Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

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Wild night in the NBA on Wednesday as favorites posted an 8-2 straight up and 7-3 against the spread record. While it appeared that the bettors riding the ‘chalk’ were smoking cigars at the end of the night, they certainly had to sweat for a full 48 minutes as plenty of big underdogs collapsed.

For those bettors playing the Hawks, Cavaliers or Magic – please accept our apologies. All three of those teams held commanding leads but the trio was outscored by 23, 20 and 30 points respectively in the second-half. Total players watched the ‘under’ go 6-4.

Four games on the slate tonight, which includes the nationally televised double-header on TNT. Before we break down the games, check out the latest Win Total Update. It provides an informed look at which teams have surpassed the expectations of the oddsmakers so far and also shows you have underachieved.

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

Boston (25-15 SU, 22-18 ATS) at Miami (19-20 SU, 21-18 ATS)

Possible letdown game for Boston, who just blasted Indiana 135-108 as a 7 ½-point home favorite on Tuesday. Including that win, the Celtics have now won and covered four straight games with all of the outcomes coming by double digits.

sent out Boston as a 1 ½-point road favorite on Wednesday and the number has been pushed up to -2 as of Thursday morning. Keep in mind that the Celtics have struggled on zero days rest this season, going 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS. Defensively, they haven’t been great (107.5 PPG) in the back-to-back spots and that lack of effort has helped the ‘over’ go 4-2.

Miami has been very tough to figure out this season and despite owning a losing record, the club still sits in first place of the Southeast Division and that group might be lucky to get one playoff bid this April.

The Heat enter this matchup off back-to-back losses, an embarrassing 24-point blowout (106-82) at Atlanta on Sunday and a close call (103-99) at home to Denver on Tuesday. Including those setbacks, the club is 4-4 in its last eight but all four wins came against teams below .500. Versus winning teams, Miami has struggled to a 5-8 mark this season but a couple of them came at home recently against Houston and Milwaukee. Again, tough to figure out which Heat team shows up.

Boston was a great bet on the road last season (28-13) but is just 10-10 away from home in this campaign. Fortunately for the Celtics, the Heat haven’t played well at home this season (9-12 SU, 9-12 ATS). However, it’s managed to produce decent numbers (4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS) when catching points at American Airlines Arena.

This will be the first encounter between the pair this season. In the 2017-18 slate, the Heat won and covered two of their three meetings with the Celtics only win coming in Miami. Prior to that run, the Heat has lost seven straight games to Boston, three of those setbacks coming at home.

The total opened 209 and caught some early steam, pushing the number to 212. The Celtics have leaned to the ‘over’ (25-15) this season and they’ve seen eight of their last 10 on the road cash to the high side.

TNT will provide national coverage of this game at 7:05 p.m. ET.

L.A. Clippers (24-16 SU, 24-16 ATS) at Denver (27-12 SU, 22-17 ATS)

This is a weird scheduling spot for the Clippers, who will break up a six-game homestand with a trip to Denver. The Nuggets are also in a dicey spot after playing a back-to-back set at Houston and Miami on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

The pair already played two games at the Staples Center this season and they split those contests. Denver captured a 107-98 win in the season opener on Oct. 17 before Los Angeles avenged that setback with a 132-111 win on Dec. 22.

Oddsmakers sent out Denver -5 ½ with a total of 226 for “Round Three.” This is a tough matchup to figure out because both clubs have been solid for bettors yet they do appear to look like bullies on paper. The Clippers (15-5) and Nuggets (17-5) have both dominated teams below .500 this season, which isn’t a bad thing but it sets you up to be exposed against quality opponents.

Denver (16-3 SU, 13-6 ATS) has been very steady at the Pepsi Center and it has won its last 10 at this venue, while covering eight of those victories. The Clippers have stayed the course on the road (10-10 SU, 11-9 ATS) this season, but the ‘bully’ word appears again for me. Of those 10 wins, only three came against winning clubs – Lakers (LeBron James out), Trail Blazers and Rockets (Chris Paul out).

Oklahoma City (25-15 SU, 22-18 ATS) at San Antonio (24-18 SU, 25-16-1 ATS)

This is the first game of a home-and-home series as the pair will meet again in Oklahoma City on Saturday. Last night, San Antonio got stunned 96-86 at Memphis as a 2 ½-point favorite. The Grizzlies had been in terrible form (0-6 last 6) and the majority of bettors were riding San Antonio blindly. Prior to that loss, the Spurs had won and covered five straight games.

Knowing the Spurs haven’t dropped two straight losses since early December certainly gives you a confidence to back them on Thursday. While that’s a solid reason, looking at San Antonio’s recent form at home may have you running to the betting counter. Head coach Gregg Popovich and company have won and covered six straight and 11 of their last 12 games at the AT&T Center. What’s really amazing about the run for the Spurs is that the lone loss came to the Chicago Bulls (98-93) on Dec. 15.

opened the Spurs as one-point favorites but the line has flip-flopped and Oklahoma City is -1 ½ as of Thursday morning. San Antonio was humbled last night in Memphis and playing on zero days rest (1-6 SU, 3-4 ATS) hasn’t worked out for the team this season.

The Thunder do enter this game off two straight losses, both coming at home and as large favorites to a pair of losing clubs in the Wizards (116-98) and Timberwolves (119-117). Oklahoma City has gone 12-9 both SU and ATS on the road this season and that includes a 5-2 run over its last seven away games.

Last season, the home team won all four of the meetings in this series. The Spurs went 3-1 ATS and the ‘under’ went 3-1 as well. Make a note that three of the four games were decided by four points or less.

Tip-off is slated for 9:35 p.m. ET and TNT will provide national coverage.

Detroit (17-22 SU, 17-21-1 ATS) at Sacramento (20-21 SU, 23-17-1 ATS)

For the late-night tip, Sacramento opened as a five-point home favorite over Detroit and it’s been solid in this role, going 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS. Going back to last season, the Kings have gone 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in their last eight when laying points at home and the ‘under’ has gone 7-1 in those games.

As noted above, check out the Win Total Update and you’ll see how much of a surprise the Kings have been this season. They have come back to earth since Christmas, going 2-6 in their last eight games and they could easily be 1-7 if it wasn’t for a buzzer-beater victory over the Lakers.

They enter this game off a 115-111 loss at Phoenix on Tuesday and the offense fell apart in the second-half, scoring 39 total points after putting 72 on the board in the first 24 minutes. Dropping games to clubs below .500 hasn’t been common for Sacramento, who has helped itself with a 14-4 mark versus winning teams this season.

Fortunately for Sacramento, it will be playing another squad below .500 and a slumping one in Detroit, who lost its third straight game last night in a 113-100 result against the L.A. Lakers. After going 13-7 in the first 20 games of the season, everybody was ripping former coach Stan Van Gundy and praising new Detroit leader Dwane Casey. Sure enough, we’ve started to see the same squad from last season show up as they’ve gone 4-15 in their last 19 games.

Including the setback to L.A. yesterday, Detroit is now 5-6 SU and 6-5 ATS versus the Western Conference and that includes a 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS mark on the road. The Pistons haven’t faced many back-to-back situations but they’re a respectable 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS, while the ‘under’ has gone 3-1.

Last season, Detroit won and covered both meetings against Sacramento which included a 106-90 win as a 3 ½-point road favorite.

The total (224 ½) seems a little high even though Sacramento remains the best ‘over’ bet (27-14) this season. At home, the high side is only 11-10 and Detroit has leaned to the ‘under’ (20-18-1) overall this season.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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