NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, February 21 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 2/20/2015
What an awesome trade deadline we had on Thursday. Sure, there was no true superstar dealt, but for the final 30 minutes or so before the 3 p.m. ET deadline things went nuts. I had the ESPN and NBA.com blogs going live, and I couldn't keep up. In my opinion, the big winners were Miami (Goran Dragic), Oklahoma City (Enes Kanter, D.J. Augustin), Portland (Arron Afflalo) and Detroit (Reggie Jackson). Thought Utah got robbed and the 76ers somehow are going into even deeper tank mode. All the top contenders stood pat but might sign a guy who is bought out (Kendrick Perkins for one). Any guys dealt who didn't make it to their teams or get cleared in time to play Friday should on Saturday if those teams are in action. But there are some TBAs because of the uncertainty.
Thunder at Hornets (TBA)
Charlotte practically could have had another training camp during the All-Star Break as this is the Hornets' first game since Feb. 10. They are expecting back Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as he missed the final two before the break. Oklahoma City kicked off the second half with a 104-89 home win over Dallas on Thursday, the Thunder's fourth straight win. Do you realize we probably are looking at a Thunder-Warriors first-round playoff matchup? Russell Westbrook followed his All-Star Game MVP performance with 34 points and 10 assists vs. the Mavs. Serge Ibaka had his best game of the year with 21 points and a career-high 22 rebounds. Kevin Durant is dealing with pain in his right foot and struggled with 12 points; he left late in the fourth quarter and was seen limping (thus the TBA). None of the new Thunder players were in action on Thursday as obviously that was too soon after the deadline. Charlotte lost 98-75 at Oklahoma City on Dec. 26. The Hornets scored the first two points and never led again. Durant missed that game.
Key trends: The Thunder are 0-4 against the spread in their past four vs. the East. Charlotte is 5-2 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of the Hornets' past eight.
Early lean: Have to wait on Durant.
Pelicans at Heat (TBA)
New Orleans played in Orlando on Friday night while Miami was at the Knicks. Potentially huge news for the Heat and it's not good. With the addition of Dragic, Miami would a great starting five of Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. Dragic is expecting to debut in this game after not playing Friday while awaiting his physical results. However, there are reports that Bosh could miss the rest of the season with a blood clot(s) in his lungs. He hadn't been feeling good for a while and saw doctors this week, missing Friday's game. The Miami Herald is reporting that the fear is clots in his lungs. That would obviously end the Heat's hopes of pulling an upset of two in the playoffs, and I'm not sure they even make the postseason. By the time you read this, an announcement could have been made. This is the first meeting between the Pelicans and Heat.
Key trends: New Orleans is 13-3 ATS in its past 16 in the second of a back-to-back. Miami is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home. The under is 9-1 in Miami's past 10 vs. the West.
Early lean: Incredibly hard to handicap this game because any energy the Heat might have been feeling with the addition of Dragic would be gone if Bosh is finished. Wait and see on him and Dragic.
Suns at Bulls (TBA)
Phoenix was in Minnesota on Friday and Chicago at Detroit. The Suns were crazy busy on Thursday, trading away Dragic and fellow point guard Isaiah Thomas (that was the surprise) and getting Brandon Knight from Milwaukee, Marcus Thornton from Boston and some junk from the Heat. I don't think the Suns are better with those moves but not necessarily much worse as Knight was having a great season. Knight didn't play Friday so should debut here. The Bulls didn't do anything but will look out at buyout candidates, including Perkins. Chicago lost in Phoenix 99-93 on Jan. 30. Eric Bledsoe had 23 points and Dragic 21. It was the second of a back-to-back off an OT game in Los Angeles the night before for the Bulls. Derrick Rose had 23 for Chicago and 22 from Jimmy Butler.
Key trends: The Suns are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Bulls are 6-1 ATS in their past seven against teams above .500. The under is 6-1 in Chicago's past seven in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Bulls will win high-scoring game.
Raptors at Rockets (-3.5, 211.5)
Toronto had a big game in Atlanta Friday while Houston was in Dallas. The Raptors were quiet at the deadline, while the Rockets made a sneaky-good move in getting K.J. McDaniels from Philadelphia. Some call him a poor man's Scottie Pippen because McDaniels is an athletic beast on defense. Houston also landed a backup point guard in New York's Pablo Prigioni. This is the first meeting of the season between the teams. They split last year. Houston has won seven in a row at home vs. the Raptors.
Key trends: Toronto has covered six straight Saturday games. Houston is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 at home. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
Kings at Clippers (TBA)
Sacramento hosted Boston on Friday in George Karl's first game as coach. The Kings made a minor move, reuniting point guard Andre Miller with his long-time coach in Karl. They sent Ramon Session to Washington for Miller. Nothing to see here. I didn't think the Clippers would beat the visiting Spurs on Thursday night without Blake Griffin but they did, 119-115. At least I hit the over. DeAndre Jordan continued his amazing play with 26 points and 18 rebounds. The Spurs were hacking the terrible free-throw shooter, and he was just 10-for-28 from the line. Jordan became the first player to have 25 free-throw attempts in consecutive games since Wilt Chamberlain during the 1961-62 season. Teams are going to keep doing this. The Clips are now 3-1 without Griffin. The Kings and Clippers have split two meetings. The most recent was a 117-108 L.A. win in Sacramento on Jan. 17 behind 30 points from Griffin. Kings point guard Darren Collison was listed as doubtful for Friday's game so probably will be here too (thus the TBA).
Key trends: The Kings have covered their past four in the second of a back-to-back. The Clips are 0-4 ATS in their past four against teams with a losing record. The under has hit in eight of the past 11 meetings in L.A.
Early lean: Looks like a Clippers rout.
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