Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Inside the Paint - Saturday

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2nd Half Underway

Action returned to the hardwood Thursday with the favorites going 5-1 straight up but underdogs managed to produced profits with a 4-2 against the spread record. The ‘chalk’ express continued to roll along with an 8-1 SU record on Friday and once again, the ‘dogs saved some face with a 4-5 ATS mark. Defense beat offense with a 5-1 ‘under’ mark on Thursday but the ‘over’ tickets rolled last night with a 7-2 record.

Game of the Night (ABC, 8:35 p.m. ET)
Houston (33-24 SU, 26-30-1 ATS) at Golden State (41-16 SU, 24-32-1 ATS)

The top two teams in the Western Conference, according to the oddsmakers, will square off on Saturday night when the Warriors and Rockets renew their rivalry. So far this season, Houston has gotten the better of Golden State by winning and covering the first two encounters.

The Rockets captured a 107-86 win at home a four-point home favorites on Nov. 15 and followed that effort up with a 135-134 overtime win on Jan. 3 as 8 ½-point road underdogs. Warriors guard Stephen Curry missed the first encounter due to an injury but he dropped in 35 points in the loss at Oracle Arena. While that effort was great, Houston’s James Harden led all scorers with 44 points in the second meeting.

For “Round Three” on Saturday, oddsmakers opened Golden State as an 8 ½-point favorite with a total of 234 ½. The game could lose luster though as Harden (neck) was listed as ‘questionable’ on Friday’s early injury report. NBA expert Tony Mejia weighed in on the showdown between the pair.

Mejia said, “The Rockets got Clint Capela back in Thursday night’s loss to the Lakers and were able to move Kenneth Faried to the role he’s best-suited for as an energy guy off the bench, so there’s no question they’ll be more well-rounded going forward. Chris Paul had his most productive game since early September in part because James Harden was wrestling with foul trouble, but I think you’ll see a better balance going forward now that Harden’s help is healthier. We’re not going to get a full picture of what the Houston roster is going to look like since it will likely make one last splash in the buyout market and the newly acquired Iman Shumpert is still trying to get his knee fully healthy, but we’re expecting the Rockets to start taking off here shortly, pulling away from the weaker teams in the Southwest Division.”

“Including the most recent postseason, Houston has won seven of 12 meetings against Golden State since the 2017-18 season began and still feels it got robbed last May when a blown hamstring removed Paul from the equation in the conference finals. That makes this a monumental matchup since it is the first look it will be getting at the DeMarcus Cousins-infused version of the Warriors, further stressing out a defense that had a good grasp of things since six consecutive meetings went ‘under’ prior to January’s 135-134 OT win. The Dubs had averaged under 100 points against Houston over the previous five encounters, four of which came in the playoffs.”

As Mejia noted, the Rockets enter this game off a loss to the Lakers at the Staples Center and that setback dropped them to 13-15 SU and 10-18 ATS on the road this season. Including a 1-2 mark before the All-Star break, they limp into this game 1-3 in their last four.

Golden State has gone 22-7 at home but it’s burned bettors with an 11-17-1 ATS mark. One of those non-covers came on Thursday as the Warriors defeated the Kings 125-123 but failed to cover as 12 ½-point favorites. Including that result, Golden State is 5-1 SU and 1-5 ATS in its last six games at Oracle Arena.

This will be the fifth installment of the ABC Saturday showcase this season and the results have been a stalemate so far with home and away (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) teams. Houston has gone 1-1 in these spots while Golden State is 1-0. The ‘under’ has gone 3-1.

The pair will meet for the fourth and final time of the regular season on Mar. 13 at the Toyota Center from Houston.

Back-to-Back Spots

The second-half gets into full gear on Saturday with 12 games and there are 11 teams that will be playing on no rest. Along with looking at their production when facing back-to-back spots, I provide some angles and trends to watch as well.

