NBA Odds: Wednesday, January 6 2016 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews
Things are going from bad to worse in Phoenix, which right now is the worst team in the NBA. The season was probably lost regardless when Eric Bledsoe was ruled out for the year, but the Suns also alienated one of their better players, forward Markieff Morris, this past offseason when they traded his twin brother to Detroit. Markieff has been sulking all year and wanting out. Other teams know this and are low-balling the Suns in trade offers. And now owner Robert Sarver is teeing off on Morris. “I’m not sure it’s just the NBA,” Sarver told the Arizona Republic regarding personalities clashing and dysfunction within locker rooms. “My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the offseason, and he can’t seem to recover from it.” To be fair, Sarver did also take some of the blame for this mess. Since opening 7-5, the Suns have lost 20 of 25 games.
Knicks at Heat (TBA)
First game of an ESPN doubleheader and should have live betting at sportsbooks. New York was in Atlanta on Tuesday. Miami won a third straight Monday, 103-100 in OT against Indiana. The Heat were down 18 points in the third. Chris Bosh had 31 points and 11 rebounds and Dwyane Wade 27, including a layup at the buzzer that forced overtime. Miami shot a season-low 38 percent and was without center Hassan Whiteside due to a knee injury. The Heat have yet to win four in a row this season. Miami is 2-0 this season vs. New York, winning two blowouts and holding the Knicks to 78 points in each. Overall the Heat have with eight straight in the series.
Key trends: The Knicks are 0-8 against the spread in the past eight meetings. The “over/under” is 6-2 in the past eight meetings in Miami.
Early lean: TBA due to Whiteside. Heat will beat Knicks without him, especially with New York playing the second of a back-to-back.
Pacers at Magic (-1, 199.5)
Indiana started a three-game trip with that three-point OT loss in Miami on Monday. Paul George had 32 points but missed a 3-pointer at the OT buzzer. Indiana led the entire game until there was about three minutes left in regulation. Starting point guard George Hill missed it with food poisoning. Orlando lost a third in a row Monday, 115-89 at Detroit. Victor Oladipo, starting in place of injured guard Elfrid Payton, led Orlando with 18 points. Evan Fournier, averaging 14.3 ppg, had zero. Payton is day-to-day with a bruised left ankle. Orlando lost in Indiana 97-84 on Nov. 9. George had 27 points. Indiana used a 19-3 fourth-quarter run to take the lead and pull away. The Pacers have won five straight in the series.
Key trends: Indiana is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The under has hit in six of the past nine.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Cavaliers at Wizards (+4.5, 200)
Cleveland won its fourth in a row Monday, 122-100 over Toronto. Kyrie Irving had a season-high 25 points and his minutes restriction is about gone. He added eight assists and six rebounds. The Cavs were 17-for-33 from long range. LeBron James was able to sit out the fourth quarter with a big lead. Washington lost by 22 at home to Miami on Sunday. The Wizards had seven second-quarter points and the game was over. They were 2-for-22 from the field in that quarter. Bradley Beal and Nene sat out with injuries yet again. The Cavs were stunned at home by Washington, 97-85 on Dec. 1. John Wall had 35 points for the Wizards, who never trailed. Washington did have Beal then.
Key trends: Cleveland is 6-1 ATS in the past seven in Washington. The under is 7-1 in Cleveland’s past eight.
Early lean: Cavaliers and under.
Pistons at Celtics (-4.5, 203.5)
Detroit beat the Magic by 26 on Monday. Brandon Jennings had 17 points and six assists, his best game back of the four he has played since returning from an Achilles’ tear. Andre Drummond had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons in their biggest margin of victory this year. Boston split a home-and-home with the Nets by winning 103-94 in Brooklyn on Monday. Jae Crowder had a career-high 25 points. The Celtics played without Avery Bradley, who has a sore left hip. He’s day-to-day. The Celtics and Pistons have split two meetings in Detroit this season, one high scoring and one low.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 7-1 in the past eight.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Raptors at Nets (+5.5, 198.5)
Toronto lost a second straight high-scoring game Monday, 122-100 at home to Cleveland. DeMar DeRozan scored 19 for Toronto, which played without forward DeMarre Carroll (sore right knee). He’s questionable for this game. The Nets got some bad news over the weekend when starting point guard Jarrett Jack was lost for the season to a torn ACL. It’s a shame as Jack might have been good trade bait. He was averaging 12.8 points, 7.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds. Shane Larkin takes over as the starter. He had four points in 27 minutes in Monday’s home loss to Boston. First meeting of the season between these teams.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-6 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 7-2 in the past nine meetings in Brooklyn.
