NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, April 1 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/31/2015
Great news for Bulls backers on Monday as Derrick Rose -- yes, we are back giving daily Derrick Rose injury updates -- took part in his first full-contact practice since undergoing surgery on the torn meniscus in his knee. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose looked winded afterward but otherwise had no ill effects. He then scrimmaged on Tuesday. You surely won't see Rose for Wednesday's game in Milwaukee, with Bulls-Bucks looking more and more likely as a first-round playoff matchup, but perhaps for Sunday's big game in Cleveland? Here's a look at Wednesday's schedule .
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Pistons at Hornets (-4.5, 196)
Detroit hosted Atlanta on Tuesday. Charlotte is trying to hang around in the playoff chase but is not playing good basketball, having lost seven of nine. It comes off a potentially big 116-104 home loss to Boston on Monday. The Hornets were down 19 in the fourth and did make a late run before then fading. How down are the Hornets are big free-agent signing Lance Stephenson right now? He didn't even play in that game. The Pistons and Hornets have split two meetings, each winning at home. The most recent was March 8 in Detroit, a 108-101 Charlotte victory.
Key trends: Charlotte is 4-1 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone over in five straight Pistons games and four of the Hornets' past five at home.
Early lean: Hornets and over.
Spurs at Magic (+9.5, 202)
San Antonio was in Miami on Tuesday, so I wonder if Coach Gregg Popovich might rest someone important here, although the Spurs still are trying to climb the West standings for a better seed. Orlando has been off since Friday's 111-97 home loss to Detroit, the Magic's third straight and ninth in the past 10. Orlando lost despite shooting 52.4 percent from the field. Shooting guard Evan Fournier missed his 15th straight game with a sore hip. No point bringing him back now. Orlando lost 110-103 in San Antonio on Feb. 4. Tim Duncan had one of his better games of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds. It was the Magic's 10th straight loss at the time and San Antonio's seventh straight victory in the series.
Key trends: The Spurs are 6-1 ATS in their past seven games. The Magic are 1-4 ATS in their past five at home. The over is 7-1 in Orlando's past eight at home.
Early lean: Magic and over.
76ers at Wizards (-12, 192)
Philly lost a third straight Monday, 113-111 in overtime against the Lakers -- actually a great result for the 76ers in terms of ping-pong balls for the draft lottery. Rookie Nerlens Noel led the 76ers with 19 points and 14 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the month and his fourth in the past five games. The Sixers were missing Jerami Grant (upper respiratory infection), Luc Mbah a Moute (left shoulder soreness) and Jason Richardson (left knee swelling). Washington lost 99-91 at home to Houston on Sunday. Three reserves were missing -- Kris Humphries and Garrett Temple were sidelined with injuries, while DeJuan Blair was out for personal reasons. Philly was crushed in Washington 111-76 on Jan. 19 but beat the visiting Wizards 89-81 on Feb. 27. Paul Pierce and Bradley Beal both missed that game for the Wizards.
Key trends: Philly is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings in Washington. The under is 8-3 in the past 11 meetings overall.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Pacers at Celtics (-3, 199.5)
Indiana has a huge one Tuesday in Brooklyn for the potential No. 8 seed in the East, and this one is just as big. Boston won in Charlotte 116-104 on Monday behind 30 points from Avery Bradley. Boston leads the season series 2-1, so a victory for the Celtics would be a possibly important head-to-head tiebreaker. All three games were close. The last was 93-89 for the Celtics in Indianapolis on March 14.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-3 in the past 10.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Nets at Knicks (TBA)
Brooklyn hosted Indiana on Tuesday with a couple of injury questions (Deron Williams, Thaddeus Young). At least the Nets didn't have to travel after. New York has dropped seven in a row as it closes in on clinching the league's worst record. The Knicks didn't bother showing up Saturday in Chicago, falling by 31. That was loss No. 60, a franchise record. If the Knicks finish with sole possession of the NBA's worst record, they will be guaranteed to pick no lower than fourth in June's draft. The Nets lead the season series 3-0, although the last two were close. The last time Brooklyn won the season series was when it swept the Knicks in 2006-07.
Key trends: The road team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 7-3 in the Nets' past 10 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Nets will win.
Kings at Rockets (TBA)
Sacramento dropped a second straight Monday, 97-83. Rudy Gay led the Kings with 24 points before leaving in the third quarter with a concussion. He already has been ruled out for this one. It also sounds like the Kings are close to shutting down All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins, or at least not playing him in road games (have to give the home folks a reason to go to games). Cousins sat Monday. Don't expect him here. The Rockets had a four-game winning streak snapped Monday in Toronto, 99-96. The team gave Dwight Howard the night off in the second of a back-to-back, so he should return for this game. Houston won the two early-season meetings with the Kings, including by 13 in Houston.
