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Thursday, November 21, 2019

76ERS VS KNICKS

Venue: Wells Fargo Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Philadelphia 76ers are 5-2 this season following a victory. They will try to improve upon that mark Wednesday night when they host the New York Knicks. Philadelphia’s streaky start to the season has included five straight wins, three straight losses, back-to-back wins, back-to-back losses and a victory in its most recent game Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Could another multiple-win run be in order? The 76ers certainly hope so thanks to a defensive-minded lineup that figures to pose problems for New York. Philadelphia’s top scorer is Joel Embiid, who is averaging 22.9 points to go along with 11.4 rebounds. Tobias Harris is second on the scoring list with 17.6 points per game, and Al Horford is third with 15.0 points per contest. The Knicks have been a mess for much of the season, but they have shown a glimmer of hope in the past week with two wins in three games. That includes a 123-105 win over the Cavaliers on Monday night that included 30 points from veteran power forward Julius Randle. Rookie guard RJ Barrett added 15 points in 24-plus minutes, and he is averaging 16.9 points across his first 14 starts in the NBA.

Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: New York Knicks +12.5
Total Points: Under 213.5

WIZARDS VS SPURS

Venue: Capital One Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT

Looking to end a six-game losing streak, their longest since the 2011 season, the San Antonio Spurs will visit the Washington Wizards on Tuesday in the second game of a four-game road trip. The Spurs have also lost eight of their last nine games and will enter off a 117-110 defeat at Dallas on Monday. DeMar DeRozan has scored 21.0 points per game for the Spurs, while LaMarcus Aldridge has added 18.3. San Antonio is scoring 112.2 points per game, 13th in the NBA heading into play Tuesday, but an inability to overcome a rash of slow starts have contributed to its struggles. The Wizards are also doing some soul searching after losses in four of their last five games and seven of their last nine. They will enter off a 125-121 defeat to the Orlando Magic, but still are looking back at their 137-116 victory at Minnesota on Friday as a reason for hope. After scoring 44 points in consecutive games, the Wizards’ Bradley Beal followed that up with a 34-point performance in the loss to the Magic. Heading into play Monday, the Wizards had the honor of being the worst defensive team in NBA after giving up 120.1 points per game. These teams have met once already, with the Spurs earning a 124-122 victory on Oct. 26 as DeRozan scored 26 points and hit the game-winning basket with 5.5 seconds to play.

Win: San Antonio Spurs
Line: Washington Wizards +2.5
Total Points: Under 237.5

HAWKS VS BUCKS

Venue: State Farm Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT

Few teams have had any luck slowing down the Milwaukee Bucks over the past couple weeks. The Atlanta Hawks will take a shot at it Wednesday night when they host Milwaukee, which has won four consecutive games and eight of nine. The Bucks’ success has followed a tremendous start to the season from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 30.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 13 games. The dynamic forward has scored at least 30 points in seven of his last eight contests — and it’s not as if he struggled in the other game, scoring 26 points before taking an early rest in the fourth quarter with the Bucks up big. Atlanta has lost three in a row and six of seven. The Hawks’ top scorer has been Trae Young, who is averaging 27.0 points and 8.7 assists in 12 games. He is shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. Jabari Parker has provided steady contributions on offense with 17.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 13 games (eight starts). Atlanta is 2-4 on its home court this season, and Milwaukee is 7-2 on the road.

Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Milwaukee Bucks -11.5
Total Points: Under 232.5

RAPTORS VS MAGIC

Venue: Scotiabank Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The Orlando Magic will try to increase their season-high winning streak to four games in a row when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Orlando is coming off a 125-121 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday evening, which followed victories over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 13. Now comes a rematch against Toronto, which pulled away for a 104-95 win on its home court in the first meeting of the season between the teams Oct. 28. Kyle Lowry (26 points) and Pascal Siakam (24 points) combined for 50 in the victory, while Jonathan Isaac led the Magic with 24 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 5 of 7 from long distance. Toronto is coming off a resounding 132-96 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night that included a team-high 24 points from OG Anunoby on 10-for-13 shooting. The 22-year-old is averaging a career-best 12.4 points per game in his third season out of Indiana. The Magic are led on offense by veteran big man Nikola Vucevic, who enters Wednesday’s showdown averaging 18.2 points and 12.1 rebounds in 13 starts.

Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: Orlando Magic +4.5
Total Points: Under 208.5

MAVERICKS VS WARRIORS

Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The Dallas Mavericks continue a season-ticket seller’s dream of a homestand Wednesday night when they host the Golden State Warriors. The NBA schedule-maker provided the cover for Dallas’ season-ticket brochure this season when the Mavericks were scheduled with the last six NBA champions — Toronto, San Antonio, Golden State and Cleveland — on the same homestand. The Mavericks would like to believe they gave the Raptors and Spurs a glimpse of the future with consecutive wins to tip off the seven-day stretch. The Warriors have as many championships (three) as the other three combined (three) over the last six seasons, and they finally looked the part of a five-time reigning Western Conference champ with a 114-95 win at Memphis on the front half of a back-to-back on Tuesday. The Warriors suited up just nine players in the win, and all nine had at least one point, one rebound and one assist. Draymond Green totaled at least eight of each, missing what could have been his second triple-double of the season by two points. Even the additional hoop would have left him four triple-doubles behind Luka Doncic of the Mavericks, who is coming off a 42-point, 11-rebound, 12-assist effort against San Antonio. Doncic and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers lead the NBA with five triple-doubles each.

Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: Dallas Mavericks -13.5
Total Points: Over 221.5

NETS VS HORNETS

Venue: Barclays Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The Hornets have defensive shortcomings and those were priorities to address prior to Wednesday night’s game at Brooklyn. The Hornets were exposed in a big way during Monday night’s loss at Toronto, when they gave up a season-high 132 points. Facing the Nets might be ideal in Hornets’ quest to show defensive improvement because Brooklyn scored a season-low 86 points at home in in a loss Monday night to Indianapolis. Brooklyn’s problems developed early by scoring only 35 first-half points. The Nets have played the past two games without guard Kyrie Irving, who has been dealing with a shoulder ailment. Irving is the centerpiece of the offense with 28.5 points and 7.2 assists per game. Charlotte has four games this season without a 20-point scorer, including at Toronto when forward Marvin Williams’ 14 points topped the scoring. It was his first time as the team’s scoring leader this season. The Hornets have lost five of their last seven games, needing 3-point baskets in the waning seconds to secure the two victories during that stretch. Charlotte is 3-4 in road games, accounting for half of their victories. The game is the third stop on the Hornets’ four-game road swing. This marks the middle game of the Nets’ three-game homestand.

Win: Brooklyn Nets
Line: Charlotte Hornets +4.5
Total Points: Under 221.5

HEAT VS CAVALIERS

Venue: American Airlines Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The Cleveland Cavaliers will try to reverse an ugly early trend when they get a rematch with the Miami Heat in Florida on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers haven’t fared well when opponents have gotten a previous look at them this season, blown out by an average of 14.7 points the second time around against Indiana, New York and Philadelphia after having beaten two of the three in their first encounter. Even less encouraging on Wednesday is that the Cavaliers fell 108-97 at home to the Heat last week, and now take a four-game losing streak up against a team that’s won three in a row. The big difference the first time around: Miami outshot Cleveland 54.4 percent to 42.4 percent, and the Heat got much the better of the rookie duel between their own Kendrick Nunn (23 points, eight assists) and Miami’s Darius Garland (11 points, two assists). Cleveland coach John Beilein tried a new look in a 123-105 loss at New York on Monday, giving another of his rookies — Kevin Porter Jr. — his first start. It produced a bright spot (18 points) in a lopsided loss, but is less likely to get a chance to happen Wednesday presuming Kevin Love returns from his night off that was labeled as back soreness. Miami has faced only one team twice — Atlanta — and swept that home-and-home sequence.

