Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

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Before we break down Thursday’s three-game card, let’s recap yesterday’s action and offer congratulations to bettors who took the points. Underdogs produced a 6-5 record both straight up and against the spread and those results included some healthy money-line tickets and improbable rallies.

Detroit (+425) trailed by as many as 19 points on Wednesday to Toronto but the club somehow found its stride and earned a 106-104 road win on a buzzer beater. Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was certainly satisfied to defeat his former team.

Another top contender in the East went down as well last night as Memphis (+450) caught Milwaukee, who was caught sleeping in its first game at home after a long road trip. The Grizzlies held on for a 116-113 decision and bettors on the ‘under’ (212 ½) probably weren’t happy as the pair combined for 136 points in the second-half after the game was tied 45-45 at halftime.

In the Western Conference, both the Mavericks (+5) and Suns (+6) captured victories as home ‘dogs over the Jazz and Spurs respectively. Also, the Jimmy Butler era in Philadelphia started with a loss as the Magic (+5 ½) rallied past the 76ers 111-106 by outscoring them 35-19 in the fourth quarter.

Total bettors watched the ‘under’ go 7-4.

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

Game of the Night (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)
Golden State (12-3 SU, 8-7 ATS) at Houston (6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS)

We haven’t even finished a quarter of the season and the NBA ‘drama’ level has already reached full capacity, especially with these West Coast clubs. NBA senior writer and handciapper Tony Mejia weighed in on the latest from Golden State.

Mejia said, "Word on the street is that the Warriors were going to ensure Kevin Durant and Draymond Green hashed things out on the flight from Oakland to Houston, so we’re going to see a fired up group take the floor for this first meeting with the Rockets since Game 7 of May’s Western Conference finals. Since Stephen Curry is going to be out for another 10 days, it’s going to be on Durant and Green to figure things out alongside Klay Thompson like they were managing the other night in a competitive, fiery game against the Clippers."

"Without Curry to spread the floor and quicken the pace, I think we’re likely to see more of a grinder since Steve Kerr is likely to start with Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell up front with his feuding forwards before working Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston in to match up with Houston likely to go small. The Rockets have held five of their last six opponents under 100 points and clearly have placed a premium on improving defensively following their slow start by re-hiring assistant Jeff Bzdelik and essentially firing Carmelo Anthony. The Warriors held Houston under 100 points in the last five games of last year’s playoff series after only doing so once in the previous nine meetings between the teams. I’m curious to see where this total opens and I anticipate it will likely be around 220 without Curry. Golden State’s lowest total of the season closed 218 at Utah (Oct. 19) while the last 11 Rockets’ totals have closed at 223 or lower."

Mejia was on target with the total of 220. For the side, oddsmakers opened the game pick ‘em but the early money has pushed Houston up to -3 over Golden State. The Warriors haven’t closed as underdogs this season and as bad as the drama appears, bettors focus on results and the Warriors remain slight profitable.

On the road, Golden State has gone 4-2 (2-4 ATS) and the two losses could’ve gone the other way as they dropped a 100-98 decision at Denver before last Monday’s 121-116 overtime loss to the Clippers at the Staples Center. Either way, Golden State is still a formidable opponent even without Curry.

Houston has been dealing with its own ‘in-house’ drama as well and a 6-7 start wasn’t expected, especially for a team coming off a 65-17 campaign last season. Despite the rough beginning, the Rockets have been in better form and have gone 5-2 (4-3 ATS) in their last seven games. What’s impressive about the recent run is six games were played on the road. At home, Houston started 0-4 but it captured its last outing at the Toyota Center with a 115-103 win over Indiana last Sunday.

In Golden State’s win over Houston in last year’s Western Conference Finals, the point-spread didn’t matter in any of the seven games. The Warriors went 2-2 both SU and ATS in their four trips to Houston in the series. The ‘under’ went 6-1 and the totals ranged from 227 to 208, the latter occurring in Game 7.

After this game, the Warriors will finish off their Texas road trip with games at Dallas and San Antonio this weekend. Meanwhile, Houston has a great chance to go on a run and it should be favored in its next six games.

Atlanta (3-11 SU, 6-8 ATS) at Denver (9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS)

Tough game to handicap and it’s hard to make a case for Denver, who has dropped four straight games yet its listed as a double-digit home favorite (-13). Will the Nuggets finally turn things around and run somebody? Knowing Denver heads on the road for three games against the Pelicans, Bucks and Timberwolves, this certainly needs to be a ‘get right’ game for the club.

Even though the Hawks have struggled to a 1-7 record away from home, they have shown some fight recently and they’ve covered three straight games as road underdogs, two of them coming on their current West Coast trip.

Surprisingly, the Nuggets own the best ‘under’ record (9-4-1) in the NBA but all four ‘over’ winners did come at home. Watching Denver this season, you can see that it hasn’t been able to fill the scoring void of Wilson Chandler (76ers) or Will Barton (injury) at this time. Atlanta started the season on a 6-3 ‘over’ run but the ‘under’ has connected in four of its last five and the offense (105.4 PPG) hasn’t been connecting during this recent span.

For what it’s worth, the Hawks have gone 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS in their last six encounters against the Nuggets. Atlanta has won its previous three games played at the Pepsi Center and it’s scored 119, 109 and 110 in those road victories.

San Antonio (7-6 SU, 6-7 ATS) at L.A. Clippers (8-5 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Los Angeles opened as a five-point home favorite for this contest and that’s the second largest number of points that it’s laying this season. I wouldn’t say the team has overachieved because it has a lot of “B” players on the squad, but recent overtime wins over Milwaukee (128-126) and Golden State (121-116) were impressive. Winning at home has been a large part of their success, with the Clippers going 6-1 both SU and ATS at home. They haven’t lost at the Staples Center since opening night and this will be the last home game before they head to the East Coast for three straight games.

San Antonio enters this game off back-to-back losses as road favorites, which includes an embarrassing 20-point setback (116-96) last night in Phoenix. Including that loss, the Spurs are 2-4 both SU and ATS on the road this season. This will be the second back-to-back spot that the Spurs will face this season. In the first situation with no rest, San Antonio dropped a 117-110 home decision to Orland on Nov. 4 as a 7 ½-point home favorite.

If you believe the Spurs will come to play and finish off their road trip with a solid effort, then a lean to the money-line (+185) might be better suited. The spread hasn’t mattered for either San Antonio as an underdog or Los Angeles as a favorite this season. When the Clippers win, they’ve covered and when the Spurs haven’t been able to sneak in a cover in any losses as ‘dogs.

Last season, the home team won all three meetings with San Antonio notching a pair of double-digit wins (120-107, 109-91) at the AT&T Center while Los Angeles captured a close call (113-110) from the Staples Center.

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

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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