NBA Odds and Predictions: Thursday, January 22 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 1/21/2015
Could the Chicago Bulls actually fire Tom Thibodeau? Seems hard to believe as Thibs is widely considering one of the NBA's top coaches and perhaps its best from a defensive perspective. But with the Bulls in a major funk and lacking any intensity, there's talk that Thibodeau finally may have lost the locker room -- he pushes his players harder than any other NBA guy in terms of practices and minutes played. That usually catches up to the Bulls come playoff time. I don't expect any moves during the season but if the Bulls flop in the playoffs, I believe Thibs is let go as he always hasn't seen eye-to-eye with the front office, either. The Bulls should be in near desperation mode for their game Thursday vs. the Spurs, the TNT opener. Here's a glance at every game on the schedule.
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Spurs at Bulls (+2, 200)
It's a potential NBA Finals preview to be sure, although the Bulls most certainly aren't playing like a team that will win even a round in the playoffs, much less get out of the East. Chicago has lost six of eight and it has been one of the NBA's worst defensive teams in the New Year. It has allowed at least 100 points in nine of 11 games in 2015. Something is amiss. Even normally-quiet Derrick Rose ripped his teammates publicly following Monday's 14-point loss in Cleveland. Chicago continues to wait on starters Joakim Noah and Mike Dunleavy to return from injury, but both are iffy again here. Noah has missed three straight games and Dunleavy 10 in a row. Noah is closer. San Antonio won its fourth straight Tuesday, 109-99 in Denver. The Spurs are starting to get healthy -- although remain without Marco Belinelli -- and may be ready to take off. These teams split two meetings last season, each winning on the road. Chicago was one of only three Eastern Conference teams to win in San Antonio last regular season. Tony Parker averaged 20.0 points and 7.5 assists in the two games, while Jimmy Butler led the Bulls by averaging 21.0 points.
Key trends: The Spurs are 4-1 ATS in their past five after a win. Chicago is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 home games. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of Chicago's past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The road team has covered four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: I'll give the Bulls the benefit of the doubt one more time here and take the points. If they lose big, something is really wrong there.
Jazz at Bucks (-6.5, 190)
Second of a back-to-back for Utah as it was in Cleveland on Wednesday. The team has announced that rookie forward Rodney Hood will be out until at least the All-Star Break with a foot injury. He wasn't a huge contributor but did get about 18 minutes a night. The Bucks have been off since a 92-89 home loss to Toronto on Monday. Milwaukee had a chance to potentially tie it with under six seconds left when the Raptors' Kyle Lowry missed two free throws, but O.J. Mayo turned it over around midcourt. Milwaukee big man Larry Sanders began serving his 10-game drug suspension. The Jazz and Bucks split last season, each winning at home. The Bucks' win in Milwaukee was arguably the best game they played all season, a 114-88 drubbing.
Key trends: Utah is 6-15 ATS in its past 21 in the second of a back-to-back. Milwaukee is 6-0 ATS in its past six Thursday games. The under is 4-0 in Utah's past four in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 6-0 in Milwaukee's past six at home.
Early lean: Bucks and big on under.
Celtics at Trail Blazers (-7.5, 203)
Portland was in Phoenix on Wednesday night, and big man LaMarcus Aldridge didn't make the trip due to a thumb injury suffered on Monday. X-rays were negative, but he will have an MRI at some point, and there's pretty much no chance he plays here, either. Aldridge leads the Blazers with averages of 23.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Boston lots its third straight on Monday, 102-93 at the Clippers against former Coach Doc Rivers. Tayshaun Prince, who the team still might buy out, made his Boston debut and played 20 minutes. The Celtics lost their 24th straight game against the Western Conference on the road. That is the sixth-longest streak in NBA history. The record is 38. Boston lost at home to Portland 94-88 on Nov. 23. Aldridge had 20 points and 14 rebounds. Jeff Green (now in Memphis) and Jared Sullinger had 19 points apiece for Boston. The game was tied at 72-all after three quarters before the Trail Blazers took charge with a 17-5 run to start the fourth.
Key trends: Boston is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. the West. Portland is 1-5 ATS in its past six at home. The under is 8-2 in the Celtics' past 10 on the road.
Early lean: I'll take the points with Aldridge out and the Blazers in a back-to-back.
Nets at Clippers (-12.5, 200)
Brooklyn was in Sacramento on Wednesday. Clippers coach Doc Rivers will get to see his former Celtics player Kevin Garnett for perhaps the last time in this one -- if Garnett plays both of the back-to-back, which is no sure thing. The Clippers have won two straight, beating visiting Boston 102-93 on Monday. Blake Griffin had 22 points and DeAndre Jordan 19 points and 12 boards, although L.A. nearly blew a 23-point lead. The Nets and Clippers split last year, each winning at home. The Clippers have won three straight at home in the series. This is the TNT nightcap.
Key trends: The Nets are 5-2 in their past seven on the road. The Clippers are 0-4 ATS in their past four vs. the East. The under is 7-0 in Brooklyn's past seven road games vs. teams with a winning home record. Brooklyn has covered the past five meetings.
Early lean: Clippers and under.
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