NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, March 25 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/24/2015
Very busy NBA schedule on Wednesday because there's only one game Thursday night opposite the start of the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 (thus no opening line report NBA story previewing that day). Clearly the best NBA matchup of the night is Cleveland at Memphis in a potential NBA Finals preview. Both seem likely to finish with the No. 2 seed in their respective conferences. A Cavs-Grizzlies finals is priced as the fourth-favorite on Sportsbook.ag at +700. That wouldn't exactly be a great matchup for ABC in terms of media markets. Here's a look at every game, with only four teams not in action.
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Nets at Hornets (TBA)
Brooklyn's two-game winning streak ended Monday, 110-91 at home to Boston in a game that was potentially big for the eighth and final playoff spot. Deron Williams had 10 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the Nets, who went 1-for-17 (6 percent) from 3-point range. Charlotte lost 98-86 in Chicago on Monday to fall out of that eighth spot in the East. The Hornets played without Cody Zeller due to a right shoulder injury, and center Al Jefferson missed most of the second half with a sore right knee, so both those guys are potentially questionable. The Nets and Hornets split two meetings this season.
Key trends: Charlotte is 5-2 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The "over/under" hasn't gone under in those seven.
Early lean: Wait on Jefferson.
Clippers at Knicks (+15, 197.5)
New York has dropped four straight, not topping 92 in any of them. The Knicks had just 34 points in the second half of Monday's blowout loss to Memphis. New York's 13-point third was just one more than its lowest-scoring quarter of the season. The Clippers won a fourth straight Sunday, 107-100 over the visiting Pelicans. Chris Paul had 23 points and 11 assists and was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday. Jamal Crawford remains out for L.A. The Clippers routed the Knicks 99-78 on Dec. 31.
Key trends: The Clippers are 3-8 ATS in their past 11 against the East. New York is 1-4 ATS in the past five against the West. L.A. has covered four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Hawks at Magic (+8, 201)
Good thing Atlanta has such a big lead atop the Eastern Conference because it has dropped three straight games for the first time this season. Sunday the Hawks lost 114-95 to San Antonio in their first game home off a six-game road trip. Kyle Korver did return for that game after missing the previous three with a broken nose, but he looked a bit off wearing a mask. Korver had just six points and five turnovers. Orlando fell 119-100 Sunday to Denver. Channing Frye sat the game out with an illness for the Magic. Atlanta leads the season series 2-1.
Key trends: Orlando has covered the past six meetings. The under is 7-0 in Atlanta's past seven against the East. The over is 6-0 in Orlando's past six at home.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Pacers at Wizards (-3.5, 192)
Indiana dropped a sixth straight game Monday, 110-100 at home to Houston. It's the Pacers' fourth losing streak of five or more games this season, the most for the franchise since 1988-89. Even if Paul George is able to play this season, it might be too late to save it. Washington lost a third straight Monday night in Oakland to conclude a four-game road trip. The Warriors won 107-76 in a weird game because it was close at halftime but Washington was outscored 29-8 in the third quarter (one field goal, coming with 1:02 left) and had just 27 total second-half points. Washington is 2-0 vs. Indiana this season.
Key trends: The road team is 8-0 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 4-0 in Washington's past four at home.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Bulls at Raptors (TBA)
Toronto was in Detroit on Tuesday with All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry questionable to return. Chicago got good news Monday in that All-Star guard Jimmy Butler was back after missing 11 games and had 19 points in a 98-86 win over Charlotte. Rookie Nikola Mirotic was hot again with 28 points and leads the NBA this month in points during the fourth quarter. The Bulls did play without center Joakim Noah, but it was likely just a maintenance day. I'd expect he's back here. Chicago leads Toronto 3-0 this season.
Key trends: Chicago is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 5-0 in the Bulls' past five on the road and 7-1 in Toronto's past eight vs. the East (entering Tuesday).
Early lean: Wait on Lowry and Noah. If both play or sit I lean Bulls.
Heat at Celtics (-3, 198.5)
Miami was in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Boston's three-game losing streak ended Monday in Brooklyn, 110-91 behind a triple-double from Evan Turner (19 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds). Marcus Smart was back for Boston after being suspended one game for punching San Antonio's Matt Bonner in the groin. However, fellow guard Isaiah Thomas sat again. There's a decent chance he will return for this game. Boston and Miami have split two meetings.
Key trends: The underdog is 9-0 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Cavaliers at Grizzlies (+3, 195)
Cleveland won a third straight on Sunday, 108-90 in Milwaukee. The Cavs were down 11 at one point in the third quarter but went on a 26-5 run to take control. LeBron James had 28 points and J.R. Smith 21 on 7-for-9 from long range. Memphis won a third straight Monday, 103-82 at the Knicks to reach the 50-win plateau for the third straight season (exactly 50 last year). The Grizz shot 51.9 percent from the field. Zach Randolph was 9-for-12 for 23 points. Memphis lost in Cleveland 105-91 on Dec. 21. Randolph missed the game.
