Chicago (27-25 SU, 19-33 ATS) at Cleveland (38-14 SU, 30-25 ATS) – TNT, 8:00 p.m. ET
The Cavaliers will be in a double-revenge spot against the Bulls spot on Thursday with Chicago capturing the first two meetings this season. The pair recently met on Jan. 23 at Cleveland and the Bulls spoiled Tyronn Lue’s coaching debut with a 96-83 win as 10 ½-point underdogs.
For tonight’s meeting, oddsmakers have opened Cleveland as an 11 ½-point favorite and while the line may not make sense based on the first two outcomes, a lot has changed for both clubs. The Bulls won’t have Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic or Joakim Noah available and the depth for Chicago is a major weakness.
Chicago closed the first-half of the season with four straight losses and it’s just 2-6 in its last eight games. The defense has been a mess during this skid, allowing 108.3 points per game and somewhere former coach Tom Thibodeau is likely smiling.
Another poor effort from the Bulls wouldn’t be surprising, considering the way Cleveland has changed its offensive style under Lue. After the loss to Chicago, the Cavaliers have scored 110-plus in seven of their last 10 games and that’s produced an 8-2 record (5-5 ATS) while the ‘over’ has gone 7-3.
The total on this game is sitting at 207 and the home/away trends for these clubs point to the high side. Chicago has seen the ‘over’ go 17-8 (68%) as a visitor this season while Cleveland has watched the ‘over’ go 15-11 at Quickens Loan Arena. The last three meetings between the pair have gone ‘under’ and it could be tough to argue against that trend with the Bulls lacking offensive firepower.
San Antonio (45-8 SU, 33-19 ATS) at L.A. Clippers (35-18 SU, 25-24 ATS) – TNT, 10:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles opened as a short home underdog (+3) for this game, which will be the fourth time this season that it’s catching points at home. Unfortunately, they’re 0-3 (1-2 ATS) in the first three with losses to the Warriors, Pacers (without Chris Paul) and Thunder. If you dig deeper into the setbacks to Golden State and Oklahoma City, they blew a huge lead to the Warriors and Kevin Durant nipped them at the buzzer.
As of Thursday morning, bettors continue to ride the Spurs and the line has jumped to San Antonio -4 ½ at a few of the major offshore outfits. The Spurs knocked off the Clippers 115-107 as 7 ½-point home favorites in mid-December and that was the first meeting since the pair met in last year’s playoffs. For those who forgot, Los Angeles rallied from a 3-2 deficit to knock off the Spurs in seven games of their first round series.
Betting against San Antonio hasn’t been a sound investment this season but if you’re looking for a reason to fade them, you can point to the fact that all of its losses (17-8 SU, 15-10 ATS) have come on the road. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has posted a respectable 17-8 SU and 11-13 ATS record at home this season.
San Antonio (105 PPG) and Los Angeles (104.7 PPG) are ranked fifth in seventh in scoring in the league yet the total for Thursday seems a tad low at 205 ½ and it’s likely due to injuries.
Blake Griffin (hand) remains ‘out’ for the Clippers and he posted 25 points in the first meeting this season. Tony Parker is ‘questionable’ for the Spurs and Manu Ginobili is still ‘out’ but Tim Duncan did play in the last game before the All-Star break.
Utah (26-26 SU, 27-24 ATS) at Washington (23-28 SU, 26-25 ATS)
The Jazz and Wizards will meet in a make-up game tonight and this will be the first matchup between the pair this season. Washington has won three straight encounters against Utah and the ‘under’ has cashed in all three games during this span. The Wizards opened as one-point favorites while the total is hovering around 199 points, which seems high for Utah. The Jazz are great defensively (96.4 PPG) but the Wizards are (105.4 PPG) on the opposite side of the spectrum in that category.
Utah currently sits in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference but the second-half schedule isn’t easy. The Jazz closed the first-half by winning seven of their final eight games and the break might actually hurt the club. The Jazz have gone 12-8 SU and 11-8-1 ATS versus the Eastern Conference this season, which includes a less than stellar 4-6 road mark.
Washington has gone 6-12 SU and 7-11 ATS against the West and needs to start picking up wins if it wants to make the playoffs. The Wizards are only three games out of the last spot in the East but it’s hard to imagine a serious run if they don’t improve on their 11-16 home record (12-15 ATS).
As mentioned above, while the Wizards won’t have it easy over the next few days, neither will the Jazz. Even though Utah didn’t have any players participating in the All-Star festivities, I find it very difficult for them to get up for only one game on the East Coast. Plus, the Jazz have to travel back to Salt Lake City on Friday for a nationally televised game versus Boston.