Win: Miami Heat
Line: Cleveland Cavaliers +9.5
Total Points: Under 219.5

BULLS VS PISTONS

Venue: United Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

Two struggling teams will tip off when the Detroit Pistons visit the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. Detroit has lost four games in a row, and Chicago’s losing streak sits at three. This is the second meeting of the season between the longtime rivals. In their first matchup Nov. 1, the Bulls held on for a 112-106 win despite a strong performance from Pistons veteran guard Derrick Rose, who shined for several years in his hometown of Chicago before knee injuries jeopardized his career. Rose scored 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting in his first visit of the season to the United Center, where fans greeted him with a standing ovation. The Bulls are hoping for a better effort from third-year forward Lauri Markkanen, who is shooting 36.2 percent from the field this season and is eager to break out of his slump. Chicago will remain without veteran forward Otto Porter Jr., who has a foot sprain, and now it will be without bench contributor Luke Kornet as he recovers from recent sinus surgery. Detroit’s injury list includes Reggie Jackson, who is out for an extended period with a lower-back issue.

Win: Chicago Bulls
Line: Chicago Bulls -1.5
Total Points: Under 218.5

TIMBERWOLVES VS JAZZ

Venue: Target Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

The Utah Jazz will not have to wait long to avenge their first home defeat of the season, hitting the road to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, two days after their 112-102 defeat to the same Wolves team Monday. Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns’ expanded offensive skills continue to be on display after he matched a career-high with seven 3-point baskets on his way to 29 points in Utah. The Timberwolves prevailed despite being without Andrew Wiggins (illness) and Shabazz Napier (hamstring). The surprise was 14 points from Kelan Martin, who was just called up from the G League. The Timberwolves are filling in the gaps with what has been an evolving roster. Josh Okogie was back for the Utah game after missing the previous game with a sore knee. The Timberwolves, who are 3-3 against Western Conference teams, built momentum in Monday night’s game, outscoring the Jazz 18-2 in a key fourth-quarter stretch. Minnesota had 36-point production in the first and fourth quarters. Utah guard Donovan Mitchell notched 17 points Monday, but it came on 5-for-23 shooting from the field and was considerably below his team-leading scoring average of 24.8 points per game. Utah lost back-to-back games for the second time this season, but the team hasn’t experienced a three-game slide. This will be the Jazz’s only road game during a four-game span.

Win: Utah Jazz
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves +2.5
Total Points: Over 220.5

NUGGETS VS ROCKETS

Venue: Pepsi Center | Start: 1:00pm AEDT

A Houston Rockets team that has won eight consecutive games is set for a titanic clash on the road against a Denver Nuggets team that has won six of seven. James Harden is scoring an NBA-best 39.2 points per game, and if that isn’t impressive enough, he leads the Rockets with 7.6 assists. Russell Westbrook has scored 21.6 points with 8.4 rebounds in his first 12 games with the Rockets but has willingly taken a back seat to Harden saying, “I’m just here to help him along the way.” Houston is coming off a 132-108 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers when Westbrook had a triple-double, his third of the season. The Nuggets would be on a seven-game winning streak had it not been for an inexplicable loss at home to the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 12. Back on track, the Nuggets will enter off a 131-114 victory Sunday over the Memphis Grizzlies when Jamal Murray scored a season-best 39 points one game after a 1-for-11 shooting performance against the Brooklyn Nets, with four points. Murray was 7 of 12 from 3-point range Sunday in a game when Denver’s defense had its lapses. It was just the second time in their last seven games the Nuggets gave up 100 points to their opponent.

Win: Denver Nuggets
Line: Houston Rockets +2.5
Total Points: Under 22.5

CLIPPERS VS CELTICS

Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT

In a game that will pit his current team against his old one, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers might be missing some star power yet again. The Clippers will play host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and might be doing so without Kawhi Leonard, who was listed as questionable with a left knee injury as of Tuesday afternoon. The Clippers are still waiting to pair Leonard with Paul George, who made his Clippers debut Thursday and has averaged 29.2 points in three games. The Clippers have won consecutive games after consecutive losses at Houston and New Orleans. After their 10-game winning streak ended Sunday at Sacramento, the Celtics got back on track with a defensive-minded 99-85 victory at Phoenix on Monday. It was just the third time all season the Celtics held an opponent under 100 points. Boston is probably going to need a better start against the Clippers after missing nine of their first 10 shots from the field Monday. Kemba Walker leads the Celtics with 23.4 points per game, while Jayson Tatum has scored 20.2, but they swapped that order against the Suns with Tatum scoring 26 and Walker adding 19. Marcus Smart left Monday’s game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle but the injury is not believed to be serious.

Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Los Angeles Clippers -4.5
Total Points: Under 220.5