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    NBA Odds: Saturday, April 2 2016 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
    by Alan Matthews

    Probably the stupidest firing of any head coach the past two seasons was the Bulls dumping Tom Thibodeau last offseason, but I touched on that earlier this week. No. 2 in my opinion was Sacramento firing Mike Malone in mid-December 2014. The Kings had started that season 5-1 and were still 11-13 despite losing star DeMarcus Cousins for several games due to an illness when Malone was fired. Malone had the Kings on the right track and he had connected with Cousins like no other coach had. Now the Kings are a total mess — Cousins often acting like a spoiled brat — and no doubt will have a third head coach this offseason since dumping Malone. And Malone I’m sure will take some major satisfaction if his new team, the Nuggets, beats his old one for the first time in 2015-16 on Saturday as they play for the final time. It’s an unusually light schedule for a Saturday, no doubt because of the Final Four. There are no NBA games Monday opposite the NCAA final.

    Pacers at 76ers (-12, 205)

    Indiana lost a second straight home game Thursday, 114-94 to Orlando. Can’t lose those types of games and hang onto a playoff spot. The Pacers hadn’t lost at home in the series in four years. Coach Frank Vogel hinted he might change his lineup now. Paul George finished with 27 points and eight rebounds. He needs two more 3-pointers to become the second Pacers player (Reggie Miller) to make 200 in a season. Philadelphia was in Charlotte on Friday no doubt losing its 11th straight game. Indiana has routed Philly twice this season, holding the Sixers to a combined 160 points. The Pacers have won four in a row in the series overall and two straight in Philly.

    Key trends:
    The Pacers are 4-0 against the spread in the past four meetings. The “over/under” has gone under in seven of Indiana’s past eight against the East.

    Early lean:
    Pacers and under.

    Pistons at Bulls (TBA)

    Your lone national TV game on NBA TV. Important game with Detroit seventh in the East, two games ahead of No. 9 Chicago entering the Pistons’ home game vs. Dallas on Friday. Indiana is in between the Pistons and Bulls in eighth. Chicago got an improbable 103-100 win in Houston on Thursday. Nikola Mirotic continues to shine in road games with 28 points. It’s weird how much better he is away from home. But the injury problems persist. Taj Gibson has been diagnosed with a broken rib, so he’s out a while. Derrick Rose tried to play through an elbow injury Thursday but only made it 12 minutes. So I’m sure he’s out here at least. Detroit won the first two games in overtime this season vs. Chicago — including a four-OT epic on Dec. 18 in the Windy City — but lost the most recent 111-101 at home on Jan. 18. This will mark the 250th all-time meeting between the clubs.

    Key trends:
    The Pistons are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-0 in Chicago’s past five overall.

    Early lean:
    Pistons win if Rose sits.

    Raptors at Spurs (TBA)

    Potential Finals preview? Both teams are going to finish second in their respective conferences and be second-favorites to win said conferences. Toronto was in Memphis on Friday night. San Antonio beat New Orleans 100-92 on Wednesday to improve to 38-0 at home. That’s an NBA record to start a season, although obviously Golden State is also potentially going to get that. Manu Ginobili returned from two games off and had 20 points vs. the Pelicans, and Kawhi Leonard was back after a three-game absence and had 16 points. San Antonio lost 97-94 in Canada on Dec. 9. The Raptors shot 57.8 percent from the field. No team has done better against the Spurs this season. They have won six straight at home in the series, however.

    Key trends:
    The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five.

    Early lean:
    I happen to think Gregg Popovich will play his guys here with San Antonio off until Tuesday. But I’m not sure the Raptors will play their stars. Spurs should thus roll.

    Kings at Nuggets (TBA)

    Sacramento hosted Miami on Friday without Cousins due to a one-game suspension for too many technical fouls. He says he’s not playing here, either, simply for rest. To be fair, the Nuggets were stupid for firing Coach George Karl after the 2013 season. Of course, now he’s coaching the Kings, albeit only for a few more weeks. Denver lost 101-95 in New Orleans on Thursday. Darrell Arthur tied a career high with 24 points off the bench for Denver. Will Barton had been red hot but was 0-for-8 from the field. Jusuf Nurkic sat out with an illness. The Kings are 2-0 against the Nuggets this season even though Denver scored exactly 110 points in each.

    Key trends:
    The Kings are 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 6-0 in the past six.

    Early lean:
    Go big on Nuggets if Cousins is indeed out. They want this for their coach.

    Heat at Trail Blazers (-5, 209.5)

    Miami was in Sacramento on Friday. Portland won a third straight Thursday, all at home, 116-109 over Boston. Al-Farouq Aminu had a career-high 28 points. Damian Lillard was held to 14 points on 3-for-16 shooting. Miami beat visiting Portland 116-109 on Dec. 29 behind 29 points from Chris Bosh and 22 points and 11 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside. Lillard had 32 points. The Heat also are 4-2 in their past six trips to the Moda Center.

