|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|06-02-12||San Antonio Spurs +4 v. Oklahoma City Thunder||Top||103-109||Loss||-110||10 h 6 m||Show|
Oklahoma City played hard and well in dispatching the Spurs, 102-82, during Game 3 of this Western Conference finals.
The Thunder caught the Spurs by surprise by frequently switching on defense. That took the Spurs out of their rhythm and was a key in San Antonio scoring the fewest points it has all season.
But let's not overreact to one game. San Antonio had won its previous 20 games. The Spurs will be more prepared for the Thunder's multi-facet defense this time. The gamble in frequently switching off defensively is that the offense can take advantage by creating mismatches.
Gregg Popovich's is a tremendous coach. This is the best offense he's had in San Antonio. He has the talent and versatile players to adjust and get his team back on track.
You always hate to lose a playoff game, but this was a major wake-up call for the Spurs. They will match the Thunder's intensity from now on. San Antonio has a tremendous record in bouncing back from a loss covering eight of the past nine times. They also are 9-4 ATS when taking points.
The Spurs have proven themselves on the road, too, going 18-8-3 ATS. Oklahoma City is 3-9 ATS the past 12 times it has played at home when facing an opponent with an above .500 road mark.
|06-01-12||Miami Heat v. Boston Celtics -2||Top||91-101||Win||100||14 h 42 m||Show|
Normally I would look to fade the aging Celtics when playing for the fourth time in seven days. Not this time, though.
Home-court and playing with the desperation of an 0-2 team will get Boston past Miami in this Game 3 matchup.
Rajon Rondo is playing at the highest level. However, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce - Boston's Big Three - are a combined 34 for 89 shooting from the floor. They are better shooters than this.
Yes Boston has tired legs. But coming home is huge. The Celtics are 13-6-1 ATS in their last 20 home contests. The Heat are 0-5-1 ATS the last six times they've been a road 'dog.
Boston has been hurt by fouls. The officials did serve up some home-cooking to the Heat. It's realistic to believe that if the Celtics don't at least get the benefit of some calls, at least they won't be hurt by bad calls.
The Heat had 18 second-chance points in Game 2. The Celtics will clamp down on this.
This is the Celtics' game to win. I see them getting the job down here based on adrenaline spurred on by their crowd, veteran savvy. a fair break on fouls and the continued brilliance of Rondo.
|05-31-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder UNDER 206||Top||82-102||Win||100||32 h 15 m||Show|
Lose this game and the Thunder very well could get swept. The zig/zap theory, which I do respect, says Oklahoma City. But I can't lay points into a San Antonio team that has won 20 in a row and so far has looked superior to the Thunder in all facets.
This leaves the total for which one play is worth an investment - under.
As good as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are, they aren't going to make a combined 30-for-54 field goals like in Game 2, nor is Tony Parker going to make 16 of 21 shots from the floor.
The Spurs have sharpened their defense during the playoffs giving up an average of 91.9 points per game during their 10 postseason matchups.
Oklahoma City has been playing hard. I see the Thunder going all out, though, to crack down on the Spurs' pick-and-roll game, which has been highly effective. The Spurs are a much better offense team than some perceive, but their perimeter game is far from a sure thing.
Down 2-0, the Thunder need to slow down the pace in order to guard against the Spurs' pick-and-roll and to make that extra pass, which Thunder coach Scott Brooks has stressed leading up to this game.
The pressure is all on the Thunder here. Because of that, I see them being more methodical than usual and caring on defense. The Thunder aren't a great defensive team, but they are better than they've showed.
|05-26-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. Boston Celtics OVER 170||Top||75-85||Loss||-110||33 h 49 m||Show|
Based on Game 6, points should be hard to come by in this Game 7 matchup. A lot of people feel this way. I don't.
I see the 76ers and Celtics easily going over this extremely low total.
While Game 6 was a dead nuts under, the previous three games in this series went over the total. The average combined point total during Games 3, 4 and 5 was 185 points, which easily would exceed this Game 7 total.
The 76ers pounded the Celtics in the paint at home in Game 6. Kevin Garnett had a lot of trouble in the low post. I see the Celtics scoring much more in the paint in this matchup.
The 76ers know they can't get away with going toe to toe against the Celtics inside in Boston. The 76ers are younger and quicker. They will try to exploit those edges by forcing a quick tempo. They will want to run - a key factor in going over. The over has cashed in 12 of the 76ers' last 16 games.
The Celtics also aren't going to back away from speeding up the pace with Rajon Rondo. He needs to push the ball in order to set up Garnett and Boston's other key veterans.
Boston has been playing every other day during the playoffs. Now the Celtics will have had two full days of rest having last seen action this past Wednesday. Note that six of the last eight meetings between these two division rivals has gone above the total.
The oddsmaker has over adjusted based on a freaky Game 6 result.
|05-24-12||Miami Heat v. Indiana Pacers +3.5||Top||105-93||Loss||-110||19 h 26 m||Show|
As great as LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are, the Heat have too many serious roadblocks to overcome to cover in this Game 6.
While the focus always is on James and Wade, the Heat have a depleted front-court. Chris Bosh is out and Udonis Haslem is suspended. Little used Dexter Pittman also is suspended.
The Pacers are not a good team to match up against when missing key frontcourt players such as Bosh and Haslem. Bosh was the Heat's major inside scoring threat while the underrated Haslem was a key to Miami's rebounding, defense and doing a lot of the important little things.
This has turned into a rough and rugged series. The Pacers will be highly motivated and emotional after being called soft by Larry Bird and with their playoff lives at stake. They were beaten and bullied in Miami. That won't be the case at home.
Miami isn't the same team on the road. The Heat are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games. They are just three games above .500 on the road. More telling, they are 4-11 ATS on the road versus opponents with a home winning percentage of .600 or higher.
The Pacers have been big money-makers in this type of role covering seven of the last nine times they were short 'dogs of up to 4 1/2 points.
|05-23-12||Boston Celtics v. Philadelphia 76ers -1.5||Top||75-82||Win||100||13 h 32 m||Show|
Surprised to see the 76ers favored? I'm not. The Celtics are a losing team on the road.
The 76ers have the motivation, young legs and depth to force a Game 7. The Celtics aren't to be trusted especially knowing they would be home for Game 7 if necessary.
Boston has the marquee stars. But these teams are close in talent. The 76ers own the stronger bench.
The 76ers have responded every time following a loss in the playoffs going 4-0 in their next game. Boston, on the other hand, is 2-5 off a victory.
The aged Celts are 1-4 ATS when playing on one day's rest. They have failed to cover during five of their last six trips to Philadelphia.
The Celtics are 17-21 away from Boston this season, including the playoffs.
|05-20-12||Miami Heat v. Indiana Pacers OVER 177||Top||101-93||Win||100||10 h 10 m||Show|
The first three games of this series have all gone under the total. The teams are averaging a combined 167 points. So why buck the system here and go over?
Several factors. This total is down nine points from the Game 1 over/under number. So there's been a huge adjustment.
The Heat averaged 98.5 points per game during the regular season. That was good for seventh-best. They shot an NBA fourth-best 46.9 percent from the floor while connecting on 35.9 percent of their 3-point shots.
During this series, however, the Heat are averaging 81.7 points and shooting 37.6 percent from the field. They have made only 5-of-42 shots from beyond the arc for a 3-point percentage of less than 12 percent.
Yes, some of this has to do with Indiana's defense. But it's also the result of unreasonably bad shooting that can't continue to be this poor especially from 3-point range.
Chris Bosh being out definitely hurts Miami's offense. I see LeBron James and Dwayne Wade picking up the slack even more in this crucial game for the Heat, though. Wade is going to shoot a lot better than he did in Game 3. He's a superstar who can't be kept down.
Indiana's scoring and shooting also is down and due for a correction. The Pacers are putting up 86 points per game during this series after averaging 97.7 during the regular season. Their 3-point shooting percentage is down from 36.8 percent, which ranked sixth during the regular season, to 32.6 percent.
Both teams have been missing an inordinate amount of free throws, too. Miami is making 72.9 percent of its free throws after averaging 77.5 percent in the regular season. The Pacers are hitting 75.6 percent of their free throws after making 77.5 percent of their charity tosses during the regular season.
This game is going to be intense. James and Danny Granger have been going at it hot and heavy. It wouldn't be surprising if a lot of free throws were shot in this Game 4.
The Pacers are a physical team looking to gain a breakthrough. They very well may get it. I'm not a conspiracy theorist yet I don't trust the NBA or the networks. They have to be rooting for James, Wade and the high-profile Heat rather than the small market Pacers who lack marquee stars. So the Heat, particularly James and Wade, could be making frequent trips to the free throw line.
Keep in mind, too, the short pointspread range. So it's not inconceivable that this game could go into overtime. It's certainly not asking too much for each team to reach 90 points.
The NBA playoffs are all about zigging and zagging. This is the time to zag and take the over.
|05-18-12||Boston Celtics v. Philadelphia 76ers -2||Top||83-92||Win||100||18 h 16 m||Show|
The veteran, aging Celtics caught the 76ers by surprise during this past Wednesday's Game 3 by doing a lot of running.
That wasn't something the 76ers were expecting.
Not only are the 76ers going to be more prepared, but also they will be at their peak intensity level knowing a loss puts them down 3-1.
The Celtics are going to pay a price for their winning strategy in Game 3 - tired legs. Playing every other night during the playoffs following a grueling compressed schedule is going to take a big toll on the Celtics in this matchup. Don't be surprised if Boston's gas tank registers empty for this road matchup.
The Celtics have not been a strong road team either going 15-18 during the regular season. The 76ers have covered four of the last five times they've hosted Boston. They are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 overall meetings with Boston.
Having dispatched the heavily favored Bulls in their opening series and splitting two one-point games in Boston, the 76ers aren't going to be intimidated by the Celtics' mystique and superstars. Philly has by far the younger legs and a better bench.
Look for the 76ers to tie up the series with a solid victory in this matchup.
|05-16-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Oklahoma City Thunder -8||75-77||Loss||-110||21 h 43 m||Show|
The Thunder are the dominant team in this matchup, especially when playing at home. That was proven when they beat the Lakers, 119-90, this past Monday night.
It is on the Lakers to make the proper adjustments. I don't believe Lakers coach Mike Brown is capable of making the right moves, at least until his team gets back to Los Angeles. The Lakers have failed to cover 17 of the past 23 times when playing on just one day's rest.
The Lakers have been brutal on the road all season. They don't have the young legs and athleticism of the Thunder. This is a bad matchup for the Lakers. The Thunder has the big people to bother Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Oklahoma City has covered in six of its last eight home meetings against the Lakers.
Los Angeles doesn't have the defensive stoppers to keep in check Oklahoma City's pick-and-roll game. Ron Artest, or whatever name he's calling himself these days, no longer has the ability to clamp down on star scorers such as Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook and Durant combined for 58 percent shooting from the floor against the Lakers. It wasn't a fluke.
A key for the Lakers is defensive pressure. Yet the Lakers could force only four turnovers in Game 1 against a Thunder squad that was the most turnover-prone team in the league.
The Lakers have been a money-burner in this role going just 1-7 ATS as a playoff underdog. Don't think the Thunder are going to take their foot off the gas either if they build a big lead after Artest's cheap elbow shot knocked out James Harden.
|05-15-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. San Antonio Spurs -11.5||Top||92-108||Win||100||18 h 27 m||Show|
Gutty performance for the Clippers winning Game 7 on the road against Memphis this past Sunday. It was the first time the Clippers have ever won a Game 7.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, this quick turnaround leaves them highly vulnerable for this matchup. The Spurs have had more than a week to rest and prepare. No coach is better with additional prep time than Gregg Popovich.
No team is hotter than San Antonio either. The Spurs are riding a 14-game winning streak. They are 22-5-1 ATS in their last 28 home games.
The Spurs will be ready. The same can't be said of the Clippers, who are drained and battered. Blake Griffin is playing on one leg. If this weren't a playoff game, he would be sitting out. Chris Paul is dealing with hip and groin injuries. Caron Butler has a broken left hand.
The Clippers upset Memphis in Game 7 thanks to a great bench performance and the Grizzlies choking. That combination isn't going to happen here. The Spurs have a strong bench, thanks in part to a masterful job by Popovich of resting his veterans during the regular season to get his reserves more quality time, and the Clippers can't count on Randy Foye and Nick Young. These are Washington Wizard castoffs after all.
I'm not deterred by the double-digit spread. The Spurs are 10-1 ATS the last 11 times they've given up 11 or more points. San Antonio also is 10-3 ATS versus the Clippers.
|05-15-12||Indiana Pacers +7 v. Miami Heat||78-75||Win||100||16 h 46 m||Show|
The Pacers were right with the Heat until the final few minutes in Game 1. Now the Heat don't have Chris Bosh, out with an abdominal strain. It's a huge loss for Miami.
The Pacers really have a huge size advantage now. Miami is hurt both offensively and defensively without Bosh.
Bosh gave Miami a low-post scoring presence, which helped free up double-teams on LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Now the Heat's scoring options are more limited. The Pacers certainly will be anticipating more pick-and-rolls for James and Wade.
Miami has the best home mark in the Eastern Conference, but the Pacers have played well down the stretch and on the road. They had won seven straight away matchups until losing to Miami in Game 1.
Spread-wise, this has been an underdog series with the favorite going just 10-24-1 ATS during the past 35 meetings.
|05-14-12||Philadelphia 76ers +4.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||82-81||Win||100||20 h 38 m||Show|
Boston owns the star power, but these two teams are very even.
The Celtics have playoff experience and bigger names. The 76ers have younger legs, are more athletic and have a deeper bench.
The statistics were nearly even in Game 1. The Celtics won, 92-91, after falling behind by 10 points in the last quarter. Boston sank 18 of 19 free throws for the game.
