Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM

Inside the Paint - Thursday

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The point-spread is in place for a reason and last night it played a major factor in the Association as underdogs went 8-2 against the spread. Of those eight covers, only four of those pups managed to win outright on Wednesday as the favorites produced a 6-4 straight up record. The spread was single digits in nine of the 10 games with Boston (-15) being the lone exception and it ran past Cleveland 123-103 at home. Total players saw a stalemate (5-5) in the 10-game card and bettors had to put in a full 48-minute workout for a couple of those tickets.

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

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

Golden State (33-14 SU, 21-25-1 ATS) at Washington (20-26 SU, 20-26 ATS)

The Warriors will be looking to win their ninth straight game on Thursday against Washington when they pay a visit to the nation’s capital and the opener of Golden State -9 seems a little short to me.

During its current eight-game winning streak, Golden State has gone 5-2-1 ATS while averaging 130.6 points per game. Six of the wins came by 10-plus points and they’ve covered three times as double-digit favorites. If the Warriors role out a full squad and don’t rest anybody, I would expect this line to close at -10 or higher and while some bettors might be shy to lay the wood with the Warriors, they’ve been unreal as double-digit favorites (17-0 SU,13-4 ATS) this season. One of those wins for Golden State came at home on Oct. 24 versus Washington, a 144-122 decision as a 10-point favorite.

Another reason to back Golden State, the club has gone 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS against the Eastern Conference this season. Sticking with the possible double-digit favorite angle, the Warriors are 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS while averaging 128.8 points per game versus teams from the East and the ‘over’ has gone 6-2 in those games.

Lastly, the team is 2-0 both SU and ATS since DeMarcus Cousins joined the Warriors lineup and one site noted that the Golden State “Death Lineup” of all five All-Stars has a point differential of +35 in just 18 minutes per game with Cousins. 

All those facts give you plenty of reason to run to the window and bet the ‘chalk’ but we all know it’s never that easy. Especially since Washington (15-8 SU, 14-9 ATS) hasn’t been a pushover at home and the team has gone 7-4 since point guard John Wall (heel) went down with a season-ending injury. Also, the Wizards have won four of their last five at home, which includes quality wins over the 76ers and Bucks. Plus, the lone loss came to the Raptors and that was only a two-point setback (140-138). Golden State is certainly on a different level but with the postseason likely not in the cards for Washington, the fans should be amped for this game tonight. 

Including the aforementioned win in October, the Warriors have won four straight and eight of their last nine games against the Wizards. They’ve gone 5-4 ATS during this span.

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

New Orleans (22-25 SU, 21-25-1 ATS) at Oklahoma City (29-18 SU, 26-21 ATS)

After suffering through a 1-4 skid a couple weeks ago, the Thunder have rallied to win and cover three straight games which includes a 123-114 win over Portland on Tuesday as four-point favorite. OKC has been solid at home this season (15-7 SU, 12-0 ATS) but it hasn’t won back-to-back games at Chesapeake Energy Arena since mid-December. The Thunder opened as an 11 ½-point favorite for this game and they’ve dropped their last two in this role at home, most recently to the LeBron-less L.A. Lakers (138-128) on Jan. 17. Overall, the team is 4-3 SU and 3-4 ATS as double-double digit favorites at home while the ‘over’ has gone 5-2 in those games.

The Pelicans will be playing on no rest tonight after losing 98-94 to Detroit on Wednesday as a five-point home favorite. New Orleans was playing without All-Star Anthony Davis for the second straight game and it won without him on Monday albeit it came against a struggling Memphis squad (105-85). Including last night’s loss, the Pelicans are now 2-5 without Davis in the line up this season.

New Orleans has gone 1-6 both SU and ATS in back-to-back spots this season and the defense has been grinded for 121.8 PPG, which has led to a 5-2 ‘over’ mark. The pair have played twice already this season and they’ve gone 1-1 versus one another with the home team winning each game. The total went 1-1 despite the pair combining for 232 and 238 points. Oddsmakers are expecting another shootout tonight with the opening total hovering between 237 and 238 points.

Portland (29-20 SU, 26-23 ATS) at Phoenix (11-38 SU, 22-27 ATS)

No overnight line was posted on this game due to the ‘questionable’ injury status of Portland point guard Damian Lillard (hand), plus the Suns won’t have center DeAndre Ayton (ankle) available. The Trail Blazers will be road favorites for this matchup and they’ve won eight straight games against the Suns but have only covered four of those wins. The pair met on Dec. 6 from the Moda Center and Portland captured a 108-86 win as a 12 ½-point home favorite.

As a road favorite this season, Portland has gone 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS. The Blazers have brought their offense in those situations (119.2 PPG) and that’s helped produce a 4-1 ‘over’ mark.

Phoenix has been more successful at home (7-18 SU, 11-14 ATS) but that’s not saying much considering it only has 11 wins on the season. They’re coming off a 118-91 blowout loss to Minnesota in the desert on Tuesday as a four-point underdog and that dropped them to 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS in their last eight games from Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Minnesota (23-24 SU, 24-23 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (25-23 SU, 20-26-2 ATS)

The Timberwolves and Lakers will meet for the fourth and final time on Thursday and TNT will provide national coverage at 10:35 p.m. ET. Minnesota captured two of the first three encounters, both wins coming at home and while they lost 114-110 at the Staples Center on Nov. 7 they did manage to cover as a 5 ½-point underdog. LeBron James played in that game for the Lakers but he missed the most recent meeting on Jan. 6 from the Target Center when the T-Wolves ran the Purple and Gold by 20 points (106-86).

Since LeBron went down, the club has gone 5-9 in his absence and that includes a 3-5 mark at the Staples Center. On Monday, the club was blasted 130-111 by Golden State and that outcome came after they put up a solid effort in a 138-134 road loss to Houston last Saturday. James (groin) has been ruled ‘out’ for Thursday and his return to the team remains uncertain. Lonzo Ball (ankle) recently joined the injury list for Los Angeles and now the club has no true point guard, since Rajon Rondo (hand) hasn’t played since Christmas.

Minnesota has had a drama-filled season but the club has moved on from trading Jimmy Butler and firing head coach Tom Thibodeau. Since they shipped Butler to Philadelphia, the T-Wolves have gone 19-15 and they own a 4-3 record since ‘Tibs’ was replaced by Ryan Saunders. Coincidentally, Thibodeau was canned after the T-Wolves beat the Lakers at home on Jan. 6.

The Timberwolves remain 2 ½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They enter this game off back-to-back wins, both coming against the cellar dweller Suns. This line opened short (-1 ½) and Minnesota has gone 4-3 both SU and ATS this season when listed as a road favorite. The ‘under’ has gone 5-2 in those games and outside of two poor outings to Sacramento (121, 141), the defense (97.8 PPG) has stepped up.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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