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Thursday, November 28, 2019

PACERS VS JAZZ

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

The Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers are near mirror images of each other as they get set to play Wednesday night in Indianapolis. Their records are nearly identical, they’re both 7-3 over their past 10 games, they both play outstanding defense while struggling to score at times, and the last loss for both came at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pacers (10-6) have won three in a row after a loss to the Bucks on Nov. 16. The Jazz (11-6) have won three of their past four, the loss coming Monday night at Milwaukee. The Jazz gave up 50 points to Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 122-118 loss, a game in which they led by nine at halftime. Rudy Gobert (ankle) missed his second consecutive game and is listed as day-to-day. The Pacers are 2-0 on their four-game homestand after knocking off the Memphis Grizzlies 126-114 on Monday. T.J. Warren led the Pacers with 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting. The Jazz give up 103.5 points per game, good for fourth in the league; the Pacers give up 103.9 ppg, good for sixth. The Pacers come in averaging 108.8 points per game and 46.7 percent shooting against the Jazz’s 107.1 points per game and 45.6 percent shooting.

Win: Indiana Pacers
Line: Utah Jazz +1.5
Total Points: Under 214.5

76ERS VS KINGS

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

Wednesday’s matchup between the Sacramento Kings and host Philadelphia 76ers features one guy who exploded for 41 points in his last game and another who went scoreless. Scoring 41 points isn’t all that uncommon in the NBA these days, but it had never previously happened for Kings guard Buddy Hield, who bombed in 11 3-pointers in a 103-102 loss at Boston. Going scoreless in an NBA game is much more common, except when you’re talking about 76ers big man Joel Embiid, who had never previously experienced a goose egg. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. Embiid took aim at the hoop 14 times — missing four straight 3-pointers, seven straight two-pointers and three straight one-pointers. Embiid didn’t have any such lid on the hoop in two games against the Kings last season, going for a total of 50 points to complement 34 rebounds. Hield countered with 48 points — including 34 in a home win in February — but the Kings also needed 33 in the Sacramento meeting and 31 in the later rematch in Philadelphia from De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III to stay competitive, and they won’t be around for Wednesday’s contest because of injuries. The 76ers are unbeaten at home, with the seven wins coming by an average of 12.6 points.

Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Sacramento Kings +9.5
Total Points: Under 209.5

CAVALIERS VS MAGIC

Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT

Two teams in downward spirals meet Wednesday night at Cleveland. It’s difficult to tell which team is in a more severe slump. The Magic have dropped three games in a row after Monday night’s setback at Detroit. This game will close a four-game road trip. Orlando has been able to count on swingman Evan Fournier for scoring, but other than center Nikola Vucevic, there hasn’t been a lot of consistency beyond that. Jonathan Isaac has shown the ability to go on a tear, and that’s encouraging. Terrence Ross had 19 points in the Detroit game, leading the Magic in scoring for the first time. Still, Orlando scored only 33 points in the second half and hold a 0-7 road record. Looking for a positive, the Magic have made at least one 3-point basket in 1,000 consecutive games. The Cavaliers have lost seven of eight games, so even a comeback from a nine-point hole to tie the score with slightly more than two minutes to play against the Brooklyn Nets had a hollow feeling when Cleveland lost anyway. Jordan Clarkson poured in 23 points for the Cavaliers just two nights after a season-high 28 points against Portland. This will be Clarkson’s 400th career game. This will be the third game of a six-game homestand for Cleveland.

Win: Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Orlando Magic +1.5
Total Points: Under 201.5

HORNETS VS PISTONS

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

The Detroit Pistons haven’t won a road game since the opening night of the season, but they’ll aim to put an eight-game road skid to rest when they visit the Charlotte Hornets. They looked in control of a game in Charlotte on Nov. 15, but they lost 109-106 on Malik Monk’s long 3-pointer at the buzzer. The return trip to Charlotte marks the only road outing across a four-game stretch for the Pistons. Detroit guard Luke Kennard bagged 20 points in Monday night’s victory against Orlando. He had been a regular atop the Pistons’ scoring chart, but he went through a four-game stretch without leading the team in scoring until the game at the beginning of the week. The Pistons scored 89 and 90 points in their last two road games. About the only good thing to happen to the Hornets the past week-plus is that guard Terry Rozier has picked up the scoring pace. He has stepped up his game so much that he led the Hornets in rebounding with nine in Monday night’s 117-100 loss at Miami. Charlotte is carrying a five-game losing streak. Only two of those five defeats have come by single-digit margins. This will be the lone home game in a four-game stretch for the Hornets.

