Inside the Paint – Thursday

ATS Rankings | Totals Report | Injuries

The 2018 NBA regular season is nine days old and bettors are certainly watching a different game with less dunks and a ridiculous amount of 3-pointers. Through yesterday’s action, 20 of the 30 teams are averaging 30-plus attempts from 3-point land compared to just 10 last season. The number of fouls being called is up as well, from 19.9 to 23.1 per team a game and that certainly has helped the scoring boost.

The oddsmakers have done a nice job of adjusting their totals and we’ve already started to see the numbers balance out. The ‘over’ was hitting at a 69 percent (27-12) clip through last Sunday but the ‘under’ has posted a 13-10 mark the last three days and that includes a 7-4 record to the low side on Wednesday.

Even though favorites have gone 42-20 straight up this season, underdogs have gone 32-30 against the spread.

Thursday’s card has four games on tap, including a nationally televised double-header on TNT.

Cleveland (0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS) at Detroit (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS)

The post-LeBron James era in Cleveland hasn’t started out well as the Cavaliers have lost their first four games of the season. The latest setback occurred last night as the Cavs dropped a 102-86 decision to the Nets as three-point home favorites.

Cleveland will now be playing on no rest Thursday and the oddsmakers have the club listed as a seven-point road underdog at Detroit. Most books have pushed the number to Pistons (-8) as of Thursday morning. While the Cavs are winless, the Pistons have started with a perfect 3-0 mark but the three victories came by a combined six points.

On Tuesday, Detroit captured a 133-132 overtime win over Philadelphia as a one-point underdog. Blake Griffin led the pace for the Pistons with 50 points, which included a game-wining layup and free throw. While the number on the Pistons might seem a tad inflated, they’ve won seven straight games (5-2 ATS) when listed as home favorites going back to last season.

Cleveland went 3-1 both SU and ATS against Detroit last season but those numbers were with LeBron and should definitely be taken lightly.

Portland (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) at Orlando (2-2 SU, 3-1 ATS)

After beginning the season with a 2-1 record at the Moda Center, the Trail Blazers (-3) begin a four-game road trip as favorites against Orlando on Thursday. Portland was a solid bet in this role last season, going 12-5 SU and 10-7 ATS when laying points on the road. Total bettors should note that the ‘under’ went 13-4 in those games.

Orlando will enter this game with confidence after upsetting Boston 93-90 on Monday as an 11-point road underdog. Including this game, the Magic have been listed as an underdog in every matchup this season and they haven’t been able to win back-to-back games yet. Through four games, the defense has carried them in the wins (96.5 PPG) but has been missing in the losses (118 PPG).

The Trail Blazers swept the Magic last season and that included a 95-88 win as a 4 ½-point road favorite last December in Orlando. The ‘under’ has cashed in five of the last six encounters between the pair.

I’ve often identified Portland as a bully team and its 25-7 record against teams below .500 certainly helps that status. The Blazers went 18-12 last season versus the East and that includes an 8-7 record on the road. Meanwhile, Orlando was 10-20 vs. the West but seven of the wins came at home.

Boston (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) at Oklahoma City (0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS)

Oddsmakers sent out winless Oklahoma City as a 1 ½-point road favorite and I thought that line was a tad confusing. The number is now Boston -1 at most betting shops as of this morning.

The Celtics owned the third best road record (28-13 ATS) in the league last season but they haven’t looked like the same team, despite being healthy this season. Boston was stunned by Orlando 93-90 on Monday as an 11-point home favorite. The offense (99.8 PPG) is ranked last in the league and they can’t buy a shot from 3-point land (31.2%). Fortunately for coach Brad Stevens, the defense is ranked first (98.5 PPG).

The Thunder were run out of their own building on Sunday as they dropped a 131-120 decision to the Kings as an 11-point home favorite. Russell Westbrook made his debut for OKC and he put up solid numbers (32 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) but he did miss six free throws. Similar to Boston, the Thunder have struggled from distance as well and the team is ranked last in shooting (23.9%).

Boston got the better of OKC last season, winning and covering both meetings. The ‘under’ went 2-0 as the Celtics held the Thunder to 99 and 94 points.

The total on this game opened 209 and was pushed up to 212 ½, which is the lowest number on the board. The Celtics (3-1) and Thunder (2-1) have both leaned to the ‘under’ so far.

Tip-off is set for 8:05 p.m. ET and TNT will provide national coverage.

Denver (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS)

The Nuggets just missed out on the playoffs last season but they’re showing everybody that they should be in the mix again next April. Denver remains unbeaten through four games on the hardwood and at the betting counter.

Monday’s wire-to-wire 126-112 win over Sacramento helped the club sweep their three-game homestand. While beating the Kings and Suns was expected, a 100-98 victory over the Warriors last Sunday from the Pepsi Center was very impressive.

Oddsmakers opened Denver as a 3 ½-point road favorite over Los Angeles, who will be looking to win its first home game of the season on Thursday. The Lakers earned their first win of the season last night with a 131-113 victory over the Suns as 5 ½-point road favorites. The ‘over’ connected and the high side is a perfect 4-0 for the Purple and Gold.

It’s still early in the season but Denver is currently ranked second in scoring defense (99.8 PPG) and that’s helped the ‘under’ go 3-1. While the Nuggets have been strong defensively, the Lakers enter this game with the worst defense (127 PPG) in the league.

Tonight’s total is hovering between 237 and 238 points. One factor that could have you leaning low is the 3-point shooting percentages for the Lakers (30.2%) and Nuggets (29.8%), ranked 27th and 28th respectively.

Denver has only played one road game, which occurred at Thursday’s venue. The club defeated the Clippers 107-98 on opening night as 2 ½-point road favorites. The Lakers have gone 0-2 at the Staples Center, dropping decisions to the Rockets and Spurs.

Different faces on these squads but the recent meetings have watched the ‘over’ cash in eight of the last 10 encounters and the home team has won and covered the last six matchups.

Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo remain ‘out’ for the Lakers due to serving suspensions.

TNT will provide national coverage of this game at 10:35 p.m. ET

Chris David can be reached at