Friday’s Tip Sheet
By Kevin Rogers
Heat at Hawks – 8:05 PM EST
These two Southeast division rivals are separated by one game heading into the second half of the season. The Heat (29-24 SU, 26-26 ATS) will be without All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who is sidelined with a calf injury, as Miami closed the first half with home losses to the Spurs and Clippers. However, the Heat have won and covered each of their past two as a road underdog at Dallas and Charlotte, while ripping the Hawks in their last two meetings, including a 105-87 home blowout as three-point ‘dogs on January 31.
The Hawks (31-24 SU, 26-27 ATS) have won four of six games this month, including home victories over Dallas and Indiana. Atlanta has stepped up defensively of late by allowing 97 points or less in five of the past six games, while cashing the ‘under’ in three of the last four contests. The last five matchups between the Heat and Hawks have finished ‘under’ the total, while Atlanta has captured four of the previous five meetings at Philips Arena since 2014.
Pacers at Thunder – 8:05 PM EST
The first year of the Billy Donovan era in Oklahoma City (40-14 SU, 22-32 ATS) has been a success, even though the Thunder trail the Warriors and Spurs in the Western Conference. OKC has won seven of eight games since getting upset at Brooklyn as 13 ½-point favorites in late January, as the Thunder have eclipsed the 100-point mark in 12 straight games. The Thunder owns a solid 7-2 ATS mark in their last nine home contests, while trying to avoid a look-ahead spot with the Cavaliers invading Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Indiana (28-25 SU, 26-26-1 ATS) has dropped five straight visits to Oklahoma City, including each of the last four losses by double-digits. The Pacers slumped to the finish of the first half, putting together a 6-9 SU and 4-10-1 ATS record, while losing six of eight road games with the two wins coming against the Nets and Suns. Frank Vogel’s squad has dropped eight of their last 11 away contests against Western Conference foes, as Indiana has stumbled to 1-6 ATS mark in its past seven in the underdog role.
Raptors at Bulls – 8:05 PM EST
In spite of a loss at Minnesota to end the first half, Toronto (35-17 SU, 29-23 ATS) won 14 of its final 16 games prior to the All-Star break. The Raptors have compiled a 1-5 ATS record in their last six opportunities in the favorite role, while losing to the Bulls in their last matchup at the Air Canada Center, 115-113 in early January. Toronto won’t have to worry about containing Jimmy Butler, who went off for 42 points in the victory for Chicago as the shooting guard is sidelined with a knee injury. The Raptors have dropped seven straight matchups with the Bulls since 2014, including three consecutive setbacks at the United Center.
The Bulls (27-26 SU, 20-33 ATS) return home with no rest following Thursday’s loss at Cleveland, as Chicago owns a dreadful 3-6 SU/ATS record on the second of a back-to-back. Fred Hoiberg’s club has allowed at least 100 points in eight consecutive contests, while dropping five straight games at the United Center. In each of the past four home defeats, the Bulls’ offense has been non-existent, scoring 94 points or less each time, while finishing ‘under’ the total three times in this span.
Warriors at Blazers – 10:05 PM EST
The runaway train known as Golden State (48-4 SU, 31-20-1 ATS) embarks on a six-game road trip to start the second half of the season. The Warriors face the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday following Friday’s affair in Portland as the defending champions are riding an 11-game winning streak, including six straight victories away from Oracle Arena. Golden State has eclipsed the 100-point mark in all 11 of those victories, but the ‘over’ has hit just six times as each total closed at 210 or higher. Steve Kerr’s team blasted the Blazers in their first matchup at the Moda Center in January, 128-108 as 9 ½-point favorites.
Following a sluggish start, the Blazers (27-27 SU, 30-24 ATS) rectified things and reached the .500 mark thanks to an 8-1 finish to the first half. Six of those victories came at home, even though only one of those wins came against a team that currently owns a winning record (Charlotte). Terry Stotts’ club has struggled of late in the role of a home underdog, posting a 1-4 SU/ATS record with the lone victory coming against Oklahoma City in a lights-out shooting performance in the fourth quarter. Portland has dropped five of the past six home meetings with Golden State, as the Blazers last beat the Warriors at home in April 2014 in a two-point overtime victory.
Celtics at Jazz – 10:35 PM EST
Since dropping four straight games in early January, Boston (32-23 SU, 31-23-1 ATS) has stormed back to win 13 of 17 contests to move into the top three of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Celtics start a three-game road swing against the Northwest division that continues to Denver and Minnesota on Sunday. Since losing consecutive games at Dallas and Toronto last month, the C’s have covered nine of their last 12 games, including a 4-2 ATS mark away from TD Garden. Boston swept the season series from Utah last season, as the Celtics won in Salt Lake City as seven-point underdogs, 99-90.
The Jazz (26-27 SU, 27-26 ATS) are in a tough scheduling spot as they had to travel to Washington on Thursday for a make-up game before heading home with no rest for Boston. Utah finished the first half with a 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS record to move into the eighth playoff position in the Western Conference, including five consecutive home victories. Utah’s defense at home has been exceptional of late by allowing 96 points or less in 12 of the past 13 games at Vivint Smart Home Arena (‘under’ is 8-4-1).