Key trends: The Kings are 1-5 ATS in their past six in Houston. The over has hit in four of those.
Early lean: Rockets should roll.
Bulls at Bucks (+3.5, 191)
Chicago has won three straight and five of six as it finally starts to get healthy. The Bulls destroyed the Knicks on Saturday, 111-80, behind 24 points from Nikola Mirotic (a lock for Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month) and 19 points and 12 rebounds from Pau Gasol. He leads the NBA with 48 double-doubles. Milwaukee dropped a second straight Monday, 101-88 in Atlanta. Forward Jared Dudley sat the game out with lower back issues. He's likely to return for this game. Chicago has won all three low-scoring meetings, each by at least eight points.
Key trends: The Bulls have covered the past five meetings. The under has hit in four of those.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
Raptors at Timberwolves (TBA)
Toronto beat visiting Houston 99-96 for its second straight win Monday. DeMar DeRozan had arguably the best game of his career with 42 points (that was a career best) and 11 rebounds. DeRozan made a go-ahead turnaround bank shot with 1:27 left, the 11th and final lead change of the final quarter. The Raptors snapped a streak of 10 straight losses against opponents with winning records. Star point guard Kyle Lowry sat for the fifth time in six games with a sore back. I'd be shocked if he plays here. Minnesota lost by 20 at home to Utah on Monday for its fourth straight defeat. Minnesota was again without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic due to an injury or illness. Pekovic has been shut down for the year now. I'd imagine the other guys might be very soon. Toronto won at home against Minnesota 105-100 on March 18. The Raptors have won 11 straight at home in this series and seven in a row overall against the Wolves.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-6 ATS in its past seven after a win. The under is 6-0 in Minnesota's past six on Wednesday.
Early lean: Raptors will win in a rout, Lowry or not.
Mavericks at Thunder (-4.5, 216.5)
Dallas lost for the fourth time in five games Sunday, 104-99 at Indiana. Mavericks leading scorer Monta Ellis missed the game with a lower-right leg injury, and backup guard J.J. Barea sat out with a sprained left ankle. Chandler Parsons missed a tying 3-pointer with just under four seconds left. OKC, now officially without Kevin Durant for the rest of the season, playoffs included, won 109-97 in Phoenix on Sunday to end a two-game slide. OKC rallied from 20 points down, the largest comeback win for the Thunder since moving to Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook had 33 points and was a rebound and three assists shy of another triple-double. Dallas is 2-1 against OKC, winning the most recent game 119-115 at home on March 16. The Thunder led by 15 in the third quarter.
Key trends: Dallas has covered 10 of its past 13 trips to OKC. The under is 4-0 in the past four there.
Early lean: OKC and over.
Nuggets at Jazz (TBA)
Denver lost 120-114 in Portland on Saturday. Jameer Nelson scored 22 and Randy Foye 17 as Denver had seven players reach double figures. It was the Nuggets' eighth straight loss in the series. Utah won a second straight Monday, 104-84 in Minnesota. Rudy Gobert had 15 points, 12 boards and three blocks. Jazz starting power forward Derrick Favors missed a second straight game with back spasms. Denver is 2-1 vs. Utah. They played last Friday in the Mile High City and the Nuggets rolled 107-91, never trailing.
Key trends: Denver is 1-5 ATS in its past six meetings. The under is 5-2 in the past seven.
Early lean: Jazz will cover what should be a smallish number at home.
Clippers at Trail Blazers (-2.5, 210)
Los Angeles hosted Golden State on Tuesday, so this would seem to have major letdown potential for the Clippers, especially if they beat the Warriors. Portland has followed a five-game losing streak by winning four in a row. The last of those was 109-86 over Phoenix on Monday. That clinched a playoff spot for the Blazers, and they could clinch the Northwest Division as soon as this game. The Clips are 2-1 vs. Portland but lost at home in the most recent game, 98-93 in overtime on March 4. The Blazers trailed by 10 with 2:40 remaining.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 5-1 in L.A.'s past six on the road.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Pelicans at Lakers (+7, 194.5)
New Orleans won a second straight Sunday, 110-88 over Minnesota, but I think the playoffs are probably a lost cause now because the Pelicans have a road-heavy schedule the rest of the way. Forward Ryan Anderson missed an 18th
straight game with a sprained right knee, but he could return as soon as Wednesday. L.A. won a must-lose game, 113-111 in OT in Philly on
Monday. Jordan Clarkson scored 26 points and hit the winner with 0.7 seconds left. After beating the 76ers twice in two weeks, it appears the 20-53 Lakers will finish the regular season with the league's fourth-worst record instead of third worst, which belongs to Philly. New Orleans is 3-0 against Los Angeles, winning the last two in blowout fashion. The teams haven't played in more than two months.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 5-1 ATS in the past six at the Lakers. The over is 4-1 in the past five there.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
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