NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, January 21 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 1/20/2015
Teams without a true superstar just don't win NBA championships these days. However, it might be time to start believing the Atlanta Hawks can do so. They attempt to tie a franchise record with their 14th straight win on Wednesday night against Indiana -- it could be a bit of a trap game with a big one Friday night for Atlanta against Oklahoma City in what could be an NBA Finals preview. Here's a look at every game on Wednesday's schedule.
Heat at Hornets (TBA)
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Charlotte has won two straight and got back star big man Al Jefferson for Monday's 105-80 blowout of Minnesota. Jefferson hadn't played since Dec. 29 due to a groin injury. He came off the bench Monday and had eight points and five rebounds. It was the first time in 544 games that Jefferson didn't start, but it's just to get his conditioning right. Point guard Kemba Walker missed his second straight game with a knee injury and remains day-to-day. It will be the second of a back-to-back for Miami as it hosted Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Dwyane Wade was questionable for that after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
Key trends: The Hornets have covered five straight vs. the East. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Charlotte's past six at home. The Heat have covered six of their past seven at the Hornets.
Early lean: I like Charlotte whether Wade plays or not.
Jazz at Cavaliers (-11, 198)
Utah has been off since a 20-point loss in San Antonio on Sunday. The Jazz's 69 points were a season low. Rudy Gobert continued his recent strong play with 13 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. Jazz rookie first-round pick Rudy Hood left the game with an injured left foot after playing 17 minutes. Here come the Cavaliers as they stomped visiting Chicago 108-94 on Monday for their third straight win. Kevin Love was back after missing a game and had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Cleveland lost in Utah 102-100 on Nov. 5. Gordon Heyward hit the winning buzzer-beater.
Key trends: Utah is 9-3 ATS in its past 12 road games. The Cavs are 1-5 ATS in their past six Wednesday games. The under is 8-0 in Utah's past eight on the road.
Early lean: Cavaliers and under.
Knicks at 76ers (pick'em, 188)
The Knicks are rolling! They have won one straight, ending a franchise-record 16-game losing streak with Monday's 99-92 home win over New Orleans, which was playing the second of a back-to-back. Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and nine rebounds. Despite starting two players who are on 10-day contracts, the Knicks controlled the game just about the entire way. Philly lost 111-76 on Monday at Washington, its second straight blowout defeat. Leading scorer Tony Wroten missed his fourth straight game with a sprained knee. The Knicks beat the visiting Sixers 91-83 in the only meeting of the season on Nov. 22.
Key trends: The Knicks are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 8-1 in the past nine in this series in Philly.
Early lean: New York and under.
Pacers at Hawks (-10.5, 196)
You can't call this streak a fluke for Atlanta because the Hawks have been blowing people out mostly and have won 27 of 29 overall. The Hawks slowed down what had been a hot Pistons team on Monday, 93-82. During their 13-game win streak, the Hawks have led by at least 10 points in each of the games. Indiana lost its fifth straight Monday, 110-98 in Houston. Starting point guard George Hill, out since Dec. 31 with a groin injury, is improving and could play soon. Coach Frank Vogel said Hill will be re-evaluated Tuesday. The Hawks are 2-0 vs. Indiana this season, winning both by double digits
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven in Atlanta.
Early lean: Take the points and go under.
Magic at Pistons (TBA)
Orlando has been off since a 127-99 home loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday. The Magic gave up a franchise-record 79 first-half points. On the bright side, rookie Aaron Gordon returned to the lineup after missing 31 games with a fractured left foot. He had eight points in 12 minutes. Detroit lost by 11 in Atlanta on Monday. The Pistons, held to a season-low 12 points in the opening quarter, made only 35.4 percent of their shots -- 29 of 82. The Pistons were trying for their franchise-record eighth straight road win. The Magic and Pistons have split two meetings, each winning by double digits on the road. Orlando's Tobias Harris is questionable to return from injury for this one. He has missed five straight.
Key trends: The Magic have covered five of their past six on the road. Detroit is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 5-1 in Orlando's past six vs. the East.
Early lean: Pistons should roll here.
Raptors at Grizzlies (-5, 203)
Toronto ended a two-game losing streak with Monday's 92-89 win in Milwaukee. The Raptors snapped a season-high three-game losing streak on the road. Five of the team's next seven games are away from home. Memphis had a four-game winning streak end on Monday, 103-95 at home to Dallas. The Grizzlies led by two with around four minutes left but were outscored 14-4 the rest of the way. Mike Conley, back after missing two games with a right ankle sprain, led Memphis with 22 points.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-5 ATS in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 8-2 in Memphis' past 10 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Memphis and under.