I don't see the Celtics connecting on nearly 95 percent of their free throws again. The 76ers outscored Chicago in their first-round series every time during the final period. The 76ers aren't intimidated by the Celtics. They learned a tough lesson in Game 1. I see them confident and prepared to pull the upset in Game 2 after coming so close this past Saturday.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett continue to play big minutes without much rest between games. Tired old legs could catch up to Boston in this matchup.
|05-13-12||Indiana Pacers v. Miami Heat -8||86-95||Win||100||14 h 18 m||Show|
Yes, Indiana is much improved. The Pacers also have played well down the stretch against the big boys, which has been impressive.
But the Pacers aren't strong enough to keep things close against Miami in American Airlines Arena, where the Heat are 31-5 counting their three home wins versus the Knicks in Round One of the playoffs.
The Pacers are sailing in unchartered waters being in the second round of the playoffs against an elite foe.
The Heat need to make an early statement in this playoff series. Pacers coach Frank Vogel's comments about the Heat doing a lot of flopping may have closed any back-door possibilities his team had of Miami letting up late if it builds a big lead.
Indiana has excellent height. The Heat, though, are an underrated rebuilding team. They finished first in defensive rebounding, a category the Pacers were 17th in.
The Heat also has not only the two best players on the court - LeBron James and Dwayne Wade - but also the third-best in Chris Bosh. I would take Bosh over Danny Granger, Indiana's best player. Granger is just a 40.5 percent shooter from the floor career-wise versus the Heat.
|05-10-12||Atlanta Hawks +6.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||80-83||Win||100||16 h 18 m||Show|
Atlanta is a much more dangerous team with All-Star big man Al Horford back from pectoral surgery. Horford and Josh Smith give the Hawks a key edge in the paint.
The Hawks have playoff experience. They are talented enough to take the next level - that of knocking off a quality playoff foe. That very well could happen if the Hawks win this game since they would then host Game 7.
All season, the Hawks have played to the level of competition. They've been better against tougher foes while relaxing against lesser opponents.
The Hawks have covered six of their last seven road contests. They are 9-4 ATS as underdogs. This has been an underdog series with the 'dog getting the money seven of the past nine times these teams have met.
Aside from Rajon Rondo, the core of the Celtics aren't in their prime. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are all over-the-hill. They may have enough left to pull this game out, but covering this mid-range number is asking too much of aged Boston against a quality foe looking to take the next step up.
|05-08-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. Chicago Bulls OVER 171.5||Top||69-77||Loss||-110||24 h 13 m||Show|
Philadelphia and Chicago are two very strong defensive clubs. But this total is too low.
Yes, the two teams went under this number during Games 3 and 4. That was in Philadelphia. This matchup is in Chicago where the teams averaged better than 197 points combined in Games 1 and 2.
Each team just needs to reach 85 points for this total to go over. The 76ers and Bulls got to 171 in Game 4 this past Sunday despite shooting only 40 and 39 percent from the floor.
In Game 3, the teams shot just 34 and 37 percent from the field. The defenses are strong - but not that strong. A correction is in order and it won't take much of that to nudge this one over.
The 76ers, for instance, have gone over 85 points in 13 of their last 14 games. The Bulls have scored at least 85 in 12 of their past 16 games.
Joakim Noah is out for the Bulls. That hurts the over, but the Bulls have had a full game now to adjust to Noah's absence. The flip side of Noah being out is it makes 76ers center Spencer Hawes a much more feared offensive player. Hawes scored 22 points hitting nine of 11 shots from the floor during Sunday's 76ers' victory.
Hawes was having an excellent season until getting hurt. He's healthy now and a offensive force with Noah out.
|05-06-12||Atlanta Hawks +5.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||79-101||Loss||-110||16 h 20 m||Show|
The Celtics have grabbed a 2-1 series lead courtesy of their overtime victory against Atlanta in Game 3. But the series is taking a toll already on Boston particularly aging veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Both have been playing big minutes. Celtics coach Doc Rivers is going to have to reduce their minutes, or their effectiveness is going to diminish.
I see Boston not being as intense partly because of this. The Hawks need this game desperately and will be going all out. The Hawks took Game 3 to overtime despite missing Josh Smith, their best all-around player.
The versatile Smith can play center, which is huge with Atlanta missing Al Horford. Smith missed Game 3 due to a sprained knee but vows to play in this game.
The Hawks have covered the past six times following a straight-up defeat. They are 7-2 ATS the last nine times they've been road 'dogs.
Boston is going to be hard-pressed to win by a margin - if the Celtics even manage to win this game. The Celtics are 3-15 ATS when laying between five and 10 1/2 points.
|05-04-12||Chicago Bulls +1.5 v. Philadelphia 76ers||Top||74-79||Loss||-107||19 h 11 m||Show|
I don't care if Derrick Rose is out and Philadelphia is home, Chicago should not be an underdog.
The Bulls are at least one level higher than the 76ers even without Rose.
Philadelphia finally played a good game in blowing out the Bulls in Chicago. Don't look for the 76ers to shoot 59 percent from the floor like they did in Game 2.
The Bulls have tremendous pride in their defense under Tom Thibodeau. Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer both had off games. That won't happen again.
The Bulls have proven they can win on the road and without Rose. They have covered 21 of their last 31 away contests.
The 76ers are not a dominant home club. They have failed to cover in their last five home games, while losing their past four home contests straight-up.
While Rose being out of the playoffs rates a headline, the 76ers' best player, Andre Iguodala, is less than 100 percent due to Achilles' tendonitis. Iguodala is the key to the 76ers' fast-break and also a top defender. If he's not 100 percent, the 76ers might be forced to play more half-court, which fits into the Bulls' hands.
|05-03-12||Miami Heat -5 v. New York Knicks||Top||87-70||Win||100||18 h 37 m||Show|
Miami has won the first two games of this series by a combined 43 points. Now the scene shifts to New York so the spread is much lower with the Knicks down 0-2.
But the Knicks don't have the heart and key bodies to keep this game close.
New York's backcourt is down Jeremy Lin, Inman Shumpert, its top perimeter defender, and Baron Davis is limited by a back injury. In the forecourt, Amare Stoudemire is out and center Tyson Chandler has been battling the flu.
The Heat smell blood. They want this series over with fast so there will be no letdown. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have strong histories when playing at famed Madison Square Garden. The Heat are 4-1 ATS during their past five visits to New York.
The Heat also have covered nine of the past 11 times they've been playoff favorites.
|05-02-12||Utah Jazz +11.5 v. San Antonio Spurs||Top||83-114||Loss||-105||14 h 3 m||Show|
Utah received a humbling lesson in Game 1, losing to the Spurs, 106-91.
The Jazz found out the hard way that veteran, playoff savvy teams like the Spurs turn things up a notch in the playoffs.
Expect the Jazz to be more mentally prepared for this matchup and also to play harder particularly in guarding point guard Tony Parker.
Utah has the height and talent to stay within this double-digit pointspread range. The Jazz entered the post-season playing well winning seven of their last nine, including the past five. They earned their way into the more competitive Western Conference playoffs. They are a team worthy of respect.
The Jazz, though, have a lot of youth. That inexperience showed in Game 1. Lesson learned.
Utah is going to be more physical in this matchup. More important, the Jazz have the necessary big people to be effective with this kind of motivation. The Jazz have a tough front line with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors. The Spurs' front line probably is going to be down a key reserve with backup center Tiago Splitter doubtful with a left wrist injury.
The Spurs haven't been great as a playoff favorite going 1-5-1 ATS in that role.
|05-01-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. Chicago Bulls -6.5||Top||109-92||Loss||-102||20 h 45 m||Show|
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is taking some unfair heat for leaving Derrick Rose in the game when the Bulls had Game 1 in hand against the 76ers. Rose tore his anterior cruciate ligament and is out for the rest of the playoffs.
I expect the Bulls to respond to Rose's injury and the criticism of their coach with a huge effort. Even without Rose, the Bulls are good enough to cover this number at home against Philadelphia.
The Bulls didn't have Rose for 27 games this season and still won 18 of those contests.
The Bulls hosted the 76ers on March 17 in the team's last regular-season meeting and Chicago won by nine despite Rose not playing. Chicago has covered four of the past five times it has hosted Philadelphia.
The 76ers beat up bad teams - especially at home - but failed all season to step up when playing elite foes. They are 2-10 ATS the past 12 times they've faced opponents with a winning percentage above .600. Philadelphia is 4-10 ATS the last 14 times it has been an underdog.
|04-30-12||Orlando Magic v. Indiana Pacers -9||78-93||Win||100||19 h 56 m||Show|
Indiana's lack of playoff experience showed when it was upset at home, 81-77, this past Saturday in Game 1 by Orlando.
Expect the Pacers to be better prepared this time and not to take the Dwight Howard-less Magic lightly.
The playoff-tested Magic were successful in getting the Pacers to play their halfcourt style of game. Indiana only had five fastbreak points. The Pacers didn't shoot well either from the floor or foul line where they were 13 of 22. The Magic turned in their "A" defensive game.
I don't see the Magic doing that again as the Pacers will be determined to run more. Indiana knows its season is on the line as it can't go to Orlando down 0-2 in the series.
The Pacers were playing well heading into the postseason going 12-3. I see them regaining the momentum with Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert coming up big. They are the two best players on the court with Howard out.
|04-29-12||Boston Celtics v. Atlanta Hawks -1.5||Top||74-83||Win||100||18 h 57 m||Show|
Boston may very well win this series, but I don't see the Celtics stealing Game 1 from the Hawks in Atlanta.
The Hawks are younger than Boston, have home-court advantage and have paid enough playoff dues to be considered a serious contender to reach the Eastern Conference finals now that Chicago's Derrick Rose has been sidelined for the rest of the season.
Home-court advantage can't be underestimated here. The Hawks were 23-10 at home during the regular season. Boston was 15-18 on the road. The Celtics' last road game was on April 20 at Atlanta. The Hawks won, 97-92, although the Celtics did hold out their key players, including Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics may be without Ray Allen, who has missed the last two weeks with a sore ankle.
The Hawks have made strides during the past few years. They are ready to step up now. This is their chance. A Game 1 loss could prove devastating to their fragile egos - and they know it. The Hawks will be ready.
|04-28-12||Dallas Mavericks +7.5 v. Oklahoma City Thunder||Top||98-99||Win||100||21 h 46 m||Show|
The defending world champion Mavericks certainly are down from last season. But they have enough veteran savvy, pride and talent to make things close.
Oklahoma City isn't playing well. The Thunder are not an elite defensive team and were not sharp down the stretch. They are just 7-7 in their last 14 games, including 3-3 during their past six home contests.
Dallas has lost by an average of just three points in its two visits to Oklahoma City this season. The road team is 17-4-1 ATS in this series.
The Mavericks have enjoyed great pointspread success in Oklahoma City going 13-3-1 ATS. The Mavericks are 8-1-1 ATS the past 10 times they've been playoff 'dogs.
Dallas is the more experienced playoff team and gave up nearly three points fewer per game than the Thunder.
James Harden is expected to play for Oklahoma City, but he figures to be rusty seeing his first action since suffering a concussion.
|04-23-12||Toronto Raptors +10.5 v. Milwaukee Bucks||Top||86-92||Win||100||19 h 32 m||Show|
It's a mistake to take Toronto lightly, which the oddsmaker is doing. Since March 28, the Raptors have upset Denver, Philadelphia and Boston. The Raptors are 8-3 ATS versus foes with a winning home mark.
The spread is high because this is a must-win spot for the Bucks. Let's face it, though, the Bucks aren't going to make the playoffs. For that to happen, the Bucks would need to win their final three games while the 76ers lose their last three games.
The 76ers tip off an hour earlier than the Bucks tonight. The 76ers are big favorites against the Nets. There's a possibility the Bucks could find out the 76ers have closed them out even before their game against the Raptors is finished. That would be very mentally deflating and certainly open up the back-door.
The Raptors, though, probably aren't going to need a back-door as they should be competitive all the way with Milwaukee. The Bucks haven't responded well to the pressure losing five of their last seven games.
Milwaukee has failed to cover 10 of the past 14 times it has been home chalk. Only twice since the start of February have the Bucks won by more than 10 points at home.
Toronto has been a solid money-making road club all season cashing 59 percent of its away matchups. The Raptors don't get enough respect from the marketplace. That's the case again.
|04-22-12||New York Knicks v. Atlanta Hawks -2.5||Top||113-112||Loss||-110||10 h 1 m||Show|
The good news for the Knicks is they are in the playoffs. The bad news is there's nothing the Knicks really can do to avoid meeting either Chicago or Miami in the first round of the playoffs.
The Hawks are a better team than the Knicks, have home-court and won't lack for motivation. The Hawks are trying to secure home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs. They need to beat out Orlando and Boston to accomplish that.
The teams met three weeks ago in Atlanta and the Hawks won by 10 as three-point favorites. Atlanta is 8-3-1 ATS the past 12 times it has been chalk.
This is a very short number for the Hawks to cover.
|04-20-12||Golden State Warriors +12.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||94-104||Win||100||18 h 46 m||Show|
Done in by injuries and the trade of Monta Ellis, Golden State has dropped 18 of its last 22 games.
Things have gotten so bad that the Warriors were mentioned on ESPN during a report on tanking for a high lottery pick.
The Warriors were mad about this. I expect them to go all out in this matchup. Dallas can clinch a playoff berth with a win in this game. Winning and covering by more than 10 points, though, are two different things.
The Mavericks do not have a good history when it comes to covering a large number at home. They are 6-18 ATS when laying 11 or more at home. The last time Dallas won by more than 10 points at home was on Feb. 20, a span of 15 home games.
The Warriors are the youngest team in the league right now starting four rookies. One of these rookies is Klay Thompson, who is playing very well averaging 23.5 points in his last four games.
