Inside the Paint – Thursday

After taking a week off for the All-Star break, the NBA returns Thursday with six games and that includes a nationally televised double-header on TNT. Even though the last quarter of the season might lack drama from a playoff chase perspective, there are plenty of opportunities that will feature situational spots for bettors. senior handicapper Marc Lawrence did a great job identifying 2nd Half Trends to Watch for all 30 teams. Along with checking out that piece, be sure to keep an eye on Andy Iskoe’s Daily Betting Report. Unlike other sites that automatically spew out meaningless percentages of who will win, this resource provides score predictions that often lean to the underdogs.

I’ve decided pushing out some “Fearless Predictions” in my weekly pieces for the remainder of the season after a few users inquired. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!

Opening Odds per [...]

(Straight Up – SU, Against the Spread – ATS)

Brooklyn (19-40 SU, 33-25 ATS) at Charlotte (24-33 SU, 22-31-4 ATS)
Opening Odds: Hornets -7 ½, Total 213 ½

The first game on the board isn’t an easy one to handicap knowing Brooklyn closed the first-half with a 1-11 record (4-8 ATS). Meanwhile, Charlotte finished 2-4 and it failed to cover in any of the six games. The Hornets have been much better at home (15-15 SU, 14-16 ATS) this season and that includes a 14-8 record when listed as favorites. Brooklyn has dropped five in a row on the road but it has been a decent investment for bettors as visitors (8-19 SU, 17-10 ATS) despite the losing record. Charlotte has owned this series recently, going 8-2 in the last 10 encounters yet Brooklyn has managed to produce an 8-2 record ATS over this span. This will be the first meeting between the pair this season.

New York (23-36 SU, 28-31 ATS) at Orlando (18-39 SU, 28-29 ATS)
Opening Odds: Magic -3, Total 211

The Magic have gone 2-0 both SU and ATS against the Knicks this season, which includes a 112-99 home win on Nov. 8 as an 8 ½-point favorite. I thought this opener would be a little bit higher with the Magic frontcourt expected to get a boost on Thursday with possible return of Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. The early money was bet on Orlando and it makes sense with New York mired in an eight-game losing skid (1-7 ATS). The loss of Kristaps Porzingis (knee) for the season has changed the identity of this team and the defense is a mess right now. Even when the All-Star was in the lineup, New York was terrible on the road (7-24 SU, 12-19 ATS). Orlando owns a very respectable 13-3 ATS mark in its last 16 games but the club was listed as an underdog in 15 of those contests. With all that being said, backing Orlando as a home favorite hasn’t been profitable (3-5 SU, 1-7 ATS) this season. The only winning ticket for the club as a 'home chalk' came in the aforementioned meeting against New York back in November.

Washington (33-24 SU, 27-30 ATS) at Cleveland (34-22 SU, 18-37-1 ATS)
Opening Odds: Cavaliers -5, Total 220

The new-look Cavaliers went into the break with four consecutive wins and covers plus the ‘over’ connected in all four as well. What’s more impressive is that three of the wins came as underdogs to playoff teams in the Timberwolves, Celtics and Thunder, the last two on the road. Washington is certainly on the same level with that trio and it has produced a 7-2 record both SU and ATS with All-Star John Wall out of the lineup. During this span, the team has gone 5-1 on the road. The Cavaliers have won and covered five of their last six encounters against the Wizards which includes a pair of wins (130-122, 106-99) this season, both of them taking place away from home. Believing that the All-Star break will slow down the momentum for the Cavs is a very fair argument but I don’t blame you for riding the wave either. Cleveland will likely be favored in its next 13 games and six of the upcoming seven are at home. As bad as the team has been for the betting public, things do have a way of balancing out in the end. TNT will provide national coverage of this game at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Philadelphia (30-25 SU, 31-24 ATS) at Chicago (20-37 SU, 30-25-2 ATS)

