Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:06 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

ATS Rankings | Totals Report | Injuries

Thursday’s NBA slate has four games on tap and three of them will be non-conference matchups where the Eastern Conference will be looking to avenge some recent knocks to their counterparts in the Western Conference.

On Tuesday, the West went 5-0 straight up and 3-2 against the spread in these head-to-head battles but the East rebound a little bit last night with a 2-2 ledger. Since Sunday, the West has gone 12-6 (67%) straight up in these matchups and the trend could keep rolling tonight with clubs from the East listed as ‘dogs in two of the three games.

Let’s handicap the card.

Sacramento (14-33 SU, 29-25-3 ATS) at Miami (27-20 SU, 22-23-2 ATS)

The lone Eastern Conference team favored on Thursday is Miami (-10 ½), who hosts Sacramento from American Airlines Arena. This series has been as one-sided as it gets with Miami winning 25 of the last 30 encounters and that includes a run of six straight wins.

Sacramento has lost 15 straight trips to South Florida during this span and it hasn’t won at Miami since the 2001 regular season when Sacramento had international standouts Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac roaming the court.  Total bettors should note that the ‘over’ has cashed in 11 of the past 12 meetings between the pair but the oddsmakers are expecting a low-scoring affair (200 ½) for this matchup.

Despite the recent head-to-head edge, you could be hesitant to back the Heat knowing the team is playing its first game at home after a five-game road trip that saw them go 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS. Plus Miami hasn’t been that great at home (12-9 SU), especially for bettors (6-13-2 ATS). The Heat have been listed as a favorite of nine or more points four times this season and they haven’t lost (4-0) but a 1-2-1 ATS mark offers trepidation.

The Kings have gone 7-19 SU and 10-13-3 ATS on the road this season and they covered their last two games which includes a 105-99 win at Orlando on Tuesday as 7 ½-point road underdog. Knowing Sacramento has gone 2-11 off a win this season doesn’t boast much confidence in backing them to capture another one tonight. Another reason to lay the lumber with Miami is that Sacramento has lost 21 games this season by 10 points or more, which is the most in the league. 

Goran Dragic (knee) sat out the last two games for Miami but is listed as ‘probable’ for Thursday.

Washington (26-21 SU, 20-27 ATS) at Oklahoma City (27-20 SU, 18-28-1 ATS)

The Thunder will look to tie their season-high winning streak of six games on Thursday when Washington pays a visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City opened as a 4 ½-point favorite and the line was pushed up quickly to -5 and is listed as high as -6 on Thursday morning.

OKC has gone 3-2 ATS during the five-game run but four of the victories came against teams with losing records and the other was against the dysfunctional Cavaliers but they did drop an eye-opening 148 points in that blowout.

Washington has been just as tough to figure out as Cleveland this season and you never know which team will show up. On Tuesday, the bad one did as the Wizards were embarrassed 98-75 at Dallas as two-point road favorites. Including that setback, the club is 1-8 ATS in their last night games.

Losing to clubs below .500 has been an issue all season for Washington (15-11) yet they turn around and surprise you from time to time with a nice victory. When listed as road underdogs, the Wizards are a respectable 7-6 SU and 9-4 ATS which includes solid wins over the Celtics, Timberwolves, Heat and Raptors.

I would put OKC in the same class as that quartet and would expect Washington to bounce back in this spot, if not tonight then definitely on Saturday at Atlanta. I mention that because Washington hasn’t lost more than two games in a row all season and that’s why their record is still solid despite the inconsistencies.

For this series, the home team won and covered both encounters last season with each win coming by double digits. Prior to those results, OKC had won four straight against Washington. The Wizards have come up short in their last eight trips to Oklahoma City, which includes last year’s 126-115 setback.

Both OKC (27-20) and Washington (26-19-2) have been solid ‘under’ wagers this season, especially the Wizards on the road (16-7). Despite knowing that, the opener on this game (212 ½) seems a tad high and that could have me leaning ‘over’ based on the oddsmakers opinion.

