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Sunday, November 24, 2019

TIMBERWOLVES VS SUNS

Venue: Target Center | Start: 9:00am AEDT

Having gotten a double-dose of the stingy Utah defense in their last two outings, the Minnesota Timberwolves hope to return to their high-scoring act when they host the Phoenix Suns on Saturday afternoon. The Timberwolves had averaged 118 points and allowed 120 over a nine-game stretch before winning 112-102 and losing 103-95 at a relative snail’s pace in a home-and-home sequence against Utah. So bring on the Suns, who are coming off a 124-121 home loss to New Orleans on Thursday. Defense has been lacking in Phoenix during a run of five losses in seven games, a stretch in which the Suns have allowed 120 or more points three times. The clubs played a 116-114 thriller the last time they met in Minneapolis in January, with Karl-Anthony Towns dominating the action with 30 points. This time around, the big numbers are more likely to come from a rejuvenated Andrew Wiggins, who has scored 21 or more points in each of his last eight games. The run has been just enough to push him (25.6) past the Suns’ Devin Booker (24.9) in their jockeying for position among the league’s Top 15 scorers. Booker hasn’t had a game under 18 points all season.

Win: Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves -5.5
Total Points: Over 215.5

PACERS VS MAGIC

Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Indiana Pacers had their most convincing victory of the season with 115-86 romp over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night. Now it’s time to see if a layoff of nearly a week caused them to lose any of the momentum when they take on the visiting Orlando Magic on Saturday night to begin a four-game homestand. The Pacers have had a different leading scorer in each of their past four games, with T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Aaron Holiday holding those distinctions. Sabonis has topped Indiana in rebounding for seven straight games with at least 13 boards. The Magic haven’t played since beginning a four-game road stretch with Wednesday night’s 113-97 loss at Toronto. That snapped a three-game winning streak, with the previous loss to the Pacers at home. Orlando failed to score 100 points in any of its first seven games, then had reached the triple-digit mark in every game until slowed down by the Raptors. That Toronto game also brought new concerns with Orlando forward Aaron Gordon and center Nikola Vucevic both suffering sprained ankles. Either guard Evan Fournier or Vucevic, who could miss time with his injury, has led the Magic in scoring in the last six games.

Win: Indiana Pacers
Line: Orlando Magic +8.5
Total Points: Under 221.5

HORNETS VS BULLS

Venue: Spectrum Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Charlotte Hornets have yet another three-game losing streak, but they’ll be back on the court Saturday night at home against the Chicago Bulls in an effort to get on track. The 125-118 loss Friday night at Washington was another example of the Hornets being unable to lock in defensively. On the plus side, Miles Bridges racked up a career-high 31 points, so that’s something for the Hornets to build on. For the Bulls, there was Friday night’s 116-108 home loss to the Miami Heat, so they fell to 5-11. This came after what might have been the team’s best performance two nights earlier against Detroit. The latest stretch has come with some moving parts, with Chandler Hutchison sitting out with a shin injury. Shaq Harrison, who had played a total of 24 minutes all season, stepped in and provided 15 points and a career-best 11 rebounds in a starting role in the Detroit game. There wasn’t a similar response against Miami, with the Bulls allowing 67 first-half points. There was plenty of court time for the Bulls’ reserves, so they could be fresh for Saturday night’s game. This is the first Bulls-Hornets meeting since Charlotte’s 126-125 home victory on opening night when the Hornets were splashing in 3-point baskets at a record clip. That remains Chicago’s highest point total of the season even though it came in defeat.

Win: Chicago Bulls
Line: Charlotte Hornets +1.5
Total Points: Under 219.5

76ERS VS HEAT

Venue: Wells Fargo Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The Philadelphia 76ers will try to keep their perfect home record alive when they host the Miami Heat on Saturday night. Philadelphia improved to 6-0 on its home court Friday with a 115-104 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. The difference between home and away has been stark for the 76ers, who are only 4-5 on the road but play like a different team at Wells Fargo Center. Now comes a huge challenge in the Heat, who have won a season-high five games in a row. Miami also will be playing on short rest after dispatching the Chicago Bulls 116-108 on Friday night. All eyes will be on Heat forward Jimmy Butler as he returns to Philadelphia, where he played 55 games last season before deciding to leave for Miami via free agency. Butler averaged 18.2 points with the 76ers and is off to a slightly better start for the Heat, especially after scoring 27 points on 7-for-10 shooting against the Bulls one night earlier. The battle in the paint will be intriguing as the 76ers’ Joel Embiid goes up against Heat big man Bam Adebayo. Meanwhile, 76ers guard Josh Richardson’s status is uncertain after he sat out Friday with a right hip flexor.

Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Philadelphia 76ers -4.5
Total Points: Under 220.5

KNICKS VS SPURS

Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The San Antonio Spurs will wrap up a four-game road trip when they visit the New York Knicks on Saturday night. The trip has been ugly so far, much like the rest of the season for San Antonio, which has lost eight games in a row. The latest defeat came Friday night as the Spurs fell short, 115-104, to the Philadelphia 76ers. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has tried to handle the losing streak with humor, telling a reporter that his team’s slump was “fake news,” but nothing will boost the team’s spirits more than a victory. The eight-game losing streak is the longest since Popovich took over the team during the 1996-97 season. San Antonio has a good chance to end its skid against New York, which has lost 11 of its first 15 games and sits in last place in the Eastern Conference. New York will have fresher legs after resting Friday. Its last game was Thursday night, when the 76ers outlasted the Knicks, 109-104. Knicks rookie guard RJ Barrett is averaging 15.3 points per game in his first 15 NBA contests. Spurs top threat DeMar DeRozan is coming off a 29-point performance.

