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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

WIZARDS VS CELTICS

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

The Boston Celtics have won three in a row and eight of their past nine games, but they had better not look past the injury-plagued Washington Wizards on Monday night in the nation’s capital. The Wizards have caught two top teams napping of late, most recently the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. Despite playing without Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant, the Wizards thumped the Nuggets 128-114 behind another enormous performance from their bench. Ish Smith scored a team-high 32 points off the bench, leading a host of reserves who accounted for 92 points for the Wizards. The Wizards have stayed true to their up-tempo style despite playing without their top four scorers. Washington crushed Miami by 18 on Dec. 30. The Celtics again will be without leading scorer Kemba Walker against the Wizards. Walker has missed consecutive games with the flu. The Celtics are coming off a 111-104 win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, despite another slow start. Jayson Tatum led with 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting, while Gordon Hayward added 24 points. It’s the second of a four-game season series between the two teams. The Celtics outpaced Washington 140-133 on Nov. 13 in Boston. Washington’s Ian Mahinmi, who has started 12 games, is questionable with a finger.

Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Washington Wizards +8.5
Total Points: Under 226.5

MAGIC VS NETS

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

The Brooklyn Nets will look to end a season-worst five-game winning streak when they visit the Orlando Magic on Monday night. The Nets’ biggest bugaboo is their play in the fourth quarter. The Nets have been outscored 132-103 in the final stanza during their five-game skid, the latest example coming Saturday night when the Toronto Raptors outscored the Nets 38-22 in the fourth quarter. The Nets would go on to lose 121-102, ruining the return of Caris LeVert, who scored 13 points in his first game since Nov. 10 after surgery on his injured thumb. LeVert has been ruled out of Monday’s game against Orlando with injury management on the thumb but is expected to play Tuesday. The Magic are coming off a 109-96 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night in Florida. The Magic have lost nine of their past 14 games. Terrence Ross has emerged as a go-to performer for Orlando of late. He led the Magic with 24 points against the Jazz and is averaging 21.3 points in his last three games. In addition, DeAndre Jordan (knee contusion) was added to the Nets’ injury report but he is probable to play, as is Nic Claxton (hamstring), who has been out since early December.

Win: Orlando Magic
Line: Brooklyn Nets +5.5
Total Points: Over 211.5

HORNETS VS PACERS

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

The Charlotte Hornets have used a couple of fourth-quarter comebacks to win consecutive games. Now they are back home to face the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. The Hornets have comeback from nine down and 12 down in the fourth quarter the past two games. In Saturday night’s 123-120 overtime victory at Dallas, Terry Rozier’s 29 points and Devonte’ Graham’s 27 points led the way. Rozier scored only three points in 25 minutes in a December loss to Indiana. Charlotte has lost its last three home games. The Pacers have lost four of their last five games, most recently falling 116-111 on Saturday night at Atlanta. The Pacers have been bemoaning a series of slow starts, and the Hornets had a rare sizzling beginning to a game when they led Dallas by 20 points in the first half before a rapid change of momentum. Indiana wiped out a 22-point hole against Atlanta, but then couldn’t maintain the lead once they went ahead. The Pacers, who’ve dropped their last four road games, are without injured guard Malcolm Brogdon on the road trip. Indiana trounced the Hornets 107-85 last month at home behind Aaron Holiday’s 23 points. For Pacers forward T.J. Warren, this marks a return to his home state for a game.

Win: Indiana Pacers
Line: Charlotte Hornets +5.5
Total Points: Under 208.5

76ERS VS THUNDER

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

The Oklahoma City Thunder has not flinched in recent road games, winning four consecutive. The Thunder takes an overall five-game winning streak into Monday night’s game at Philadelphia. The Thunder uses guard Dennis Schroder as a key weapon off the bench as he has scored at least 17 points in 17 consecutive games. Oklahoma City is 9-1 across its last 10 games, while Philadelphia has won three games during that same stretch. The 76ers have lost four games in a row, most recently in Friday night’s 118-108 loss at Houston. Yet that game marked the type of versatile performance from Ben Simmons (29 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) that many observers often envisioned for the talented player who has sometimes struggled to live up to massive expectations. The 76ers are 16-2 at home, while the Thunder is 8-9 in road games. The Thunder won a November meeting at home by 127-119 in overtime. The 76ers used their size to create problems in that game by securing 13 offensive rebounds. Joel Embiid had 31 points in that game for Philadelphia. This will be the 76ers’ only game during a five-day stretch, but after Wednesday they won’t have two consecutive days off again until Jan. 23-24.

Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Oklahoma City Thunder +7.5
Total Points: Under 213.5

HAWKS VS NUGGETS

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

The Atlanta Hawks will take a new look into the new year as winners in two of their last three games. The Hawks will get set to play host to the Denver Nuggets on Monday. With a 10-game losing streak behind them, the Hawks are playing a far better brand of basketball. Even in their defeat to the Boston Celtics on Friday they had the ball in the closing seconds with a chance to take the lead. Trae Young scored 41 points in Saturday’s 116-111 home victory over the Indiana Pacers, getting past the disappointment of his late go-ahead 3-point attempt getting blocked in the loss to the Celtics. Young’s 30 points in the opening two quarters against the Pacers was the highest scoring half of his young career. Atlanta has won just four times in 16 home games this season. The Nuggets are in opposite form, having delivered a strong December but they enter off two defeats in their last three games. The most recent defeat came Saturday in a 128-114 decision on the road against the Washington Wizards. Jamal Murray scored 39 points, all after the first quarter, while Nikola Jokic had 14 points and 10 rebounds. But Denver had 16 less rebounds and shot 20.7 percent from 3-point range. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone called the performance, “embarrassing.”

