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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Orlando Magic vs Cleveland Cavaliers

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

The Cleveland Cavaliers hope to get Kevin Love back on track when they seek to end a four-game losing streak against the visiting Orlando Magic on Friday night. The Cavaliers are capping what has been a disappointing six-game homestand, one that began with promise with a win over Portland. It’s been all downhill since, with Love following up two back-related absences with three games in which he has failed to record any of his patented double-doubles. He had one with 11 points and 18 rebounds when the Cavaliers lost at Orlando on Opening Night, but then couldn’t even muster a single-double when limited to nine points and five rebounds when the Magic came to town last week as part of the homestand. Evan Fournier dizzied the Cavaliers in the latter with a 30-point explosion. He has subsequently gone for 32 and 31 as the Magic have won four of five, including three straight. To make matters worse for Cleveland, Aaron Gordon, who missed last week’s game, has since returned and is coming off his best effort of the season in a 13-for-15, 32-point performance Wednesday against Phoenix.

Win: Orlando Magics
Line: Cleveland Cavaliers +3.5
Total Points: Under 212.5

Indiana Pacers vs Detroit Pistons

Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Indiana Pacers have won four of their last six road games and they’ll go for another Friday night at Detroit. The Pacers have won back-to-back games as they’re completed three trips among the five consecutive road games on the docket. Forward T.J. Warren has led the Pacers in scoring in four of the last six games, including his 24 points in Wednesday night’s 107-100 victory at Oklahoma City. Three of Indiana’s last four games have been decided by seven points or less. The Pacers and Pistons have split their past two meetings, each winning at home. Before that, the Pistons won the season opener at Indiana. The Pistons have had a different leading scorer in each of the past four. Five games have passed since guard Luke Kennard, who had been on a scoring tear earlier this fall, has topped the Pistons in scoring. Kennard, who sat out Wednesday night’s game at Milwaukee with a knee injury, is averaging 16.5 points per game for the third-best mark behind forward Blake Griffin (18.8), who has played in only 10 games, and center Andre Drummond (17.3). Drummond has 10 straight games with at least 14 rebounds.

Win: Indiana Pacers
Line: Detroit Pistons +2.5
Total Points: Under 212.5

Brooklyn Nets vs Charlotte Hornets

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

Two teams trying to find their identities are coming off victories when the Brooklyn Nets visit the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. The Nets have been stressing better defense and that has allowed them to move above .500 at 11-10. That has been aided by winning four of their last five road games. It was offense from swingman Garrett Temple that was noticeable for the Nets in Wednesday night’s 130-118 victory at Atlanta, where he scored a season-high 27 points. That included six 3-point baskets for Temple as the Nets posted their third-highest point total of the season. The long-range shooting was the topic for the Hornets as well because Devonte Graham poured in 33 points in the team’s win against Golden State, draining 10 shots from 3-point land to match a single-game franchise record. Graham’s production plus 25 points from Terry Rozier marked the first time both players reached the 20-point level since Graham joined the starting lineup. The Nets defeated the Hornets 101-91 on Nov. 20 at home, boosted by center Jarrett Allen’s 22 points and 17 rebounds. The Hornets are 3-7 across their last 10 games and this will be the third game of a five-game homestand.

Win: Brooklyn Nets
Line: Brooklyn Nets -2.5
Total Points: Under 219.5

Denver Nuggets vs Boston Celtics

Venue: TD Garden | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

The last time the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics met, their game ended with a prayer. In the rematch Friday night in Boston, it’s likely to begin with a hug. Such was the mind-set of Nuggets players when the lasting image of their 96-92 home win over the Celtics on Nov. 22 was of Boston star Kemba Walker being carted off the floor on a stretcher after suffering a head injury in the second quarter. Turns out any prayers were answered, as Walker missed just one game with a sprained neck, and he’s returned to average 25.0 points in Boston’s last four games. The Celtics have won four of five (including the game Walker missed at Sacramento) and here get their second opportunity to avenge an earlier defeat. They were successful the first time in the Walker-loss triumph against the Kings. They’ll be up against a Nuggets team that got the best of both worlds on the front end of a back-to-back in New York on Thursday night. Not only did Denver tip off a four-game trip with a win, 129-92, but did so with no starter being pushed harder than 25 minutes. Five Nuggets reserves scored in double figures in the team’s most lopsided victory of the year.

Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Denver Nuggets +3.5
Total Points: Over 203.5

Golden State Warriors vs Chicago Bulls

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

The Chicago Bulls were embarrassed by a 14-point road loss against the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 27. Now, the team has a chance to avenge its pre-Thanksgiving shellacking as the Bulls and Warriors tip off Friday night at the United Center. Chicago is coming off back-to-back wins for the first time this season and will try to make it three in a row against Golden State. Zach LaVine has provided a lift for the Bulls as of late, including a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night in which LaVine scored or assisted on 13 consecutive points late in the fourth quarter. Golden State coach Steve Kerr, a former sharpshooter for the Bulls, remains committed to developing his young roster. Rookie Eric Paschall had 25 points and seven rebounds in his first game against Chicago, and Alec Burks finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Chicago remains without perimeter players Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison because of injuries, which has created an opportunity for Kris Dunn to start at small forward. Chicago is 4-7 at home. Golden State is 2-12 on the road.