Early lean: Raptors and under — so opposite the trends.
Nuggets at Timberwolves (-4, 204.5)
Denver lost a sixth in a row Sunday, 112-106 against Portland. Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets with 29 points in his second game back from a sprained left ankle. The Nuggets were again without rookie guard Emmanuel Mudiay, but he’s close to returning. He has missed 12 games. Minnesota lost 109-99 in Philly on Monday for its third straight loss. The Timberwolves missed 16 of 20 3-pointers and had 16 turnovers. This is the final meeting of the season between these lottery-bound teams. Denver leads 2-1 and won the game in Minneapolis.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 11-5 ATS in the past 16 meetings. The over is 7-2 in the past nine in Minnesota.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
Mavericks at Pelicans (-3.5, 206)
Dallas hosted Sacramento on Tuesday night. New Orleans has been off since winning 105-98 in Dallas on Saturday. Anthony Davis had 31 points and 14 rebounds, his 21st double-double of the season. Norris Cole added 16 points and a career-best 12 rebounds to end a six-game losing streak for the Pelicans in Dallas. That, like this one, was the second of a back-to-back for the Mavericks.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight in New Orleans.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Jazz at Spurs (TBA)
Utah lost 93-91 vs. Houston on Monday, blowing a 15-point third-quarter lead. Rodney Hood had a chance to tie it for the Jazz with six seconds remaining but missed the third of three free throws. Hood led the Jazz with 23 points. Derrick Favors missed his sixth consecutive game with back spasms. San Antonio won a sixth in a row Monday, 123-98 in Milwaukee. Someone named Jonathon Simmons had a career-high 18 points for the Spurs. The rookie spent last year in the D-League. Tony Parker sat out with right hip soreness. The Spurs trashed the visiting Jazz 118-81 on Dec. 14 in the only meeting thus far. The lead was as high as 46. All the Spurs scored and played at least 10 minutes.
Key trends: The Spurs are 7-2 ATS in their past nine after a double-digit win. The under is 14-3 in Utah’s past 17 playing on one day of rest.
Early lean: Shouldn’t be close whether Parker plays or not.
Hornets at Suns (+1, 205)
Charlotte lost a fourth consecutive game Monday, 111-101 at Golden State. The Hornets’ best player, Nic Batum, sat out a second straight with a sprained right toe and he’s doubtful for this one. Jeremy Lamb hurt his wrist and had in-game X-rays that were negative, and he returned. Phoenix lost its ninth straight on Sunday, 97-77 at the Lakers. The Suns were down by as many as 38 and L.A. didn’t even have Kobe Bryant. Markieff Morris got another DNP-CD. The Suns and Hornets split last year. Phoenix has won six of the past seven overall in the series.
Key trends: The road team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight. The under is 6-1 in Phoenix’s past seven at home.
Early lean: If Batum does sit, Suns end skid.
Grizzlies at Thunder (TBA)
Second game of the ESPN doubleheader. Memphis won in Portland 91-78 on Monday. Zach Randolph had 26 points and a season-high 18 rebounds as he continues to come off the bench. Matt Barnes returned after missing two games due to suspension. Oklahoma City was without Kevin Durant on Monday with a sprained right big toe and the Thunder were surprised at home 116-104 by Sacramento. Russell Westbrook had 17 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds, but was just 2-for-15 in the second half. The Thunder and Grizzlies have split two meetings in Memphis thus far. This is their final regular-season matchup.
Key trends: The home team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 4-0 in OKC’s past four at home.
Early lean: Obviously wait on Durant.
Clippers at Trail Blazers (+3, 206)
Thought the Clippers might have a bit of a letdown game Saturday against Philadelphia with L.A. off a 5-0 road trip, but the Clippers rolled 130-99. DeAndre Jordan led six players in double figures with 22 points and 13 rebounds as the Clips improved to 5-0 without the injured Blake Griffin. Portland lost 91-78 at home to Memphis on Monday in the return of Damian Lillard from injury. He had missed the previous seven with a foot issue. He finished with 17 points. The 78 points were a season low for Portland. The Clippers and Blazers have split two meetings, each winning by double digits at home.
Key trends: The Clippers are 1-7 ATS in their past eight after a double-digit win. The over is 4-1 in Portland’s past five following a loss.
Early lean: Clippers and over.