Central Division Preview (Feb. 11)By Alex H.
With five games on the slate, the Central Division will be busy Monday night as each team looks to improve its current standings.
Indiana and Chicago will face top-level opposition in Brooklyn and San Antonio respectively, while Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland will take on an assortment of teams that have not fared quite so well this season.
BettingSports.com breaks down the Monday night’s Central Division action below.
Brooklyn Nets at Indiana Pacers
Looking to rebound from a surprise home loss to Toronto on Friday, Central Division-leading Indiana (31-20, 20-4 home) welcomes Brooklyn (29-22, 11-12 road) to town on Monday night.
The Pacers had won 14 straight games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse before losing to the Raptors, and will look to begin another long streak of success at the venue in which the team has lost only four games all season.
Brooklyn will look to put the brakes on a two-game skid. Things have been tough for P.J. Carlesimo’s side of late, with six losses coming in the last nine games. The honeymoon period appears to be over for the interim coach who was 12-2 in his first 14 games in charge.
Indiana is the favorite entering the game with the spread at 5.5. Initially Brooklyn (22-27-2 ATS) appears to be a longshot to cover having compiled an 11-12-0 ATS record on the road and a 10-13-0 ATS record as an underdog. However, Indiana (28-23-0 ATS) is only 13-14-0 against the spread when playing at home. Frank Vogel’s side is 19-10-0 ATS as the favorite though.
The total opened at 183.5. Both teams have gone 22-29-0 in favor of the under this season.
San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls
The most appealing game in the Central Division on Monday night pits Chicago (30-20, 15-11 home) against San Antonio (40-12, 18-10 road).
The Bulls are returning from a six-game road trip – which saw the side go 3-3 – while the Spurs are in the midst of a nine-game run on the road.
San Antonio hammered Brooklyn 111-86 on Sunday night, before heading to the Windy City. The Spurs have now won 12 of their last 13, while Chicago has won five of the last six at home.
San Antonio may be without the services of Tim Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginobli (hamstring) again, both of who will be game time decisions. Subsequently, bookmakers have installed the Bulls as favorites in this one. The spread opened at two points.
San Antonio has dominated the spread this season, compiling a 29-21-2 ATS record, which includes a 16-12-0 ATS record on the road. However, the Spurs are 2-3-0 ATS in the rare event in which they are underdogs. Meanwhile, Chicago has struggled against the spread all season. The Bulls have gone 21-29-0 ATS including 7-19-0 ATS at home, and 9-19-0 ATS as the favorite.
The total opened at 191. Both sides favor the under as a rule of thumb, with Chicago (21-29-0) favoring it that little more than San Antonio (24-27-1).
Washington Wizards at Milwaukee Bucks
Currently five games back of Indiana, Milwaukee (25-24, 13-11 home) is starting to edge into ‘must win’ territory. The resurgent Celtics have leapfrogged the Bucks, leaving the Central Division side in the No. 8 playoff spot.
The Bucks – losers of five of the last six – will try to find winning ways against a Washington (14-35, 3-21 road) side that is no longer an easy out. The Wizards have won three straight, and have gone 10-7 over the last 17 games.
Despite finding winning ways of late, the Wizards continue to struggle on the road where they have dropped four straight and five of six. The Bucks are therefore favorites ahead of tip-off with the spread at 5.5.
Bettors should be aware that Washington (31-17-1 ATS) is the best team in the league at covering the spread. The side has compiled a 15-8-1 ATS record on the road and a 28-14-1 ATS record as the underdog. Milwaukee (23-25-1 ATS) have fared less well, posting a sub .500 ATS record at home (9-14-1) and going 12-12-1 ATS as the favorite.
The total opened at 195. Milwaukee has gone 25-24-0 in favor of the over, while Washington (20-28-1) favors the under.
New Orleans Hornets at Detroit Pistons
Winners of two straight and two of the last three at home, Detroit (20-32, 14-14 home) will look to continue on the road to respectability Monday night, hosting the no-long worst in the west New Orleans Hornets (17-34, 9-19 road).
The Pistons won in Milwaukee on Saturday and now trail the Bucks by 6.5 games. With the Bucks trending downwards, that could well be a reachable plateau. Winning a third straight would be a good start.
New Orleans currently finds itself one-half game ahead of Phoenix out west. The Hornets’ two-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday in Toronto. The side will hope that the short trip over the border brings a touch of fortune with it.
Detroit is the favorite heading into the game, with the spread at four. Detroit and bettors will need to be aware of the Hornets’ record against the spread this season. Not only has the Big Easy side compiled a 28-23-0 ATS record, it has also gone 18-10-0 ATS on the road and 24-18-0 ATS as an underdog. The Pistons cannot top any of those records.
The total opened at 195.5. New Orleans (27-24-0) has favored the over, while Detroit (24-27-1) has favored the under.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers
Having won three straight and five of six, Cleveland (16-35, 9-14 home) saw its run of good form come to an end at the hands of the red hot Denver Nuggets. Monday night might be a little easier.
While the Nuggets are trending upwards, their Northwest Division compatriots from the Twin Cities are most definitely trending the other way. Minnesota (18-30, 6-18 road) has lost four straight, 10 of 11, and 15 of 17. There’s not much to be happy about in the Land of Lakes of late.
Cleveland can use that to their advantage and look to put some space between itself and Orlando – that’s about all the Cavaliers have to play for now. The Cavs will be favorites when the two respective division doormats take to the hardwood.
The spread opened at 5.5. Cleveland (25-26-0 ATS) has fared marginally better against the spread than Minnesota (21-26-1 ATS) this season. That’s not saying much though. The Cavaliers are 3-5-0 ATS in those rare instances when they’ve started a game as the favorite. Meanwhile, Minnesota is 12-9-1 ATS as an underdog.
The total opened at 205. Both teams have seen the total go over more often than not this season, with Cleveland (28-23-0) seeing the over a tad more than Minnesota (25-22-1).