Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

ATS Rankings | Totals Report | Injuries

Straight up and Against the Spread

Bottom of the Barrel

The two worst teams in the Eastern Conference will meet from the Amway Center on Thursday as Orlando (17-36 SU, 25-28 ATS) and Atlanta (17-37 SU, 28-24-2 ATS) square off. The Magic have been the more disappointing of the two this season due to higher expectations but both have achieved solid results at the betting counter recently than on the hardwood.

For this matchup, Orlando will be looking to win its third straight game for just the second time this season. The Magic just knocked off the Heat and Cavaliers as underdogs and will now be favorites (-1 ½) over the Hawks, a role that club has struggled in this season. When laying points at home, Orlando has gone 3-5 SU and 1-7 ATS. Despite that fact, it’s hard to dismiss that Orlando is 11-3 ATS in its last 14 games despite dealing with key injuries. Aaron Gordon (hip) has missed the last six game for the Magic and is ‘questionable’ for Thursday.

Atlanta enters this game off back-to-back victories as well but unlike Orlando, it has never won three in a row this season. When given that opportunity before, the Hawks have gone 0-2 and both losses were double digits.

These teams have split their first two meetings this season with the home team winning each contest.

Eastern Test

Boston (39-16 SU, 33-20-2 ATS) and Washington (31-23 SU, 25-29 ATS) will tip-off Thursday’s TNT action from Capital One Arena in what's expected to be a a tight contest. The Celtics opened as short road favorites (-1) at [...] but the early money put the Wizards into the ‘chalk’ role (-1 ½).

Washington had its five-game winning streak snapped Tuesday as the club dropped a 115-102 decision at Philadelphia. The Wizards have been playing without All-Star John Wall and the team has actually looked better. Prior to Wall going down with a knee injury, Washington was mired in a 1-4 skid.

The Wizards got the best of Boston on Christmas, earning a 111-103 win as four-point road favorites. The decision was surprising because when the pair met in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals, the home team went 7-0 in that series with Boston advancing 4-3 over Washington.

The Celtics are also off a loss, a 111-91 setback at Toronto on Tuesday. Point guard Kyrie Irving returned to the court after missing the previous three games, which were all victories for Boston.

Washington hasn’t been as dominant at home (17-9 SU, 10-16 ATS) this season but it has won four of its last five. What’s impressive about the Wizards is that they haven’t lost more three or more games in a row this season but they have dropped back-to-back decisions eight times. Boston does own one of the top road marks (18-8 SU, 17-9 ATS) in the league and it hasn’t surrendered two straight setbacks on the road this season.

Win or lose for the Wizards, this video alone tells me why I can’t trust this team again in the postseason. Seems like a real strange dynamic going on in D.C. and maybe Mavs backup point guard J.J. Barea was right about Wall. Make a note that Wall had 21 points and 14 assists in the holiday matchup against Boston. 

Chutes and Ladders

The Knicks upset the Raptors 108-100 as 4 ½-point home underdogs on Nov. 22 but it’s hard to see New York pulling off another shocker after what transpired in Tuesday’s 103-89 home loss to Milwaukee.

In the setback, New York lost All-Star Kristaps Porzingis to a season-ending ACL injury. Including the defeat to Milwaukee, the Knicks have lost four in a row and seven of their last nine games.  

While New York is going backwards, Toronto continues to rise. The Raptors won and covered their third straight game on Tuesday as it throttled Boston by 20 points (111-91) as a five-point home favorite. The club is only one game behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference, which has had the [...]s adjust the future odds on Toronto from 7/1 to 7/2 to win the East.

Prior to the aforementioned loss to the Knicks, Toronto has won nine straight in this series and they covered six of those games. No overnight line was posted but the Raptors opened -15 and they’ve gone an eye-opening 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS in that role this season.

Total bettors should note that New York is on a 6-0 'under' run and losing Porzingiz (22.7 PPG) could keep that low-side streak rolling along. The total is listed at 210. 