Yes, that's a lot of inexperience for Golden State. But it's also fresh legs, which is so important at this late stage of a condensed and compressed NBA schedule caused by the lockout. The Mavericks happen to be the oldest team in the league.
This marks Dallas' fourth game in six days. The Mavericks play at Chicago on Saturday. The backdoor is wide open here for the Warriors, whose young players can be counted on to play hard the entire game as they audition for next season.
As bad as Golden State has been from a straight won-lost perspective, the Warriors have been big money-makers on the road covering 11 of their last 14 away contests.
|04-19-12||Houston Rockets v. New Orleans Hornets +5||99-105||Win||100||8 h 31 m||Show|
Houston is fighting for a playoff spot. New Orleans is lottery bound. Hence a lopsided spread.
The Rockets probably will come out hard, but they are not playing well enough to be installed as this high of a road favorite. Houston has lost five in a row, allowing an average of more than 107 points per game during this span.
New Orleans is the superior defensive team. The Hornets rank in the top 10 in defense and are No. 2 in defensive 3-point percentage. The 3-point shot is a key weapon for the Rockets, whose one-time bench strength has been reduced by injuries and wear and tear of the condensed season.
The Hornets are playing loose - and well. They've won four of their past five yielding an average of less than 83 points per game during this time frame.
The Hornets have covered seven of the last eight times versus Houston. The Hornets have been a huge money-maker taking points covering 21 of the past 29 times as a 'dog. This includes seven straight covers as a home 'dog.
|04-18-12||Oklahoma City Thunder -3 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||109-97||Win||100||21 h 60 m||Show|
Phoenix has done a nice job of making a playoff run. Steve Nash still is a great talent. But the Suns are nowhere near the class of Oklahoma City.
The Thunder rank with Chicago, Miami and San Antonio as one of the four best teams in the NBA. The Suns have fared well against lesser foes, but haven't been able to step in against these elite teams. They are 0-7 versus these foes, including 0-2 to Oklahoma City losing by 11 and 10 points.
Oklahoma City is in a tight battle with San Antonio for the best record in the West. So the Thunder not only will be playing hard and focused in this matchup, but they are off a humiliating loss blowing a nine-point halftime lead in a 92-77 road loss to the Clippers this past Monday. The Thunder were held to an embarrassing 25 second-half points.
The Thunder are 17-6 (74 percent) ATS in their next game after not covering the spread in their previous game.
Oklahoma City also matches up well to the Suns, who do not have a great bench and are small in the paint. The Thunder have beaten Phoenix five straight times. They are 12-4 ATS during their last 16 visits to Phoenix.
Ancient Grant Hill probably is still the Suns' best defender. He missed Phoenix's last game this past Monday with a sore knee and would be limited to keep Kevin Durant in check even if he were able to play against the Thunder, which is iffy.
|04-17-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Los Angeles Lakers +3.5||112-91||Loss||-105||10 h 25 m||Show|
It's not often the Lakers are home underdogs even minus Kobe Bryant. But they are right now. The Lakers cashed as home 'dogs earlier this season against Miami and Chicago. They are 7-1 ATS the past eight times they've been 'dogs of up to 4 1/2 points.
Bryant remains out, but the Lakers have been playing well without him winning three in a row. Los Angeles' big people are stepping up and Matta World Peace is playing his finest ball of the season.
I expect the Spurs to play hard in this matchup, but there's always the possibility of Gregg Popovich resting his three star starters - Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Popovich has been unpredictable in this regard, usually waiting until near tip-off to make that decision. Obviously that would be a huge plus if that were to occur locking into the Lakers' dog number right now.
But I like the Lakers to win straight-up, if not cover this number, regardless. They have beaten San Antonio during the past three meetings, winning by an average of 13 points. They are 10-4 ATS versus the Spurs during the last four meetings.
|04-16-12||Philadelphia 76ers -3.5 v. Orlando Magic||Top||100-113||Loss||-110||18 h 7 m||Show|
Orlando clinched a playoff spot beating Cleveland, 100-84, on Sunday. Even though the lowly Cavaliers were the opponent, the Magic still were relieved to win because of their many key injuries.
Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu may not play again during the regular season. And now the Magic have a cluster injury problem in the pivot as Glen Davis, Howard's replacement, went down with a right knee injury just seven minutes into the game against the Cavaliers.
While the Magic are playing for the third time in four days, the 76ers have been idle since Friday. This not only is a revenge game for the 76ers, which fell to the Magic at home eight days ago, but also a key matchup regarding their now iffy playoff status. The 76ers host Indiana on Tuesday and then close with five straight road contests. They have to take advantage of this favorable situational spot.
I think the 76ers will as they are healthy now and have the quality reserves to take advantage of Orlando's thin lineup. The Magic have only covered once the last nine times they've played a foe with a winning record.
|04-16-12||Atlanta Hawks -4.5 v. Toronto Raptors||109-87||Win||100||18 h 53 m||Show|
Revenge can be overrated in the NBA. But not in this quickest of turnarounds.
Toronto shocked Atlanta, 102-86, as 10-point road 'dogs Sunday dealing a blow to the Hawks' chances of getting the No. 3 seed in the East. Now the Hawks have a golden revenge opportunity with the humiliation of losing to the lowly Raptors fresh in their minds.
Toronto has multiple injuries. The Raptors are minus three of their top four scorers, including assists leader Jose Calderon. The Raptors also shocked the Celtics this past Friday winning straight-up as a 7 1/2-point 'dogs. I don't see any way the Raptors beating the Celtics and Hawks twice during a four-day span, especially with their depleted roster.
The Hawks had more assists and fewer turnovers than the Raptors on Sunday. But were out-shot 55 percent to 40 percent from the field. Atlanta missed 17 of 22 shots from beyond the arc. This was a fluke occurrence. The Hawks rank fifth in defense giving up 93 points per game, while Toronto is 27th offensively averaging 91 points per contest.
The Hawks have the stars with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, the motivation and bench to take advantage of a crippled Raptors squad that has played above their heads two straight times. It's rare in the NBA for even good teams to put together three straight "A" game efforts. I certainly can't see the Raptors pulling it off.
|04-15-12||Miami Heat -3 v. New York Knicks||Top||93-85||Win||100||11 h 1 m||Show|
The Knicks have been playing well at home under Mike Woodson. It now looks like the Knicks are indeed a playoff team. In fact, if the season ended today the Knicks would open against Miami.
That's one of many factors why the Heat are the right side in this matchup. The Heat haven't been playing well on the road. They want to put a halt to that. The opportunity couldn't come in a better matchup - against a possible first-round foe, on national television and at Madison Square Garden. The motivation for the superior team will be there.
It's the Heat's first visit this season to MSG and you know LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, who is expected to play, will be itching to put on a great show in the Big Apple.
The Heat still are a much better team than the Knicks no matter where the game is played. Miami is 2-0 versus New York beating the Knicks both times in Miami winning by an average of 12 points.
The Knicks are down Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. It also looks like that guard Ian Shumpert may be out, too, with a sprained ankle. If he goes, he won't be 100 percent. Shumpert is the Knicks' first choice to defend James.
|04-13-12||Cleveland Cavaliers +12 v. Indiana Pacers||Top||83-102||Loss||-110||18 h 36 m||Show|
The Pacers have established a little breathing room in their quest to gain the all-important No. 3 playoff seed in the East owning a two-game lead.
The Pacers escaped the Cavaliers' upset bid this past Wednesday and face easy opponents in their next three games. So this matchup sets up as a letdown spot for Indiana. Certainly the back-door should be open for Cleveland as the Pacers have games on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
The Pacers do not have a good track record in this situation failing to cover eight of the last 10 times when facing a sub .500 foe. They are 3-8 ATS the last 11 times when laying points.
The second part of this equation is can the Cavaliers hold up their part?
Star rookie Kyrie Irving remains out with a sprained shoulder. But the Cavaliers have been getting spirited play from youngsters Lester Hudson, Alonzo Gee and Tristain Thompson in covering their last five games. The Cavaliers have either won or lost in overtime during their past four games. Hudson is becoming a remarkable story as the D-League castoff is riding a hot hand averaging 23.3 points in the last four games.
Cleveland led Indiana by seven with six minutes left in its overtime loss this past Wednesday at home. The Cavaliers were outshot from the floor and shot 13 fewer free throws in that loss to Indiana. Yet they still took it to overtime. Irving didn't play in that game either.
The Cavaliers have a good history, too, in Indiana during their post LeBron James era going 4-1-1 ATS in their last six visits.
|04-08-12||Chicago Bulls -2.5 v. New York Knicks||Top||99-100||Loss||-110||11 h 52 m||Show|
Chicago has the best road mark in the NBA and expects to get back Derrick Rose for this matchup. He's missed the last 12 games with a groin injury.
I still like the Bulls strong even if Rose doesn't play. Chicago is 15-7 when Rose hasn't played. The Bulls had won 12 of their last 14 road games by an average of more than 13 points until losing in their last away matchup. That was to powerful Oklahoma City.
Chicago has covered 19 of its last 26 road matchups. The Bulls are 8-2 ATS the past 10 times they've been road chalk.
The Knicks get a ton of publicity, but they are just one game above .500. They are a borderline playoff team, while the Bulls rank with the Heat, Thunder and Spurs as one of the four best teams in the league. You could make a case the Bulls are the best when Rose is healthy.
The Knicks are minus star Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, their best point guard. The Knicks would have a hard time keeping close to the Bulls even if they had a full deck.
|04-07-12||Dallas Mavericks +3.5 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||89-94||Loss||-100||17 h 39 m||Show|
I like Memphis much more as a 'dog rather than a favorite. I feel the same way about Dallas.
Now we have a matchup where the Grizzlies are favored against Dallas. The Mavericks have covered 73 percent during the past 27 times they've been an underdog.
The Grizzlies have failed to cover seven of the past eight times they've been chalk. Memphis just ended Miami's 17-game home win streak on Friday night in what could be its most satisfying win of the season. The Grizzlies now have to turn around fly home and play 24 hours later.
Memphis is 2-6 ATS following a straight-up victory. The Grizzlies are facing fatigue issues, too. This is their fourth game in five days and sixth game in nine days. They might be without starting guard and key defender Tony Allen a second straight night. He missed the win against the Heat due to facial lacerations suffered this past Wednesday.
Dallas can't afford not to be ready and focused for this game. The Mavericks lost at home to Portland on Friday night, dropping a game behind second-place Memphis in the Southwest Division. The Mavericks beat the Grizzlies at home, 95-85, this past Wednesday.
|04-03-12||Golden State Warriors +8 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||94-98||Win||100||17 h 10 m||Show|
Golden State is under the radar when it comes to be a money-making road team. The Warriors have covered seven of their last eight away games and are in a good spot to get the money again.
Memphis is playing for the fourth time in five days. The Grizzlies are returning home following a huge upset road win against Oklahoma City on Monday night.
The Grizzlies are in a letdown spot now. This is their least important game of the week as they go right back on the road following this matchup taking on the Mavericks in Dallas Wednesday and then play at Miami on Friday.
It's tough to be on the road for three straight games and then return home for less than 24 hours to play another game before taking off again. It's difficult both from a physical and mental standpoint. That's what the Grizzlies face, though. Making matters harder for the Grizzlies is they have injuries.
Starting point guard Mike Conley (ankle) and reserve Dante Cunningham (ankle) have missed the last two games. Zach Randolph is back, but has averaged a mediocre 12.7 points since returning from a torn right MCL.
The Warriors have improved their defense on the road and cut down on their turnovers. They have held five of their last seven road foes to 93 points or less during regulation.
Golden State isn't going to the playoffs. But the Warriors won't lack for motivation in a triple revenge spot. Two of the Warriors' losses to Memphis this season have been by one point, including a game at home when they blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead.
The Warriors will be gunning hard in this matchup, while it's hard to believe the Grizzlies will produce an "A" type game in this letdown spot. The Grizzlies aren't nearly strong enough to cover this large of a number unless coming up with a strong performance.
|03-29-12||Dallas Mavericks +8 v. Miami Heat||Top||85-106||Loss||-106||17 h 18 m||Show|
It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Miami win the championship this season. But right now the Heat don't deserve to be laying this big of a number to the defending world champions.
Dallas is 6-2 in its last eight games. The Mavericks have been up and down. Right now they are up and highly motivated. Yes, the Mavericks beat the Heat in the championship series last season.
But Miami embarrassed the Mavericks in their previous meeting this season beating Dallas, 105-94, on Christmas Day. It was championship banner day for the Mavericks and the Heat buried them building up a 35-point lead.
The prideful Mavericks haven't forgotten. They will be sky-high for this nationally televised matchup. A key for Dallas is the shooting of Dirk Nowitzki and right now he's hot averaging 25.6 points per game during his last nine games.
Historically, the Mavericks have been strong in this type of situation. They are 37-16-1 ATS versus foes with a winning home mark. Dallas is 13-3-1 ATS in its last 17 visits to Miami.
Every team experiences low points during the season. The Heat are going through theirs right now, losing by double-digits in their last two games falling to Oklahoma City and Indiana on the road.
The Heat are suffering from fatigue, boredom and a painful injury to LeBron James, who is playing with a dislocated ring finger on his non-shooting hand.
Miami has been held under 100 points in 11 of its last 13 games. The Heat are averaging just 89.8 points during their last six games. Since March 2, the Heat rank 25th in scoring.
Maybe the Heat turns things around in this matchup. But I'll take this many points with a quality, veteran, motivated underdog to find that out. Miami would just be happy to escape with a victory considering the way it has been playing.
|03-28-12||Chicago Bulls -4 v. Atlanta Hawks||Top||98-77||Win||100||15 h 29 m||Show|
Chicago isn't likely to have Derrick Rose again. But the Bulls are still 12-5 without Rose and in a favorable situation.
