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Game to Watch – Golden State (4-1 SU, 3-1-1 ATS) at San Antonio (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS)

Tonight’s showdown between from the AT&T Center between the Spurs and Warriors will be a rematch of last year’s Western Conference semifinals. Even though San Antonio won this series in six games, many pundits believe Golden State gained confidence in the second round matchup despite losing. Looking at the opening numbers for Friday, it makes you believe the oddsmakers agree. In the three home games during last year’s conference semifinals, the Spurs were favored by 9 ½, 7 ½ and 7 points. For tonight’s matchup, San Antonio opened as a 4 ½-point favorite. 

Heading into Friday’s affair, Golden State has won three straight (2-0-1 ATS) games, the last two coming on the road. The Warriors are known for their sharpshooters and ability to score in bunches but the defense is overlooked. Mark Jackson’s squad has given up 93 points or less during their current winning streak, which has helped the ‘under’ go 3-0 during this span.

San Antonio returned home Wednesday after a three-game road trip and defeated Phoenix 99-96. The Spurs definitely had some jet lag and never came close to covering as 13-point favorites. Including the win over the Suns, San Antonio is now 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS at home.

The total opened at 202 ½ and was pushed up quickly to 203 ½ points. The ‘under’ is 3-2 for both the Warriors and Spurs this season.

Unbeaten Pacers

Indiana (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) will look for its sixth consecutive victory to start the season on Friday as Toronto (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS) visits Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers have looked sharp this season and it all starts with their defense, which is allowing a league best 84.4 points per game. That effort has helped the ‘under’ go 4-1 for Indiana this season. The Pacers opened as 8 ½-point home favorites against the Raptors, who have dropped two straight games after starting the season 2-1. Toronto’s offense has been shaky (94 PPG) this season and a lot of fingers are pointing at Rudy Gay. The former UConn standout is shooting 33.7 percent from the field, which has translated into 16.8 PPG. Last season, the road team won and covered all four meetings between the pair and three of the decisions were decided by exactly two points. The ‘under’ went 3-1 in the four contests.

Hunter to Hunted

The Magic (5-0) and Suns (4-0-1) have a combined 9-0-1 record ATS this season and in the 10 games they’ve played, the pair have been underdogs nine times. In the other instance, Phoenix was a short favorite (-3) against Utah and it captured an 87-84 win on a late 3-pointer but the ATS result was a push.

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Oddsmakers have adjusted to the pair and I believe the experts behind the counter went a little too far, especially for Friday’s matchups.

Orlando will be laying points for the first time this season, opening as a 5 ½-point home favorite against Boston (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS). After a 0-2 start on the road, the Magic have ripped off three straight wins at home against quality clubs in the Pelicans, Nets and Clippers. Orlando’s confidence should be very high but a letdown should be expected, especially against a Celtics club that just won their first game of the season on Wednesday at home against Utah, 97-87. Boston is limited offensively (89.4 PPG) and new head coach Brad Stevens has slowed down the game (75 Attempts Per Game) to hide this weakness. If the Magic continue to shoot well, then another win and cover is expected but remember that the NBA is about styles and the Celtics should be able to frustrate them tonight.

Phoenix continues to turn some heads this season, especially with a limited amount of talent. The Suns have started 3-2 and in the two losses, the club earned moral victories against two of the top contenders in the Western Conference – Oklahoma City (96-103) and San Antonio (96-99). Personally, I believe losing close games is a sign of a team that isn’t very good and vice versa. The Suns have a decent backcourt with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic but after that, the talent pool for first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek is very thin. Oddsmakers sent out the Suns as 2 ½-point home favorites, which certainly tells you what they think about this year’s Nuggets squad.

Total Talk

Something has to give with one total tonight when the Cavaliers and 76ers meet from Philadelphia. In five games, Cleveland has watched the ‘under’ go 4-1 while Philadelphia has been the exact opposite with the ‘over’ connecting an 80 percent mark (4-1). Oddsmakers at CRIS, a major offshore sportsbook, sent out 201 ½ on tonight’s total and it’s already been pushed up to 203 ½. Philadelphia is the worst defensive team (108.4 PPG) in the league but Cleveland’s offense is ranked near the bottom of the league in field goal percentage (41.4%) and scoring (90.6 PPG). The Cavaliers strength is their defense and despite giving up 109 points on the road to Milwaukee on Wednesday, nobody else has put up more than 94 in the other four games.

Road Favorites

Bettors keeping score at home should make a note that road favorites are 9-13 SU and 7-15 ATS this season. Tonight we have four more situations on tap and some of the clubs laying points haven’t been productive in this spot.

Cleveland (-3) at Philadelphia – The Cavaliers are 0-2 both SU and ATS as road favorites this season, losing outright at Charlotte (84-90) and Milwaukee (104-109).

New York (-2 ½) at Charlotte – New York hasn’t been in this role this season but it did get embarrassed by Charlotte 102-97 at home on Tuesday as a 9 ½-point favorite. Center Tyson Chandler (knee) is out for at least 4-6 weeks.

Brooklyn at Washington – The Nets are 0-2 both SU and ATS in this role, losing at Cleveland (94-98) on opening night before getting rattle at Orlando (86-107) on Nov. 3.

Oklahoma City at Detroit – OKC defeated Utah 101-98 on the road in its season opener but failed to cover the six-point number. The Thunder are 1-3 ATS this season, which includes a 0-2 mark on the road.

Back-to-Back Spots

Two teams will be playing on no rest tonight – Los Angeles Lakers (3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS) and Denver Nuggets (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS).

Los Angeles knocked off Houston 99-98 on Thursday as a 13-point road underdog. Some betting shops had the Lakers listed as high as 10/1 (Bet $100 to win $1,000) on the money-line against Houston. Prior to last night’s win, Los Angeles only had two wins and they both came at home. The Lakers have only played once this season with no rest and they lost at Golden State on Oct. 30 by 29 points (94-125). On Friday the Lakers head to New Orleans (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) and they’re listed as nine-point underdogs, which seems a little high but point guard Steven Nash will be rested in the back-to-back situation. The Pelicans are 1-3 when listed as favorites this season.

Denver won its first game of the season last night, defeating Atlanta 109-107 at home. The Nuggets trek to the desert on Friday for a matchup against Phoenix. This will be the second road game of the season for Denver, who lost 90-88 to Sacramento on Oct. 30.  Phoenix point guard Goran Dragic (ankle) missed the last two games but is expected to play on Friday.

Chris David can be reached at cdavid@vegasinsider.com
 

  
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