Win: San Antonio Spurs
Line: New York Knicks +2.5
Total Points: Under 220.5

HAWKS VS RAPTORS

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

The Atlanta Hawks are in a brutal part of their schedule, having played six of their past seven on the road. They finally get to play a game at home, but it’s on the second night of a back-to-back and against the defending champion Toronto Raptors (10-4) on Saturday night. The Raptors roll in on a two-game winning streak while the Hawks (4-11) have lost five in a row, the latest coming Friday night in Detroit. The Hawks allowed the Pistons to rack up 76 first-half points en route to the 25-point loss. Hawks leading scorer Trae Young (26.8 points per game) scored just nine points on 3 of 12 shooting. It’s only the third time this season he’s scored less than 20 points. Deandre Bembry led Atlanta with 22 points. The Raptors are coming off a 113-97 win over the Charlotte Hornets in Toronto, their third win in their past four. Fred VanVleet led Toronto with 24 points and leading scorer Pascal Siakam (25.1 ppg) added 18 points and 11 rebounds. All of Toronto’s four losses have come on the road. It’s the first of four games between the teams this season. The Hawks are allowing 116.9 points per game, fifth worst in the league.

Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: Toronto Raptors 7.5
Total Points: Under 224.5

CAVALIERS VS TRAIL BLAZERS

Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

Fans are advised to bring their calculators when Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love add another chapter to their fireworks-producing rivalry in the Portland Trail Blazers’ matchup with the host Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night. And, no, not the antiquated 2008 simple-math tool that proved handy more than a decade ago when Anthony went for 45 points against Love in the Minnesota rookie’s 21st NBA game. The rivalry has gone on to bigger and better numbers, with each putting up big-time double-doubles in a classic 2013 head-to-head, when Love’s 34 points and 15 rebounds overshadowed Anthony’s 22 points and 17 rebounds. Cavaliers fans will be seeing Anthony in a Trail Blazers uniform for the first time, as he’s set for just his third game since joining the club as a free agent earlier in the week. Portland hasn’t won since the arrival, and will take a three-game losing streak up against a Cleveland team that limped home from Dallas shackled by a six-game skid after a 143-101 drubbing on Friday night. Neither team has put up much defensive resistance of late. Portland has given up 132, 115 and 137 points in its losing streak, while Cleveland has been equally generous in its last three outings, serving up 123, 124 and 143.

Win: Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Cleveland Cavaliers +5.5
Total Points: Over 218.5

GRIZZLIES VS LAKERS

Venue: FedExForum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

Win: Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Los Angeles Lakers -7.5
Total Points: Under 221.5

BUCKS VS PISTONS

Venue: Fiserv Forum | Start: 12:30pm AEDT

The Milwaukee Bucks will look to increase their winning streak to seven games when they host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Milwaukee already is riding a season-high six-game streak and has scored 135-plus points in each of its past two games. The Bucks have a deep roster, not to mention one of the best players on the planet in seventh-year forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is averaging a career-best 30.1 points on 56.6 percent shooting this season. The injury absence of Bucks guard Khris Middleton (left thigh) has done little to slow the offense. Detroit will play on short rest, but its players certainly are feeling good after crushing the Atlanta Hawks, 128-103, on Friday night. The win snapped a five-game skid for Detroit, which marked its longest losing streak of the season. Blake Griffin (24 points) and Andre Drummond (23) combined for 47 in the resounding win, and Bruce Brown finished with 14. Detroit’s injury list includes Reggie Jackson (back) and Tony Snell (hip). This is the first of four meetings this season between the Bucks and Pistons. The teams will reconvene Dec. 4 in Detroit, and they also are set to play Feb. 20 in Detroit and March 23 in Milwaukee.

Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Detroit Pistons +12.5
Total Points: Under 219.5

JAZZ VS PELICANS

Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT

The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz pit their dueling winning streaks against each other Saturday night in Utah. The Jazz (10-5) won their second consecutive game and extended their home record to 7-1 after a tougher-than-expected win over the pesky Golden State Warriors. The Jazz survived 21 turnovers — 11 steals — and a fourth quarter in which they were outscored by 14. Donovan Mitchell scored 30 on 12-for-24 shooting to fend off the Warriors. Mike Conley added 27 points. The Pelicans (6-9) come in with a three-game winning streak and winners of six of their past seven. The Pels are coming off a 124-121 win in Phoenix on Thursday night. Brandon Ingram dropped 28 to lead the Pelicans. Ingram is leading New Orleans in scoring at 25.6 points per game and rebounding (7.4). The Jazz will look to impose their defensive will on the young and potent Pelicans. The Jazz are No. 1 in points against at 100.6 while the Pelicans score at a clip of 116.2, good for fourth in the NBA. Mitchell leads the Jazz with 24.9 points per game. It’s the first of four meetings between the teams.

Win: Utah Jazz
Line: New Orleans Pelicans +8.5
Total Points: Under 224.5