NBA Odds and Predictions: Tuesday, April 7 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/6/2015
So you are the Golden State Warriors. You have nothing whatsoever to play for on Tuesday night in New Orleans. Do you rest some guys and "let" the Pelicans beat you to improve their chances of winning the No. 8 seed in the West? Maybe the Warriors would prefer to face New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs instead of having to deal with Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook. I would think that's the Warriors would much prefer the inexperienced Pelicans. We shall see. Here's a look at every game on Tuesday.
Suns at Hawks (-8.5, 203)
Atlanta destroyed Brooklyn 131-99 on Saturday to tie a franchise record with its 57th win of the season. However, forward Paul Millsap, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, hurt his shoulder and will not play in this one. Backup point guard Dennis Schroder also could miss a third straight game with a sprained left toe. The Suns have faint playoff hopes and ended a five-game losing streak with Saturday's 87-85 home win over Utah. Gerald Green led Phoenix with 24 points off the bench. Phoenix again played without center Alex Len and guard Brandon Knight, and neither is expected here. Phoenix lost 96-87 at home to Atlanta on March 13. Millsap led six Hawks in double figures with 23 points. The Suns led by eight entering the fourth quarter. Knight missed that one too.
Key trends: The Suns are 5-1 against the spread in their past six road games. Atlanta is 1-7 ATS in its past eight following an ATS win. Phoenix has covered five of its past six in Atlanta. The "over/under" has gone over in seven of Atlanta's past eight on Tuesday.
Early lean: Suns and over.
Hornets at Heat (TBA)
Miami is 10th in the East, a game behind No. 8 Boston with Charlotte a half game behind the Heat but tied in the loss column. The Hornets come off a 92-91 escape on Saturday against Philadelphia. Gerald Henderson won it on a layup with six seconds left. Coach Steve Clifford said Henderson was actually the last option on the play. Charlotte played without center Al Jefferson, but I'd be surprised if he's not back for this important game. Miami lost a fourth straight Sunday, 112-89 in Indiana. The Heat were without big men Hassan Whiteside (cut right hand) and Chris Andersen (bruised left foot). I expect them back here as well. The Hornets lead the season series 2-1, with all three low-scoring games.
Key trends: Charlotte is 0-5 ATS in its past five after a win. The Heat are 0-5 ATS in their past five Tuesday games. The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings in Miami.
Early lean: Wait on the status of the big guys.
Warriors at Pelicans (+4.5, 205)
New Orleans' four-game winning streak ended Saturday, 99-90 at Portland. The Pelicans remain a half game back of Oklahoma City for the West's final playoff spot. New Orleans hasn't won in Portland since 2010. It's possible that guard Jrue Holiday returns from his long injury absence on Tuesday. Golden State's 12-game winning streak ended Sunday in San Antonio, 107-92, the Warriors' amazing 32nd straight loss there. It honestly wasn't even that close as the Spurs led by as many as 28. Warriors guard Shaun Livingston did not play, serving a one-game suspension for hitting Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki in the groin on Saturday night. Golden State leads the season series with New Orleans 3-0.
Key trends: The Warriors have covered seven of their past nine in New Orleans. The under is 6-2 in the past eight meetings overall.
Early lean: Pelicans and under.
Spurs at Thunder (+5.5, 217)
Oklahoma City lost a third straight Sunday, 115-112 at home to Houston. Russell Westbrook finished with 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. It was his 11th triple-double of the season and the 18th of his career. His nine triple-doubles in a 20-game span are the most in such a stretch since Chicago's Michael Jordan had 11 in 15 games from March 25-April 21, 1989. The Spurs are starting to look championship-caliber again, beating the Warriors by 15 on Sunday for their seventh straight win. Kawhi Leonard was the best player on the floor with 26 points and seven steals. Spurs center Tiago Splitter (tightness, right calf) sat out and is expected to miss the team's next three games at least. The Spurs and Thunder have split two meetings. San Antonio just crushed OKC by 39 on March 25.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-9 ATS in the past 10 in OKC. The under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings there.
Early lean: Smells like a letdown game for San Antonio.
Timberwolves at Kings (TBA)
Sacramento lost a fifth straight Sunday, 101-95 to Utah despite 26 points and 12 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins. Rudy Gay missed third consecutive game with a concussion, but he's close to returning. Minnesota dropped a sixth straight Friday, 97-84 to Orlando. Kevin Martin returned from a six-game injury absence, but the injury-ravaged Wolves had just eight players healthy. Minnesota was missing Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Gary Neal and Nikola Pekovic because of injuries. Couple of those guys are done for the year. The Kings lead the season series 2-0.
Key trends: The road team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 11-3 in the Kings' past 14 after a loss.
Early lean: Kings will win.
Lakers at Clippers (-16.5, 207)
The Lakers lost a third straight Sunday, 106-78 to these Clippers. If it matters, the Lakers were the home team then and the Clippers the road club. The Clippers led by as many as 43 in handing the Lakers their franchise-record 56th loss. It was the Clippers' sixth straight win over their Staples Center co-tenants. The Lakers have lost 10 of their past 11 games against the Clippers after winning 143 of the first 192 meetings. Clippers guard Jamal Crawford missed a 17th straight game with a bruised calf Sunday but it does look as if he will return Tuesday.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 4-1 in the Lakers' past five against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Hard to imagine the Lakers playing that lousy a second straight against their rivals. Take the points and over.
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