    Key trends:
    The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 10-2 in Portland’s past 12 vs. teams with a winning record.

    Early lean:
    Blazers and over.


    Preview: Indiana At Philadelphia

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, April 2, 2016
    Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Indiana Pacers find themselves battling for an Eastern Conference playoff spot and strive to break out of a mini-funk when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. Indiana holds the last playoff berth by one game over the ninth-place Chicago Bulls but has lost three of its last four games, including a dreadful 114-94 home loss against the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

    The Pacers figured to not have to sweat out the final two-plus weeks for a playoff spot but that has become the reality and All-Star forward Paul George expects things to turn around. “We’re not broken,” George told reporters. “This is the team’s first year together and we’re going to have our bumps and bruises. We’re going to have to grow and learn to guide this ship as we go. But we’re together and that’s the best thing about this situation.” The 76ers have lost 11 consecutive games after falling 100-91 to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday and are still trying to record their 10th win of the campaign. Philadelphia is experiencing its worst season since the 1972-73 squad went 9-73, which stands as the worst record in NBA history over an 82-game season.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, CSN Philadelphia

    ABOUT THE PACERS (39-36): Coach Frank Vogel expressed he planned to make some changes after the outing against Orlando disintegrated into the club’s third 20-point home loss of the season. “We’ll make some subtle changes, some bigger changes, the main thing is we have to remain together,” Vogel told reporters after Friday’s practice. “There’s not a whole lot of wholesale changes you can make, but we’ll make some subtle changes.” George (27) and shooting guard Monta Ellis (13) were the only starters to score in double figures against the Magic.

    ABOUT THE 76ERS (9-67): Philadelphia has dropped 24 of its last 25 games and struggling with its best two post players – center Jahlil Okafor and power forward Nerlens Noel – both sidelined with knee injuries. Friday’s loss came in the second of a back-to-back against Charlotte in which the 76ers held the Hornets to 100 points in each contest but averaged just 88 offensively. “Defensively, I don’t think we could have done much more,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown told reporters. “I think to hold that team to 100 points twice, defensively I don’t have too many regrets. We needed to make more shots. It’s almost that simple.”


    1. The Pacers are 2-0 against the 76ers this season and have won eight of the past nine meetings.

    2. Philadelphia G Isaiah Canaan is 9-of-39 shooting over the past four games.

    3. George has scored 20 or more points in four straight games and is averaging 24.8 points during the stretch.

    PREDICTION: Pacers 102, 76ers 96


    Preview: Detroit At Chicago

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 2, 2016
    Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

    The Chicago Bulls have shown some signs of life the last two games and look to continue their push for the postseason when the surging Detroit Pistons pay a visit on Saturday night. The Bulls captured road victories against Indiana and Houston to move within one game of the Pacers for the final Eastern Conference playoff position with seven contests remaining.

    “We’re all in this together,” Chicago leading scorer Jimmy Butler told reporters. “Everybody is doing their part, taking care of their body. And when we do hit adversity from here on out, I hope we know how to turn from it.” Bulls’ second-leading scorer Derrick Rose aggravated an elbow injury in the 103-100 win at Houston on Thursday and is doubtful for Saturday. The Pistons have won six of eight games, but fell 98-89 at Dallas on Friday as they shot just 38.3 percent from the field after knocking off Oklahoma City one night earlier. Seventh-place Detroit is 1 ½ games ahead of Chicago in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Detroit, WGN (Chicago)

    ABOUT THE PISTONS (40-36): Marcus Morris scored a season-high 31 points for Detroit on Friday to lead a starting group that accounted for 83 of the 89 points. Leading scorer Reggie Jackson has struggled over the last five games, making just 22-of-75 from the field (29.3 percent) while averaging 13.6 points during the stretch. Center Andre Drummond posted 12 points and 17 rebounds Friday, but made just 2-of-10 from the free-throw line and was pulled for periods of the third and fourth quarters when Dallas was intentionally fouling him.

    ABOUT THE BULLS (38-37): Forward Nikola Mirotic stepped up in the last two contests, scoring 28 points in each off the bench while draining 12-of-23 from 3-point range. The extra offense from Mirotic (11.2 on the season) was needed with Rose contributing just eight combined in the two games while forward Taj Gibson (ribs) missed the Houston game and is questionable for Saturday. Butler matched his season average with 21 points at Houston and center Pau Gasol has notched three straight double-doubles.


    1. The Pistons won the first two meetings in overtime this season before the Bulls rebounded with a 111-101 triumph on Jan. 18.

    2. Detroit F Tobias Harris is draining 90 percent (63-of-70) of his free throws since being acquired from Orlando before the trade deadline.