Charlotte (4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS, 5-5 O/U) vs. Brooklyn: The Hornets have dropped three of their last four on no rest and the lone win came at home. The ‘under’ also connected in the three road games as Charlotte was held to 93, 95 and 97 points in those setbacks. Charlotte got back on track last night with a win over Washington and these teams are in the same neighborhood for playoff seeds in the East.

Indiana (7-3 SU, 7-3 ATS, 3-7 O/U) at Washington (8-2 SU, 8-2 ATS, 6-4 O/U): While Indiana’s overall record on no rest is great, the road numbers (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) could have you pumping the brakes. The ‘under’ has gone 3-1 in those games. The Wizards haven’t had a great season, but they’ve thrived in these situations and they’ve won and covered five in a row on no rest. At home, the Wizards are 5-0 both SU and ATS on no rest. The Pacers rallied past the Pelicans last night while the Wizards lost at the Hornets.

New Orleans (1-9 SU, 3-7 ATS, 6-4 O/U) vs. L.A. Lakers: The Pelicans have been terrible in these spots and the ‘under’ is on a 4-1 run. I’d expect New Orleans to rest Anthony Davis, especially against the team that’s trying to steal the All-Star from them. My advice for bettors is to play New Orleans in the first quarter or first-half when Davis is active, also lean to ‘over’ looks in those games. He goes for 9-10 minutes then pulled quickly.

Atlanta (2-5 SU, 1-6 ATS, 2-5 O/U) vs. Phoenix: The Hawks will be playing two games in two nights at home after losing a tough 125-122 decision to Detroit on Friday at State Farm Arena. Coincidentally, one of the two wins on no rest this season for the Hawks came at Phoenix, a 118-112 decision in the desert on Feb. 2 as two-point underdogs. Make a note that the Hawks (-2 ½) are 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS as home favorites this season.

Detroit (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS, 1-6 O/U) at Miami: The Pistons have been hit or miss on no rest but the ‘under’ has cashed in six straight and the offense has been pedestrian (103.2 PPG) during this run to the low side. Key game for these teams as they’re both fighting for the final playoff spots in the East. The first two meetings between the pair this season were split and both took place in Detroit.

Chicago (2-7 SU, 4-5 ATS, 3-6 O/U) vs. Boston: The two wins on no rest for the Bulls this season both came on the road. At home, the club is 0-4 (1-3 ATS) and that includes a 56-point loss (133-77) to Boston on Dec. 8 as a 7 ½-point home underdog. Chicago win at Orlando last night and it will be looking for three in a row on Saturday, something it hasn’t been able to do this season.

Oklahoma City (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS, 3-3-1 O/U) vs. Sacramento: You would think the Thunder would be a tad better in this spot considering six of the seven were played at home. The ‘over’ on a 2-0-1 run and the Thunder have scored 112, 122 and 123 points. Another crooked number could be expected with the run ‘n gun Kings paying a visit. The total could close above 240, especially after everybody just saw the Thunder win a 148-147 overtime thriller over the Jazz last night on national television.

Minnesota (2-5 SU, 4-3 ATS, 3-4 O/U) at Milwaukee: The Timberwolves have covered three straight games on no rest. The defense hasn’t been as great on the road (122.2 PPG) and that’s led to a 3-2 ‘over’ mark in back-to-back spots. Minnesota ran past New York last night without Karl-Anthony Towns (concussion) and he’s ‘questionable’ for this game. Including that result, the Wolves are 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS in their last four games.

Dallas (1-9 SU, 5-5 ATS, 4-4-2 O/U) at Utah (4-5 SU, 3-6 ATS, 6-3 O/U): The Mavs have been better recently, covering three of their last four on no rest. One of the nine losses came at Salt Lake City on Nov. 7 as Utah blasted Dallas 117-102 as a 9 ½-point home favorite. Expecting another big win could be premature knowing the Jazz have gone 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS on no rest at home this season. Both teams off losses last night, Dallas falling at home to Denver while Utah got nipped in overtime at OKC.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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