Win: Detroit Pistons
Line: Charlotte Hornets +3.5
Total Points: Under 216.5

CELTICS VS NETS

Venue: TD Garden | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Brooklyn Nets will bring a four-game winning streak with them into Boston on Wednesday night, but they won’t be bringing Kyrie Irving. Not to play at least. A shoulder injury has sidelined Irving the past six games and will again when they teams tangle in Boston, ruining Irving’s return against his former club. The Celtics are coming off a one-point victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings after a brutal five-game road trip, which included a one-point loss at the Kings. The Celtics improved to 6-0 at home Monday night despite a career-high 41 points from Sacramento’s Buddy Hield. Jaylen Brown scored 24 on 9 of 16 shooting. The Nets are 5-1 without Irving, coming off a 108-106 win at Cleveland. Spencer Dinwiddie has led the Nets in scoring in five of the games during Irving’s absence, including his team-high 23 against the Cavs. Dinwiddie averages 19.8 on the season but has averaged 24.7 the past six games. The Nets have won their past two games — both on the road — by a combined four points. The game is the first of a home-and-home between the pair; they’ll play again Friday afternoon in Brooklyn.

Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Brooklyn Nets +6.5
Total Points: Over 225.5

RAPTORS VS KNICKS

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

Something has to give when the New York Knicks visit the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, and that something will likely be the Knicks. The Knicks bring their 1-7 road record into Toronto against the Raptors, who are 7-0 at home. The Raptors sport a four-game winning streak while the Knicks have lost three in a row and four of five. The Raptors continue to chew up opponents despite the extended losses of guard Kyle Lowry and forward Serge Ibaka. Pascal Siakam is picking up the slack nicely, leading the team with 25.7 points per game. He dumped 25 on the Philadelphia 76ers in a 101-96 win Monday night. The Raptors held Joel Embiid scoreless, the first time that has happened in the big guy’s career. The Knicks are coming off a 103-101 loss to their crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets despite the absence of Kyrie Irving. Marcus Morris, who leads the Knicks in scoring on the season at 19.3 points per game, scored 26 to keep the game close. The Knicks are expected to have rookie R.J. Barrett back after missing the game against the Nets with an illness. It’s the first of four games between the teams this season.

Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: New York Knicks +10.5
Total Points: Under 209.5

GRIZZLIES VS CLIPPERS

Venue: FedExForum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

The Los Angeles Clippers will take a season-best six-game winning streak into a road game Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers’ most recent victory came Tuesday night when Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points and Paul George added 26 in a 114-99 victory at Dallas. The Clippers’ defense held the high-scoring Mavericks to 38 percent shooting, while Luka Doncic was held eight points under his season average. Leonard and George were playing in a road game together for the first time and paired up on the court for just the fourth time this season. Leonard is just four games removed from a sore knee, and potentially could get rest in the second game of a back-to-back at Memphis. The Grizzlies are mired in a four-game losing streak, the first three of which came at home. Memphis will enter off a 126-114 defeat at Indiana in a game the Pacers led by as many as 29 early in the fourth quarter. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored a season-best 28 points for the Grizzlies with a career-best six 3-pointers. Rookie Ja Morant had 19 points and has averaged a team best 19.1 on the season. The Grizzlies are giving up 118.3 points per game, third worst in the NBA.