The Bulls are highly motivated following their most embarrassing loss of the season, a 108-91 defeat at home this past Monday to Denver.
If the Bulls play their normal strong defensive game, Atlanta is going to be in deep trouble. Chicago ranks second in the NBA in fewest points allowed at 89.1 per contest.
Chicago has covered 18 of its 26 road games. The Bulls are playing for just the third time in seven days.
Atlanta is in a much different situation. The Hawks are playing for the fifth time in six days. The Hawks had to go four overtimes to beat Utah this past Sunday and then lost on Tuesday night to the Bucks in Milwaukee.
|03-27-12||Oklahoma City Thunder -4.5 v. Portland Trailblazers||Top||109-95||Win||100||19 h 53 m||Show|
If this were last year, or even earlier in the season, I probably would stay away from this game since I have great respect for Oklahoma City and for Portland - when the Trail Blazers are playing in the Rose Garden.
But things are different now in Portland. The Trail Blazers have blown up their season sacking Nate McMillan and dealing their two best defenders, Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby.
The Trail Blazers are in rebuilding mode and deficient at two key positions, point guard and center. Oklahoma City is the top team in the Western Conference right. The Thunder rank with the Heat, a team they just beat by 16 points this past Sunday, and the Bulls as the best in basketball.
Oklahoma City is playing at one of its highest levels averaging 122 points during the past three games, all victories. The Thunder are shooting 53.2 percent from the floor, averaging more than 10 steals per game and more than six blocks per game during this span.
The Thunder shouldn't lack for motivation. It has been two days since they knocked off the Heat and they are playing for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Portland isn't a good team anymore. The Trail Blazers are 14 games worse than the Thunder. They are 6-18 ATS the past 24 times they've been an underdog.
The Thunder, on the other hand, are 11-5 ATS versus opponents with a losing record.
|03-26-12||Utah Jazz v. New Jersey Nets -1||105-84||Loss||-120||16 h 9 m||Show|
Normally you won't find me laying points with New Jersey. But this is an exceptional situation.
The Nets are terrible at home. But Utah is no bargain on the road losing 17 of 24 away matchups.
New Jersey catches the Jazz after Utah just played the third-longest game in league history yesterday losing in quadruple-overtime to Atlanta on the road. Utah had five of its players log more than 49 minutes against the Hawks.
There is no rest for the weary, however. The Jazz now have to play for the fourth time in five days. Utah is 2-7 ATS on the road when facing an opponent with a losing home record. The Jazz also have failed to cover in six of their past eight visits to New Jersey.
The Nets aren't going anywhere except to the lottery following the season, but they do have a revenge motive. The Jazz beat them 107-94 in mid-January. Deron Williams, a former Jazz player, had a terrible game missing 12 of 15 shots from the floor and committing five turnovers.
Expect the prideful Williams, an elite point guard, and his teammates to be motivated and take advantage of an obviously worn down Jazz team.
|03-26-12||Miami Heat -3 v. Indiana Pacers||Top||90-105||Loss||-107||16 h 42 m||Show|
Indiana hasn't been a good home team against the spread failing to cover 11 of the past 16 times at home. Now the Pacers catch an angry Heat team coming off a 103-87 loss on national television to Oklahoma City.
Miami ranks with the Thunder and Bulls among the upper elite. Indiana is at least two rungs below the Heat. The Pacers have played the Heat three times this season and lost all three times with only one of the matchups being close.
Miami won the other two games by 15 points at Indiana and by 35 at home. Prior to losing to Oklahoma City, the Heat had allowed an average of only 81.7 points in their last four games.
Miami is in a back-to-back situation, but Indiana is playing for the fourth time in five days. The Heat have covered in 11 of their last 15 Eastern Conference matchups and is 7-3 ATS the past 10 times when facing the Pacers.
|03-25-12||Philadelphia 76ers v. San Antonio Spurs -3.5||76-93||Win||100||7 h 19 m||Show|
The line is short here for two big reasons - the Spurs are playing their third game in three days and there is a strong possibility they could rest Tim Duncan.
Still, I like the Spurs to cover this short number.
Despite Gregg Popovich occasionally sitting out one of his star players, the Spurs still are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 games. They got past New Orleans on the road last night despite resting Manu Ginobili. San Antonio is 10-0-1 ATS following a non-spread performance.
Philadelphia isn't playing nearly as well as it did early in the season, especially on the road where it is 3-8 ATS. They have failed to break triple digits in five of their last six games.
The 76ers have lost in their last seven visits to San Antonio. They are 2-7 ATS in their past nine games versus Western Conference foes.
Philadelphia has crushed weaker competition, but has failed repeatedly to step up versus elite teams. Since Feb. 29, the 76ers have played the Thunder, Bulls twice and the Heat. They lost to the Thunder by four at home. They lost to the Bulls by five at home. They lost to the Heat by six at home and they lost on the road to the Bulls by nine despite Chicago missing Derrick Rose.
|03-21-12||Golden State Warriors v. New Orleans Hornets -1.5||Top||101-92||Loss||-110||18 h 13 m||Show|
Golden State is at low ebb with four straight losses. Morale is at a season-low with the Warriors following the trade of Monta Ellis and Epke Udoh for two players - Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson - who won't play for the Warriors this season. Bogut is out for the year with a broken ankle and Jackson was immediately dealt away.
Golden State fans are down with team ownership and now the players are down knowing management has done nothing to help them make the playoffs.
Ellis was Golden State's most explosive player. The Warriors also are without Stephen Curry. He's sidelined with an ankle injury. In addition, big man Andris Biedrins may not play due to a groin injury.
This is a rare winnable home game for the Hornets. They should be primed for it having not played since Saturday when they beat New Jersey on the road. The Hornets are 9-1 ATS when playing on three days rest.
Golden State was idle on Tuesday, but is 1-5 ATS when playing on one day rest. This marks the Warriors' fourth game in six days and eighth game in 12 days. The loss of Ellis and Curry leaves them shorthanded in the backcourt.
|03-20-12||Oklahoma City Thunder -3 v. Utah Jazz||Top||90-97||Loss||-104||9 h 10 m||Show|
There are reasons why Oklahoma City easily has the best record in the Western Conference. One primary factor is a 15-7 road mark, including a 13-9 ATS record.
The Thunder also know how to beat Utah. The Thunder are 8-2 in their last 10 meetings versus Utah, including 2-0 this season winning by 14 at Utah and by 26 at home. The Thunder have captured the past five meetings by an average of 15 points per game.
Utah is a good home team and off a shocking road win against the Lakers. But the Lakers didn't play well in that game. The Jazz aren't close to being in the Thunder's class and Oklahoma City won't be taking Utah lightly after seeing what the Jazz did to the Lakers.
|03-19-12||Cleveland Cavaliers +4 v. New Jersey Nets||105-100||Win||100||7 h 22 m||Show|
New Jersey is one of the weakest home teams covering just seven of its past 28 home contests. Cleveland has covered in five of its last six visits to New Jersey.
The Nets are at their worst when playing weak opponents failing to cover in 10 of their last 12 matchups versus below .500 teams.
The Cavaliers are 8-2 ATS when taking up to 4 1/2 points.
Both teams are breaking in new players following this past Thursday's trade deadline. So there is a feeling out process going on both sides of the ball.
This is Cleveland's second game in two days, but only their second game in five days. New Jersey could be the more tired team since this marks the Nets' third game in four days.
It's a big game for the Cavaliers' prize rookie star Kyrie Irving, who starred in high school in New Jersey. He should have a good local following. The Cavaliers are still in the playoff hunt, 3 1/2 games out of the eighth position in the Eastern Conference.
The teams have met twice since January. Cleveland won 98-82 and lost 99-96. The Nets aren't strong enough to get away with laying this many points.
|03-16-12||Milwaukee Bucks -2.5 v. Golden State Warriors||Top||120-98||Win||100||11 h 11 m||Show|
High morale. Added firepower and six straight covers. The Bucks have all that going for them as they take the court tonight against a very short-handed Warriors team still dealing with the fallout of their controversial and much-criticized deal with Milwaukee.
It's the Bucks now, not the Warriors, who have the far more dangerous backcourt with Monta Ellis joining Brandon Jennings. The Warriors not only don't have Ellis anymore, but also Stephen Curry isn't expected to play due to a sprained ankle.
So instead of Ellis and Curry, one of the better backcourt tandems in the NBA, the Warriors now go with well-traveled midget Nate Robinson and rookie Klay Thompson.
The Warriors are taking plenty of heat for not only dealing Ellis, but also promising Ekpe Udoh for injured Andrew Bogut and disgruntled Stephen Jackson. The Warriors immediately shipped Jackson to San Antonio for a washed-up Richard Jefferson.
Milwaukee has four straight victories. The Bucks' only defeat during their past six games was by two points to Chicago. Milwaukee is 22-4-1 ATS in their last 27 road games when facing a team with a losing home mark. The Warriors have a losing straight-up mark and ATS record at Oracle Arena.
Drew Gooden is playing well at center for Milwaukee. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is healthy and providing strong defense. Milwaukee's backcourt has been fortified. Swingman Mike Dunleavy has picked up his game.
Milwaukee, flying under the radar screen, is tied with the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the East. So this is an important game for the Bucks. Certainly Ellis and Udoh will be pumped. The Bucks have enjoyed good pointspread success at Golden State covering in eight of their past 11 visits.
|03-14-12||Charlotte Bobcats +9.5 v. Houston Rockets||Top||87-107||Loss||-110||18 h 54 m||Show|
Charlotte is the worst team in the NBA. No argument there. Michael Jordan should be ashamed.
But the Bobcats are going to be golden in this spot and matchup.
Somehow Houston, an 11 1/2-point underdog, upset Oklahoma City straight-up on the road Tuesday night despite trailing by 11 during the final three minutes and missing both of its starting guards.
Out for Houston is Kyle Lowry, who has been their key player, and Kevin Martin. Lowry is out another couple of weeks with a bacterial infection while Martin was sidelined with a strained right shoulder.
The Rockets have played their last five games on the road. This is their first home game in 10 days and they've had no time to get adjusted to returning home since they played last night in Oklahoma City. This marks their fourth game in five days.
The injuries to Lowry and Martin rob the Rockets of one of their best strengths - their bench. No longer can Houston withstand such a grueling scheduling spot even against a weak opponent. The Rockets also are in a huge letdown spot and have a poor track record when stepping down in competition failing to cover the past seven times they've met a foe with a losing mark.
The Rockets have been playing terrible, too, since the All-Star break despite their great win against the Thunder compiling a 3-6 mark and 1-8 ATS record.
This atrocious spread record has occurred against terrible opponents. Just in the past week, the Rockets have lost by 18 to the Raptors and by 11 to the Cavaliers. Toronto scored the most point it has all season in regulation against the Rockets by 10 points and the Cavaliers also reached their season-high in points against the Rockets scoring 118. Just three games ago, the Nets put up 106 points on Houston despite missing Brook Lopez and Deron Williams.
Almost of this handicap is a fade on Houston, but Charlotte has covered four of its last six games and is off a road victory. The Bobcats are rested and have revenge for an embarrassing 82-70 home loss to the Rockets back on Jan. 10.
The Bobcats are as healthy as they've been the entire season. Part of their horrendous season has been due to a cluster injury problem that has now cleared up. Charlotte ranks last in scoring and is not a good rebounding team.
However, the Rockets are surrendering 108.2 points in their last eight games and have been outrebounded in 13 of their last 15 games. Given this and the scheduling spot, the Bobcats definitely can hang in if not pull the outright upset.
|03-14-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. New Orleans Hornets +4.5||107-101||Loss||-105||18 h 47 m||Show|
The Lakers have yet to win three straight road games all season. I don't like their chances in this game either.
The Lakers knocked off Memphis, 116-111, in double overtime on Tuesday. Kobe Bryant played nearly 52 minutes. Andrew Bynum played nearly 49 and Pau Gasol logged more than 46 minutes.
A big key to the Lakers' victory against the Grizzlies was in free throw shooting. The Lakers made 28 of 34. The Grizzlies only got to shoot five free throws despite being at home. That discrepancy is sure to be on the mind's of the officials tonight.
Despite posting two consecutive road victories, the Lakers still are only 8-14 on the road. They are 8-20 ATS the past 28 times on the road when going against an opponent with a losing record.
New Orleans, on the other hand, is 7-2 ATS the last nine times it has faced a team with a winning mark. The Hornets also are 10-5 ATS in their past 15 contests.
This is the Lakers' third game in four nights. The Hornets were idle last night. They were embarrassed at home two nights ago losing to Charlotte, the worst team in the league. The Hornets should be highly motivated going against a marquee opponent and having had two days to suffer through that embarrassing Bobcats loss.
|03-13-12||Portland Trailblazers v. Indiana Pacers -3.5||Top||75-92||Win||100||16 h 20 m||Show|
Give me a fair price and I have no problem fading the Trail Blazers on the road. That's what we have here.
Portland has lost 14 of 20 games on the road. The Trail Blazers are 7-13 ATS away from Rose Garden. They aren't playing particularly well either.
If it weren't for victories against two of the league's three worst teams - New Orleans and Washington - the Trail Blazers would be 0-7 in their last seven games. Portland is giving up more than 108 points per game in its last five losses.
This is Portland's fourth consecutive road game and third matchup in five days having last played on Saturday. The Trail Blazers have failed to cover the past seven times when playing on two day's rest. They also have failed to cover 15 of the past 21 times in an underdog role.
Indiana is 11-5 at home. The Pacers have dropped four in a row after winning six straight. Those defeats, however, occurred to four good-to-excellent teams - Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago.
Now the Pacers drop down in class - way down considering Portland's road history - in a stop-the-pain game. The Trail Blazers are 8-20 ATS the last 28 times they've played a foe on the road who has a winning home mark.
