Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Inside the Paint - Saturday

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After watching the underdogs dominate the first two weeks after the All-Star break, we’re finally starting to see favorites connect at the betting counter. Last night, the ‘chalk’ went 8-1 straight up and 6-3 against the spread. Since Wednesday, favorites have gone 13-7-1 versus the number but underdogs still own a 68-49-2 ATS mark in the second-half of the season.

Total bettors following the day-to-day numbers have seen a steady ‘under’ run since Monday with the low side going 24-10. Plenty of those games have gotten squeezed with some stale fourth quarters but that’s what the new-look NBA provides.

Saturday’s card has six games and while the Celtics and Lakers are going to be featured on national television, the drama surrounding Boston and the demise of LeBron James in Los Angeles has made this contest an afterthought.

Let’s handicap the slate.

Sacramento (32-32 SU, 37-25-2 ATS) at New York (13-52 SU, 28-35-2 ATS)

This afternoon matinee (12:00 p.m. ET) from Madison Square Garden looks like a ‘pass’ game and it’s a terrible scheduling spot for New York. The Knicks return home after playing three games on the West Coast for one, then head back on the road tomorrow for three more. This is also a quick rematch as Sacramento just defeated New York 111-106 last Monday at home but failed to cover as an 11-point favorite. The line has been cut in half for the Kings (-5) and while the crowd may be sparse, I’d lean to Sacramento in this spot. The Kings are technically still alive in the playoff race and they’ve been very good as road favorites (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS) this season.

Brooklyn (34-33 SU, 36-31 ATS) at Atlanta (22-44 SU, 31-35 ATS)

Another game where laying the points with the visitor makes sense. Brooklyn has gone 4-0 both SU and ATS as a road favorite this season. Atlanta hasn’t been great at home (11-20 SU, 11-20 ATS) and the point-spread rarely plays into the betting equation for the Hawks at State Farm Arena. The Nets have won four straight and seven of their last eight encounters against the Hawks and that includes a pair of wins (116-100, 144-127) this season at home by double digits. The total is hovering around 235 and while it seems high, Atlanta is averaging 127.6 points per game in its last five at home since the All-Star break.

Washington (27-38 SU, 30-35 ATS) at Minnesota (30-35 SU, 33-32 ATS)

Another quick rematch game here as the Wizards diced up the Timberwolves 135-121 last Sunday as one-point home favorites. The ‘over’ (240 ½) connected easily and another shootout is expected tonight with the total opening 243. I was surprised to see the T-Wolves laying seven points considering the Wizards have been competitive in their last five games (3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS). They did lose a close call at Charlotte (112-111) last night but an 8-3 record both SU and ATS on no rest this season could have you buying the underdog. Minnesota won’t be headed to the playoffs but it has showed up at home recently, winning and covering four straight games at the Target Center and the offense (123.5 PPG) has shined during this run.

Boston (40-26 SU, 32-32-2 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (30-35 SU, 25-38-2 ATS)

As mentioned above, the Lakers are a complete mess and the league will feel the LeBron affect with their playoff ratings. For bettors, we cheer for numbers not names and I’m not sure I can justify a lean on Los Angeles these days based on their defense, lack of shooting and now a possible minute restriction for James. Plus, they’ve been the worst ATS team for bettors this season.

Boston point guard Kyrie Irving (thigh) is expected to play and this is a revenge game for the Celtics, who dropped a 129-128 decision at home to the Lakers on Feb. 7 as nine-point favorites. No overnight line was sent out but Boston will be favored by a fair amount and its won four of five in this role.

Charlotte (30-35 SU, 29-34-2 ATS) at Milwaukee (49-16 SU, 38-25-2 ATS)

Tough spot for Charlotte, who opened as a heavy 13 ½-point road underdog to Milwaukee. The Hornets defeated the Wizards 112-111 at home last night and continue to hang on for their playoff lives. Unfortunately for the club, they’ve struggled to a 4-7 SU and 5-8 ATS mark on no rest this season and in their last three away games when facing back-to-back spots, the offense has struggled to break 100 points and the ‘under’ easily connected in those games.

If you can’t bust the century mark against the Bucks, then you’re going to be in some serious trouble. Milwaukee snapped a two-game skid on Thursday with a 117-98 win over Indiana as a 10-point home favorite.  Including that win, the Bucks have now won 36 of their 49 games this season by 10 points so laying big numbers shouldn’t necessarily push you away.

Early money on Charlotte has moved the line down (12 ½) and for what it’s worth, the Hornets are 3-0 ATS versus the Bucks this season despite dropping two of three games straight up. In their most recent meeting, Milwaukee captured a 108-99 win at home on Jan. 25 but Charlotte cashed an 11-point road ‘dog.

I’m not sure if it will matter but routines could be screwed up for this game as Marquette is playing Georgetown earlier in the day (2:30 p.m. ET) at the Fiserv Forum. The Bucks rarely tip this late (9:05 p.m. ET) but certainly something to keep an eye on.

Phoenix (15-51 SU, 29-37 ATS) at Portland (39-26 SU, 37-28 ATS)

The late-night “Favorite-Over” combo will be pressed into action for this game as the Trail Blazers (-12 ½) welcome the Suns for an expected run ‘n shoot matchup. Portland is coming off a rare home loss this past Thursday, a 129-121 setback to Oklahoma City in overtime. Prior to that result, the Blazers had won 10 of its last 12 at the Moda Center and they covered nine of those wins. The ‘over’ streak was pushed to eight straight at home for Portland although Thursday’s result was helped with the extra session.

As a double-digit home favorite this season, Portland has gone 4-0 SU but 2-2 ATS. One of those wins and covers came against Phoenix on Dec. 6 as the Blazers rolled the Suns 108-86 as 12 ½-point favorites.

After losing its first two games after the All-Star break to the Cavaliers and Hawks, most believed that the club was just playing out the string and getting ready to root for ping pong balls in the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery. However, the team of youngsters has won and covered four of its last five games. Monday’s 114-105 rally past Milwaukee as a 13 ½-point home underdog was their signature victory of the season and the team avoided the letdown two nights later against New York (107-96) at home.

Including the aforementioned result in December, the Blazers have won nine straight games in this series and they’ve gone 5-4 ATS during this run. For bettors looking for the correlated parlay to close out the night, the Blazers-Over combo has only connected twice during this span.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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