    3. Chicago has allowed its last three opponents to make just 17-of-66 from 3-point range (25.8 percent).

    PREDICTION: Bulls 101, Pistons 99


    Preview: Toronto At San Antonio

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, April 2, 2016
    Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

    The San Antonio Spurs will try to establish a franchise record for wins in a season and keep alive their remarkable unbeaten run at home when they host the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. The Spurs recorded the best home start in NBA history when they improved to 38-0 with an eight-point triumph over New Orleans on Wednesday.

    Their 63 victories overall matches the previous franchise mark set in 2005-06, giving the squad plenty of milestones to reach for, if it cares to. “It doesn’t mean anything,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the win over the Pelicans when asked of the home winning streak, which is at 47 dating to last season. “Absolutely nothing. Maybe a cup of coffee, maybe.” The final three home opponents – Toronto, Golden State and Oklahoma City – will make it difficult for the Spurs to complete the perfect run. The Raptors, who are facing a Western Conference opponent for the last time, began a two-game road trip with a 99-95 win at Memphis to stay 2 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the East.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)

    ABOUT THE RAPTORS (51-24): Norman Powell struggled to gain much playing time early in the season, but the rookie forward is now making the most of a more prominent role and he hit all four of his shots – including two 3-pointers – en route to 14 points against Memphis. That marked his fifth straight double-digit scoring effort, all after he produced a total of three over the season’s first four-plus months. DeMar DeRozan had 27 points Friday night and will be looking to repeat his performance against San Antonio earlier this season, when he had 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting in Toronto’s 97-94 win at home.

    ABOUT THE SPURS (63-12): Kawhi Leonard played 22 minutes Wednesday night in his return from a quad injury that robbed him of three games, and Popovich indicated his All-Star forward would not have a minutes restriction for this one. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili both returned from two-game layoffs and the latter was a force versus the Pelicans with 20 points in 24 minutes, burying 5-of-6 3-pointers. Ginobili was San Antonio’s leading scorer with 17 points in the loss at Toronto on Dec. 9.


    1. Leonard has 48 points in 46 minutes over his last two games.

    2. Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas has recorded at least 20 double-doubles in three straight seasons.

    3. San Antonio has won six straight meetings at home.

    PREDICTION: Spurs 101, Raptors 95


    Preview: Sacramento At Denver

    When: 9:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 2, 2016
    Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

    Sacramento All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins will miss his second straight game when the Kings visit the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Cousins missed Friday’s 112-106 loss to the Miami Heat due to a suspension and coach George Karl revealed Friday that Cousins will only play in home games the remainder of the season.

    Sacramento is 2-11 this season when Cousins sits out and the franchise is trying to rest him because of his persistent feet soreness. “We’ve been dealing with injuries and we’ve been dealing with other things off the court,” point guard Darren Collison told reporters after Friday’s loss. “I’m just proud guys have continued to stay with it. It’s going to pay off in the near future, believe it or not.” Denver dropped a 101-95 decision to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday as it closes out its third consecutive losing campaign. “I feel like every game at this point is a learning experience,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters. “It’s a game we definitely should have won, but we didn’t come out with the energy or do what we needed to do to win.”

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN California (Sacramento), Altitude (Denver)

    ABOUT THE KINGS (30-46): Collison has played well on the offensive end of late and poured in a season-high 26 points against Miami. It was his third 20-point outing in the past 11 games and he has scored in double digits in 12 consecutive contests. Collison has knocked down more than 61 percent of his field-goal attempts in three of the past four games and is 25-of-45 during the stretch.

    ABOUT THE NUGGETS (32-45): Backup forward Darrell Arthur is battling soreness in both knees and produced his best outing of the season against New Orleans when he matched his career high of 24 points. Arthur was 10-of-15 from the field – including 4-of-5 from 3-point range – and collected nine rebounds in only 22 minutes of action. “For him to go out there and gut through that performance really speaks to his mentality and who he is,” Malone told reporters.


    1. The Kings are 2-0 against the Nuggets this season behind Cousins, who averaged 38 points and 14.5 rebounds in two close victories.

    2. Sacramento backup SG Marco Belinelli (foot) will likely miss his fifth consecutive game while SF Omri Casspi (hamstring) could miss the rest of the season after being injured in Friday’s contest.

    3. Denver SF Will Barton missed all eight of his field-goal attempts and scored six points against New Orleans after averaging 24 points over the previous two games.

    PREDICTION: Nuggets 112, Kings 104


    Preview: Miami At Portland

    When: 10:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 2, 2016
    Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon

    The Portland Trail Blazers are closing in on the injury ravaged Memphis Grizzlies for the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Portland stands one game behind the Grizzlies and can apply more pressure on Memphis with a victory over the visiting Miami Heat on Saturday.