Portland traditionally has struggled against the Pacers on the road failing to cover in six of its last eight visits to Indiana. The Pacers are 12-3 ATS during the last 15 overall meetings against Portland.
The Trail Blazers are a totally different team away from Portland. They are a distracted lot right now with trade rumors swirling, especially involving Jamal Crawford. There also are rumblings about Nate McMillan losing his head coaching position.
The Pacers have a rugged front line with a big edge at center with Roy Hibbert. The Pacers' backcourt also could get a boost as George Hill might return after missing the last two games with a sprained shoulder. Portland continues to hurt at the key point guard position with inconsistent play.
|03-12-12||Boston Celtics +5.5 v. Los Angeles Clippers||94-85||Win||100||10 h 5 m||Show|
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin certainly are star players, but how good are the Clippers?
The answer is under .500 since losing Chauncey Billups going 8-9. The Clippers have failed to cover seven of the last eight times they've been favored.
Clearly, the Clippers are an overrated team right now. The Celtics still remain dangerous this season. Yes, this is their second consecutive game and third in four days. But the Clippers are in the same boat and have even more fatigue and injury issues.
The Celtics had an early Sunday game They played against the Lakers at Staples Center, site of tonight's game. The Clippers were home, too, to Golden State but played a late night game.
The Celtics have far more age on them than the Clippers, but it was the Clippers who suffered from fatigue issues on Sunday. They had concluded a six-game road trip this past Friday knocking off the Spurs. That was an impressive win, but it should be noted that Tony Parker didn't play in that game, which was a huge negative for San Antonio.
Previous to beating the Spurs, the Clippers had lost to the Nets, Timberwolves, beat the Rockets in overtime and lost to the Suns. The losses to Minnesota and Phoenix were in the second of consecutive games.
Kenyon Martin has missed the last two games for the Clippers due to sore ribs. Paul is playing with a protective facemask to protect a nasal fracture suffered against the Spurs. This could prove bothersome for Paul playing for the second time in 48 hours. Paul also has to worry about Rajon Rondo, who is playing better than any point guard right now.
|03-11-12||Atlanta Hawks +1.5 v. Sacramento Kings||Top||106-99||Win||100||16 h 52 m||Show|
The Kings are playing better and are at home, while the Hawks have dropped two in a row, including losing in their last game to the lowly Pistons.
So are the Kings deserving of being favored here? No, the Hawks are several notches above Sacramento.
First off, the Hawks could have beaten the Heat losing, 89-86, at Miami on Wednesday blowing a 10-point second-half lead against probably the best team in basketball. Then the Hawks lost by one point to the Pistons at Detroit on Friday.
Atlanta has been playing solid defense not allowing more than 99 points in 12 straight games. During the past seven games, the Hawks are giving up an average of 88.2 points per game. That would rank them second in the NBA if computed during the entire season.
Joe Johnson returned from his knee injury against the Pistons. He had missed the four previous games. He should be less rusty against Sacramento.
The Kings are off a big revenge win against defending world champion Dallas this past Friday. The Kings shot a blistering 50.6 percent from the floor in that victory. The Kings, though, have yet to show any consistency.
Atlanta has covered the past four times it has been a 'dog. The Hawks also have defeated Sacramento seven consecutive times, averaging 110.9 points during this span.
This is a clear case of the better team getting points.
|03-09-12||Utah Jazz v. Philadelphia 76ers -6.5||91-104||Win||100||6 h 18 m||Show|
The 76ers were slumping, but are revived following an impressive home victory against Boston this past Wednesday.
Utah is playing its fourth consecutive road game. This marks the Jazz's seventh game in 11 days. Utah opened this road trip just 4-13 away from Salt Lake City.
The Jazz are 2-1 during this road swing, but their victories have been against the Cavaliers and Bobcats, two of the worst teams in the league with a combined record of 19-55.
The 76ers have been strong all season against weaker clubs, particularly at home where they are 13-6 ATS when favored.
Philadelphia has been very good when favored in this price range covering 11 of the past 13 times when laying between five and 10 1/2 points.
The 76ers also are 16-5 ATS when favored at home against a foe with a road winning percentage of less than .400.
It's taken a season and one-half, but Evan Turner had his coming out party against the Celtics. Turner is playing his finest ball, which is a huge plus to a deep 76ers squad that holds a huge guard advantage. Devin Harris hasn't come close to filling the shoes of Deron Williams at point guard for Utah.
|03-08-12||Orlando Magic v. Chicago Bulls -6||Top||99-94||Loss||-110||15 h 35 m||Show|
The Bulls were flat against Milwaukee last night, happy to escape with a 106-104 road win. Tom Thibodeau wasn't happy at all with his team's defense against the Bucks. It was the first time Chicago had yielded more than 97 points in 10 games.
Now the Bulls are at United Center where they are 15-2 and giving up 84.6 points per game. That would lead the league in defense by three points.
Orlando is heavily reliant on its outside shooting since defenses pack it in against Dwight Howard. The Bulls rank fifth in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage. I see the Magic having problems scoring against a fired-up Bulls team at home. Chicago has won eight in a row and 10 of its last 11.
The Bulls are 39-19 ATS following an ATS loss.
Orlando remains inconsistent. The Magic's reliance on their up-and-down perimeter game was evident in their last game, a shocking loss this past Tuesday to the Bobcats. The Magic shot less than 39 percent from the floor and had 18 turnovers.
Orlando is weak in the backcourt, especially matching up against Derrick Rose with either Jameer Nelson or Chris Duhon. Those two can't stop Rose. The Magic have dropped four in a row to Chicago, the last one occurring on Jan. 6 when the Bulls beat Orlando, 97-83.
|03-07-12||Memphis Grizzlies +1 v. Golden State Warriors||Top||110-92||Win||100||20 h 32 m||Show|
Memphis is playing better than any team going 9-1 in its last 10 games.
Despite this, the Grizzlies aren't getting any respect from the oddsmaker. They are a much better team than Golden State but opened as a 'dog to the Warriors.
The Grizzlies have a strong six-man rotation. Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol are two of the more underrated players in the league. Memphis does have a short bench, but that won't be a factor here.
That's because the Grizzlies are very well-rested having last played on Saturday. Golden State, though, is playing for the sixth time in nine days.
The Warriors just returned from a six-game road swing that finished Monday night at Washington. They've had less than a day to recover after flying back cross-country on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies are 2-0 this season against the Warriors. They have seven more victories than Golden State does. The wrong team opened as the favorite.
|03-07-12||Houston Rockets -2 v. Toronto Raptors||98-116||Loss||-107||15 h 1 m||Show|
The huge gap between these two teams doesn't justify this spread at all. Houston is a playoff team right now in the Western Conference at 21-18. Toronto is tied for the fourth-fewest wins in the NBA.
True, the Rockets played on Tuesday night. They blew a 10-point lead with 5 1/2 minutes left at Boston in a 97-92 overtime loss.
But that loss not only should make the Rockets more determined, but they are a tremendous money-maker when playing for the second time in 48 hours covering eight of the last 10 times in that role.
Toronto is 6-13 straight-up at home. The Rockets hold a backcourt edge and have far superior depth, which has been a big factor in Houston compiling such a strong spread mark when playing in the second of back-to-back games. Center Samuel Dalembert also has begun to play well again for the Rockets.
Houston is 5-0 ATS the last five times it has been a road favorite. The Raptors have beaten only two teams above .500 - Minnesota and Boston.
|03-07-12||Boston Celtics v. Philadelphia 76ers -5||71-103||Win||100||15 h 0 m||Show|
The 76ers have struggled at home versus elite foes, but have buried weaker opponents.
The key question here is just where do the Celtics fit in? The Celtics, to me, are closer to being a non-playoff team than an elite squad,, especially when on the road without rest.
Boston has won five in a row. Those wins were against Cleveland on the road and the others were at home versus the Bucks, Nets, Knicks in overtime this past Sunday and Rockets in overtime last night.
Impressive? I certainly wouldn't say so.
I see the aged Celtics highly vulnerable in this spot after nipping the Rockets in overtime. In the last two games, Rajon Rondo is averaging 46 minutes a game, Paul Pierce 43, Ray Allen 43 and Kevin Garnett nearly 40 minutes.
Boston is 3-7 ATS in the second of back-to-back games, including 0-4 during the past four times it has been in this spot. It's the third game in four days, too, for Philadelphia. But the 76ers are much deeper than Boston with the best combination of sixth, seventh and eighth men in the game.
Lou Williams is on track to become the first reserve to lead his team in scoring without starting a game since Dell Curry in 1993-94.
The Celtics would love to win this game, but they have a more realistic chance of winning on Friday when they host Portland. Following that game, the Celtics go on the road for eight straight games, including the first four on the West Coast.
The 76ers are in a stop-the-pain situation after a tough home loss to Chicago followed by a surprising road defeat to Milwaukee. The 76ers have covered 10 of the past 12 times they've been favored by five to 10 1/2 points. Boston is 3-8 ATS as a road 'dog of between five and 10 1/2 points.
|03-06-12||New York Knicks v. Dallas Mavericks -2.5||Top||85-95||Win||100||19 h 59 m||Show|
Dallas has been in a slump losing six of its last eight. But I expect the Mavericks to get back on track at home against the Knicks.
Dirk Nowitzki is shooting better, Lamar Odom has returned to the lineup and the Mavericks will be highly motivated after the Knicks beat them, 104-97, two weeks ago at Madison Square Garden.
Jeremy Lin burned the Mavericks for 28 points and a career-high 14 assists. Lin, though, is in a shooting slump missing 20 of 27 shots from the floor during the past two games. The Mavericks also know how to play Lin better now that they've faced him.
Dallas is 17-3 in its last 20 games against the Knicks despite the previous meeting. The Mavericks hung tough against Oklahoma City, the best team in the Western Conference, on the road last night losing by four points despite the Thunder getting to shoot 23 more free throws.
Nowitzki is heating up scoring 67 points in the last two games, shooting 24-of-43 from the floor during this span. The Knicks are not in good form going 2-3 in their last five games, while surrendering an average of 106.6 points in their last three games. Lin has yet to show he can successfully mesh with Carmelo Anthony.
|03-05-12||New Orleans Hornets v. Portland Trailblazers -10||74-86||Win||100||19 h 40 m||Show|
Portland is 0-3 since the All-Star break. It's desperation time and a "Stop The Pain" game for Portland. The Trail Blazers have lost to Miami, high-scoring Minnesota and a rejuvenated Denver squad in their last three games.
Now the frustrated and mad Trail Blazers step way down in class and draw the weary and heavily banged-up Hornets.
New Orleans is making the long journey after hosting Indiana on Saturday, a 102-84 loss to Indiana. This marks the Hornets' fifth game in seven days.
The Hornets are missing Carl Landry (MCL sprain), Emeka Okafor (sore left knee), Jason Smith (concussion) and Eric Gordon (right knee injury). They also have been without Trevor Ariza (illness) for the last two games, suiting up just nine players.
The Hornets aren't going to cause Portland defensive problems like the fast-paced Heat, Timberwolves and Nuggets did. New Orleans ranks second to last in scoring averaging 88.4 points per game. Their slow style is much more suited for a half-court team such as Portland.
Despite their recent woes, the Trail Blazers are extremely tough at Rose Garden. They are 15-7-1 ATS the past 23 times they've faced a foe with a winning percentage below .400.
|03-04-12||New Jersey Nets -2.5 v. Charlotte Bobcats||Top||104-101||Win||100||15 h 42 m||Show|
Charlotte is one of the worst teams in NBA history. The Bobcats have dropped seven in a row at Charlotte Arena. Their average home loss during this span is by more than 17 points.
On the season, the Bobcats are a hideous 4-30, which includes a 2-12 home mark.
The Nets have been a bad team, but are starting to come on. They've recently beaten the Bulls, Knicks and Mavericks - all on the road. Bad teams don't accomplish that.
The Nets are eager to get back to winning after a 107-94 road loss to Boston this past Friday. New Jersey has huge edges at point guard with Deron Williams and at center with Brook Lopez, who has looked great since missing most of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. He's been back for three games and is averaging 33 points in his last two games.
Lopez averaged 31 points in his last two games against Charlotte. The Bobcats might be missing starting center Bismack Biyombo, who has a shoulder injury.
The Bobcats don't have the offense to keep up with New Jersey. They are averaging an NBA-low 86.3 points per game.
The Bobcats have struggled offensively all season, averaging an NBA-low 86.3 points. They are shooting less than 39 percent from the floor during their last seven home games. They put up just 72 points in their last game this past Friday at San Antonio. The Spurs are not as strong defensively as they have been.
D.J. Augustin is one of the worst starting shooting point guards in the league and rookie off-guard Kemba Walker could be hitting the wall as he's missed 20 of 30 shots from the field during the last three games.
This is the second meeting between the two clubs. The Nets won, 97-87, at home on Jan. 22. They achieved that win without Lopez.
|03-02-12||Chicago Bulls -8 v. Cleveland Cavaliers||Top||112-91||Win||100||18 h 39 m||Show|
Now that Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton are all back healthy, the Bulls simply have too much depth and scoring for the Cavaliers to stay within single digits even at home.
The teams met in Cleveland on Jan. 20 and it wasn't close. Chicago won 114-75 despite not having Rose while the Cavaliers did have their best frontcourt player, Anderson Varejao. Now that situation is reversed with Rose playing and Varejao out.
Chicago is 7-0 ATS the past seven times it has given up five or more points on the road. Chicago also is 7-3 ATS on one day's rest and is 4-1 ATS during its last five visits to Cleveland.
Cleveland has failed to cover 14 of the past 20 times it has hosted a foe with a winning road mark. The Bulls are idle on Saturday while the Cavaliers travel to Washington to meet the Wizards in a much more realistic winning spot. Because of that, the Cavaliers very well could limit the minutes of their starters if they fall too far behind early.
|03-01-12||Miami Heat v. Portland Trail Blazers +4.5||107-93||Loss||-105||21 h 31 m||Show|
No team had been playing as well as Miami before the All-Star break.
