NBA point spreads
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MIAMI HEAT (1-1) at BROOKLYN NETS (0-1)
The Nets are looking to get their first win of the season Friday night when they host a Heat team trying to avoid falling under .500 early in the season.
Miami had an impressive win to beat Chicago in the season opener, but they followed it up with an embarrassing loss to the rebuilding 76ers. Brooklyn, however, has played just once this season, losing their opener in Cleveland. The Heat have dominated this matchup recently as they are 6-0 SU (5-1 ATS) against the Nets over the past two seasons, winning the three meetings last year by wide margins of 30, 13 and 20 points. The most recent game between these teams was a 105-85 victory for Miami in Brooklyn on Jan. 30, 2013. The Heat are 31-16 ATS (66percent) after two or more consecutive Overs in the past three season, but they are just 89-126 ATS (41percent) in November games since 1996. However, the Nets are 8-19 ATS (30percent) as a home underdog over the past three years. SG Dwyane Wade will be in the lineup for Miami after sitting out the loss to Philadelphia in an effort to keep the superstar fresh.
The Heat won a convincing opening night game against the Bulls, only to follow it up with a loss to the 9.5-point underdog Sixers, who are expected to be one of the NBA's worst teams this season. Playing without SG Dwyane Wade, Miami fell 114-110 despite 25 points and 13 assists from SF LeBron James. The Heat star has dominated the Nets throughout his career with 27.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 7.6 APG over 33 meetings. PF Chris Bosh added 22 points (8-of-13 FG, 2-of-3 threes) and 10 rebounds. Through two games, Bosh has looked very good for Miami and is averaging 19.0 PPG (58.3percent FG), 8.0 RPG and 1.5 BPG. Off the bench, SG Ray Allen added 19 points on 7-of-13 FG (4-of-9 threes) with six rebounds. PG Mario Chalmers also played a strong game for the Heat on Wednesday with 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Miami was missing Wade in the game as it struggled to guard the Sixers on the perimeter, allowing rookie Michael Carter-Williams to score 22 points with 12 assists and nine steals in his NBA debut. Miami may need to reconsider its plan to rest Wade in the second half of back-to-backs if it cant consistently win without him.
Brooklyn started off its season with a 98-94 road loss to the Cavaliers. The Nets played a decent game all around, except they were dominated in the third quarter being outscored by eight in the period. SF Paul Pierce looked good in his team debut, scoring 17 points on 5-of-8 FG and 3-of-4 threes. PF Kevin Garnett had just eight points, but did grab 10 rebounds with two steals and a blocked shot. C Brook Lopez scored 21 points on 9-of-18 FG to go along with five rebounds and four blocks. PG Deron Williams, playing in limited action because of an ankle injury, logged just 22 minutes and had only seven points on 2-of-6 FG. He did, however, add nine assists for his team, and he has also played well against Miami in his career with 16.5 PPG (48percent FG) and 8.2 APG over 18 meetings. New SG Jason Terry provided a nice scoring punch off the bench with 14 points on 5-of-10 FG and 4-of-9 threes. The Nets are going to need more out of starting SG Joe Johnson, who had just 13 points on 3-of-10 FG and 0-of-3 threes. Brooklyn will be better off as Deron Williams gets healthier and is able to give them more minutes, which is what he's expected to do on Friday.
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NBA Double Header
DALLAS MAVERICKS (5-5) at BOSTON CELTICS (4-4)
Sportsbook.com Line & Total: Boston -5.5 & 183.5
Opening Line & Total: Celtics -5.5 & 185.5
The Mavs look to build on their first road win of the season when they visit a well-rested Celtics team on Wednesday night.
After losing their first three road games of the season (the final two by 17 and 22 points), Dallas cruised to a 100-86 win in Detroit on Tuesday. The Mavs, 4-1 (SU and ATS) in their past five games, continued their excellent team defense. In the past six games, no Dallas opponent has shot above 45% from the floor, averaging 89.2 PPG on 42% FG. The Celtics haven’t played since Friday, an ugly 87-74 home loss to Indiana, but none of the Dallas starters logged 30 minutes in Tuesday’s victory, so fresh legs should not be an issue in this one. And even though Jason Kidd (back) won’t play, Delonte West proved himself more than capable of running the point in Detroit with 10 assists, two turnovers and five steals. Since the 2005-06 season, the Mavs are 9-3 ATS (5-7 SU) against the Celtics, and with a moderate point spread, that trend should hold true again.