Win: Chicago Bulls
Line: Golden State Warriors +5.5
Total Points: Over 212.5

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

Two teams trying to remain relevant in the Western Conference playoff race go in search of a much needed win when the Minnesota Timberwolves and host Oklahoma City Thunder clash for the first of four times this season on Friday night. The Timberwolves (10-10) haven’t fallen under .500 this season, but need to win for the first time in three games to retain that distinction. They did just that the last two times in which a loss would have dropped them below the break-even mark, with both of those wins coming on the road. The Thunder (8-12), meanwhile, have been looking up at the .500 mark all season, and dropped another game below when they fell in the opener of a two-game homestand 107-100 to Indiana on Wednesday. The game pits two high-scoring guards, with the Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins having gone for 20 or more points in 14 of his 17 outings this season, while the Thunder’s Dennis Schroder has been nearly that good (18.5 points per game on 47-percent shooting) over his last eight contests. Minnesota has done a majority of its winning on the road this season (7-3), while six of Oklahoma City’s eight wins have come at home.

Win: Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Oklahoma City Thunder -2.5
Total Points: Under 221.5

Washington Wizards vs Miami Heat

Venue: American Airlines Arena | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

When the Miami Heat has the offense rolling, it has been difficult to stop. So a good thing for the Heat might be that the Washington Wizards haven’t slowed down many teams. The Wizards and Heat meet for the first time this season Friday night at Miami. The Wizards snapped a three-game losing streak by winning Thursday night at home against the Philadelphia 76ers. Washington surrendered at least 125 points in four consecutive games before defeating the 76ers 119-113. That game also marked the season debut for Washington center Ian Mahinmi, who had an Achilles ailment. The Wizards will be playing on back-to-back nights for just the second time this season. The Heat had a three-game winning streak snapped Wednesday night at Boston despite 37 points from forward Jimmy Butler. The 112-97 setback marked only the fourth time this season the Heat failed to score at least 100 points, and Miami has lost each of those games. Butler, who averages 20.1 points per game, has led the Heat in scoring in eight games of the 17 games in which he has played. Maybe because its shooting percentage has declined, but Miami has collected an average of 11.3 offensive rebounds in three games this month. This is the start of a four-game homestand across eight nights for Miami.

Win: Miami Heat
Line: Washington Wizards +9.5
Total Points: Under 215.5

Sacramento Kings vs San Antonio Spurs

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

San Antonio is not complaining after a wild, double-overtime win over the in-state rival Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. Now, the Spurs will try to make it two wins in a row – and three in their last four games – when they host the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. San Antonio has not won multiple games in a row since the start of the season in late October, when the club opened with three straight wins over the New York Knicks, Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers. The Spurs are led in scoring by veteran guard DeMar DeRozan, who is averaging 21.7 points to go along with 5.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 22 starts. Veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge is second on the team with 18.9 points per game on 51.7 percent shooting. The Kings are led by a young but confident group that includes Buddy Hield, who leads the team with 20.9 points in 20 starts on the season. Harrison Barnes has provided steady contribution on offense with 16.3 points per game. The Spurs are 6-6 at home. Sacramento is 3-8 on the road.

Win: San Antonio Spurs
Line: Sacramento Kings +3.5
Total Points: Over 210.5

Los Angeles Clippers vs Milwaukee Bucks

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

The Los Angeles Clippers have cruised to back-to-back wins by a combined margin of 45 points over the Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers. Now comes one of the toughest matchups in the NBA as the Milwaukee Bucks get ready to host the Clippers. Milwaukee is working on a remarkable 13-game winning streak and would like to extend that number to 14 if at all possible. The Bucks pulled away for a resounding 127-103 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo has helped the Bucks race to a 19-3 start with 31.0 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 22 starts. He is shooting 56.5 percent from the field. The Clippers also boast a superstar in veteran forward Kawhi Leonard, who is averaging 25.0 points to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 16 starts in his first season in Los Angeles. Paul George is averaging 23.5 points per game and will give the Bucks some matchup problems on defense as they try to stop both players.

Win: Milwaukee bucks
Line: Los Angeles Clippers +3.5
Total Points: Under 232.5

Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers

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

The Los Angeles Lakers’ message-sending journey continues Friday night when the Western Conference’s top team visits the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers have opened what appeared to be a tough three-game trip with statements wins at Denver and Utah. The veteran-laden squad even conquered a back-to-back along the way, thrashing the Jazz 121-96 in the nightcap on Wednesday. A trip to Portland means encountering one of last year’s Western finalists, a club that has dominated the Lakers to the tune of four consecutive season-series sweeps before the teams split four games last season. Much of that damage was done before LeBron James’ arrival in LA, and none has come since Anthony Davis gave the Lakers a dynamic duo. The James/Davis-led Lakers (19-3) haven’t taken kindly to losses, responding to their first with seven straight wins, their second with 10 in a row and now their third with back-to-back triumphs. The Trail Blazers have won four of five, including 127-116 over Sacramento on Wednesday in another impressive outing by Carmelo Anthony in anticipation of Friday’s showdown with longtime rival James, who has applauded the veteran’s comeback … so far.

Win: Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Los Angeles Lakers -3.5
Total Points: Under 221.5