February 8, 2017

NBA Handicap Betting Preview – Thursday 9th February by @DavAulak

MPCleveland Cavaliers @ Indiana Pacers – Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 00:00

The Cleveland Cavaliers had to produce a huge effort on Monday as they had to go into Overtime to knock off the hot Washington Wizards on the road. It will take something to get going again just two days later against another strong home team in the Indiana Pacers who have put a few wins together.

The Cavaliers have a few key injuries in the rotation which is not going to help, while Kevin Love continues to be linked with a trade move to the New York Knicks in a bid for Cleveland to bring in Carmelo Anthony. Rumours that LeBron James is pushing for that move might have been described as ‘trash’ by the Superstar, but it can’t be helping build team chemistry.

Cleveland have won three in a row, but they are facing an Indiana team who have won seven in a row and they are 20-6 at home this season. The Pacers have every chance of moving up the Eastern Conference standings as they have used their strong Defensive performances in recent games to spark their run.

Those Defensive schemes are going to be tested by the Cleveland Cavaliers who have played very well in recent weeks, while the Cavaliers also look like a team that will have the edge on the rebounding statistics. However the spot is not a great one for Cleveland having come off an emotional win over the Washington Wizards and heading to Oklahoma City on Thursday for another road game, and Indiana have to take advantage of that.

The Pacers have not been a great small underdog to back, but they have won twelve of their last thirteen home games in the regular season against Cleveland. Indiana are 6-0-1 against the spread in their last seven home games against Cleveland and I am going to take the points with the Pacers to exploit this spot in the Cavaliers schedule.

Handicap Betting Pick: Indiana Pacers + 2.5 Points at 1.98

Denver Nuggets @ Atlanta Hawks – Philips Arena at 00:30

The Denver Nuggets are barely holding onto the Number 8 Seed in the Western Conference and they must be looking forward to the All Star Break in a bid to get their team a little healthier. The Nuggets could be missing some key names as they embark on this road trip prior to the All-Star Break next week and they are running into the Atlanta Hawks first up, a team looking to bounce back from a pretty bad performance in the home loss to the Utah Jazz.

The Hawks simply couldn’t make any stops in the loss to Jazz who shot an incredible 61% from the field and not many teams are going to be able to overcome that kind of Defensive ‘effort’. Making stops has been a tough task for Atlanta in recent weeks and it is no surprise that they have had so many inconsistent results from day to day.

This is a real chance for Atlanta to bounce back as they are going up against a Denver Defensive unit who have not had it easy making stops themselves. The Nuggets are off a very strong performance when they held the Dallas Mavericks to just 87 points, but even with that effort behind them, the Nuggets have allowed an average of 112 points in their last five games.

Atlanta have the size to challenge Denver on the boards which is important for them to stay with the Nuggets in what could be a shoot out. Despite the poor effort in the loss to Utah, Atlanta have actually been pretty good at limiting the efficiency of teams shooting the ball against them and that can make the difference in this game.

The Hawks are 9-3 against the spread in their last twelve home games against Denver and I am looking for them to bounce back from a poor home defeat to cover in this one.

Handicap Betting Pick: Atlanta Hawks – 4.5 Points at 1.99

Utah Jazz @ New Orleans Pelicans – Smoothie King Center at 01:00

The Utah Jazz might have some big decisions to make in the off-season with the likes of Gordon Hayward potentially moving on, but this current roster looks like one that can take the Jazz into the top four of the Western Conference. They have won their last three games behind some strong Defensive performances, but Utah can’t overlook a New Orleans Pelicans team who have played up and down to the level of their opponents.

For much of the season you can say the Pelicans have been shorthanded and it looks like Tyreke Evans could miss out on Wednesday. The Pelicans snapped a run of four straight losses with a narrow win over the Phoenix Suns a couple of days ago, but this is a team that is looking like they are struggling to find the consistency to really push on for a place in the Western Conference Play Offs.

New Orleans look like they will be real players in the trade deadline as they look to bring in Jahlil Okafor from the Philadelphia 76ers to give Anthony Davis a little more help. Despite the presence of Davis, the Pelicans have struggled on the boards and that is an area the Utah Jazz will feel they have a real advantage.

One of the other issues for New Orleans in this game is the fact the have had issues on the Defensive side of the court in doing enough to stop teams. They did shut down Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in their win over the Phoenix Suns, but still couldn’t prevent them scoring 106 points and I think a superior Utah Jazz team will find gaps to exploit.

I have to respect New Orleans for being able to compete very well with the better teams in the NBA and actually owning a 9-6 record against the spread when hosting those with a winning record. However, Utah are 8-3 against the spread when favoured by less than 5 points this season and I do think the Jazz can do just enough to win this game even though they are back in action on Thursday.

Handicap Betting Pick:  Utah Jazz – 4 Points at 1.90

Toronto Raptors @ Minnesota Timberwolves – Target Center at 01:00

 The last few weeks have been difficult for the Toronto Raptors and has highlighted that this is a team that needs to be fully healthy if they have any chance of playing for the NBA Finals. I still think they are significantly short of the very best teams in the NBA, but the Toronto Raptors have arrested their recent slide as they look to make sure they finish with at least a top four finish in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors have a very strong 9-2 record against the spread in their last eleven visits to the Minnesota Timberwolves and might be catching them at the right time. The Timberwolves have lost Zach Levine for the season and have lost four games in a row with the team continuing to struggle on the Defensive side of the court.

Now they have to face the back court of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and it is going to very difficult for Minnesota to contain the Raptors in this one. With Levine missing for the remainder of the season, the Timberwolves may have some difficulties to find the scoring power to make up for the Defensive vulnerabilities they have continued to show throughout the course of the season.

Toronto should be the superior team on the rebounding stats, but Minnesota can keep things competitive with the better three point shooting they have displayed. Stopping the three point shots has been an issue for the Raptors, but overall you have to think Toronto can improve their recent record in Minnesota on Wednesday.

This is a game that could be close at times, but I think Toronto will just be able to make a few more key stops which allows them to pull away for the road win and cover.

Handicap Betting Pick:  Toronto Raptors – 3.5 Points at 1.94

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @DavAulak

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