Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

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After watching favorites go 3-2 both straight up and against the spread on Christmas, we saw the ‘chalk’ push ahead last night with a 9-1 record on the hardwood. A couple underdogs did manage to salvage covers which left the favorites overall number standing at 7-3 ATS. Wednesday was a solid night for ‘over’ bettors as the high side went 7-3, which was a nice turnaround after the holiday ‘under’ trend continued this season with a 3-2 mark.

Thursday’s card will feature nine of the 10 teams that played on Christmas, which includes a solid non-conference double-header on TNT.

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

Boston (20-13 SU, 17-16 ATS) at Houston (18-15 SU, 15-17-1 ATS)

The Rockets opened as one-point home favorites but as of Thursday morning, the game flipped to the Celtics as short road favorites (-1 ½) due to status of James Harden (calf). The All-Star has been upgraded to 'probable' and he scored 41 points on Tuesday as Houston dropped Oklahoma City 113-109 as a one-point home underdog. The Rockets were playing without Chris Paul (hamstring) for the second consecutive game and they improved to 2-5 without him in the lineup this season. Continuing to post wins without Paul won’t be as easy, especially against a Boston team that’s coming together.

After a 10-10- start, the Celtics have gone 10-3 and that includes their 121-114 Christmas Day win and miracle cover at home against the 76ers in overtime as five-point favorites. Kyrie Irving forced the extra session with a late bucket before they outscored Philly 13-6 in OT. Boston hasn’t been as strong on the road this season (9-8 SU, 7-10 ATS) but it enters this game with a 5-2 record both SU and ATS in its last seven away games.

Houston started the season 0-4 at the Toyota Center but has gone 11-1 since then and more importantly, the club has posted an impressive 9-2-1 ATS during this run while the ‘over’ has gone 8-4.

The pair have split all four of their recent encounters over the last two seasons and the home team came out on top in every game but the Celtics went 4-0 ATS during this span as three of the games were decided by three points or less. Total bettors should note that this series has watched the ‘under’ go 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.

TNT will provide national coverage of this game at 8:05 p.m. ET.

New York (9-26 SU, 16-18-1 ATS) at Milwaukee (23-10 SU, 17-15-1 ATS)

This is a quick home-and-home set as the Bucks dropped the Knicks 109-95 on Christmas as 9 ½-point road favorites. Including that win, Milwaukee is now 8-2 in its last 10 encounters against New York and that includes a 2-1 record this season. The pair met in Wisconsin on Oct. 22 and the Bucks captured a 124-113 win as 10 ½-point home favorites. New York (5-14 SU, 10-9 ATS) has surprisingly won more road games this season but it hasn’t fared well away recently. The Knicks are 1-6 (3-4 ATS) in their last seven and the lone win came at Charlotte, who blew a big lead in that game.

Milwaukee is listed as a 14 ½-point home favorite for Thursday’s match and if the Bucks hit from distance, this number could easily be covered. On Tuesday, they were just 6-of-32 (19%) from 3-point land and they still won by 14 points on the road. The Bucks have gone 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS as double-digit home favorites this season. This will be the first game of a six-game road trip for New York while Milwaukee is beginning a five-game homestand at the Fiserv Forum.

L.A. Lakers (20-14 SU, 14-19-1 ATS) at Sacramento (18-16 SU, 21-12-1 ATS)

Tough game to handicap as the Los Angles Lakers will be playing without LeBron James (groin) tonight after he was injured on Christmas. Despite going down, the team pushed ahead and dropped Golden State 127-101 as a nine-point road underdog on Tuesday. Will the club step up again on Thursday?

Los Angeles dropped Sacramento 101-86 as a 5 ½-point road favorite on Nov. 10 and the ‘under’ (237) was never in doubt. For the rematch, the Kings opened as 3 ½-point home favorites and they’ll be playing with no rest after losing a 127-118 decision to the Clippers at the Staples Center on Wednesday. Sacramento won its first two games of the season on zero days rest but has since dropped five straight back-to-back situations. Two of the losses during this skid came at home and that included the aforementioned loss to the Lakers.

While the rest angle could have you backing off the Kings, they certainly deserve a look as favorites. Sacramento has gone 5-0 both SU and ATS when laying points this season, surprisingly four of those results occurred on the road.

The total on the game opened 229 ½ and was pushed up quickly to 231. The Lakers enter the game on a 4-0 ‘under’ streak but Sacramento has been the best ‘over’ (23-11) team in the NBA and it brings a 7-1 lean to the high side into tonight’s game. Be aware that the total results (8-8) for Sacramento have been even at the Golden 1 Center this season.

Portland (19-15 SU, 16-18 ATS) at Golden State (23-12 SU, 14-21 ATS)

The Trail Blazers lost by 24 points (117-96) at the Jazz on Christmas while the Warriors were embarrassed on the holiday at home to the Lakers by 26 (127-102). Can you really trust either team in the rebound spot? Golden State opened as a nine-point favorite and it’s burned bettors recently with a 1-7 ATS skid and despite owning a 15-4 record at home, they’ve only covered eight (8-11 ATS) of those victories. Over the past few seasons, backing Golden State off a loss was a great money-maker but they’re just 4-7 ATS after a setback in 2018.

The book is out on Portland, who is great at home (13-5 SU, 11-7 ATS) and weak on the road (6-10 SU, 5-11 ATS) and lately they’ve been awful away from the Moda Center. Including the loss on Tuesday at Utah, the Trail Blazers have gone 1-7 both SU and ATS in their last eight road games and the losses came by an average of 18.7 PPG. Among teams with a winning record, Portland has the lowest point differential (+0.1) in the league.

The two clubs just met at Oracle Arena on Nov. 23 and Golden State throttled Portland 125-97 as a one-point home favorite. The line was short for this matchup because the Warriors didn’t have Stephen Curry in the lineup and it was mired in a four-game losing skid. Including that setback, the Trail Blazers have dropped 13 straight games in the Bay Area and they haven’t been great for bettors (4-9 ATS) during this span either. Golden State will travel to Portland on Saturday night and it has dropped its last two trips to Oregon.

Philadelphia (22-13 SU, 16-19 ATS) at Utah (17-18 SU, 17-17-1 ATS)

The late-night portion of the TNT double-header (10:35 p.m. ET) takes place from Salt Lake City and it’s a nice matchup. The Jazz opened as a five-point home favorite and they’ve won and covered three of their last four games.

We’re starting to see the Utah defense finally take shape and the club is allowing 96.8 PPG in its last seven games, which has led to a 7-0 ‘under’ mark. Make a note that the Jazz have faced some quality opponents during this stretch, which includes the Rockets, Warriors, Thunder and Blazers twice.

Philadelphia is definitely considered in that class but bettors backing them are probably still pissed that the 76ers couldn’t cover in their 121-114 overtime loss at Boston on Christmas as a five-point road underdog. With that loss, the 76ers dropped to 7-9 against teams with winning records and they’re now 4-7 this season as underdogs. Keep in mind that Philadelphia has never covered a game as an underdog that it hasn’t won so the money-line (+184) could be a better option tonight.

Also, confidence should be high for the club knowing that the 76ers have won and covered their last three meetings against the Jazz, which includes a 113-107 win on Nov. 16 as a 2 ½-point home favorite. Lastly, Philadelphia has gone 5-2 versus the Western Conference this season however all five wins came at home and the losses were on the road. Utah has gone 2-2 at home versus clubs from the East this season.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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