But the Heat hasn't played in a week. It's going to be difficult for Miami to put out an "A" performance with so much rust. It's going to take an "A" type of game, though, for Miami to beat an aroused and mad Trail Blazers team in Portland.
Portland didn't play well on Wednesday falling to Denver on the road, 104-95. The Trail Blazers are anxious to perform better, which they almost always do when playing at home.
Portland's Rose Garden is one of the toughest home venues in the league. The Trail Blazers are 13-5 there this season, 12-5-1 ATS.
The Trail Blazers also are 10-2 ATS following a straight-up loss. Portland has the versatility, home-court and motivation to keep this game extremely tight if not pull out the outright upset.
|02-29-12||Toronto Raptors v. New Orleans Hornets -3||Top||95-84||Loss||-110||15 h 56 m||Show|
I'll ride the Hornets, who are playing their best ball. They've covered seven straight games.
New Orleans played Tuesday night and nearly upset Chicago on the road, losing 99-95 after the Bulls scored the final eight points.
That loss left the Hornets frustrated, but also confident feeling they definitely should have beaten the Bulls. New Orleans is 10-1 ATS following a cover.
The Raptors also played last night, hanging in but losing on the road to Houston, 88-85. It was Toronto's eighth loss in its last 10 games.
The Raptors have been a good spread team on the road. But this is a short line and Toronto is facing a tough defense minus its best offensive player, Andrea Bargnani.
Toronto has lost five of its last six road games straight-up. The Raptors' only road victory during this span was against the Nets.
The Hornets are getting healthier and playing their best ball. The Raptors desperately miss Bargnani's scoring.
|02-29-12||Dallas Mavericks +2.5 v. Memphis Grizzlies||85-96||Loss||-110||15 h 51 m||Show|
Dallas was very sloppy playing one of its worst games of the season in a 93-92 home loss to New Jersey Tuesday night. Some of the Mavericks' poor play can be blamed on the long All-Star break.
I see the Mavericks fired-up and bouncing back strong tonight against Memphis, which faces the same rust issues Dallas had last night. The Grizzlies last were in action back on Feb. 21.
The Grizzlies aren't in the Mavericks' class. The Grizzlies are a little better than a .500 team, especially minus Zach Randolph, while the defending champion Mavericks still are a serious contender to win the Western Conference again.
Dallas has a lot of favorable trends pointing in its direction such as an 18-7-1 ATS road mark, a 30-12-1 ATS record versus Western Conference opponents and a 10-3 ATS record following an ATS loss.
Memphis is just 1-6 ATS the last seven times it has faced Western Conference foes.
|02-29-12||Orlando Magic v. Washington Wizards +8.5||102-95||Win||100||14 h 49 m||Show|
The Wizards actually showed something on Tuesday night coming from 22 points down on the road in Milwaukee to nearly beat the Bucks, losing 119-118.
Orlando figures to be rusty having last been in action back this past Thursday. The Wizards won't have that rust problem. They should be fired-up playing at home for the first time since the All-Star break.
Washington is starting to get some mileage out of young, hungry players Chris Singleton, Jordan Crawford and Trevor Booker. They Wizards hold a big edge at point guard with John Wall against a shaky Jameer Nelson.
Orlando, of course, still has Dwight Howard. But the Wizards actually have a center who can defend well against Howard in shot-blocker JaVale McGree.
The Magic have had a tendency to play to the level of their competition particularly on the road where they are 1-5 ATS the last six times they've met a foe with a losing home mark.
The Magic also have a much bigger game on deck when they host Oklahoma City Thursday night on national television.
|02-28-12||New Orleans Hornets +13.5 v. Chicago Bulls||Top||95-99||Win||100||17 h 26 m||Show|
New Orleans entered All-Star break way under-the-radar screen having covering six straight games while going 4-2 straight-up. The Hornets, sparked by the return of point guard Jarrett Jack, were playing their best ball.
Scoff at Jack, but he's played better than some bigger name point guards
averaging 15.1 points and 6.4 assists per game.
The key is are the Hornets playing well enough to stay within this large point spread? Chicago buried the Hornets, 90-67, in New Orleans seven games ago.
The combination of the Hornets playing much better since then, possibly getting more injured players back and the Bulls with a major look-ahead game on Wednesday when they play at the Spurs should keep New Orleans within this large spread.
Certainly the backdoor is open. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isn't going to dole out major minutes to Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, both of whom are less than 100 percent, with a nationally televised marquee game the next night.
The Hornets are respectable defensively ranking 11th surrendering 93.2 points per game. They have held four of their last six opponents to under 90 points a game.
Center Chris Kaman has stepped up his play for the Hornets averaging 17.8 points and nine rebounds during his past six games. Now Kaman may get help as the Hornets could get big men Emeka Okafor and Jason Smith back for this matchup.
|02-28-12||Boston Celtics -3 v. Cleveland Cavaliers||86-83||Push||0||17 h 31 m||Show|
It's too early to count out the Celtics yet even though they have lost five straight times and are under .500. The oddsmaker isn't giving Boston enough respect with such a short line.
Yes, there's a lot of age on Boston. But there's a lot of pride, too. The Celtics hold down the last playoff spot right now with Cleveland just below them by 1 1/2 games. So it's a key game.
The Celtics should be refreshed following All-Star break. The teams are 1-1 against each other having played in late January. The Cavaliers upset the Celtics in Boston, 88-87 and then two days later the Celtics beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland, 93-90. The Celtics built up huge early leads in both games - and let down. The Cavaliers scored the final 12 points to pull out the first game against Boston and the Celtics nearly blew a 22-point lead in the third quarter in the next meeting.
The Celtics were caught by surprise by Kyrie Irving, who averaged 22 points in the two games, and also had to deal with Anderson Varejao, who had 20 points and 20 rebounds in the second meeting. The Celtics will be primed to stop Irving and don't have to worry about the injured Varejao.
|02-28-12||Golden State Warriors v. Indiana Pacers -5||78-102||Win||100||16 h 25 m||Show|
I don't see visiting Golden State keeping this one close against the rejuvenated Pacers, who have won four in a row.
There's a huge drop, but the Pacers are the third-best team in the Eastern Conference behind Miami and Chicago. It's going to be especially tough for Golden State if star guard Stephen Curry is out with a foot injury.
Curry suffered a sprained ligament in his right foot in the Warriors' last game six days ago in a road win against the Suns. The undersized Warriors already face a matchup problem inside against All-Star Roy Hibbert. The Pacers went into break playing top-notch defense holding their last four opponents to an average of less than 90 points per game.
Indiana has beaten Golden State four straight times at home covering each game. Indiana is 9-1 in its last 10 meetings with the Warriorrs at home.
The Pacers should be fully focused coming off the All-Star break and not playing again until Saturday.
|02-26-12||WEST ALL STARS +4 v. EAST ALL STARS||Top||152-149||Win||100||21 h 59 m||Show|
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA and Dwight Howard could be in line for a monster performance playing at home, but the underdog West has far more depth both in the frontcourt and backcourt.
The East certainly can't match the West's four-headed monster point guard roster of Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Chris Paul.
The West also has better players in the frontcourt with Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. They are more than enough to combat Howard.
James is great in this game, but so is Kobe Bryant. He can match James point for point.
The East has several players who are good, but I don't consider real All-Stars such as Roy Hibbert, Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng. They also have players on the roster who aren't having good seasons, including Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
The coach for the East is Tom Thibodeau of Chicago. He may choose to limit the minutes of his star point guard Derrick Rose, who has battled injuries.
Obviously there's a lot of randomness that goes with an All-Star game. But the West has the stronger up-and-down lineup and is catching points. That's worth a small play.
|02-23-12||New York Knicks v. Miami Heat -9.5||Top||88-102||Win||100||18 h 34 m||Show|
On the surface this seems like a big number for Miami to lay. The Knicks, after all, not only have superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire back, but point guard Jeremy Lin is the hottest thing going in the NBA.
The reality of the situation, though, is this is a kill spot for the Heat. LeBron James and Co. can destroy any foe at home when properly motivated and in the right situation. This is the right spot and the Heat have the incentive.
The Knicks are a weary team in transition heading into All-Star break. New York is playing for the fourth time in five days and second in two nights. This is just Anthony's second game back from injury. He and Lin are not on the same page yet. The Knicks also are breaking in newcomers J.R. Smith and Baron Davis, too.
The Heat are playing their best ball. They've won seven in a row, covering six. Their only non-cover during this span was a 12-point victory against Sacramento as 13 1/2-point favorites. The Heat have won all of their games during their winning streak by 12 or more points.
Miami doesn't want to lose this momentum entering the break. The Heat are sick about answering questions about Lin. James and Dwayne Wade have huge egos. They're used to being on the cover of Sports Illustrated not Lin. This is a nationally televised game with the whole country watching.
Unlike the Knicks, the Heat are rested with their past few games being spaced out. James and Wade will be going all out playing big minutes since Miami won't be in action again until a full week later.
|02-21-12||Philadelphia 76ers -1 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||76-89||Loss||-104||7 h 17 m||Show|
Memphis is a mediocre team with a short bench. This marks the Grizzlies' fourth game in five days and sixth in the last eight days.
The Grizzlies played Houston tough on the road Monday night but lost by three points. Memphis' three best players all logged at least 38 minutes.
The 76ers are the superior team. The 76ers have a stronger defense, take care of the ball better and have a much stronger bench. Yet the line is in the pick range because the 76ers are on the road and riding a three-game losing streak.
The 76ers hadn't lost more than two straight all season until falling to Minnesota this past Sunday with one second left. The 76ers led by one point, but the referee called a foul with a tick left on the clock sending Kevin Love to the free throw line. He canned both free throws giving the Timberwolves a one-point home win and leaving the 76ers steaming.
The 76ers will be highly motivated to stop the pain. The Grizzlies are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home contests and host defending world champion Dallas on Wednesday.
|02-20-12||New Orleans Hornets +11.5 v. Oklahoma City Thunder||Top||93-101||Win||100||8 h 26 m||Show|
Oklahoma City is not in physical shape to cover a double-digit number having defeated Denver in overtime Sunday night. The Thunder's key players logged major minutes, including Kevin Durant going 45:27 and Russell Westbrook playing nearly 44 minutes.
The key here is if New Orleans is good enough to take advantage of this scheduling break. The Hornets have been idle since Friday. Oklahoma City is playing for the third in four days.
The Hornets have started to play much better. They've won and covered three in a row, including their last two on the road defeating Milwaukee and a red-hot Knicks squad.
The return of underrated guard Jarrett Jack has been a huge plus for New Orleans, which also has been getting solid contributions from unsung players such as Gustavo Ayon and Greivis Vasquez.
New Orleans ranks in the top 10 in defense, has covered 61 percent of its road contests and is 13-4 ATS when taking 11 or more points.
The Thunder host Boston on Wednesday in a nationally televised matchup. This is a flat spot for the Thunder and the Hornets are good enough now to take advantage and keep things close.
|02-19-12||Los Angeles Lakers -2.5 v. Phoenix Suns||90-102||Loss||-110||16 h 38 m||Show|
The Lakers have proven an elite team at home going 13-2, but are a miserable 5-10 on the road.
Los Angeles knows it must play better away from Staples Center. Lately, the Lakers have been showings signs of doing that going 4-3 in their last seven road contests, including victories against the much improved Timberwolves, Nuggets and Celtics.
Now the Lakers face the Suns, a team they are 2-0 against this season with both victories coming at home. The Lakers have beaten the Suns by an average of 14 points. Their latest win against Phoenix just came this past Friday in impressive fashion. The Lakers won, 111-99, with Kobe Bryant scoring 36 points and the Lakers outrebounding Phoenix, 52-36.
Bryant usually does well versus the Suns and the Lakers use their height advantage to kill Phoenix on the board. The Lakers outrebounded the Suns, 49-35, during the team's first meeting. This isn't surprising since the Lakers lead the league in rebounds per game. The undersized Suns are at a real disadvantage on the boards.
While the Lakers are starting to pick up their road performance, Phoenix ranks among the worst 25 teams with 10 or more victories when playing at home. The Suns are just 5-8 at home. They are 3-8 ATS the past 11 times they've been a home 'dog.
Phoenix isn't play well, having dropped four in a row. The Suns usually don't step up either going 8-21-1 ATS the last 30 times they've faced a foe with a winning record.
|02-19-12||Philadelphia 76ers +1 v. Minnesota Timberwolves||91-92||Push||0||15 h 39 m||Show|
The 76ers have dropped two in a row. They haven't lost three straight all season.
Minnesota is a much improved team, but the Timberwolves aren't in the 76ers' class. Minnesota is under . 500. The 76ers are 20-11. The only teams they've lost to who were under .500 are the Knicks and Nets.
No team is giving up fewer points per game than the 76ers. The 76ers also have had 11 or fewer turnovers in 11 of the past 12 games. They are averaging a league-low 10.4 turnovers per game.
The 76ers are actually eager to be on the road having lost their past three home games. Those losses were to upper level teams - Spurs, Clippers and Mavericks. Philadelphia is 9-2 ATS following a loss.
The 76ers have beaten Minnesota during the past three meetings. The Timberwolves have a losing home record. They have covered only four of the past 14 times when playing at home.
|02-19-12||Boston Celtics v. Detroit Pistons +6||Top||81-96||Win||100||14 h 41 m||Show|
This isn't the Celtics of a couple of years ago, or even last season. Age and a weak bench have taken enough toll on Boston that the Celtics are far from being considered an elite team. They are one game above .500.
Yet the Celtics are being priced on their former reputation. Detroit is playing its best ball, but not being given any respect for it.
