NBA Odds and Predictions: Thursday, February 26 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 2/25/2015
Just the two NBA on TNT games on this Thursday's schedule, but they are pretty big ones. There's a potential NBA Finals preview between the Warriors and Cavaliers in Cleveland to open the doubleheader. That is the +300 favored exact Finals matchupon Sportsbook.ag. Then the Thunder visit the Suns in the nightcap as those two are fighting for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. I fully expect Oklahoma City to take that no matter how long Kevin Durant is out.
Warriors at Cavaliers (-3.5, 215.5)
Cleveland was favored to win the Eastern Conference regardless, but the Cavaliers clearly caught a break with the torn meniscus discovery in the right knee of Bulls star Derrick Rose. That likely rules him out for the season and just about ends any shot the Bulls had of beating Cleveland in a playoff series. Chicago has risen all the way to +1500 on Sportsbook.ag to win the East. Think of how amazing it is how few games LeBron James has missed in his career. Even Michael Jordan missed most of one season.
The Cavs won their third straight and 17th in the past 19 on Tuesday, 102-93 in Detroit. LeBron had 19 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds but also nine turnovers. He moved past Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen for first place on the NBA's all-time list for assists by a forward. Kevin Love had 24 points, all on 3-pointers. Cleveland was down by 14 with less than 11 minutes left in the third quarter but then went on a 20-3 run. Golden State bounced back from an upset loss in Indiana on Sunday with a 114-107 victory in Washington on Tuesday. Steph Curry returned from a one-game absence and had 32 points and eight assists. Golden State was outshot and killed on the boards but forced 26 Washington turnovers.
Cleveland visited Golden State on Jan. 9 and lost 112-94, but that was when the Cavaliers were playing some of their worst basketball of the season. Also, some guy named LeBron didn't play for the Cavs. Klay Thompson had 24 points, Curry 23 points and 10 assists, and Draymond Green was two assists shy of a triple-double in the victory. The Warriors were really rolling back then. It was their sixth straight win overall and 14th straight at home. J.R. Smith scored 27 points, Kyrie Irving had 23, and Love added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers. The Warriors outscored Cleveland 36-3 in fast-break points. Cleveland head coach David Blatt was all set to become an assistant to Steve Kerr on the Warriors bench before backing out when the Cavaliers wanted him for the head-coaching gig.
Key trends: The Warriors have covered eight of their past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. Golden State has covered only one of its past eight against the East. Cleveland has covered nine in a row against the West. It is 9-1 ATS in its past 10 at home. The "over/under" has gone under in five of the Warriors' past six games. The under is 6-0 in Cleveland's past six at home against teams with a winning road record.
Early lean: Cavaliers and under.
Thunder at Suns (+5, 217)
It's the second of a back-to-back for Phoenix, which had to play in the thin air of Denver on Wednesday night. That's never easy to recover from just 24 hours later. Oklahoma City, again without Kevin Durant, won its seventh straight Tuesday, 105-92 against the visiting Pacers. Russell Westbrook continued to put up crazy numbers with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists despite sitting the entire fourth quarter with the game not close. Westbrook has six games this month with 20 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. The rest of the league has five. Westbrook needs to start getting MVP love. The Thunder are now 9-1 this month.
Oklahoma City is 2-0 vs. Phoenix this season. The Thunder won at home 112-88 on Dec. 14 behind 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from Westbrook. Durant had 23 points and eight rebounds. The Thunder made nine of their first 11 shots and never trailed. Gerald Green led Phoenix with only 15 points. The Suns didn't have the since-traded Goran Dragic in the game. Oklahoma City had won 11 straight games against the Suns before dropping the last two meetings against Phoenix last season. On New Year's Eve, also in Oklahoma City, the Thunder won 137-134 in overtime. Durant had 44 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. It was all needed as Westbrook was ejected after picking up two technical fouls late in the first half. Markieff Morris missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to win it for Phoenix. Eric Bledsoe led the Suns with 29 points and Morris had 25. Phoenix has lost eight straight in Oklahoma City.
Key trends: The Thunder are 7-0 ATS in their past seven games. The Suns are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Thunder and over.
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