NBA Odds and Predictions: Thursday, February 19 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 2/18/2015
With the week off for the NBA All-Star Break, the various sportsbooks have released a few updated season odds. For example, on Bovada's NBA MVP odds, Golden State's Stephen Curry is the -200 favorite. I can't really argue with the best player on the league's best team, but I would say that Houston's James Harden (+350) is a bit more deserving as he has had to carry Houston a lot more this season than Curry had to the Warriors. Dwight Howard has played in only 32 games and is going to miss at least probably 10 more. The only other guy in the race is LeBron James (+350), but he didn't play all that great for about half a season.
On Sportsbook.ag , the favored NBA Finals matchup is Cavaliers vs. Warriors at +400, and I get that too. I am surprised, however, that the first Bulls option is way down at +1300, also against the Warriors. Chicago just impressively beat Cleveland in the final game before the break. Cavs-Spurs (+1000), Hawks-Warriors (+1000) and Cavs-Grizzlies (+1200) are all ahead of Bulls-Warriors, which I think is dead wrong. I still don't buy the Hawks.
There are only two division races that are close, and Sportsbook.ag has odds on those. The Bulls lead the Cavaliers by 1.5 games in the Central, but Cleveland is the -180 favorite and Chicago +140. I like the Bulls there. In the Southwest, Memphis leads Houston by three games, Dallas by four and San Antonio by five. I do expect the Grizzlies (-220 favorites) to hang on.
The second half kicks off with a Western Conference doubleheader on TNT. Here's a look at each game. Also be aware that Thursday is the NBA trade deadline. Bovada has some trade props currently active.
Mavericks at Thunder (-5, 212)
Will this be the Dallas debut of Amare Stoudemire? The Knicks bought him out this week, and he's heading to the Mavericks after clearing waivers Wednesday. I like the move for the Mavs, who were short on big men after including Brandan Wright to Boston on the Rajon Rondo trade. Stoudemire, who is averaging 12 points and 6.8 rebounds, can spell Tyson Chandler at center and occasionally Dirk Nowitzki at power forward. Stoudemire isn't close to a star these days but can give 20-25 good minutes. He's a big upgrade over journeyman Greg Smith, rookie Dwight Powell and 10-day rental Bernard James, the three centers who were on the roster entering the break. Stoudemire chose the Mavs over the Clippers and Suns because he thinks the Dallas pick-and-roll offense is perfectly suited for him. In other news, the Mavs also were looking at free-agent big man Jermaine O'Neal, but he said he's not ready to play in the NBA again.
Dallas enters the second half at No. 5 in the West and has won six of its past eight games. Rondo had missed the previous six games with facial injuries, but he is expected to return for this one. I think it's fair to say that Rondo has been pretty disappointing with the Mavs thus far. He's averaging 9.2 points (shooting just 40.4 percent), 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 21 games. Chandler, who missed the final game before the break with a sprained ankle, also will play.
Oklahoma City is ninth in the West but just a half-game behind No. 8 Phoenix and tied with the Suns in the loss column. You hear the Thunder could be very active before the deadline, perhaps looking to trade Reggie Jackson, who has lost minutes with the acquisition of Dion Waiters, for a center. The Brook Lopez-from-Brooklyn rumors continue. The Thunder entered the break having won three straight and five of six. They are 23-13 since Kevin Durant made his season debut Dec. 2, a record tied for third-best in the West in that stretch. Durant didn't play much in the All-Star Game because of a sore foot but says it's feeling much better. Of course, teammate Russell Westbrook took over the ASG with 41 points, the second-most in the game's history, to win MVP honors.
The Thunder and Mavs have played once, a 112-107 Dallas home win on Dec. 28. Nowitzki tied a season high with 30 points while Chandler Parsons had 26. Chandler missed the game as did Durant. Serge Ibaka led Oklahoma City with a season-high 26 points. Westbrook was just 6-for-23 from the floor for 18 points.
Key trends: Dallas is 1-6 against the spread in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Thunder have covered four straight at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The "over/under" has gone under in four of Dallas' past five on the road. The over is 4-1 in OKC's past five.
Early lean: Thunder are starting to get into rhythm. Take them and the over.
Spurs at Clippers (-1, 203)
San Antonio sits in seventh in the West, but I don't expect the Spurs to stay there long. They are only two games out of the third seed. San Antonio is healthy now and entered the break with two straight wins and four of five. The team is on a season-high nine-game road trip, so the All-Star Break came at a great time as it split that up into two pieces. There are six to go.
The Clippers enter the break sixth in the West and off double-digit wins against Dallas and Houston but will remain without Blake Griffin for at least a few more weeks following surgery to remove a staph infection from his right elbow. The Clippers could make a smaller trade by Thursday's deadline for some wing help. They would love to get Kevin Garnett if the Nets buy him out.
The Spurs won the first two meetings with Los Angeles but lost the most recent one, 105-85 at home on Jan. 31. Griffin had 31 points and 13 boards. DeAndre Jordan had 19 rebounds. San Antonio's Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for only 18 points.
Key trends: The Spurs have covered only two of their past 10 overall. They are 1-5 ATS in their past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The Clippers are 3-8 ATS in their past 11 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The Spurs are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Spurs and over.
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