NBA Odds and Predictions: Wednesday, March 4 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 3/3/2015
As usual, a very busy Wednesday schedule in the Association with 26 teams in action. Three matchups clearly stand out as potential playoff previews: Cavaliers-Raptors, Grizzlies-Rockets and Trail Blazers-Clippers. That latter game is nationally televised on ESPN as is, unfortunately, the Lakers at Heat. Guess ESPN wasn't able to change that one. Hornets-Nets also could have some importance down the line in terms of playoff tiebreakers at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Here's a look at every game.
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Knicks at Pacers (-13.5, 189)
New York hosted Sacramento on Tuesday looking to win a third straight game for only the second time this season. Indiana beat Philadelphia on Sunday 94-74 for its second straight win and fifth in six games. C.J. Miles was a late scratch with a sore right foot. The Pacers could be dangerous if they slip into the playoffs and Paul George returns at full strength from his broken leg. Indiana won the only meeting thus far with New York, 103-82 in Indianapolis on Jan. 29. Roy Hibbert had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Key trends: The home team is 8-1 against the spread in the past nine meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in six of New York's past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-0 in Indiana's past four at home.
Early lean: Knicks and under.
Suns at Magic (+3, 206.5)
Phoenix lost 115-98 in Miami on Monday, the Suns' second straight defeat. It's possible two Suns players are suspended for this game after both Markieff Morris and Alex Len were ejected from that game. Len might be in the clear, but Morris probably sits as he was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul on former teammate Goran Dragic. Orlando dropped its third straight Sunday, 98-83. Aaron Gordon (right ankle) and Evan Fournier (hip) were inactive for the Magic. Orlando has held its last nine opponents to fewer than 100 points. It's the third-longest such streak in NBA this season. Phoenix lost to visiting Orlando 93-90 on Nov. 30. Tobias Harris led the Magic with 21 points, while Morris had 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Suns. Phoenix was without Isaiah Thomas in that one, and of course he's now in Boston.
Key trends: The Suns have covered only two of their past 10 on the road. Orlando has covered four straight vs. the West. The under is 8-1 in the Magic's past nine overall.
Early lean: Suns and under.
Jazz at Celtics (-1, 193.5)
Utah was in Memphis on Tuesday looking for its first three-game winning streak of the season, while Boston was in Cleveland and likely to get destroyed. The Celtics won in Salt Lake City 99-90 on Jan. 26. The Celtics took control by outscoring Utah 38-14 in the second quarter, shooting 60 percent from the field for the period. Tayshaun Prince had 19 for Boston, while Gordon Hayward led Utah with 26.
Key trends: Utah is 4-1 ATS in its past five road games vs. teams with a losing record. Boston is 6-0 ATS in its past six at home. Utah has covered one of the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Boston and under.
Hornets at Nets (-5.5, 191)
Charlotte hosted the Lakers on Tuesday. Brooklyn got one of its best wins of the season, 110-108 against visiting Golden State on Monday. Jarrett Jack had the tiebreaking jumper with 1.1 seconds left. It was the Nets' first home game since Feb. 6. That's a 24-day stretch between home games, which ranked as the longest in franchise history. Brooklyn won the lone meeting so far, 114-87 in Charlotte on Dec. 13. Joe Johnson had 23 points, and the Nets were a red-hot 16-for-23 from 3-point range. It was the second of a back-to-back for the Hornets, who played a double-overtime game in Memphis the night before.
Key trends: The Nets are 6-1 ATS in their past seven games. The under hasn't hit in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Nets and over.
Cavaliers at Raptors (TBA)
Cleveland hosted Boston on Tuesday and was likely to get All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving back. Toronto ended a five-game losing streak with Monday's 114-103 victory in Philadelphia. DeMar DeRozan had a season-high 35 points. All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry got his second straight game off, and reports are he may not play the rest of this week. This is the final meeting of the regular season between the Cavs and Raptors. Toronto won the first, 110-93 at home. The Cavs then won 105-91 in Toronto on Dec. 5 and 105-101 at home four days later.
Key trends: The Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their past four vs. teams with a losing record. Cleveland has covered four straight in Toronto. The under is 5-1 in the Raptors' past six at home.
Early lean: Assuming Irving plays and Lowry doesn't, the Cavs should win.
Grizzlies at Rockets (-3.5, 196.5)
Memphis hosted Utah on Tuesday, while Houston was in Atlanta. The Rockets played that one without NBA leading scorer James Harden, who was suspended for his kick to the groin of LeBron James on Sunday. I was moderately surprised he got that much punishment. He'll be back here. Memphis won the first meeting with Houston in a rout, but the Rockets won the next two. It's conceivable Houston could take over first place in the division with a win here.
Key trends: The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under 5-1 in the Grizzlies' past six on the road.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Nuggets at Timberwolves (TBA)
Denver hosted Milwaukee on Tuesday and reportedly has fired Coach Brian Shaw. Minnesota lost its third straight, 110-105 at home against the Clippers on Monday. The Wolves had just one field goal in the fourth quarter. Ricky Rubio had a triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, but starters Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin sat out. Both are day-to-day. Denver won the first two meetings with Minnesota but lost the most recent one, 113-105 in Minneapolis. Andrew Wiggins had one of the best games of his rookie season with 31 points on 11-for-17 shooting along with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Key trends: The over is 10-4 in the past 14 meetings. The underdog is 5-2 ATS in the past seven.