The Pistons are 6-2 in their last eight games. Boston is 4-4 in its last eight games. The teams just met this past Wednesday in Boston and Detroit won, 98-88.
Sparked by a return to health of Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey, who is playing at a high level, the Pistons are averaging 96.1 points in their last eight games. Boston is averaging only 84.8 points during its last five games.
The Celtics continue to be overrated by the marketplace. They are 3-7 ATS as road favorites. The Celtics have a bigger matchup on tap playing at Dallas on Monday in a nationally televised game.
The Pistons, though, consider this a marquee matchup. They are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine home games and have covered each of the last six times they've been an underdog.
|02-18-12||Golden State Warriors +5.5 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||103-104||Win||100||19 h 51 m||Show|
Golden State has had this game circled since getting nipped 91-90 at home by Memphis on Jan. 23. That was the Warriors' most frustrating loss of the season as they choked away a 17-point lead with 7:26 remaining.
The Warriorrs rebounded from that shocking loss to play well. Golden State, though, was crushed last night by Oklahoma City, the best team in the Western Conference. The good news, though, for the Warrors was the blowout allowed coach Mark Jackson to empy his bench. No Golden State starter logged more than 31 minutes.
Memphis also played Friday night. The Grizzlies had a very difficult game against Denver. Memphis edged the Nuggets on a tip-in with less than one second left.
The Grizzlies basically play just six players. Their big stars had to log major minutes against the Nuggets. Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol each played 41 minutes while point guard Mike Conley was on the floor for 38 minutes. There is going to be a fatigue factor for the Grizzlies as this marks their fourth game in five days.
Golden State had been looking good until going up against the Thunder. The Warriors had knocked off the Nuggets by eight in their previous road game. Following that matchup, the Warriors were home for three games going 2-1. The Warriors defeated Houston and Phoenix and lost to Portland by two.
There is no shame in getting blown out on the road by the Thunder. There would be shame losing big to Memphis in a revenge spot with a favorable situation going. The Warriors know that. They have the talent, deeper bench and motivation to keep things close if not win straight-up against a very-average Grizzlies squad.
|02-17-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Philadelphia 76ers -3||82-75||Loss||-103||10 h 38 m||Show|
The 76ers will be up for this matchup - their only home game during an eight-game stretch. The 76ers just got back from a 3-game road trip and start a four-game road swing following this game. They are 5-0 straight-up and ATS following a road game this season.
Philly is off a bad road loss against Orlando. The 76ers are 8-1 ATS following a defeat.
The 76ers have the stronger defense and better depth that Dallas. It's not a fluke the 76ers are 20-10 with six players averaging in double figures. Jrue Holliday is an underrated point guard. The 76ers have committed the fewest turnovers in the league.
Dallas has a cluster injury problem in its backcourt. Three players are out - Jason Terry, Delonte West and Rodrique Beaubois. That means major minutes for over-the-hill veterans Jason Kidd and Vince Carter.
Dallas has won five in a row. Two of those victories, though, were against a short-handed Nuggets squad. Another came in OT versus a slumping Trail Blazers squad and another came against the Clippers missing Chauncey Billups. The Mavericks aren't in a position to upset a motivated and very good 76er team on the road.
|02-17-12||Sacramento Kings v. Detroit Pistons -2||Top||108-114||Win||100||18 h 19 m||Show|
Detroit is playing its best ball of the season and is at home. The Pistons have won five of their last seven games. They are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games.
Sacramento had been playing better, too, but has dropped three in a row after going 4-1. The Kings are playing their third road game in four nights. The Kings have failed to cover in 10 of their 15 away matchups.
The Pistons are riding a lot of confidence after knocking off Boston on the road for the first time since 2009. A key for the Pistons' turnaround is the return to health of veterans Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey.
The Pistons also have been getting better production in the paint. Greg Monroe remains one of the more underrated players in the Eastern Conference.
|02-17-12||Miami Heat v. Cleveland Cavaliers +10||111-87||Loss||-110||7 h 22 m||Show|
You know with LeBron James making his first appearance in Cleveland this season that the Cavaliers will be highly motivated for this home contest.
Cleveland is a respectable 6-7 at home this season. The Cavaliers have covered six of the last seven times they've been a home 'dog.
The key for the Cavaliers is getting back Kyrie Irving. He returned against the Pacers this past Wednesday in Cleveland's last game and sparked a 98-87 Cavaliers' home win with 22 points. Irving had missed three games with a concussion.
Miami is playing well. But this is the Heat's sixth straight road game and Miami has a much bigger game on tap Sunday when the Heat return home to face in-state rival Orlando in a revenge spot for a 102-89 loss that began their current road trip.
|02-15-12||Oklahoma City Thunder -3 v. Houston Rockets||95-96||Loss||-110||8 h 51 m||Show|
Oklahoma City has the best road mark in the NBA at 12-5. The Thunder also have covered in nine of their last 13 away games.
The Thunder played last night, but had an easy time beating Utah, 111-85, at home. The Thunder were able to rest their starters for long stretches of time.
Houston also had to play last night, losing at Memphis. The Rockets now return home following a six-game road trip without a single day of rest. This marks their 10th straight different venue.
The Thunder match up well to Houston as evidenced by a four-game win streak. The Rockets have been unable to control Kevin Durant, who has averaged 28.8 points against them while shooting 55.3 percent from the floor during the past four contests.
|02-13-12||Miami Heat v. Milwaukee Bucks UNDER 201||Top||114-96||Loss||-110||20 h 42 m||Show|
Miami and Milwaukee have played twice this season. The Bucks are surprisingly 2-0 versus the Heat holding them to an average of 89.5 points.
The over/unders in the two meetings were 194 1/2 and 197 1/2. This opened as the highest total yet. I don't see the justification in such a high total even though Miami is the No. 2 scoring team in the league.
The Bucks are mainly composed of lunch-pail type players who would rather rebound and set picks than score. One of Milwaukee's few scorers, Stephen Jackson, is playing less than 20 minutes per game.
Brandon Jennings, the Bucks' main source of offense with Andrew Bogut out, is a streaky shooter who is on a cold streak converting on only 22 percent of his field goals during the past eight games.
This is a kill-the-pain type of matchup for the Bucks as they've dropped three straight home games following their victory against Miami at Bradley Center. The Bucks know that to have a chance of beating the Heat again, they'll have to play intense defense. Their emphasis will be on defense not offense.
Miami, of course, should be highly motivated in a rare double-revenge situation. So I'm expecting a tough, physical matchup with not a lot of free-wheeling and loose scores.
|02-13-12||Minnesota Timberwolves +5.5 v. Orlando Magic||89-102||Loss||-110||16 h 10 m||Show|
Kevin Love is in the argument for best power forward in basketball. Ricky Rubio is averaging 8.7 assists per game.
Those two give Minnesota respectability and edges at two key positions against the Magic.
The Timberwolves have been an excellent under-the-radar road team covering eight of their 11 away contests. They actually have a winning straight-up road mark at 6-5 with three of those defeats coming by the combined margin of 10 points.
Dwight Howard is an elite player, but his Orlando team isn't. Since winning their first four home contests, the Magic are just 5-6 straight up at home. They are 3-8 ATS during this span.
The Timberwolves are off a frustrating home loss to the Knicks. Rick Adelman will have them ready to play in this matchup. The overrated Magic are in for a fight here.
|02-11-12||Orlando Magic -2 v. Milwaukee Bucks||99-94||Win||100||16 h 16 m||Show|
The line is short here considering the quality difference between these two teams.
Orlando is a whole level higher than Milwaukee.
Yes, Orlando has the greater distance to travel following its home loss to Atlanta. But the Bucks are off an overtime win at Cleveland last night.
Milwaukee is 2-8 ATS the past 10 times it has played in the second of back-to-back games.
The Magic have covered seven of their last nine road games. They are much stronger offensively when not going against Boston or Atlanta, who have their number defensively.
The Bucks have no counter for Dwight Howard with Andrew Bogut out.
|02-11-12||Portland Trail Blazers v. Dallas Mavericks -4||94-97||Loss||-106||16 h 47 m||Show|
Dallas is coming on and Portland is a bad road team.
The Mavericks are 5-1 in their last six games. The key has been Dirk Nowitzki getting healthy and finding his shooting eye. Nowitzki is averaging 28 points on 60.6 percent field goal shooting during the last four games. He has a strong history, too, versus Portland.
The Mavericks also have been helped by the return of Jason Kidd.
Portland is 4-9 straight-up and ATS on the road. The Trail Blazers would own only two road wins if you discounted their games versus New Orleans, the league's worst home team at 2-14.
The Trail Blazers are 1-8 ATS the last nine times they've been road 'dogs.
Portland has struggled in Dallas, too, losing 20 of the past 25 times there. Dallas has covered the past four times it has hosted Portland.
|02-11-12||Philadelphia 76ers -6.5 v. Cleveland Cavaliers||Top||99-84||Win||100||15 h 49 m||Show|
Philadelphia won't be taking the banged-up Cavaliers lightly after losing at home in the finals seconds to the Clippers last night. It was the 76ers' second loss in a row - both at home.
The 76ers are 8-1 ATS following a straight-up defeat. The 76ers also are 8-2 ATS when laying between five and 10 1/2-points.
This is a step down for the 76ers after having faced seven straight winning teams.
Cleveland lost in overtime to Milwaukee last night. Worse, the Cavaliers may not have their most effective front-court player, Anderson Varejao, who was hurt against the Bucks suffering a sprained right wrist. The Cavaliers already are minus their best backcourt player in rookie Kyrie Irving, out with a concussion.
Cleveland has failed to cover 12 of the past 17 times when hosting a foe with a winning road mark.
|02-10-12||Indiana Pacers +1.5 v. Memphis Grizzlies||92-98||Loss||-105||18 h 51 m||Show|
The Grizzlies overachieved last season. They aren't that good of a team and it has been showing this season, especially with Zach Randolph sidelined.
Memphis beat Minnesota at home in its last game this past Wednesday by five points. The Timberwolves were missing their best player, suspended Kevin Love. Even with that victory, the Grizzlies are 3-7 in their past 10 games.
It's not just Randolph the Grizzlies are missing, but also underrated sparkplug Tony Allen, who has a hip injury.
Scoring has become a serious problem for Memphis. The Grizzlies have reached triple digits just once in their last 11 games and that was in overtime against Denver. Counting just regulation, the Grizzlies are averaging 86.7 points during this span.
Indiana is off a loss to Atlanta in which the Hawks were energized and played well. The Pacers are just one of three teams to not lose two consecutive games. Indiana is 10-6 on the road with away victories at Boston, Dallas, Orlando, Utah, Chicago, and against the Lakers. That's impressive. So is the Pacers' covering eight of the last nine times following a loss.
|02-10-12||Dallas Mavericks -2 v. Minnesota Timberwolves||Top||104-97||Win||100||18 h 49 m||Show|
Entering this season, Dallas had defeated Minnesota in 18 of the past 19 meetings. This included nine straight wins in Minnesota.
But this season, the Timberwolves are 2-0 versus the Mavericks. Don't look for the Timberwolves to defeat the Mavericks a third consecutive time.
The Timberwolves beat Dallas in their last meeting, 105-90, at Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki didn't play in that matchup because he was resting a sore knee.
Nowitzki is back and has regained his shooting touch. He's averaging 26.3 points on 61.5 shooting from the field during his last three games.
The Mavericks could get another boost, too, as Jason Kidd may see his first action in seven games.
Dallas has traditionally been strong versus Western Conference opponents and when playing on the road. The Mavericks are 27-10-1 ATS in their past 38 Western Conference matchups and 16-6-1 ATS during their past 23 away contests.
Minnesota is 3-8 in its last 11 home matchups.
|02-10-12||New Jersey Nets v. Detroit Pistons -2.5||92-109||Win||100||17 h 20 m||Show|
The teams just met Wednesday at New Jersey and the Pistons won, 99-92.
Detroit is getting improved play in the paint and is healthier with sharp shooter Ben Gordon back in action after missing 10 games with a sore shoulder. The Pistons also could get back Will Bynum, who has missed the last 15 games with a strained right foot tendon.
The Nets have proven vulnerable on the glass with center Brook Lopez still probably at least a week away from returning.
The Nets are 5-20-1 ATS vs. foes with a losing home mark.
|02-07-12||Phoenix Suns v. Milwaukee Bucks -7||Top||107-105||Loss||-105||17 h 31 m||Show|
Phoenix is playing for the fourth time in five days and in a prime letdown spot after upsetting Atlanta, 99-90, on the road last night.
Milwaukee is rested having been idle since Saturday. The Bucks are 7-3 at home, 6-4 ATS. The Suns have a losing spread record on the road.
The Bucks have revenge for a 109-93 road loss to the Suns early last month. Phoenix shot a blistering 55 percent from the floor in that matchup canning 10 of 22 3-point shots.
If you discount their games against the Bulls, the Bucks are 4-1 in their last five games. Their only defeat during this span, aside from losing to Chicago, was on the road against Detroit this past Friday.
The Bucks entered that matchup having upset Miami at home in their previous game and taking on the Bulls the following night. The Bucks overlooked the lowly Pistons. That won't be the case in this matchup.
|02-06-12||Utah Jazz +4 v. New York Knicks||88-99||Loss||-105||16 h 11 m||Show|
It's attractive to take points with the better team, which is the case here with the 13-9 Jazz against the 9-15 Knicks.
New York is 3-11 in its last 14 games. Carmelo Anthony has been cold and the Knicks still haven't solved their point guard woes.
The Jazz have been and are better than perceived. They added to their growing confidence with a 96-87 win against the Lakers this past Saturday at home.
Utah is 8-3 ATS following a victory. The key question is how will the Jazz do in this road setting? The Jazz have played just seven road contests, fewest of any team in the NBA.
