NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, March 18 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/17/2015
One game clearly stands out above the rest on Wednesday night as Atlanta visits Golden State in a matchup of what will be the top seeds in each conference -- it will be shown on ESPN. Oddsmakers simply have little faith in Atlanta as a Hawks-Warriors Finals exact matchup is only the co-fourth favorite at +900 on Sportsbook.ag. You never know, the winner of this game could then hold the home-court tiebreaker if there is a Finals matchup. Only a half game separates the Hawks and Warriors at the moment. Here's a look at every game on Wednesday's schedule.
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Nets at Cavaliers (-12.5, 205)
Brooklyn won 122-106 at Minnesota on Monday for its second straight win after a five-game losing streak. The Nets' Thaddeus Young had 19 points in his first game against the Wolves since being traded to Brooklyn last month. Brooklyn was an incredible 39-for-56 shooting in the paint, setting a franchise record with 78 paint points. Cleveland was totally flat in the second of a back-to-back Monday in Miami, falling 106-92 to end a four-game winning streak. The Cavaliers were outscored by 17 points with LeBron James on the court, tied for his third-worst of the season. He had just 10 points entering the fourth quarter. Kevin Love (rest) sat out for the second straight night but is expected to play Wednesday. Cleveland is 2-0 vs. Brooklyn this season.
Key trends: The Nets are 0-5 against the spread in their past five after a win of at least 10 points. The Cavs are 7-2 ATS in their past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Cleveland's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Cavaliers and over. They have won 13 straight at home, usually by blowout.
Pistons at 76ers (TBA)
Detroit hosted Memphis on Tuesday looking to end a 10-game losing streak. The Pistons did have Andre Drummond in the lineup vs. the Grizzlies but not Greg Monroe. Philly lost 108-89 in Boston on Monday for its second straight defeat and 14th straight on the road. Rookie Nerlens Noel continued his fine play of late with 18 points and seven rebounds. He entered averaging 1.79 steals and 1.89 blocks per game. The only other rookie to average 1.50 or better in both categories since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74 was Hall of Famer David Robinson. The 76ers lead the season series with Detroit 2-1.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 7-2 in the past nine.
Early lean: Wait on Monroe.
Trail Blazers at Heat (+3, 199)
Portland's three-game winning streak ended in a 105-97 loss in Washington on Monday in the second of a back-to-back. The Blazers did nearly rally from a 25-point hole. Portland trailed 60-40 at halftime, which matched its biggest deficit after two quarters this season. Miami beat visiting Cleveland 106-92 on Monday behind 32 points from Dwyane Wade, who clearly was fired up to beat old buddy LeBron. Behind Wade, Miami closed the first half on a 19-5 run to take a 56-38 lead. Wade was 6-for-7 from the field in the second quarter, while Cleveland was 6-for-18. Miami lost in Portland 99-83 on Jan. 8.
Key trends: Portland is 4-9 ATS in its past 13 after a loss. The Heat are 0-6 ATS in their past six following a double-digit win. The over is 4-1 in Portland's past five overall and in Miami's past five against the West.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Timberwolves at Raptors (TBA)
Minnesota lost a fifth straight game Monday, 122-106 at home to Brooklyn. The Wolves played without Ricky Rubio (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Gary Neal (illness) and Kevin Garnett (knee). They are all questionable for Wednesday. The Timberwolves used their 25th different starting lineup of the season, one shy of the franchise record. Toronto won in Indiana 117-98 on Monday. Kyle Lowry had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season. Toronto won for only the third time in 13 games. This is the first meeting of the season between the Timberwolves and Raptors.
Key trends: Minnesota is 0-6 ATS in its past six on the road. Toronto is 1-6 ATS in its past seven vs. the West. The under is 7-2 in the past nine meetings.
Early lean: I expect a Raptors rout.
Pacers at Bulls (-1.5, 187)
Chicago lost for the fifth time in six games Sunday, 109-100 in Oklahoma City playing once again without Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. Only Gibson has any shot of playing in this game or even this week. The Bulls have been getting killed on the boards of late and were against the Thunder, being outrebounded 52-33. Indiana lost 117-98 at home to Toronto on Monday, the Pacers' second straight defeat. Indiana finished 2-for-19 on 3-pointers. The Pacers lead the season series and won the most recent matchup 98-84 at home on March 6.
