NBA Odds and Predictions: Thursday, February 5 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 2/4/2015
Before this season began, my NBA Finals predicted matchups was L.A. Clippers against Cleveland Cavaliers. That still may happen, and is priced at +2100 on Sportsbook.ag, but I'm much more confident about the red-hot Cavaliers making it there than the Clippers. It's not that L.A. isn't a good team, but that the West is so tough. The Clips could win 55 games and not even get home-court advantage in a series. Thursday is the final meeting between the teams during the regular season. Here's a look at the four games on the schedule.
Wizards at Hornets (+2.5, 186.5)
Second of a back-to-back for Washington as it played in Atlanta on Wednesday night so it could well enter this on a season-high four-game losing streak. The Wizards hosted the Hornets on Monday and lost 92-88 in the first meeting of the season. Al Jefferson had 18 points and 12 rebound and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 13 points and 13 rebounds. Charlotte forward Marvin Williams returned after missing two games with an injury and was scoreless but had seven rebounds. That win improved Charlotte, which hasn't played since Monday, to 5-1 since Kemba Walker was lost to knee surgery, and that very much surprises me. His replacement, Brian Roberts, has done a solid job.
Key trends: Washington is 0-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in the past five.
Early lean: Wizards likely going to be spent after dealing with the high-flying Hawks, win or lose. Take the points and under.
Clippers at Cavaliers (-3.5, 208.5)
This is the TNT opener at 8 p.m. ET. L.A. comes off a puzzling 102-100 loss in Brooklyn on Monday. The Clippers blew a nine-point lead with 1:35 left in the game. The Nets' Jarrett Jack won it with 1.3 seconds left. DeAndre Jordan had 22 points and 20 rebounds, his first career 20-20 game, but he was just 2-for-12 from the free-throw line. The Clippers finished 8 of 25 (32 percent) from the free-throw line. They and the Nets combined to go 16-for-43 from the charity stripe, the worst combined free-throw percentage in a game in NBA history. Cleveland brings in a season-high 11-game winning streak after falling a game under .500 before that run. The Cavs beat Philly 97-84 on Monday behind 24 points from Kyrie Irving and 18 points and 11 boards from LeBron James. James leads the Eastern Conference in scoring at 28.4 ppg during the winning streak while Irving is No. 3 at 25.8 ppg.
The Clippers hosted the Cavaliers on Jan. 16 and lost 126-121. Irving had 37 points, James 32 and Tristan Thompson 24 points and 12 rebounds. Thompson started because Kevin Love missed the game with a back injury. James became the youngest player in league history to reach 24,000 career points in that one. The Cavaliers shot 55 percent. Blake Griffin had 34 points and 19 rebounds for Los Angeles, while Chris Paul had 15 points and 14 assists. It was a great game to watch, up and down all night. The 126 points given up by the Clippers were a season-worst.
Key trends: The Clippers are 1-5 ATS in their past six vs. the East. The Cavs have covered seven straight vs. the West. The under is 5-1 in L.A.'s past six. It is 6-0 in Cleveland's past six after a win.
Early lean: Must-see TV here. Cavs and over.
Mavericks at Kings (+3.5, 208.5)
Second of a back-to-back for Dallas as it was in Golden State on Wednesday. Sacramento was looking for its first two-game winning streak since late November but was routed 121-96 at home to Golden State on Tuesday. Here I thought the Kings would show heart there because they had been blown out three times already by the Warriors, but instead Sacramento was outscored 23-0 at one point in the first half. DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 11 rebounds. The Mavs are 2-0 vs. the Kings this season. The one in Sacramento finished 108-104 in overtime on Jan. 13. Rajon Rondo, who won't play in this game because of facial injuries, erased a one-point deficit with a 3-pointer to give Dallas the lead for good at 104-102 with 1:19 remaining. He finished with 21 points. Monta Ellis had 28 points and 10 assists as Dallas rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Cousins, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter, had 32 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists. Sacramento lost Rudy Gay, its second-leading scorer, late in the first quarter with a left knee strain. Obviously not having those two in OT really hurt the Kings.
Key trends: The Mavericks are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-0 in the past five.
Early lean: Pretty much bet against any team the night after it has to play at Golden State. Thus take the points and go over.
Suns at Trail Blazers (-3.5, 211)
This is the TNT nightcap. Portland ended a three-game losing streak (but didn't cover) with a 103-102 home win over Utah on Tuesday. Portland welcomed back starting center Robin Lopez, who had been out since fracturing his hand on Dec. 15. He started and had 11 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes. Phoenix has been off since a 102-101 home loss to Memphis on Monday. Markieff Morris tried to get off a game-winning shot, but it was blocked by Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. The Suns were up 101-94 with 1:49 left but obviously didn't score again. The Suns' three guards of Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic combined for 60 points. Fellow guard Gerald Green had two turnovers and a foul and took no shots in 3:26 on the floor in the first half and then didn't see the court again.
Phoenix beat visiting Portland 118-113 on Jan. 21 in the only meeting so far. The Suns gagged away a 25-point second-quarter lead and trailed by five with 2:21 left, but Bledsoe scored seven points in the final 1:38. He finished with a career-high 33 points. Portland was without star big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
Key trends: The Suns are 8-1 in the past nine meetings. The under is 8-2 in the past 10.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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