Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM

Inside the Paint - Sunday

Saturday’s Recap

For the second straight night in the NBA, favorites dominated the hardwood with a 9-2 straight up record but the underdogs managed to save face with a 6-5 mark against the spread. Double-digit pups in the Hawks (+10 ½) and Kings (+15 ½) came to play last night as they made it tough on the Bucks and Jazz respectively. The outright upsets came from a pair of home ‘dogs as New York (+6 ½) caught fire in its 124-101 win over Charlotte while Memphis (+7) handed Denver a crucial loss (101-94) in its attempt to make the playoffs.

Total bettors watched the ‘over’ go 8-3 and along with the Knicks, the Warriors also posted 124 points. I mention that because they did so without Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Rookie Quinn Cook from Duke led the replacement charge with 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting.

Handicapping Out Loud

-- Sunday’s four-game card has some quality matchups on tap with seven of the eight teams in action likely to be in the playoffs and the L.A. Clippers are just sitting outside the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

-- The first game is set for 1:00 p.m. ET between the Thunder and Raptors from the Air Canada Centre and I’m not sure why they decided to make this an afternoon matinee. Even though Toronto has been on fire (11-0 SU, 8-3 ATS L11) and owns the best record in the league at home (29-5 SU, 19-15 ATS), OKC has won three of the last four in this series which includes a dominating 124-107 win on Dec. 27 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.  The Raptors have been made healthy favorites (-6 ½) and while I think that number is a tad too rich, it’s hard to back an OKC team that has struggled versus quality opponents.

 -- No overnight line was posted on the Boston-New Orleans matchup due to injuries. Just after 10:00 a.m. ET, the Pelicans opened -3 with a total of 214 ½. As I mentioned in Friday’s piece, the Celtics have conceded the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference to Toronto and they’re all but locked into the second seed. The Pelicans will be playing a rare back-to-back spot at home after losing to Houston 107-101 at the Smoothie King Center last night. This season, New Orleans has gone 6-5 SU and 7-4 ATS on zero days rest and that includes a 3-0 run in their last three situations.

-- NBATV will provide a nationally televised double-header tonight with Houston visiting Minnesota before the red-hot Trail Blazers and Clippers tangle from the Staples Center.

-- The Rockets have gone 8-3 SU and 5-6 ATS with no rest this season but they have covered three in a row and four of their last five on the backend. Make a note that three of those winning tickets occurred on the road against quality opponents (Heat, Jazz, Bucks) as well.

-- Houston has dominated this series against Minnesota, winning 17 of the last 20 and that includes a 3-0 record this season both SU and ATS. All three of those victories came by double digits. The Timberwolves are also playing with no rest and they’ve gone 5-7 SU and 6-6 ATS in those situations.

-- It’s unusual to see a team with a 12-game winning streak listed as an underdog but that’s the case with Portland tonight when it visits Los Angeles. While the fatigue factor could scare you a bit, the Blazers are a very respectable 9-4 SU and 7-5-1 ATS record in back-to-back matchups this season. These teams have met twice this season and the visitor has won both of the games.

Fearless Predictions

Odds per [...]

After last night’s outcomes, I might go out and buy a jersey of “The Stifle Tower” aka Utah center Rudy Gobert. The big man’s late improbable dunk helped cash the ‘over’ in the Jazz-Kings game and heading into the fourth quarter, I certainly didn’t think I needed the flush since the high side was on a terrific pace. Luck often comes into play for everybody and that deuce salvaged a split. The “Other Leans” caught a nice ‘dog in Memphis but two ‘under’ leans couldn’t withstand great outside shooting.

The goal was to turn a profit over these last four days and heading into Sunday, we’re 7-2 (78%) in our top selections and 8-5 (61%) in the slight leans.

Minnesota +7 over Houston

It’s always hard to go against Houston, who owns the best record on the road (28-8) and they’ve helped gamblers cash a ton of tickets as visitors (23-13 ATS) too. The Timberwolves certainly aren’t the same team without Jimmy Butler but they’ve weathered the storm with a 4-4 record without him and that includes quality wins against the Warriors and Wizards. As home ‘dogs, Tom Thibodeau and his troops have gone 4-2 both SU and ATS this season. The H2H trends certainly favor the Rockets in this series but make a note that Minnesota has gone 4-0 both SU and ATS at home this season when playing with no rest and the offense is averaging 116 points per game.

Portland +2 over L.A. Clippers

Not an easy game to handicap because both the Trail Blazers (19-21) and Clippers (12-25) have struggled versus winning clubs but you can see that Los Angeles has struggled more. Doc Rivers has put forth a great effort with this squad but I just don’t like the situation tonight as they just returned home from a three-game road trip and they head out for a four-game road trip right after this game. The public is buying the must-win theory for Los Angeles and due to the scheduling, I don’t see them making the postseason. I expect Portland to extend the streak tonight but would look to fade them this week when Houston and Boston visit the Moda Center.

Other Leans and Projections

Under 217 Oklahoma City-Toronto

Under 215 ½ Boston-New Orleans

Minnesota Team Total Over 106

Sunday, Mar. 18
Rotation Teams Projection
701 Oklahoma City 104
702 Toronto 106
703 Boston 104
704 New Orleans 103
705 Houston 115
706 Minnesota 120
707 Portland 106
708 L.A. Clippers 100

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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