Win: LA Clippers
Line: Los Angeles Clippers -6.5
Total Points: Over 215.5

ROCKETS VS HEAT

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

There are revenge motivations, then there’s the one the Houston Rockets will have when they host the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. In one of the most shocking 12 minutes in NBA history, the Heat blitzed the Rockets 46-14 to open their Nov. 3 meeting in Miami. The Heat went on to win the game 129-100. The 32-point difference after one quarter was the third-biggest in NBA history in the shot-clock era. If it was any consolation, the Rockets at least proved they belonged in the same league as the Heat by outscoring the hosts by three over the final three quarters. For what it’s worth, the Rockets got a rematch last season seven times against a team that had beaten them by 14 or more in the previous head-to-head. They went 6-1 in those meetings. The Heat-Rockets duel three weeks ago was decided from behind the 3-point arc. Houston shot 2-for-15 from deep in its disastrous first quarter and 14-for-48 (29 percent) for the game. The Rockets retain the distinction of having attempted the most 3-pointers in the league this season (45.4 per game), but once again will find themselves up against the NBA’s best at preventing threes. Miami has given up just 31 percent from beyond the arc this season. The Heat have won six of seven; the Rockets, after an eight-game win streak, have lost three straight.

Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Miami Heat +5.5
Total Points: Over 227.5

BUCKS VS HAWKS

Venue: Fiserv Forum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

Two teams with opposite trends meet Wednesday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit the Milwaukee Bucks, who are riding an eight-game winning streak. The scary part for Milwaukee opponents is that Giannis Antetokounmpo might be just warming up after he scored a season-high 50 points in Monday night’s victory against the Utah Jazz. Antetokounmpo certainly got his shots up, making 17 of 31 attempts from the field and accounting for almost one-third of all of Milwaukee’s shots (97). He’s working for his points, grabbing six of the Bucks’ 15 offensive rebounds. Milwaukee won 135-127 against the Hawks on Nov. 20 in Atlanta. That score reflected the Hawks’ highest point total of the season and it still wasn’t enough. The Hawks have lost seven straight games overall, giving up at least 125 points in five of those defeats. Until the defensive issues are addressed, it might be difficult for Atlanta to gain any traction. It’s probably not an ideal time to be beginning a three-game road trip. Hawks guard Trae Young is coming off a 37-point outing in Monday’s loss at Minnesota. Atlanta had rookie guard Cam Reddish back in the lineup after a two-game absence with a wrist injury, but he managed only seven points.

Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Atlanta Hawks +14.5
Total Points: Under 239.5

SPURS VS TIMBERWOLVES

Venue: AT&T Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT

Two teams in need of showing sustained success meet when the Minnesota Timberwolves travel to the San Antonio Spurs for Wednesday night’s game. The Spurs have dropped 11 of their last 13 games, something that even 30 points from LaMarcus Aldridge could fix in Monday night’s loss to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. DeMar DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring with 22.2 points per game and he’s also the top assists man with 4.6. San Antonio has lost four straight home games. The Timberwolves have won only once in their last three games, but don’t blame Karl-Anthony Towns, who has led the team in scoring and rebounding in five of the last six games. The Timberwolves used a lineup shuffle that seemed to help in Monday night’s victory against Atlanta. Guard Jeff Teague went to the bench rather than start the game and the reserves as a whole were uplifted with a jolt of offense. Jarrett Culver, a rookie guard, drew a starting assignment. Minnesota is in a tough stretch with only one home game across a span of seven games. Minnesota posted a 129-113 home victory against the Spurs on Nov. 13, marking the second-most points it has scored in a game this season.

Win: San Antonio Spurs
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves +2.5
Total Points: Under 229.5

SUNS VS WIZARDS

Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT

The Washington Wizards will try to find some traction on their four-game road trip to the Western Conference when they play Wednesday night at Phoenix. The Wizards have little time to recover after Tuesday night’s 117-104 loss in Denver, pinning the second loss in a row on the team. There could be a good backcourt battle with Washington’s Bradley Beal, who averages 28.5 points per game, and Phoenix’s Devein Booker, who checks in at 24.8 points per game. Beal is coming off a 14-point outing in Denver, where the team shot 10-for-40 on 3-point attempts. While the Wizards will play on back-to-back nights, the Suns haven’t suited up since Sunday’s loss at Denver. Phoenix has lost three of its past four games. The Suns have two games to get things right at home before a four-game road stretch. Booker has reached the 30-point mark in five games, but just twice at home. He’s shooting 51.8 percent from the field. Phoenix has cut down on turnovers since the first couple of weeks of the season. Post player Cheick Diallo, a third-year pro, provided a career-best 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting in the Denver game, giving the Suns some versatility to their offense.