Dirk Nowitzki posted an incredible +42 rating in his 28 minutes of action on Tuesday, finishing with a team-high 18 points (9-10 FG) and seven rebounds. Six other Mavs scored 9+ points during the balanced attack. Nowitzki has always enjoyed facing Boston in his career, pumping in 27.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 3.1 APG in 24 lifetime meetings. The scoring average is his highest versus any opponent in his NBA career, helped by 31.2 PPG (57% FG) in his past five meetings with the Celtics. SG Jason Terry continues to provide a lift off the bench, as he’s second on the team with 13.8 PPG. Terry has been the team’s lone marksman from three-point land (44%), as the rest of the Mavs are a pathetic 25% from downtown this year. SG Vince Carter (9.1 PPG) is finally starting to find his rhythm though, connecting on 9-of-18 FG in his past two games. He started the season in a 20-of-58 funk (35%). Dallas is still waiting for offseason acquisition Lamar Odom to get comfortable with his new team. So far Odom is shooting a laughable 28% FG (21-for-75) including 5-of-31 (16%) from three-point range.
The Celtics offense was horrendous in Friday’s 87-74 loss, especially Paul Pierce (3-of-17 FG). Pierce also had five turnovers in the defeat. It’s been a rough season for Pierce (39% FG), but he usually plays well against Dallas in his career with 22.0 PPG on 46% FG. In contrast to Pierce, Ray Allen has been lights-out on the offensive end all season. He leads the team with 20.4 PPG on 58% FG, including an amazing 63% from three-point land. Allen had 23 (7-of-11 FG) of his team’s 74 points in Friday’s loss. Three other Celtics are shooting better than 50% this year -- Rajon Rondo (14.8 PPG, 52% FG), Kevin Garnett (12.9 PPG, 52% FG) and Brandon Bass (12.9 PPG, 53% FG). Rondo continues to be a great ball distributor (10.5 APG), but he’s committed a career-high 4.1 turnovers per game. His decision making will be key against an improving Mavs defense.
MIAMI HEAT (8-2) at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (4-3)
Sportsbook.com Line & Total: Miami -4 & 203
Opening Line & Total: Heat -4 & 202
There will be no shortage of star power when Miami stops into L.A. for a matchup with the new look Clippers on Wednesday night.
Both teams are traveling from the Pacific Northwest after tough losses: the Heat went to overtime in Golden State while the Clippers lost at Portland Tuesday night. Fatigue is more likely to be a factor for Miami, who has a banged-up superstar and a short bench. The Heat led by 12 after three quarters and by as many as 17 on Tuesday before blowing the game in Oakland. SG Dwyane Wade returned to the lineup for the first time in eight days because of a bruised foot. He played 37 minutes while LeBron James (43) and Chris Bosh (38) played heavy minutes as well.
Wade (21.0 PPG, 5.9 APG) played well in his return to the lineup, scoring 34 thanks to 16 trips to the line at Golden State. But it’s yet to be seen how his foot will react to a back-to-back. Going with pretty much an eight-man rotation, the Heat got nearly no help from their bench, which scored just 16 points in the loss. Veterans Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem came off the bench and posted atrocious plus/minus numbers, -12 and -15 respectively. The Heat got another big game from James (29.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.6 APG), who had 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. But the return of Wade coincided with the disappearance of Bosh (19.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG), who had just 16 points and four rebounds against a weak Warriors front line.
The Clippers were competitive in Portland, one of the NBA’s toughest road venues. Blake Griffin (23.7 PPG, 10.6 RPG) posted another double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds), but PG Chris Paul (14.6 PPG, 8.4 APG) is still not being assertive. He scored just 11 points on nine shots with three assists on Tuesday. Perhaps the marquee matchup against the Heat will bring out a little more fire in him. He had 13 points and 19 assists in a home win over Miami with the Hornets last year.
