NBA Odds and Predictions: Thursday, January 29 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 1/28/2015
It's the usual TNT doubleheader on Thursday night, but they look to be two mismatches on paper when Denver visits Memphis and the Chicago is at the L.A. Lakers. If you are big on the NBA All-Star Game, make sure to watch the pre-game show that starts on TNT at 7 p.m. ET. That's when the All-Star reserves will be announced. There are some interesting decisions to be made for sure, perhaps none more than Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. He has missed more than half the season. So will Western Conference coach Steve Kerr take him? I say yes. Here's a look at every game on Thursday's schedule.
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Bucks at Magic (+2, 205.5)
Milwaukee won in Miami 109-102 on Tuesday and thus will be looking for only its second two-game winning streak of the month here. Brandon Knight had 17 points and six assists, and the Bucks put seven players in double figures. I should have known better than to take the Heat as Bucks coach Jason Kidd is now 7-0 vs. Miami in his regular-season NBA coaching career. It helped Milwaukee's cause this time that Dwyane Wade left hurt in the third quarter. Bucks big man Ersan Ilyasova left in the first half with a groin injury after scoring four points in 10 minutes. He's obviously doubtful here. Orlando dropped its sixth straight Monday, 103-94 in Memphis despite 18 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic. The Magic won the only meeting with the Bucks thus far, 101-85 on Nov. 14 in central Florida. Tobias Harris had 26 points and 10 rebounds in Orlando's 17th straight home win in this series. Now that's a surprising stat. Orlando's last loss at home to Milwaukee was 111-105 on Dec. 29, 2004.
Key trends: The home team has covered four straight meetings. The "over/under" is 11-1 in Milwaukee's past 12 vs. the East. The over is 6-0 in Orlando's past six at home.
Early lean: Bucks end the skid and go way under.
Knicks at Pacers (TBA)
Second of a back-to-back for New York as it hosted the Thunder on Wednesday. Thus, you have a potential sit-down alert here for the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, especially with this one on the road (thus the TBA). It's not like the Knicks are really trying to win as it is. Indiana has lost eight of nine. It was beaten 104-91 at home by Toronto on Tuesday. Swingman C.J. Miles missed that game with a strained left groin. Starting point guard George Hill is still trying to play through soreness from his injured groin. Somehow this is the first meeting of the season between these teams.
Key trends: The Pacers are 2-9 ATS in their past 11 games. The under is 6-1 in New York's past seven on the road. The Knicks are 0-5 ATS in their past five in Indiana.
Early lean: Wait on Melo, but I expect a Pacers win here with him sitting.
Nuggets at Grizzlies (TBA)
Denver was in New Orleans on Wednesday night on a seven-game losing streak. Memphis won its fourth straight and eighth in the past nine Tuesday, 109-90 in Dallas. Zach Randolph had another double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. He has 10 straight double-doubles since returning from injury. The Grizzlies are 8-2 in those 10 games. Memphis is 29-7 with him in the lineup this year and 4-5 without. The Grizzlies played without their starting backcourt on Tuesday as Mike Conley hurt his wrist in Monday's win over Orlando and Tony Allen missed a second straight game with a left ankle sprain. Both are questionable here, thus the TBA. One of the Grizzlies' worst games of the season was Jan. 3 in Denver, a 114-85 loss. That was the second of a back-to-back for Memphis. Randolph missed that game.
Key trends: Denver has covered just one of its past six in the second of a back-to-back. The Grizzlies have covered one of their past seven at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Grizzlies roll here whether Conley and/or Allen plays.
Bulls at Lakers (TBA)
If this isn't the definition of a trap game for Chicago, then I don't know what is. The Bulls got their biggest win of the season in a great game Tuesday night, 113-111 in overtime at Golden State to end the Warriors' franchise-record 19-game home winning streak. Derrick Rose had a crazy night with 30 points on a whopping 33 shots (missing 20) with just one assist and a career-high 11 turnovers. Rose joined Jason Kidd as the only players in NBA history to miss at least 20 shots and have 10 or more turnovers in a game. Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah each had double-doubles, and obviously those three guys all mentioned played heavy minutes. The Bulls were without Jimmy Butler (illness) and again Mike Dunleavy. Butler seems a good bet to return here. Los Angeles has lost nine straight. In Tuesday's 98-92 home defeat to Washington, the Lakers blew a 19-point lead. Nick Young didn't play after spraining his right ankle in practice on Monday, but he might here. The Lakers' leading scorers were guys named Wayne Ellington and Jordan Clarkson. That makes the Knicks roster look good. The Bulls crushed the Lakers 113-93 on Christmas in Chicago. Kobe Bryant didn't play in that one and of course is out for the season now.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-7 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 7-1 in Chicago's past eight vs. teams with a losing record. The under has hit in 12 of the Lakers' past 12 after a loss.
Early lean: Maybe Gasol has a nice game in his first back at the Lakers since leaving as a free agent, but I don't see how the likely emotionally and physically spent Bulls don't look past this terrible team, especially with a tough one Friday night as well in Phoenix. The Lakers will get plenty of points when this posts (waiting on Butler and Young). Take them and go under regardless of where that posts.
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