TNT will provide coverage of this game at 8:05 p.m. ET.

New York (21-27 SU, 25-23 ATS) at Denver (24-23 SU, 20-24-3 ATS)

The Knicks stopped the Nuggets 116-110 on Oct. 30 as 4 ½-point home underdogs. The win for New York snapped a six-game losing streak to Denver and capturing two straight could be tough knowing the club is 1-9 SU and 5-5 ATS in its last 10 trips to the Pepsi Center.

For the rematch, no opener was sent out last night due to the status of Knicks All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis (ankle) but he's currently listed as 'probable.' New York is 1-5 this season without the big man in the lineup.

Denver opened -4 ½ and was pushed up to -5 and that number seems a bit short considering the Nuggets have been solid at home (17-6 SU, 12-10-1 ATS) plus New York has struggled on the road (6-18 SU, 10-14 ATS). 

The head scratcher in this matchup will be the total. The Knicks have seen the ‘over’ cash in eight straight and 10 of their last 11 game. The defense has allowed 114.6 points per game during this span but they could catch a break Thursday against a sputtering Denver offense. The Nuggets are averaging 98.7 PPG in their last seven games and that’s led to a 7-0 ‘under’ streak.

In eight home games versus the East, Denver has shown some offensive flashes that has led to a 5-3 SU and 3-5 ATS mark while the ‘under’ went 5-3 in those games. Meanwhile, New York is 3-7 SU and 5-5 ATS in road games versus Western foes and the ‘over’ has gone 7-3 in those games.

On this current “Grammys” road trip, New York has allowed 127 and 123 points in its last two games to the Lakers and Warriors respectively. Denver enters this game off a 104-101 home win over Portland on Monday but its 1-4 in its last five games after a victory.

Minnesota (31-19 SU, 24-24-2 ATS) at Golden State (38-10 SU, 21-26-1 ATS)

Two of the top four teams in the West will close out Thursday’s festivities with a nationally televised game on TNT at 10:30 p.m. ET.

These teams met on Nov. 8 from the Bay Area and Golden State posted a 125-101 win as an 8 ½-point home favorite. The game was tight at halftime (51-50) but that was before the Warriors outscored the Timberwolves 74-51 in the final 24 minutes. What was more surprising is that Golden State didn’t have Kevin Durant in the lineup due to injury. Including this win, the Warriors have won 18 of the last 21 meetings in this series.

No overnight number was posted due to the status of Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler (knee). The All-Star sat out his third straight game on Wednesday as Minnesota lost a 123-114 decision at Portland as a 3 ½-point underdog. Despite the loss, the club has gone 7-3 both SU and ATS in its last 10 games.

The fatigue factor will be in play tonight and the Wolves have gone 4-4 both SU and ATS on zero days rest this season. Make a note that the team went 1-4 on the road in those games.

Golden State remains the odds-on favorite (5/8) to win the NBA Finals and yet it remains a difficult team to back due to the inflated lines. The oddsmakers have done a great job with the Warriors, especially at home where they’ve gone 17-6 SU and 9-13-1 ATS.

I thought this line should've opened close to double digits, perhaps Warriors -9 ½ or -10, but seeing Golden State -12 ½ is a mistake in my eyes. As of 11:00 a.m. ET. most books have dropped the number to 11 ½ and I'd bet that number drops another point or two when and if Butler gets upgraded to 'probable.' 

In their last five contests played at Oracle Arena, Golden State is a pedestrian 3-2 SU and 0-4-1 ATS but it was a double-digit favorite in all the games. The issue with the non-covers has been the defense, which has allowed 118 PPG during this span and that’s helped the ‘over’ go 4-1.

For what it's worth, Minnesota hasn't been listed as a double-digit underdog all season but it was in this role six times in the 2016-17 season. The T-Wolves went 0-6 SU but produced a 4-1-1 ATS mark. 

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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