Win: Denver Nuggets
Line: Denver Nuggets -7.5
Total Points: Under 223.5

PELICANS VS JAZZ

Venue: Smoothie King Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

A clash between two of the hotter teams in the NBA will go down in the Big Easy when the New Orleans Pelicans play host to the Utah Jazz. The surprise Pelicans have won five of their last six games and six of their last eight after a 13-game losing streak. The Jazz will enter on a five-game winning streak having also won 10 of their last 11 games. New Orleans has been led of late by a more offensive-minded Lonzo Ball, who has averaged 24.7 points over his last three games, well above his 11.8 average on the season. He has also made 17 3-pointers over his last four games, while also recording double digits in assists in two of his last three. New Orleans is returning home where it defeated the Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets on back-to-back nights Dec. 28 and 29. The Jazz are feeling more comfortable on the road, having won six of their last seven away from Salt Lake City and finally moving above .500 as a visitor (10-9). Utah has started the new year with victories at Chicago and Orlando. Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points in Utah’s 109-96 victory over the Magic on Saturday.

Win: Utah Jazz
Line: Utah Jazz -2.5
Total Points: Under 223.5

SPURS VS BUCKS

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

The Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs will play it again Monday, two days after the Bucks earned a 127-118 home victory over the Spurs. The back-to-back games are the only two the teams are scheduled to play against each other this season, with the rematch set to be played at San Antonio. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Saturday’s victory, Milwaukee’s fifth consecutive and eighth in their last nine games. The Bucks are an NBA-best 32-5 and their only loss since Dec. 16 came on Christmas Day to the Philadelphia 76ers. Monday’s game is the launching point of a four-game trip that will eventually take the Bucks to the West Coast. Milwaukee is an Eastern Conference-best 14-3 in road games this season. Among the many issues facing the 14-20 Spurs, one is that the Bucks are 23-0 against teams under .500. San Antonio was blatantly aggressive on defense against Antetokounmpo on Saturday, sending him to the free-throw line 18 times, including 10 in the third quarter alone. The ploy backfired as the NBA’s most recent MVP made 15 from the line, including all of his third-quarter attempts. DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 26 points in the defeat. Trey Lyles and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 24 rebounds.

Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Milwaukee Bucks -7.5
Total Points: Under 229.5

MAVERICKS VS BULLS

Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT

The Dallas Mavericks figured to put together a good stretch in home games, but that hasn’t been the case. They have another chance for that Monday night against the Chicago Bulls. Dallas dropped to 2-4 in its last six home games with a 123-120 overtime loss Saturday night to the Charlotte Hornets, who overcame a 12-point four-quarter deficit. So it’s easy to look at the rough edges involving the Mavericks, who could take the positive aspect in seeing the development from Maxi Kleber after his career-high 24 points against Charlotte. Still, the Mavericks have had too many glitches during the three games without injured Kristaps Porzingis, who has a sore knee and has been listed as day-to-day. Luca Doncic’s 10th triple-double of the season for the Mavericks came Saturday night, setting a single-season Dallas record in that category as part of a 39-point outing. This will mark the third game of Dallas’ season-long six-game homestand. The Bulls are reeling as well with a three-game losing streak as they step away from a four-game homestand. Chicago swingman Zach LaVine registered 35 points in Saturday’s 111-104 loss to the Boston Celtics. The Bulls have failed to reach the 100-point mark in seven of their last 19 games.

Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: Chicago Bulls +8.5
Total Points: Under 217.5

KINGS VS WARRIORS

Venue: Golden 1 Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT

Two of the three worst teams in the Western Conference will do battle Monday night when the Golden State Warriors make the short trip to play the Sacramento Kings. The teams have 22 wins between them and both, accordingly, are coming off losses Saturday. The Warriors dropped their fourth in a row, losing 111-104 to the Detroit Pistons in San Francisco. The Kings have lost nine of their past 10, the latest a 117-115 decision against the New Orleans Pelicans at home. The Kings are 1-2 on their four-game homestand. Injuries have defined the Warriors this season and Monday will be no different. D’Angelo Russell (shoulder), Draymond Green (ankle) and Kevon Looney (abdomen) are all out against the Kings. Guard Alec Burks is the best of the rest, leading the active Warriors with 16.0 points per game. Burks scored a game-high 27 points against the Pistons. The Kings beat up on Golden State in the first meeting of their four-game season series 100-79 on Dec. 15 in San Francisco. Bogdan Bogdanovich led the Kings with 25 in that one, but he didn’t play Saturday against the Pelicans. Neither did Marvin Bagley, who has been dealing with a foot sprain.

Win: Sacramento Kings
Line: Golden State Warriors +12.5
Total Points:  Under 213.5