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Monday, January 6, 2020
CLIPPERS VS KNICKS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 7:30am AEDT
Doc Rivers would rather be watching football, but instead will be coaching his Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon when they complete a daytime back-to-back set against the visiting New York Knicks. Rivers admitted he doesn’t like afternoon basketball games even
before his team got clobbered 140-114 at home by the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. That loss, which featured a rare technical foul on Kawhi Leonard, came without Paul George, who watched while resting a tight left hamstring. He hopes to be able to join in on the action Sunday, when the Clippers face a Knicks team that has won three of four. The lone loss in the stretch occurred Friday night at Phoenix in the opener of a four-game Western swing that will see the Knicks retain their same hotel rooms an extra two days so that they can return to the Staples Center court Tuesday night to face the Lakers. Ex-Laker Julius Randle is a big reason for New York’s recent surge, having recorded three straight double-doubles, averaging 21.7 points and 14.0 rebounds in those games. The Knicks and Clippers will be meeting for the first time this season.
Win: LA Clippers
Line: New York Knicks +8.5
HEAT VS TRAIL BLAZERS
Venue: American Airlines Arena | Start: 10:00am AEDT
A familiar face will return to South Florida when the Portland Trail Blazers visit the Miami Heat on Sunday evening. It will mark the first game back in Miami for ex-Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who was shipped to Portland during the offseason. The 30-year-old Whiteside spent the previous five seasons with the Heat, who gave him a chance to resurrect his career after he spent a couple seasons out of the league. Now, Whiteside has developed into a reliable big man, and he is averaging 15.7 points and 13.8 rebounds in his first season with the Trail Blazers. Portland is looking for back-to-back wins after losing the previous five games in a row. Meanwhile, Miami has swapped wins and losses in each of the past four games and will try to get right on its home court, where it has not lost since Dec. 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Jimmy Butler leads the Heat in scoring this season with 20.4 points per game. Whiteside could match up against Miami’s new primary center, Bam Adebayo, who is averaging 15.5 points and 10.7 rebounds in 35 starts. This is the first of two games between the teams this season.
Win: Miami Heat
Line: Miami Heat -5.5
Total Points: Under 220.5
CAVALIERS VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Cleveland Cavaliers hope the sight of his former team helps cheer up Kevin Love when the Minnesota Timberwolves visit Sunday night. Love reportedly shouted at Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman at the team shootaround Saturday afternoon, before contributing
just 12 points and three rebounds in 30 minutes to a 121-106 home loss to Oklahoma City. Love sat out Cleveland’s 94-88 win at Minnesota last Saturday because of a bruised hip, and must always be considered a bit questionable for the second half of a back-to-back
such at Sunday’s rematch. He wasn’t the only star who didn’t suit up for last week’s meeting, as the Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns (strained knee) and Andrew Wiggins (illness). Neither has played since, either, although both participated in practice Saturday, with Wiggins the more likely of the two to return against the Cavaliers. Cleveland has lost three in a row, while Minnesota will be seeking to end a six-game sequence of alternating losses and wins. Despite not having Towns and Wiggins, the Timberwolves
were able to handle Golden State 99-84 in their most recent game Thursday. The key to the Cavaliers’ win at Minnesota last week: A 26-14 edge in free throw points, which helped them overcome 29 turnovers.
Win: Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Cleveland Cavaliers +2.5
SUNS VS GRIZZLIES
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns will meet for the third time in as many months when the teams convene Sunday night in Arizona. Phoenix won the first matchup 114-105 on Nov. 2 in Memphis, but then the Grizzlies returned the favor with a 115-108 win on Dec. 11. Now, Phoenix has a chance to be the first home team to win a game in the series this season. The Suns are led by Devin Booker, a terrific playmaker who is averaging 25.6 points and 6.5 assists on the season. Kelly Oubre has provided much-needed depth in the frontcourt with 18.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for the Suns. Memphis will counter with its own highlight-reel playmaker, rookie Ja Morant, who is coming off a 22-point effort in a 140-114 win over the host Los Angeles Clippers one night earlier. Morant made 7 of 10 shots from the field and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Jae Crowder led the Grizzlies with 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Memphis is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-December. Phoenix has won three of its last four games.
Win: Phoenix Suns
Line: Phoenix Suns -6.5
Total Points: Under 234.5
LAKERS VS PISTONS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT
The Los Angeles Lakers will be attempting to improve on their current winning streak, while the visiting Detroit Pistons will be looking to create a rare one, when the clubs square off Sunday night in the nightcap of a Staples Center double-header. About four hours after the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers are expected to complete an afternoon affair, the Lakers will continue a five-game homestand that has begun with double-digit victories over Dallas, Phoenix and New Orleans. Friday’s 123-113 victory over the Pelicans — the Lakers’ fourth straight win overall — featured a 46-point, 13-rebound explosion by Anthony Davis. The Pistons will look to counter that with a double-double machine of their own, center Andre Drummond, whose 14 points and 18 rebounds helped Detroit snap a three-game losing streak with a 111-104 win at Golden State on Saturday night. Blake Griffin missed the game with a strained knee, just as he did Thursday when the Pistons made another Staples Center stop to face the former All-Star’s old team, the Clippers. The Pistons haven’t won two in a row in almost a month, since they beat Indiana and New Orleans in succession on Dec. 6-9. The head-to-head will be the first of the season for the Pistons and Lakers.
Win: LA Lakers
Line: Detroit Pistons -15.5