Opening Odds: 76ers -5, Total 214 ½

This will be the third and final meeting between the pair this season. The first two matchups were split with the 76ers winning 115-101 at home on Jan. 24 before the Bulls took a 117-115 decision on Dec. 18 from the United Center. Philadelphia finished up the first-half with five straight wins but they all came at home, where they’ve won 11 in a row at the Wells Fargo Center. On the road, much different story! The 76ers have gone 1-5 in their last six and that includes a run of four consecutive setbacks. When laying points as a visitor, Philadelphia is just 4-5 both SU and ATS and the point-spread hasn’t mattered which could have you leaning Chicago money-line. However, you could be hesitant to back the Bulls knowing they’re 7-13 SU and 10-9-1 ATS as home ‘dogs this season. Also, this team has gone 6-26 this season without forward Nikola Mirotic in the lineup and he was traded in late January to New Orleans.

Oklahoma City (33-26 SU, 24-34-1 ATS) at Sacramento (18-39 SU, 25-29-3 ATS)

Opening Odds: Thunder -7 ½, Total 213

Oklahoma City continues to live on its reputation as a contender while continuing to burn bettors, especially on the road (13-16 SU, 12-17-1 ATS). When laying points away, the team has gone 9-14 SU and 8-15 ATS. Toss in the fact that the Kings have gone 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS versus the Thunder this season and you might be leaning to the ‘dog tonight. That record for Sacramento includes a 94-86 win on Nov. 7 as a 10 ½-point home underdog over OKC. The Kings closed the first-half of the season with a 3-0 mark ATS but those results came on the road. For whatever reason, the Kings have gone 2-8 both SU and ATS in their last eight at the Golden 1 Center and they’ve allowed 117 PPG in the losses.  If you’re backing Sacramento, hope for an off night from OKC. Eleven of the 18 wins by the Kings have come when they’ve held teams under 100 points.

L.A. Clippers (30-26 SU, 31-25 ATS) at Golden State (44-14 SU, 26-31 ATS)

Opening Odds: Warriors -11, Total 233

Laying double digits is nothing new for Golden State, who has gone 24-5 SU and 14-14-1 ATS in that role this season. They closed the first-half with a 3-1 mark and all three victories came as favorites of 10-plus points. The Clippers did upset the Warriors 125-106 on Jan. 10 as 12-point road underdogs, cashing money-line tickets as high as 6/1 odds. Lou Williams scored a career-high 50 points as Los Angeles snapped a 12-game losing streak to Golden State. During that run prior to the loss, the Warriors covered eight of those wins and nine of the victories were by double digits. Los Angeles has gone 5-2 since it traded Blake Griffin to Detroit and the ‘under’ has produced a 6-1 mark in those games. Coincidentally these teams played right after the All-Star break last season and Golden State (-13 ½) beat the Clippers 123-113 but failed to cover. In 2016, Golden State was treated with a 137-105 blowout loss at Portland right after the break. Will we see another lackluster effort in this spot? The Warriors do enter this game off a loss and they’ve only dropped two straight games once all season. Total bettors should note that the 'under' has gone 6-0 in Golden State's last six games with a total closing in the 230s. Tip-off is slated for 10:35 p.m. ET with TNT providing national coverage.

Fearless Predictions

Charlotte -7 ½ vs. Brooklyn

I’m not a huge fan of the Hornets, but they’re a bully and more than half of their wins (13-6) have come against teams below .500. The Nets are ranked second in 3-pointers attempted, but unfortunately they’re ranked 28th in 3-pointers made. The only way Brooklyn stays in this game is if they shoot a high percentage from distance because they’re awful defensively and they have no depth whatsoever. I’ll play the percentages and take the favorite.

Over 76ers-Bulls 214 ½

While digging up numbers on the 76ers, I noticed that Philadelphia is 8-1 to the ‘over’ when listed as a road favorite, averaging 110.7 PPG. If you recall, Chicago was a great ‘under’ bet in the beginning of the season but that’s changed and the defense has only held one team under 100 in 2018. The Bulls have been rolling the ball out lately with their young guards (LaVine and Dunne) and they shoot a ton of bombs (30.9) from 3-point land, ranked 7th. Keep an eye on Chicago’s totals as I expect the numbers to start roaming into the neighborhood of the 220s in the final quarter of the season.

Chris David can be reached at