Over or Under

There is only one non-conference game on tap Thursday as Charlotte (23-30 SU, 22-27-4 ATS) visits Portland (29-25 SU, 25-26-3 ATS). The Trail Blazers opened as four-point home favorites and the number was pushed down to -3 at most shops. It’s hard to make a case for Portland, who is returning home from a three-game road trip that watched them go 0-3 both SU and ATS. Plus, they head right back on the road tomorrow to visit Sacramento which is never a tough spot. The Blazers haven’t been great at home (15-10 SU, 10-14-1 ATS) compared to previous seasons but Charlotte (8-16 SU, 8-12-4 ATS) hasn’t shown much spirit as a visitor.

Rather than focus on the side, the total jumps out to me and the opener of 214 seemed high. It dropped to 213 ½ quickly before bouncing back up to 214 ½ on Thursday morning. The opening number makes me believe the ‘over’ is worth a look even though the ‘under’ has cashed in five straight in this series and Portland has been one of the best ‘under’ teams (32-22) this season.

Why go high? Along with the respecting the opinion of the oddsmakers, Charlotte has been seriously chucking from distance (3-pointers) in its last four games (32.7) and the confidence from the outside has led to 118.8 points per game and four easy ‘over’ tickets. Along with the good comes the bad and that’s the Charlotte defense, which is allowing 116.8 PPG during this span. Portland hasn’t been in good rhythm offensively lately but a poor defense and home crowd should help cure that on Thursday. 

Seeking Revenge

Oklahoma City (31-24 SU, 22-32-1 ATS) snapped a four-game losing skid on Tuesday with an emphatic 125-105 road win over Golden State as a 10-point road underdog. The Thunder face the possibility of a letdown spot Thursday but it will be seeking to avenge a recent 108-104 home loss to the L.A. Lakers (22-31 SU, 28-25 ATS) on Super Bowl Sunday.

Despite that loss, this series has been one-sided as it gets with Oklahoma City taking 16 of the last 20 against Los Angeles and it’s posted a respectable 13-7 ATS mark in those games. Also, the Thunder's record includes a 5-1 run in the last six trips to the Staples Center.

Unfortunately for Lavar Ball and his fearless predictions, this Lakers team won’t be making the playoffs but they have shown some flashes lately. Los Angeles has gone 7-2 both SU and ATS in its last nine games and it enters this game with seven straight wins on its homecourt.

The youth for the Lakers has often shown this season and they definitely fold when facing adversity, which is proven in their ATS numbers at home. The club has been an underdog 19 times in L.A. and they’ve gone 8-11 SU and 10-9 ATS, which tells you the point-spread has only mattered in two games.

If you’re looking to back Los Angeles, a money-line (+125) play could be a better option. Lastly, teams that have defeated Golden State this season have gone 8-4 in their following game so the letdown angle could be thrown out but one of those losses came from OKC.

Three Straight?

The late-night tip from the Bay Area between the Mavericks (17-37 SU, 27-26-1 ATS) and Warriors (41-13 SU, 32-30-1 ATS) looks like a ‘pass’ game on paper. No overnight number was sent out with Harrison Barnes (ankle) and Kevin Durant (hand) both listed as ‘questionable’ for Dallas and Golden State respectively. Even if Durant sits, the Warriors will be laying double digits and they’ll also be looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak this season. Golden State opened -13 on Thursday morning and the Warriors dropped to 12 ½. The money-line has Golden State listed -1000 (Bet $100 to win $10) with the take-back on Dallas listed at plus-650 (Bet $100 to win $650). 

Including Tuesday’s embarrassing home loss (125-105) to OKC, the Warriors are 1-3 in their last four games. Golden State is now 11-1 SU and 6-6 ATS off a loss but suffering three losses in a row is very rare. It’s only happened twice in the last three seasons and one of those skids occurred while blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the 2015-16 NBA Finals.

GSW is 19-6 SU and 10-14-1 ATS this season as a double-digit favorite while Dallas is 1-6 both SU and ATS when catching 10-plus points. The Warriors have won nine straight against the Mavericks in this series which includes all three meetings this season. They’ve gone 6-3 ATS during this span.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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