    The Trail Blazers have won the first three games of a four-game homestand and have been victorious in five of their last seven overall games. Passing the Grizzlies would give Portland a first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers rather than the Oklahoma City Thunder. Miami is part of a three-way virtual tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks while the Boston Celtics lurk a half-game behind. Heat guard Dwyane Wade (back and neck soreness) is expected to miss his second straight game after he averaged 28 points on 26-of-40 shooting over the previous two games.

    TV: 10 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), CSN Northwest (Portland)

    ABOUT THE HEAT (44-31): Gerald Green stepped into the starting lineup with Wade sidelined and scored a season-best 30 points and tied his season high of five 3-pointers as Miami posted a 112-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Green has experienced a disappointing campaign in which he shot 33.3 percent from the field in March and 31.8 percent in February. “The last two months, the media has been killing me,” Green said after his stellar showing. “I’m just motivated. I haven’t really been playing that well, but it was good to see some shots go in – but even better for us to win.”

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (40-36): Standout guards Damian Lillard (14 points on 3-of-16 shooting) and C.J. McCollum (17) both had substandard nights in the same game in Thursday’s 116-109 victory over the Boston Celtics and an unlikely hero emerged. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu poured in a career-best 28 points and made a career-high six 3-pointers in a stunning offensive performance. “It was good to see him have a breakout game,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “To be honest, I was surprised, he’s been in the league as long as he has and 20 was his career high. He had a good rhythm shooting the three, made some great defensive plays during the stretch that we needed them.”


    1. The Heat have won six of the past eight meetings, including a 116-109 home victory on Dec. 20.

    2. Miami C Hassan Whiteside collected 13 rebounds on Friday and has been in double digits in 19 of the last 21 games.

    3. Lillard has been held to fewer than 20 points in four consecutive games and is 17-of-61 shooting during the stretch.

    PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 119, Heat 111


    Hot teams
    — Detroit won six of its last eight games (2-4 last 6A). Chicago won its last three games (3-2 last 5H).
    — Toronto won seven of its last ten games (3-5 last 8AU). Spurs won eight of its last ten games (3-5-1 last 9HF).
    — Miami won five of its last seven games (1-4 last 5A). Portland won five of its last seven games- they won last four at home.

    Cold teams
    — Indiana lost five of its last eight games (6-7AF). 76ers lost their last 11 games (3-7 last 10HU).
    — Sacramento lost four of last five road games (1-3-1 last 5AU). Denver lost three of its last four games (5-3 last 8HF).

    Series records
    — 76ers lost eight of last nine games with Indiana.
    — Pistons won four of last six games with Chicago.
    — Spurs won eight of last ten games with Toronto.
    — Kings won five of last seven games with Denver.
    — Miami won five of last six games with Portland.

    — 76ers’ last five games stayed under the total.
    — Last five Chicago games stayed under the total.
    — Under is 14-4-1 in last nineteen San Antonio games.
    — Under is 3-1-1 in last five Denver home games.
    — Four of last five Portland home games stayed under total.

    — 76ers are 5-3 vs spread in last eight games if they played night before.
    — Detroit covered seven of last eight games if it played night before.
    — Toronto won last six games (5-1 vs spread) if it played nite before.
    — Kings covered two of last seven games if they played night before.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play Against – All teams where the line is +3 to -3 (CHICAGO) off an upset win as an underdog against opponent off a upset loss as a favorite
    68-32 over the last 5 seasons. ( 68.0% | 32.8 units )
    9-4 this year. ( 69.2% | 4.6 units )

    Play On – Any team vs the money line (INDIANA) off an upset loss by 15 points or more as a home favorite, with a winning record on the season
    54-27 over the last 5 seasons. ( 66.7% | 28.9 units )
    5-4 this year. ( 55.6% | 2.6 units )

    Play Under – All teams where the first half total is greater than 100 tired team – playing 6 or more games in 10 days, a marginal winning team (51% to 60%) playing a losing team
    118-67 over the last 5 seasons. ( 63.8% | 44.3 units )
    45-32 this year. ( 58.4% | 9.8 units )



    100* Pacers -10.5



    Philadelphia 76ers + Indiana Pacers – UNDER 203.5



    PORTLAND -4.5 over Miami
    10:05 p.m. EST
    FREE PICKS are now 31-19 (62%) the last 50 days!
    Tough spot here for the Heat as they play their third road game in four nights after failing to cover the previous two. Those two ATS losses make Miami just 1-4 in its last five against the Western Conference and tonight it faces a Portland team that’s 7-3 ATS in its last 10 against the East, playing with revenge, and on a hot streak, having won three in a row and five of its last seven. Lay the points at home.



    2* Toronto +11 1/2







    2-1 last night.

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