NBA Odds and Predictions: Saturday, March 7 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/6/2015
I thoroughly enjoy watching the Portland Trail Blazers play basketball because it's usually an exciting, up-tempo game. Of course, their stars are LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. I thought the team had a legitimate shot to win the West after acquiring Arron Afflalo at the trade deadline from Denver. I don't think that any longer because the Blazers lost very underrated guard Wesley Matthews for the season to a torn Achilles' tendon on Thursday. He had started every game this season and averaged 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists while ranking fourth in the NBA in 3-pointers made. It may have been Matthews' final game in a Blazers uniform as he's a free agent after the season. Tough loss. Portland is +1500 to win the Westat Sportsbook.ag. The Blazers are back in action Saturday and here's a look at every game.
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Grizzlies at Pelicans (pick'em, 191)
Both played Friday, with Memphis hosting the Lakers and Pelicans home to Boston. So that New Orleans didn't have to travel is a nice advantage. The Grizzlies and Pelicans have split two meetings. Memphis won by 12 at home very early in the season. On Jan. 9 in New Orleans, the Pelicans won 106-95 behind 21 points and 10 rebounds from Tyreke Evans. Anthony Davis had 20 points and nine boards. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol led Memphis with 19 points each.
Key trends: Memphis is 0-6 against the spread in its past six trips to New Orleans. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of the past nine meetings overall.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Suns at Cavaliers (-10, 213)
Phoenix was in Brooklyn on Friday and Cleveland in Atlanta. The Suns beat the visiting Cavaliers 107-100 on Jan. 13 behind 35 points from Markieff Morris. Phoenix outscored Cleveland 11-3 over the last 3:31. LeBron James had 33 points in what was the Cavs' sixth straight loss at the time. They did rally from a 19-point, third-quarter deficit to go ahead in the fourth. Cavs fans may remember that game as well for Kevin Love not playing a minute in the fourth quarter as Coach David Blatt appeared to be making a statement.
Key trends: Phoenix is 5-2 ATS in its past seven in the second of a back-to-back. Cleveland is 11-1 ATS in its past 12 at home. The under is 7-2 in the Cavs' past nine at home.
Early lean: Cavaliers and over.
Kings at Heat (-4.5, 205)
Sacramento visited Orlando on Friday and Miami was in Washington. The Heat won at the Kings 95-83 on Jan. 16. Chris Bosh had 30 points and Luol Deng 25 for Miami, which was without Dwyane Wade. DeMarcus Cousins was only 4-for-12 for 17 points with eight turnovers for Sacramento. Rudy Gay missed it for the Kings as did top reserve Carl Landry. Of course, the Heat don't have Bosh these days but do have Goran Dragic. The Kings were team hoping to trade for him as well.
Key trends: The Heat are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. the West. The over is 6-1 in Miami's past seven against teams with a losing record. The Kings are just 2-10 ATS in their past 12 in Miami.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Pacers at Knicks (+10, 189.5)
Indiana hosted Chicago on Friday. New York followed its worst loss of the season, 124-86 at home to Sacramento, with another abomination on Wednesday at these Pacers: a 105-82 defeat. Interesting that Indiana had a game in between but it's a home-and-home for the Knicks. Indiana forced 19 Knicks turnovers and turned them into 23 points. Andrea Bargnani led New York by matching his season-best with 25 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 13 as the Knicks lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
Key trends: The Pacers are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 4-0 in New York's past four against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Knicks (can't play this badly three straight right?) and under.
Hawks at 76ers (+11.5, 192.5)
Seems like a huge potential letdown game for Atlanta as it hosted Cleveland on Friday in a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview. Philly was home to Utah on Friday. The Hawks go for the four-game season sweep here. They blew out Philadelphia in the first two meetings but won by just six at home on Jan. 31. The Hawks are averaging 97.0 points on 44.5 percent shooting while Sixers are averaging 83.7 ppg on 40.2 percent from the field. That most recent win over Philly was Atlanta's 19th straight win but the Hawks lost the next game. They have won seven straight in this series overall.
Key trends: Atlanta is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: Sixers and under.
Trail Blazers at Timberwolves (+6, 202)
I won't bury the lead here: I fully expect the Blazers to come out a bit flat after that crushing injury to Matthews. As Aldridge said of Matthews: He's the heart and soul of this team." Matthews is nicknamed "Iron Man" for his toughness. I would imagine Afflalo starts unless Terry Stotts likes him with the second unit. Portland's win over Denver was the Blazers' fifth straight. The Wolves lost their fourth straight on Wednesday, 100-85 at home to Denver. Minnesota shot just 39 percent overall and 3-for18 on 3-pointers. Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic both returned after missing a game with an illness but both struggled. The Blazers and Wolves have split two meetings, each winning at home.
Key trends: The home team has covered five of the past seven meetings. The over is 5-1 in the past six in Minnesota.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
Wizards at Bucks (-3, 189)
Washington was home to Miami on Friday. Milwaukee played horribly on a four-game West Coast trip, losing all of them by at least seven points and not topping 95 in any of them. Guard O.J. Mayo sat out for the fourth time in five games Wednesday at Golden State because of a sore right hamstring. The Wizards are 2-0 vs. the Bucks this season, winning each by 11 points. This is the final meeting of the regular season. Washington has won four straight in the series overall.
Key trends: Washington is 4-1 ATS in its past five in Milwaukee. The over is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Rockets at Nuggets (TBA)
Houston was home to Detroit on Friday, while Denver was in San Antonio. The Rockets and Nuggets played back-to-back games in December. The Rockets' Beverley and Terrence Jones were questionable against the Pistons. Denver center Jusuf Nurkic remains out. The Nuggets entered Friday 2-0 under interim coach Melvin Hunt and are playing with a totally different mindset. Houston leads the season series 2-0, winning at home 108-96 and in Denver, 115-111 in overtime. NBA scoring leader James Harden is averaging 32.5 points in the two.
Key trends: Houston is 1-4 ATS in its past five in Denver. The over is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: I like Denver to win outright, and the Nugs certainly will be dogs when the line posts.
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