Last January, the Jazz went 0-4 during an East Coast road swing. That disastrous road trip marked the end of the Jerry Sloan-Deron Williams era.
The Jazz don't want a repeat of that. So they will be taking this matchup very serious as they will be playing five of their next six games away from Salt Lake City. They want to get this stretch of road games started off right.
The timing is good for Utah as the Knicks will be playing for the fourth time in five days. New York has covered just four of its last 11 games at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have lost five of their past seven home games, only defeating weaklings New Jersey and Detroit during this home-court span. During this time frame, the Knicks lost to the Bucks and Suns at home. Utah is better than those two teams and far superior to the Nets and Pistons.
|02-06-12||Los Angeles Lakers +4 v. Philadelphia 76ers||Top||90-95||Loss||-105||16 h 42 m||Show|
The 76ers are an impressive 17-7, but they are only .500 when playing elite teams.
The Lakers aren't an elite team, but they have enough advantages to beat the 76ers namely Kobe Bryant and front line aces Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
The 76ers kept Bryant in check when they hosted the Lakers last season. Bryant scored only nine points, but the Lakers still won, 93-81.
The 76ers have problems matching up against Los Angeles' tall front line even with the return of Spencer Hawes. The 76ers may not have Elton Brand, who suffered a thumb injury this past Friday.
Expect the Lakers to be highly motivated for this game after suffering a meltdown in their last game on the road against Utah. The Lakers gave up 14 straight points in a 96-87 loss in which coach Mike Brown was tossed out.
|02-04-12||Golden State Warriors v. Sacramento Kings -1.5||Top||106-114||Win||100||18 h 32 m||Show|
Things are looking a bit up for Sacramento these days. The Kings have some confidence after ending their five-game losing streak this past Thursday by defeating Portland, 95-92, at home.
The Kings' offense is better now with the return from injury of guard Marcus Thornton. Opponents can't gang up on Tyreke Evans now with Thornton back in the lineup. John Salmons finally has started to show something, too, after being a major disappointment up until now.
Golden State has been playing better, too, but the Warriors aren't very good on the road. The Warriors have lost road games to the Bobcats by 12, to the Suns by 11 and to the Nets by seven. Sacramento has a winning home record.
The Warriors slipped past the Kings this past Tuesday at Golden State, 93-90. Now the Kings get revenge. The Warriors had trouble handling DeMarcus Cousins in the front line. Golden State won that game because of its reserves.
Expect a spirited effort from Sacramento's bench this time around after being outplayed. The Kings' depth is better with Thornton back from injury.
The Kings are 3-1 in their last four home contests versus the Warriors. Sacramento doesn't get much respect, but the Kings have covered eight of their last nine Pacific Division matchups. They also are 10-3 versus foes with a losing record.
|02-03-12||Milwaukee Bucks v. Detroit Pistons +4.5||Top||80-88||Win||100||7 h 16 m||Show|
We knew the Pistons would be a work in progress with a new coach, system and mixing in more youth.
The Pistons have been even worse than expected dropping 20 of their first 24 games, including the past seven.
This, however, is an excellent spot for Detroit to be competitive hosting Milwaukee in a double-revenge situation.
Milwaukee is playing its best ball despite no Andrew Bogut. Brandon Jennings is as hot as any player.
The Bucks came from 18 points down at home to upset Miami. The Bucks host arch-rival Chicago on Saturday, which will be their biggest game of the season and a revenge matchup for them.
It's easy for the Bucks to overlook the lowly Pistons, a team they beat less than a week ago. Detroit is a respectable 4-6-1 ATS at home. The Bucks have been playing better on the road, but still have a losing spread record away from Bradley Center. Milwaukee has also failed to cover seven of the past 10 times it has been favored.
The Pistons have a chance to gain a measure of respect back with four straight easy games following this one, including three at home. Detroit won't lack for motivation in this matchup.
The Pistons have covered six of the last eight times they've hosted the Bucks.
|02-02-12||Utah Jazz v. Golden State Warriors OVER 196||Top||101-119||Win||100||11 h 41 m||Show|
Utah is averaging more than 102 points in its last 10 games. Golden State's offense has been down compared to past high-scoring seasons. Lately, though, the Warriors have picked up their scoring. They are averaging more than 100 points in their last three games - all at home.
I see the Warriors again reaching triple digits at home as Utah gives up an average of 102.7 points on the road. During their past five overall games, the Jazz have surrendered 103.2 points.
Golden State has gone over in eight of its last 11 games.
Note that when a total is between 190 and 199 1/2 points, the Jazz have gone over 25 of 37 times. The Jazz also have a strong history of going over as a road 'dog when taking between five and 10 1/2 points compiling a 44-18-2 over mark in that pointspread range.
Golden State has had a day to rest. The over has cashed seven of the past eight times the Warriors have played on one day rest. Their backcourt is one of the highest scoring in the league with a healthy Stephen Curry alongside Monta Ellis.
A key for Utah's upswing in scoring is a healthy Devin Harris, who provides the Jazz with an up-tempo pace.
|02-01-12||Charlotte Bobcats +14.5 v. Portland Trail Blazers||68-112||Loss||-102||10 h 14 m||Show|
Portland is very tough at Rose Garden. But the Trail Blazers are far from being an elite team as evidenced by their 9-9 January record.
It's difficult for a "B" team such as Portland to cover this large of a number unless they have special incentive going. If anything, Charlotte should be the more motivated team.
The Bobcats are off an embarrassing 106-73 road loss to the Lakers last night. If there was a positive to come out of that game for Charlotte it's that only Kemba Walker played more than 30 minutes.
So the Bobcats should be rested having been idle this past Sunday and Monday. The Bobcats don't play again until Saturday so a full effort should be forthcoming, too.
Charlotte has covered eight of the past 11 times it has received 11 or more points. The Bobcats are getting healthier with Gerald Henderson returning to action last night. Walker has been playing well lately.
Portland goes on the road to meet the Kings in Sacramento on Thursday, so the Trail Blazers won't necessarily be looking to play their starters long minutes unless the game is close. This keeps the backdoor firmly open for the Bobcats.
|02-01-12||Toronto Raptors +9 v. Boston Celtics||Top||64-100||Loss||-105||6 h 11 m||Show|
Only twice in their last 13 games have the Celtics won by more than eight points.
Boston isn't strong enough offensively to lay this high of a number, especially now that word is out that Rajon Rondo will not play in this game.
Rondo is targeting a Friday return against New York. That's a much bigger game for Boston than this matchup. The Celtics have revenge against the Knicks.
Toronto laid an egg last night after returning from a five-game road trip getting smashed by the Hawks, 100-77, at home.
The Raptors had been playing well until then winning three times during their just concluded road swing.
Dwane Casey has transformed Toronto into a decent defensive club. The Raptors rank sixth in defensive field goal percentage and are 12th in fewest points allowed giving up 93.2 per game. Boston averages under 90 points a game.
This also is a back-to-back spot for the aged Celtics. They had a tough time putting away Cleveland last night in a three-point victory. This marks the fifth time in seven days that Boston is in action.
Minus Rondo, Toronto has a backcourt edge at point guard with Jose Calderon.
|01-31-12||Denver Nuggets -1 v. Memphis Grizzlies||97-100||Loss||-105||7 h 60 m||Show|
Denver has defeated Memphis in 14 of its past 17 meetings and this matchup sets up well, too, for a Denver victory.
The Nuggets have won their past five road games. They own the second-best record in the Western Conference, but are off a home loss this past Sunday to the Clippers.
The Clippers were outscored by 10 points in the last quarter to lose, 109-105, to the Clippers. The Nuggets are 15-5-1 ATS following an ATS loss. They are expected to be back at full strength with point guard Ty Lawson likely to return after missing the past two games with a sprained ankle. Lawson and Andre Miller give the Nuggets a big backcourt edge on Memphis.
Memphis is still getting too much respect from the linesmaker following a seven-game winning streak. The Grizzlies defeated the Bulls, who were minus Derek Rose, during that winning streak. The rest of the opponents they faced were a combined 27-74.
The reality is Memphis is just a .500 team, not in the same class with Denver. The Grizzlies have dropped four in a row since their win streak and face fatigue issues in this matchup playing for the sixth time in eight days and third in four days. Memphis lacks depth, especially with Zach Randolph out.
During their losing skid, the Grizzlies are averaging 83 points while shooting 38.4 percent from the floor. Denver leads the NBA in scoring averaging 105.8 points a game. Note, too, that the Nuggets are 20-7 ATS in their last 27 road games versus a foe with a winning home mark. Memphis is just 3-7 ATS the past 10 times it has faced an opponent with a winning mark.
|01-31-12||Atlanta Hawks v. Toronto Raptors +5||Top||100-77||Loss||-110||19 h 49 m||Show|
There's not much defensively separating Atlanta and Toronto. The Raptors give up one more point per game than the Hawks.
Toronto is just 2-5 at Air Canada Centre this season, but should be primed for this matchup.
The Raptors concluded their five-game road swing going 3-1 during their past four games, including burying the Nets, 94-73, this past Sunday. That victory may not seem impressive on the surface, but the Nets had won two in a row beating the 76ers and Cavaliers on the road. The Raptors also showed they are capable of blowing out a foe despite not having Andrea Bargnani in the lineup.
DeMar Rozan is showing signs of stepping up in Bargnani's absence scoring a season-high 27 points versus New Jersey. Jerryd Bayless had a big game against the Nets, too, with 17 points while playing strong defense against Deron Williams.
I see Bayless doing the same against the much less heralded Jeff Teague.
This marks Atlanta's fifth consecutive road game. The Hawks are 4-10-1 ATS on one day rest. They begin a four-game homestand Thursday hosting Memphis. It's easy for the Hawks to not be at their best against Toronto, a team they beat just two weeks ago.
|01-30-12||New Orleans Hornets +13 v. Miami Heat||Top||95-109||Loss||-110||16 h 8 m||Show|
Miami is off a tough 97-93 home victory against Chicago this past Sunday. It was the team's first meeting since the Heat defeated the Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals.
On Wednesday, the Heat play at Milwaukee to face the Bucks, a team that upset the Heat, 91-82, just eight days ago in Miami.
Before that game, though, the Heat host lowly New Orleans. That takes place tonight. I see this as a definite flat spot for Miami. The Heat are 3-9 ATS the past 12 times they've hosted foes with a losing straight-up record.
New Orleans certainly can't match Miami's talent level. But the Hornets should be motivated and have several factors in their favor.
New Orleans was embarrassed by Atlanta at home this past Sunday losing 94-72. The Hornets shot a season-low 37.5 percent from the floor and were ripped by their coach, Monty Williams, following the game with Williams questioning his team's effort. New Orleans usually responds well in these situations covering the past five times following a defeat.
New Orleans has played much better on the road this season. The Hornets are 6-2 ATS away from home this season. They have covered in their last four road contests. The Hornets also rank No. 1 in defensive rebounding are the seventh stingiest team to score on allowing 91.2 points per game.
Miami averages 103 points per game. Splitting the difference between what New Orleans gives up and what Miami scores and you come up with the Heat putting up 97 points. So the Hornets probably would need just 85 points to cover. Miami gives up 96 points a game.
The Hornets average 87 points a game. Splitting the difference there and you figure New Orleans to put up 90 points. In their three previous games prior to losing to Atlanta last night, the Hornets have been averaging 95.3 points a game.
Note, too, that the past 16 times the Hornets have received 11 or more points they are 13-3 ATS. They are 4-1 ATS this season when taking 9 1/2 or more points.
|01-29-12||Los Angeles Lakers +1 v. Minnesota Timberwolves||Top||106-101||Win||100||19 h 5 m||Show|
Surprised to see the Timberwolves open a favorite against the Lakers?
Yeah, a little bit. But Minnesota is much improved just one game under .500, while the Lakers are struggling on the road and just 1-4 in their last five games.
Still, the Lakers are much the better team and the timing is right to back LA on the road in this matchup.
The Lakers are off an embarrassing road loss to short-handed Milwaukee Saturday night. The Lakers have covered in six of their last seven visits to Minnesota.
The Lakers' three other losses in their last five games have been to Indiana, Orlando and Miami - teams all superior to Minnesota.
The Lakers did play last night, but had been idle during the two previous days. The Timberwolves are 1-5 ATS the past six times they've been home 'dogs.
The Timberwolves could be missing center Darko Milicic, who has been sick. The Lakers already have a height advantage on the Timberwolves' front line with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
A key for the Lakers is getting more backcourt scoring to aid Kobe Bryant. Lately rookie guard Andrew Goudelock has been providing that.
|01-27-12||San Antonio Spurs -1 v. Minnesota Timberwolves||Top||79-87||Loss||-105||18 h 15 m||Show|
San Antonio hasn't played well on the road, but I see the Spurs rested and motivated for this matchup.
San Antonio last played on Wednesday when it buried Atlanta, 105-83, for its third straight victory. Gregg Popovich was able to rest his starters more than normal because of the lopsided victory. The Spurs don't play again until Sunday.
So this is a good spot for the Spurs, especially in a revenge situation. San Antonio had defeated Minnesota 16 straight times until facing the Timberwolves on Jan. 2 on the road.
The Timberwolves shot a season-high 57.7 percent from the floor - the second-highest percentage allowed by the Spurs this season - and upset San Antonio as 5 1/2-point 'dogs winning, 106-96.
Now the spread is much smaller and the Spurs will be up for this matchup. The Timberwolves are highly unlikely, too, to have Michael Beasley, who played in the first meeting. He's been out since Jan. 6 with a sprained right foot.
It's not just Beasley who is hurting for Minnesota. Point guards Luke Ridnour (knee) and J.J. Barea (hamstring) also have been out. In addition, Wes Johnson has been dealing with pneumonia.
Minnesota is 1-5 ATS in its last six home games. The Timberwolves also are 4-11 ATS the past 15 times when taking up to 4 1/2-points.