NBA Odds and Predictions: Tuesday, March 24 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/23/2015
This is my first time writing an NBA story since hearing of the news that Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant has had a setback and now is out indefinitely as he continues to have soreness in that surgically-repaired foot. What a shame! I really wanted to see a first-round Western Conference playoff matchup between No. 1 Golden State and No. 8 Oklahoma City, with the Thunder at full health. Now I'd be shocked if Durant plays this season as there are just too many risks when dealing with that type of foot injury. I still think the Thunder will get in because the Suns and Pelicans are rather flawed behind them, but I give OKC no shot against the Warriors now. Here's a look at each game on Tuesday's schedule.
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Raptors at Pistons (TBA)
The big question here is whether Toronto All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry plays. He has missed the past two games with a back injury. He might have been able to play Sunday, but the Raptors kept him on the bench as they were facing the lousy Knicks and still won easily without Lowry. Greivis Vasquez would start again if Lowry doesn't play. Detroit has won two straight, coming off a 105-97 OT win at Boston on Sunday. Power forward Greg Monroe has missed the past four games with a knee injury, but it's looking promising for Monroe to play here. The Raptors and Pistons have played three high-scoring games, with Toronto winning two of them.
Key trends: Toronto is 5-0 against the spread in its past five trips to Detroit. The "over/under" has gone over in the past four meetings overall.
Early lean: Wait on Lowry.
Heat at Bucks (pick'em, 196)
Miami enters this week at No. 7 in the East, 1.5 games behind No. 6 Milwaukee. The Heat's three-game winning streak ended on Sunday, 93-75 in Oklahoma City. Dwyane Wade struggled, shooting just 6-for-15 for 12 points. The Thunder held Miami to a season-low point total. Milwaukee lost its sixth in a row Sunday, 108-90 at home to Cleveland. The Bucks had an 11-point lead in the third quarter. Milwaukee fell to 4-13 since a trade deadline deal that sent Brandon Knight to Phoenix and netted Carter-Williams from Philadelphia. The Bucks are 3-0 against the Heat this season. They haven't swept a season series vs. Miami since 1990-91.
Key trends: The Heat are 1-5 ATS in their past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The Bucks are 0-4 ATS in their past four at home. The under has hit in the past six meetings in Milwaukee.
Early lean: Heat will be motivated to avoid the sweep. They are the pick. Go under.
Lakers at Thunder (-11, 211.5)
Oklahoma City won its third straight Sunday, 93-75. Russell Westbrook added yet another triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 17 assists. Enes Kanter was thought not likely to play for a second straight game due to an ankle injury but did, putting up 27 points and 12 rebounds. About the only negative was the Thunder failed to score 100 points for the first time since Jan. 31. L.A. ended a four-game skid with Sunday's 101-87 home win over Philadelphia. Jeremy Lin had a season-high 29 points. Coach Byron Scott won't be with the team for this game as he's attending his mother's funeral. Assistant coach Paul Pressey will call the shots in Scott's absence. The Thunder are 2-0 vs. the Lakers, but both were close.
Key trends: The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings in OKC. The home team has covered seven of the past eight.
Early lean: Lakers and over.
Spurs at Mavericks (pick'em, 207.5)
San Antonio won a third straight Sunday, 114-95 over Atlanta in a potential NBA Finals preview. Tiago Splitter led the way with a season-high 23 points. The Spurs never trailed. It was their fourth straight game without Manu Ginobili, and he's not likely to play Tuesday. Dallas dropped a second straight Sunday, 98-92 in Phoenix. The Mavs rallied from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit and were up 86-80 with five minutes to play but they then went four minutes without scoring. Monta Ellis was an ugly 4-for-22 shooting. The Spurs and Mavericks split two early-season meetings.
Key trends: The road team has covered 11 of the past 16 meetings. The over is 5-2 in the past seven in this series in Dallas.
Early lean: Spurs and over.
76ers at Kings (-9, 205)
Sacramento has won two straight after a four-game losing streak. It upset Washington 109-86 on Sunday. Rudy Gay had 26 points in the Kings' second-largest margin of victory this season. DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists despite foul trouble that limited him to just under 23 minutes. He had missed the previous two games with a calf injury. Philly's two-game winning streak ended Sunday at the Lakers, 101-87. Philadelphia took a 75-74 lead into the fourth quarter but missed 12 of its next 13 shots. The Sixers are 2-35 when allowing 100 or more points. Philly beat visiting Sacramento 114-107 on March 13.
Key trends: The 76ers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven vs. the West. The Kings are 1-6 ATS in their past seven after a win. Philly has covered six straight in Sacramento.
Early lean: 76ers and under.
Warriors at Trail Blazers (TBA)
Golden State has the "pleasure" of being the only team playing the second of a back-to-back on Tuesday as it hosted Washington on Monday. Portland dropped its fourth straight Saturday, 97-86 at Memphis -- all four defeats were on the road. Star Blazer big man LaMarcus Aldridge probably is going to be out a while as he left that game with an injured left hand in the first half and it was noticeably swollen after. Fellow starter Nicolas Batum also didn't play in the second half because of a sore back. Center Chris Kaman sat out with a right shoulder strain sustained in Friday night's loss at Orlando. Golden State leads the season series 1-0.
Key trends: The Warriors are 7-2 ATS in their past nine in Portland. The over is 5-1 in the Blazers' past six overall.
Early lean: Wait on Aldridge.
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