Early lean: Like the Wolves at home.
Pistons at Pelicans (-3, 194.5)
Detroit lost a third straight Saturday, 99-95 in Washington. The Pistons fell to 5-10 in the second game of back-to-backs. Reggie Jackson was held to only nine points. New Orleans' five-game winning streak ended with a 102-93 loss in Dallas on Monday. The Pelicans played their fifth game in eight days. The good news is that star Anthony Davis is close to returning from a shoulder injury. It could come here. New Orleans won in Detroit 105-94 on Jan. 14, but the Pelicans had a healthy Davis then, and he had 27 points and 10 rebounds. They also had a healthy Ryan Anderson then, and he had 17 points. New Orleans led 58-36 at the intermission, helped in part by a 36-point second period that saw them outrebound Detroit 14-2.
Key trends: Detroit is 6-2 ATS in its past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The Pelicans are 4-0 ATS in their past four vs. the East. New Orleans is 5-0 ATS in the past five against Detroit.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
76ers at Thunder (TBA)
Philly lost a second straight Monday, 114-103 at home to Toronto. Nerlens Noel scored 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting for the Sixers, who are 1-31 when giving up 100 or more points this season. Oklahoma City won at the Lakers 108-101 without Russell Westbrook and his fractured cheek on Sunday. Serge Ibaka had 18 points and 14 rebounds, while D.J. Augustin added 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists. It's possible that Westbrook returns here, although I have a feeling the Thunder may wait because they can beat Philly without him. Oklahoma City won in Philadelphia 103-91 on Dec. 6 behind 27 points from Westbrook. Kevin Durant had only 10. He was in jeopardy of failing to reach double figures in scoring for the first time since 2009 before making a layup with 2:41 remaining. It was the Thunder's 11th straight win over the Sixers.
Key trends: The Sixers are 4-0 ATS in their past four after a double-digit loss at home. The Thunder have covered five straight against teams with a losing record. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Westbrook.
Lakers at Heat (TBA)
Los Angeles was in Charlotte on Tuesday. Miami won 115-98 at home against Phoenix on Monday. Goran Dragic had 21 points in just 15 minutes against his former team. He took a hard fall on a flagrant foul by Markieff Morris but shook it off. However, Heat center Hassan Whiteside might be facing a suspension for an altercation with Suns center Alex Len. Miami won at the Lakers 78-75 on Jan. 13 despite Dwyane Wade finishing with just four points in 14 minutes. He left early with an injury. Los Angeles missed 18 of its 22 shots in the first quarter. Kobe Bryant was just 3-for-19 overall.
Key trends: The Lakers have covered two of their past 11 on the road. The Heat are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. the West. The under is 4-0 in the Lakers' past four in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Heat will roll at home, Whiteside or not.
Kings at Spurs (TBA)
Sacramento was in New York on Tuesday. San Antonio won 101-74 in Phoenix on Saturday for its second straight victory in the finale of the team's nine-game rodeo road trip. The Spurs were up 51-24 at the break, the fewest points in a half for the Suns in franchise history. San Antonio fell two points shy of its largest victory of the season. The Kings won the first meeting with the Spurs, ending a nine-game losing streak in the series. However, San Antonio won the next two, including 107-96 last Friday in Sacramento. The Spurs have won 23 of the past 25 against the Kings.
Key trends: The Kings are 4-0 ATS in the past four in San Antonio. The over is 8-2 in the past 10 meetings there.
Early lean: Spurs cruise here whether Cousins plays or not.
Bucks at Warriors (-12.5, 202)
Milwaukee visited Denver on Tuesday. Golden State ended a six-game road trip with a 110-108 loss in Brooklyn on Monday on Jarrett Jack's last-second jumper. Steph Curry was brilliant in the fourth quarter in scoring 18 points to lead a Warriors rally. Klay Thompson was not good, going 3-for-17 from the field for seven points. This is the first meeting of the season. The Warriors won both matchups last year. Curry averaged 23.0 points and 8.0 assists in the two. David Lee averaged 22.0 points and 15.0 rebounds.
Key trends: Milwaukee is 1-4 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. Golden State has covered only two of its past 12 vs. the East. The over is 5-1 in the Warriors' past six vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
Trail Blazers at Clippers (TBA)
Portland won a third straight Sunday, 110-99 in Sacramento. Damian Lillard had 31 points and LaMarcus Aldridge 26 points and 15 boards. It was only Portland's second road win in its past 11. Los Angeles took a 110-105 decision in Minnesota on Monday. Chris Paul had 26 points and 14 assists, while DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 18 rebounds, his ninth straight game with at least 15. Jamal Crawford left with a calf injury so I'm presuming why the TBA here. Los Angeles has won two close meetings with Portland this season.
Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 4-1 in those five.
Early lean: Clippers in a high-scoring game.
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