced back from a crushing loss at home to the Warriors on Tuesday with an impressive 126-122 win in Portland on Wednesday to reach 50 wins. The Clippers were flat at first, trailing by 19 in the first half. Chris Paul had an amazing game with a season-high 41 points to go with 17 assists and just one turnover. The Nuggets and Clippers have split two meetings, each winning at home. L.A. has won five straight at Staples Center against Denver.
Key trends: The home team is 8-1 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under has hit in six of the past eight.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
Pelicans at Trail Blazers (-4.5, 199.5)
New Orleans was in Sacramento on Friday and Portland at the L.A. Lakers. It's quite possible the Pelicans could tie Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot with an upset of Portland. The Thunder entered Friday's very tough game at Memphis just 1.5 games up, and New Orleans was a solid favorite to beat the Kings. Portland is 2-0 against the Pelicans this season, but both wins came back in 2014. It's must-see TV to watch LaMarcus Aldridge and Anthony Davis square off.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 4-1 in Portland's past five at home.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Jazz at Suns (-1.5, 190)
Utah has been off since beating Denver 98-84 on Wednesday for its third straight win and third straight time holding an opponent under 90 points. Rudy Gobert continued his breakout season with a career-high 20 points along with 12 rebounds. Derrick Favors was back after missing two games and had 19 points and seven rebounds. Rodney Hood missed the game after suffering a concussion against the Timberwolves on Monday. Phoenix lost that crusher in Golden State on Thursday that all but eliminated the Suns from the playoffs. They have dropped five in a row and are now a .500 team. Brandon Knight and Alex Len missed Thursday's game, and you won't see them here. The Jazz beat visiting Phoenix 118-91 very early in the season and the Suns won at home 100-93 in early February.
Key trends: Utah has covered five of the past eight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past five in Phoenix.
Early lean: I think Phoenix spent whatever energy it had left on Thursday. Go Utah and under.
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