Win: Phoenix Suns
Line: Washington Wizards +8.5
Total Points: Under 242.5

PELICANS VS LAKERS

Venue: Smoothie King Center | Start: 1:30pm AEDT

All the pieces of a blockbuster offseason trade will get together Wednesday when the Los Angeles Lakers travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans. Anthony Davis was able to orchestrate the trade to L.A. that he wanted, while former Lakers Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart all went to the Big Easy. With Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers have turned into a Western Conference power. They will enter Wednesday with a 15-2 record and an eight-game winning streak after 114-104 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. Davis has scored 25.1 points per game, while James has 25.6 points and a career-best 11.0 assists. The Pelicans are still working on their chemistry. They are 6-11 and will enter on a two-game losing streak after falling 134-109 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Ingram leads the Pelicans with 26.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Hart is fourth on the team with 12.6 points, while Ball is fifth with 11.1 points as he has been working his way through a groin injury. Ball was sent home from practice Tuesday with a stomach virus and his status for Wednesday is not known. It could be an awkward day for Hart, who apologized to former Lakers teammates after he made negative comments about the organization in a podcast.

Win: LA Lakers
Line: LA Lakers -6.5
Total Points: Under 230.5

TRAIL BLAZERS VS THUNDER

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

The Portland Trail Blazers begin the “Home For The Holidays” portion of their schedule Wednesday night when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder. The defending Western Conference finalists are off to a slow start, thanks in large part to having played 13 of their
first 18 games on the road. That’s three more than any other team. But they’ll play just four more between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, a stretch during which they hope to improve on their 6-12 record. Portland used three fourth-quarter 3-pointers by Damian Lillard to win 102-99 at Oklahoma City in October, but that was before the club’s road fatigue set in. They’ve gone 2-7 on the road after a 3-1 start. That’s better than what the Thunder have done away from home, but maybe that’s changing. Oklahoma City shocked host Golden State on Monday night by scoring the game’s final 13 points to steal a 100-97 victory and break into the road win column after six straight defeats. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and made them 3-0 against the Warriors this season, but just 3-10 against the rest of the league. Those three 3-pointers Lillard had in a 86-second flurry in the fourth quarter in the Oct. 30 meeting? They were one fewer than the Thunder made in the entire game, going 4-for-27.

Win: Portland Trail Blazers
Line: Oklahoma City Thunder +3.5
Total Points: Under 220.5

WARRIORS VS BULLS

Venue: Chase Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT

My how the mighty have fallen. Such is an apropos assessment for Wednesday’s clash between the 12-loss Chicago Bulls and 15-loss Golden State Warriors in San Francisco. Losing is nothing new for the Bulls, who have enjoyed just eight winning campaigns in the 21 seasons since capturing their sixth title in eight years in 1998. They were a 60-game loser last season, with two of the defeats being particularly painful — 149-124 and 146-109 embarrassments at the hands of the Warriors. But like the Bulls, who went 13-37 in the first year after their championship run, the Warriors are polar opposites of the dominant squad they were the last five seasons, when they made five straight trips to the NBA Finals, claiming three titles. They’ve won just three times all season, and even when it has appeared they were likely to prevail, they’ve done things like allow the last 13 points of a game they’d led by 10, as they did Monday in a 100-97 debacle against Oklahoma City. Warriors fans look forward to the NBA debut of second-round pick Alen Smailagic, who if nothing else will give the team a ninth healthy body to face the Bulls. That might be enough.

Win: Golden State Warriors
Line: Chicago Bulls +1.5
Total Points: Under 214.5