Mavericks at Timberwolves (TBA)
Dallas won in Memphis by eight on Monday for its second straight win. Monta Ellis led Dallas with 25, while Dirk Nowitzki had 21, including the team's final eight of the game. Nowitzki has reached double figures in all 39 games he's played this season. Minnesota was outclassed in Charlotte by 25 on Monday. Thaddeus Young had 18 points to lead Minnesota, which failed in its quest to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Young reportedly is on the trade block. Minnesota lost in Dallas 131-117 on Nov. 15 in the only meeting of the season.
Key trends: Dallas is 1-5 ATS in its past six Wednesday games. The over is 5-1 in Minnesota's past six at home. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Go over regardless of the number.
Lakers at Pelicans (TBA)
Really no surprise that New Orleans lost at the Knicks on Monday as the Pelicans played without Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, the team's two best players. Both are being called day-to-day but thus the TBA here. It seems that Davis is closer to playing. The Lakers have lost five straight. They fell 115-100 in Phoenix on Monday. Kobe Bryant has sat the past two games for rest but is expected to play here. The Lakers are 0-2 vs. New Orleans this season.
Key trends: The Lakers are 0-5 ATS in their past five. New Orleans is 6-0 in its past six vs. the West. The over is 6-2 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Davis.
Thunder at Wizards (+1.5, 207)
Here's another potential NBA Finals preview and will be shown on ESPN (8 p.m. tip). Oklahoma City comes off a back-to-back as it played in Miami on Tuesday looking to get over .500 for the first time. Washington slaughtered Philadelphia 111-76 on Monday for its fourth win in the past five games. Washington went on a 20-3 run for a 27-11 lead late in the first quarter and coasted to the win. The Wizards lost in Oklahoma City 109-102 on Jan. 2 as Kevin Durant had 34 points.
Key trends: The Thunder are 2-10 ATS in their past 12 vs. teams with a winning home record. The under is 4-1 in Washington's past four at home. The Thunder have covered one of the past six meetings.
Early lean: Washington a home dog even with the Thunder playing Tuesday night? Hmm. Take the points.
Trail Blazers at Suns (TBA)
Portland will be holding its breath on Tuesday as LaMarcus Aldridge is awaiting the results of an MRI on his injured left thumb. He left Monday's 98-94 win over Sacramento in the second quarter. The good news is X-rays were negative, but X-rays can't see some things MRIs can. Phoenix has won three straight and not scored less than 107 points in that stretch. It beat the visiting Lakers by 15 on Monday. The Suns have won six straight at home. This is the first meeting of the season between the teams.
Key trends: The underdog has covered six straight in the series. The under is 9-1 in Phoenix's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Wait on Aldridge.
Nets at Kings (-5, 199)
Brooklyn has lost eight of nine but did split a home-and-home over the weekend with Washington (which I projected). Deron Williams remains out. The Kings lost 98-94 in Portland on Monday for their fourth straight defeat. DeMarcus Cousins was back after missing a game and had 22 points and 19 rebounds. The Kings turned the ball over eight times in the fourth and that killed them. The Kings lost in Brooklyn 107-99 on Dec. 29. Sacramento has been rumored as a possible trading partner for the Nets' Williams.
Key trends: Brooklyn is 2-8 ATS in its past 10. Sacramento has covered one of its past 12 vs. teams with a losing record. The home team has covered the past four meetings.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Rockets at Warriors (-8, 219)
Nice matchup on ESPN here with a 10:30 p.m. start. Houston won by 12 against Indiana on Monday behind a season-high 45 points from James Harden. It was the 18th 30-point game and fourth with 40 this season for Harden, the NBA's leading scorer. Dwight Howard had 14 points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets. Houston forward Terrence Jones, who hasn't played since Nov. 3 because of nerve inflammation in his left leg, is improving and could return soon. Golden State torched Denver 122-79 on Monday. It was the Warriors' franchise-record 16th straight home win. The Warriors are 3-0 vs. Houston this season, winning each by at least 11 points.
Key trends: Houston is 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Take the points -- Rockets won't want to be swept and will keep it close.
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