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NBA: Friday Night NBA ESPN Doubleheader
ESPN brings another NBA doubleheader to your living room tonight, with the Bulls taking on the Hawks in the first game and Denver visiting the Lakers in the nightcap. Both games find the hosts favored by 8-points at Sportsbook.com, but the betting action is split entirely opposite. At last check on the BETTING TRENDS page, 80% of bettors were backing the favored Hawks, but almost 90% preferred the underdog Nuggets.
The Bulls (23-24, 2-23-2 ATS) lost the first two games of a recent seven-game road swing, but stunningly closed with five consecutive victories over teams with winning records - the first time that’s been done on the same trip in NBA history. They looked flat in a 90-82 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers upon returning home Tuesday, and had their road streak snapped Wednesday in Philadelphia against a team which entered with a 7-16 home record.
Chicago is 18-6 ATS playing against a team with a winning record in the half of the season over the last two years.
The Bulls were focused at the beginning of their trip to Atlanta on Dec. 9, trailing the Hawks (31-17, 30-18 ATS) by one after a quarter. Atlanta, however, outscored Chicago 65-36 over the next two quarters en route to a 118-83 win. Joe Johnson scored a season-high 40 points, but Crawford was limited to 14. Atlanta is 8-9 when Crawford is held under 15. Three of Johnson’s six career 40-point games have come against the Bulls and his team is 14-6 ATS facing a club with a losing record this season, winning by 12.5 points per game.
Sportsbook.com has Atlanta listed as 8-point favorites with total of 197 and they are 20-5 and 17-8 ATS at home. The Hawks win by 10.2 PPG at Phillips Arena and are 23-13 ATS as a favorite and are 11-1 OVER as home chalk of 6.5 to 12 points this season.
Even with Chicago’s record close to their recent road excursion, they still are an unflattering 9-16 as visitors (12-13 ATS). What the Bulls have been able to do is counter aggressive offenses and are 12-3 ATS in road games versus good offensive teams scoring 99 or more points per game in the second portion of the year over the last two seasons. This leads to Chicago being 13-5 UNDER against shooting teams making 46 percent or more of their shots. Tipoff will be just after 8:00 Eastern on ESPN.
Following the Eastern clash is a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets bringing two of the league’s premier scorers into the spotlight. There’s a chance neither could play this time, though. With Kobe Bryant nursing a sore left ankle and Carmelo Anthony recovering from a left ankle sprain, Friday night’s meeting between division leaders could be missing some of its luster. Bryant will be a game-time decision for the Pacific Division-leading Lakers (38-12, 22-26-2 ATS).
Anthony hasn’t been nearly as durable for the Northwest-leading Nuggets (33-16, 22-25-2 ATS) as usual. The former Syracuse star is tied with Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant for the league lead in scoring with an average of 29.7 points, but sat out the first five games in January because of a right knee contusion and has missed Denver’s last six games with an injured ankle. The Nuggets lost for just the fourth time without their three-time All-Star forward in Wednesday’s 109-97 home defeat to Phoenix. Denver is 3-7 ATS after a SU defeat.
The Lakers have had a decisive advantage against the Nuggets in Los Angeles, winning 21 of 23 meetings (15-6 ATS) there since Bryant’s rookie season in 1996-97. The Lakers are enjoying similar success at Staples Center this season, posting a league-best 24-3 home record; however are a pedestrian 13-13-1 against the spread.
Denver is 3-8-1 ATS in last dozen road contests and is 5-12 ATS playing with one day off. The underdog Nuggets are 11-3 UNDER taking on a team with a winning record. The Lakers are a 50-50 proposition after a victory since the end of December with 5-5-2 ATS mark and they are 10-3 UNDER if their opponent has winning record. In last fourteen meetings between these Western Conference clubs the UNDER is 11-3.