The Clippers continued to struggle from behind the arc (6-for-23, now 31.4% on the season). The good news is that they had their best game of the season on the boards. After allowing 11.8 offensive rebounds per game through their first six games, they held Portland to just seven offensive boards on 35 misses on Tuesday night.
NBA: NBA Finals Game 7…Enough Said
With an emphatic, historic blowout win in Game 6 Tuesday night, Los Angeles earned the right to host the grand finale to the NBA season. The winner-take-all Game 7 between the Lakers and Celtics is set for Thursday night, with the tip-off at 9:05 PM ET. Despite the 67-points scored by the Celtics and the 22-point winning margin, oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com have adjusted the opening line only slightly, making the Lakers 7-point favorites after showing them at minus-6.5 points on Tuesday.
This being the biggest game of the season, expect betting action to be brisk. On Tuesday, a greater percentage of bettors (53%) actually favored the Celtics against the number at Sportsbook.com. It will be interesting to see how they react to the price for Game 7.
In the game Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Lakers held Boston to the second lowest-scoring performance in NBA finals history in an 89-67 victory.
Faced with elimination for the first time in this postseason, the defending champion Lakers didn’t flinch.
“We’re used to being in must-win situations,” Bryant said. “The way we look at it, (Game 7) is just a game we’ve got to win. … I don’t mean to be a buzzkill. I know what’s at stake, but I’m not tripping.”
He left that to the Celtics, who fell all over themselves after falling behind by 22 points in the first half. Boston memorably eliminated the Lakers in the sixth game of the 2008 finals with a 39-point blowout—but this time around, the Celtics lost their series lead and their starting center in one disastrous Game 6, as Kendrick Perkins will have to miss the all-important game with a knee injury.
These rivals have played a Game 7 four times in their 11 previous finals meetings, with Boston winning all four. But it hasn’t happened since 1984—and it hasn’t happened to Bryant or head coach Phil Jackson.
Overall, this will be just the third NBA Finals Game 7 in the last 23 years. There hasn’t been a winner-take-all finals game since San Antonio finished off Detroit five years ago, and Thursday’s Game 7 will be the 17th in NBA history. The Spurs’ victory over the Pistons was the first Game 7 since 1994, when the Houston Rockets capped a comeback with two home victories over the New York Knicks and their point guard—now Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers.
In the ugly loss, Paul Pierce scored 13 points and Kevin Garnett added 12, but the Celtics’ offense was a jumbled, stand-around mess. Rajon Rondo(notes), the late-game hero in Boston’s last appearance in Los Angeles, got off to a 1-for-8 shooting start before finishing with 10 points and six assists.
“I thought we’d play better, obviously,” Rivers said. “I thought we were ready. … We played an individual game tonight on both ends. We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively, because we never trusted each other. Everybody was out to make their own place.”
The Lakers improved to 10-1 in the postseason at Staples Center, while the Celtics dropped to 3-4 in closeout playoff games this season—including 0-3 on the road. Boston had nine chances to finish a playoff series away from home in the past three postseasons, but has been successful only once.
Here are some of the key StatFox betting angles that figure to affect this contest:
Favoring LA Lakers:
• BOSTON is 9-21 ATS (-14.1 Units) versus up-tempo teams averaging 83 or more shots/game this season. The average score was BOSTON 96.4, OPPONENT 96.4 - (Rating = 2*)
• BOSTON is 8-0 ATS (+8.0 Units) in road games revenging a road loss vs opponent over the last 2 seasons. The average score was BOSTON 104.9, OPPONENT 92.6 - (Rating = 1*)
Favoring OVER the total:
• LA LAKERS are 18-5 OVER (+12.5 Units) after a combined score of 160 points or less since 1996. The average score was LA LAKERS 101.5, OPPONENT 97.1 - (Rating = 1*)
Favoring UNDER the total:
• LA LAKERS are 10-1 UNDER (+8.9 Units) after allowing 80 points or less over the last 2 seasons. The average score was LA LAKERS 100.9, OPPONENT 97.1 - (Rating = 1*)
There figures to be a lot to consider when analyzing Thursday’s game. Don’t miss out on a single potential golden nugget.