Key trends: The home team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
Spurs at Bucks (TBA)
San Antonio was in New York on Tuesday and was without Manu Ginobili. He's out this week. Because this one is the second of a back-to-back, you have a sit-down alert for a few Spurs veterans. Milwaukee was in New Orleans on Tuesday trying to avoid a ninth straight road defeat. The Bucks lost in San Antonio 101-95 on Jan. 25 in the second of a back-to-back for Milwaukee. The Spurs were down eight at the half. Milwaukee has not won in San Antonio since Dec. 30, 2008.
Key trends: San Antonio is 1-5 ATS in its past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The Bucks are 2-5 ATS in their past seven at home. The under is 5-0 in San Antonio's past five in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: I think the Bucks win this.
Celtics at Thunder (-8, 212.5)
Bad news for the Thunder as center Serge Ibaka will miss at least a few weeks to undergo a knee procedure. There's only so much Russell Westbrook can do without Kevin Durant and Ibaka, who has missed the Thunder's past two games with what the team has called knee soreness. OKC comes off a 119-115 loss in Dallas on Monday. Westbrook had 24 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds but also seven turnovers while fouling out late. The Celtics might actually be a playoff team. They won a season-high fifth straight Monday, 108-89 over visiting Philadelphia. Tyler Zeller scored a career-high 26 points. The Celtics have won 10 of 13. Guard Isaiah Thomas missed a fourth straight game and won't play the rest of this week. Boston lost at home to OKC 109-94 very early in the season.
Key trends: Boston is 8-1 ATS in its past nine on the road vs. teams with a winning home record. The Thunder are 6-1 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. OKC is 4-0 ATS in the previous four meetings.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
Magic at Mavericks (-12, 202)
Orlando was in Houston on Tuesday on a four-game losing streak. Dallas beat the visiting Thunder 119-115 on Monday for its second straight victory. Chandler Parsons had 31 points and Dirk Nowitzki 22 as the Mavericks moved into fifth place in the Western Conference. Rajon Rondo had 11 points and 13 assists, his first double-double with points and assists since his second game with Dallas. Backup point guard Devin Harris left early in the second quarter with an undisclosed illness and didn't return. Dallas won in Orlando 108-93 on Jan. 31.
Key trends: The Mavs are 1-5 ATS in their past six games. The under is 7-1 in Dallas' past eight at home vs. teams with a losing road record. Orlando is 0-6 ATS in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Mavericks and over.
Clippers at Kings (TBA)
Los Angeles hosted Charlotte on Tuesday looking to end a two-game losing streak. Sacramento has dropped three in a row, allowing at least 110 in each. That's exactly the number the Kings gave up in Monday's seven-point home loss to Atlanta. Sacramento fell to 4-10 under George Karl. Kings starting forward Rudy Gay missed the game with a sore left knee (thus the TBA here). The Clippers are 2-1 against the Kings this season.
Key trends: Sacramento is 3-13 ATS in its past 16 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings in Sacramento.
Early lean: Wait on Gay.
Hawks at Warriors (TBA)
Atlanta won a third straight on Monday, 110-103 in Sacramento. Jeff Teague scored 23 points and Paul Millsap added 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Hawks set a franchise record with their 23rd road win of the season. Atlanta played without All-Star Kyle Korver, the league's best 3-point shooter. He won't play the rest of this week due to a broken nose. Backup forward Mike Scott remains out with a broken toe on his left foot. Golden State struggled past the visiting Lakers 108-105 on Monday. You can't tell me the Warriors weren't looking past that game to this one. Golden State officially clinched a playoff spot. Klay Thompson turned his right ankle in the game but did return. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday (thus the TBA). The Warriors lost in Atlanta 124-116 on Feb. 6.
Key trends: The Hawks are 0-4 ATS in their past four after an ATS win. Golden State is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 after a win. The home team is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: If Thompson plays, this is a double-digit Warriors win.
Wizards at Jazz (-2.5, 182)
It's too bad Utah isn't in the East as it might be a playoff team. The Jazz won their sixth straight on Monday, 94-66 over Charlotte. Utah hit 12 of 15 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes to set a franchise record for the most in a half. The Jazz had a season high for first-half points with 61. Rudy Gobert had nine points and 22 rebounds, his third straight game with at least 19 boards. Washington beat visiting Portland 105-97 on Monday for its fourth straight win. John Wall had 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Nene returned from a two-game absence and had 12 points and seven rebounds. Washington beat Utah 93-84 in D.C. on Dec. 14.
Key trends: Washington is 1-6 ATS in its past seven on the road against teams with a winning home record. Utah has covered seven straight vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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