Key trends: Cleveland has covered five straight on Wednesday. Memphis is 2-5 ATS in its past seven at home. The over is 8-1 in Cleveland's past nine road games against teams with a winning home record. The under is 12-1 in Memphis' past 13 after an ATS win.
Early lean: Grizzlies and over.
Lakers at Timberwolves (TBA)
Los Angeles was in Oklahoma City on Tuesday; Coach Byron Scott missed that game to attend his mother's funeral and will this one as well. Minnesota looks for its first winning streak since early February as the Wolves surprised the Jazz in Utah on Monday, 106-104 in overtime. Wolves rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins combined for 49 points -- I tell you, this team is going to be fun to watch and pretty good soon. Kevin Garnett, Ricky Rubio and Anthony Bennett all missed the game. The Lakers and Wolves have split two meetings.
Key trends: The Lakers are 8-2 ATS in the past 10 at Minnesota. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings there.
Early lean: Wolves regardless if those guys all sit again. Go over too. Neither team can defend at all.
Rockets at Pelicans (TBA)
Houston won in Indiana 110-100 on Monday behind 44 points from James Harden. He hit 21 of 22 free throws and had as many points in the first quarter (15) as the entire Pacers team. Houston made 13 3-pointers, the 51st time this season the Rockets have had 10 or more in one game. That ties the NBA record set by the Knicks in 2012-13. It appears that Rockets center Dwight Howard is getting close to returning. New Orleans lost a third straight Sunday, 107-100 at the Clippers. Anthony Davis was back after missing two games with an injury and had 26 points and 12 boards. However, Tyreke Evans missed the game. New Orleans leads Houston 2-0 this season.
Key trends: Houston is 1-6 ATS in its past seven in New Orleans. The under is 14-3 in the Rockets' past 17 against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Wait on Dwight and Tyreke, although I lean Rockets if neither plays.
76ers at Nuggets (-10, 205)
Philly was in Sacramento on Tuesday. Denver ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday and concluded a five-game road trip with a 119-100 victory in Orlando. Danilo Gallinari had a career-high 40 points. It was Denver's first victory in an Eastern Conference city since Nov. 17 (11 straight losses). The Sixers beat the visiting Nuggets 105-98 on Feb. 3.
Key trends: Denver is 4-1 ATS in its past five at home. Philly has covered its past five trips to Denver.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Trail Blazers at Jazz (TBA)
Portland hosted Golden State on Tuesday, almost surely playing without starters LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, so I don't expect either here. Utah lost a second straight Monday, 106-104 at home in OT against Minnesota. It wasn't Rudy Gobert's fault as he had 18 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. Trey Burke shot just 4-for-22 for Utah and missed a 32-footer at the buzzer that would have won the game. He also missed a 3-pointer off the side of the backboard at the end of regulation. Utah leading scorer Gordon Hayward sat out with a sprained shoulder. Utah and Portland have split two meetings.
Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-2 in the past nine in Utah.
Early lean: Love Jazz here as I expect Hayward back.
Thunder at Spurs (-7.5, 212.5)
Oklahoma City hosted the Lakers on Tuesday while San Antonio was in Dallas. Russell Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season in Sunday's win over the Heat was taken away by the NBA on Monday. A statistical correction subtracted a rebound, leaving him with nine. OKC, already without Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison due to injury, also learned Monday that starting guard Andre Roberson is out 2-3 weeks with a left ankle sprain suffered against the Heat on Sunday. The Thunder and Spurs have met just once, a 114-106 OKC road win on Christmas. It was the Thunder's sixth straight regular-season victory in the series. Durant and Kawhi Leonard didn't play in that game.
Key trends: The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 8-0 in OKC's past eight on the road.
Early lean: Spurs and over.
Kings at Suns (-7, 210.5)
Sacramento hosted the 76ers on Tuesday. Phoenix is getting hot at the right time as it beat Dallas 98-92 on Sunday for a fourth straight victory. Eric Bledsoe had 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Brandon Knight missed his sixth game with a sprained ankle since being acquired from Milwaukee. The Suns are 5-1 without him. The Kings have won two of the first three of four meetings this season, including a double-overtime contest in the first meeting. That was the first multiple-overtime game in the series since Dec. 14, 1969. The Kings won the most recent meeting on a DeMarcus Cousins buzzer-beater to win 85-83.
Key trends: The Kings are 0-4 ATS in their past four in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings in Phoenix.
Early lean: Suns and over.
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