NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, February 28 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 2/27/2015
I want to hit on something that has nothing to do with Saturday's games but that I'm hugely in favor of and that Mavs owner Mark Cuban said this week many owners are as well: stretching the regular season a few weeks. We all know that the month of July is the worst from a sports betting perspective. Why not have the NBA Finals at least in the first week of the month? July 4 could become a big-time NBA night. True, TV ratings drop in the summer because everyone is outside, but if the players want fewer back-to-backs then adding a couple of weeks is the answer because starting the season earlier sure isn't when you are up against football. The TV networks might say no, however. Here's a look at Saturday's slate with most teams playing the second of a back-to-back.
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Pistons at Wizards (TBA)
Detroit hosted New York on Friday, while slumping Washington was in Philadelphia and was hoping to get back Bradley Beal after he had missed the previous seven games with a lower-leg injury. However, Beal didn't play, so I'd be surprised if he does here (thus the TBA). This is the final meeting of the season between Detroit and Washington. The Wizards won 107-103 at home on Nov. 12 behind 27 points and 11 assists from John Wall. Washington lost last Sunday in Detroit, 106-89, as the Pistons' Andre Drummond had 18 points and 16 rebounds. Reggie Jackson made his Detroit debut in that one and had 17 points and five assists.
Key trends: Washington is 0-4 ATS in its past four in the second of a back-to-back. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Detroit's past seven on the road. The Pistons are 8-2 ATS in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: I do think Washington wins this game even without Beal.
Hawks at Heat (+5.5, 199)
Atlanta hosted Orlando on Friday while Miami was in New Orleans. This could easily be a first-round Eastern Conference playoff preview as the Hawks are going to be the top seed, while Miami is currently No. 7 but only 1.5 games ahead of No. 8 Brooklyn. Atlanta has had little trouble vs. Miami thus far in two high-scoring wins. Atlanta won 114-103 at home on Nov. 14 when Dwyane Wade was out, and 112-102 in Miami on Dec. 3 despite 28 from Wade and 27 points and 11 rebounds from Chris Bosh. The Heat even shot 56.3 percent.
Key trends: Atlanta is 6-1 ATS in its past seven in the second of a back-to-back. The Hawks are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 4-1 in those five.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Raptors at Knicks (+14, 196)
Toronto had a big game at home against Golden State on Friday, while the awful Knicks were in Detroit. New York point guard Jose Calderon was doubtful for that game and thus surely will be here as well. I still laugh that Toronto owns New York's first-round pick next season as the last payment for the Andrea Bargnani deal. The Raptors are 2-0 vs. the Knicks. They won 95-90 in OT at the Garden on Dec. 14 despite 34 points from Carmelo Anthony. A week later in Toronto, the Raptors rolled 118-108. Toronto didn't have DeMar DeRozan in either game.
Key trends: Toronto is 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven in New York.
Early lean: I love the points here. Knicks are a joke, but Raptors will be going all out on Friday.
Grizzlies at Timberwolves (+5.5, 195)
Memphis hosted the Clippers on Friday and Minnesota was in Chicago. The Grizzlies have won 17 of the past 20 in this series but are just 1-1 in the two this season. Memphis won at home 105-101 on Opening Night behind 32 from Marc Gasol. However, the Wolves pulled off a 90-89 home upset Feb. 6. Ricky Rubio scored eight of his 17 points in the final two minutes to help the Wolves end Memphis' eight-game winning streak. Mike Conley had 15 points and seven assists for the Grizzlies, who led 87-80 with less than two minutes to play. This is the last meeting, so Minnesota could actually win the season series. And you think the NBA regular season matters?
Key trends: Memphis is 0-4 ATS in its past four against teams with a losing record. Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its past five at home. The under is 10-1 in the past 11 meetings in Minnesota.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Nets at Mavericks (TBA)
Brooklyn was in Houston on Friday. Dallas had a three-game winning streak snapped Wednesday in a 104-87 loss in Atlanta, but you could see that coming as the Mavs were without three starters in Rajon Rondo, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler as well as reserve Amare Stoudemire. Rondo was suspended for an on-court run-in with Coach Rick Carlisle on Tuesday, and I highly doubt Rondo re-signs as a free agent in Big D. Rondo will start Saturday, however. Chandler might return from a hip contusion. Parsons is questionable with his ankle injury, and Stoudemire simply got a night of rest and will play. Dallas won 98-96 in overtime at Brooklyn on Jan. 5. Monta Ellis tied it with 10.5 seconds left in regulation, and Dirk Nowitzki hit the clinching 3-pointer in OT. The Nets got 20 points and 10 assists from Jarrett Jack but didn't have an injured Deron Williams.
Key trends: The Mavs are 2-5 ATS in their past seven on Saturday. The under is 6-1 in Brooklyn's past seven in the second of a back-to-back. The road team has covered the past six in this series.
Early lean: Mavs will win this game but have to wait on points for the Chandlers.
Spurs at Suns (+1, 207.5)
Struggling San Antonio was in Sacramento on Friday. Phoenix has followed a five-game losing streak with back-to-back wins. The Suns beat Oklahoma City on Thursday, 117-113 in overtime despite another triple-double from Russell Westbrook. He missed the game-tying layup with 5.7 seconds left in OT. Eric Bledsoe was just as good as Westbrook with 28 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. It was great theater seeing those two duel. Markieff Morris scored 29 for the Suns, who pulled within 1.5 games of the Thunder for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Suns and Spurs have split two meetings. Phoenix won at home on Halloween, and the Spurs won at home 100-95 on Jan. 9 in the most recent meeting.
Key trends: The Spurs are 0-6 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. Phoenix has covered just five of its past 17 vs. the West. The over is 5-1 in the Suns' past six.
Early lean: Really depends on what Spurs do Friday. If they lose again, which I doubt, then I'd take them here because they will be truly desperate. If they win, go Suns.
Bucks at Jazz (-2.5, 185.5)
Milwaukee was at the L.A. Lakers on Friday and Utah was in Denver on Friday. This game fascinates me, honestly, for two seeing freakish players -- in a good way -- on the court at the same time in Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo (the "Greek Freak") and Utah's Rudy Gobert (the "Stifle Tower"). These guys have wingspans like pterodactyls. NBA basketball is better with players from overseas, no doubt. Utah won in Milwaukee 101-99 on Jan. 22 as the Bucks missed their last five shots in the final minute. Former Buck Brandon Knight missed a jumper with two seconds left, and Zaza Pachulia missed the tip-in at the buzzer. Utah's Gordon Hayward scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. The Jazz didn't have Derrick Favors in that one. If you are wondering, Gobert had 14 points and 10 rebounds while Antetokounmpo had 13 points, six rebounds and five steals.
Key trends: The Jazz are 4-1 ATS in their past five on Saturday. The under is 6-0 in Milwaukee's past six on Saturday. Utah has covered 12 straight at home vs. Milwaukee.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
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