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Thursday, January 9, 2020

PACERS VS HEAT

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

Two of the NBA’s biggest surprises meet in Indianapolis on Wednesday. Miami stands 26-10 overall and has the NBA’s best home record at 17-1. The Pacers, who were without point guard Malcolm Brogdon (back), were led on Monday by 6-foot-5 wing T.J. Warren, who scored 30 of his season-high 36 points in the second half. Miami hasn’t played since beating the Portland Trail Blazers 122-111 on Sunday night. Due to back pain, the Heat played that Blazers game without 6-7 shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who leads Miami in scoring (20.4), assists (6.6) and steals (2.0). Miami has played the past 15 games without point forward Justise Winslow, who has a back injury. Winslow is averaging 12.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.3 rebounds.

Win: Indiana Pacers
Line: Miami Heat +1.5
Total Points: Under 210.5

CELTICS VS SPURS

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

Boston and San Antonio square off for the first time since the Celtics took a 135-115 decision at San Antonio on Nov. 9. The Celtics had lost 14 of their last 15 to the Spurs entering that game. The Spurs lit up the nets from long range and took down the Milwaukee Bucks in a 126-104 defeat on Monday. The Spurs hit 19 of 35 tries from deep, including a franchise-record-tying 12 makes in the first half. Boston lost Monday against the lowly Washington Wizards and played its third straight game without leading scorer Kemba Walker, who has been sidelined by the flu. Walker is questionable. No Walker brought offensive issues, including 17 points in the first quarter and 40 in the first half. Jaylen Brown scored 23 points against Washington, but he hit just 7 of 22 field goal tries as Boston shot 34.7 percent. But the Celtics have won eight of their last 10 games and are 14-2 at home.

Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Boston Celtics -7.5
Total Points: Under 225.5

HORNETS VS RAPTORS

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

The Hornets are ready to show the Toronto Raptors a few improvements Wednesday, starting with invigorated point guard Terry Rozier. With the Raptors missing top scorer Pascal Siakam among a slew of injuries, health has been the biggest battle for Toronto. “We’re low on bodies,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. With Kemba Walker in Boston, Rozier is emerging as part of a productive backcourt combination with Devonte’ Graham. Rozier recently has kicked to the shooting guard position and flourishing with 30, 29 and 28 points in the past three games. He has led Charlotte in scoring in six of the past nine games. But Charlotte has lost seven of its past nine games, including dropping a 115-104 decision to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. Toronto won 132-96 against visiting Charlotte on Nov. 18, but the Raptors are shorthanded and going back to back for the second time since Christmas.

Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: Toronto Raptors -2.5
Total Points: Under 207.5

MAGIC VS WIZARDS

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

The Washington Wizards can push their winning streak to three on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, who won the most recent meeting 122-101 on New Year’s Day. Orlando is getting great play out of 21-year-old Markelle Fultz, who pumped in 12 points in the fourth quarter of the last game. Fultz made 11 of 20 shots (both career highs) and 2 of 5 from 3-point range. He added five rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes. Fultz’s previous career high in scoring was 20 points in a 127-120 win at Washington on Dec. 3. Backup point guard Ish Smith, who scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards defeated the visiting Celtics 99-94 on Monday night to cap a 3-3 homestand, is providing some scoring punch for the Wizards. They are without shooting guard Bradley Beal (lower right leg soreness), who missed his third straight game, prized rookie Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and Davis Bertans.

Win: Orlando Magic
Line: Orlando Magic -9.5
Total Points: Over 221.5

HAWKS VS ROCKETS

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

The Houston Rockets are in Atlanta, having won the past five meetings against the Hawks, to open a two-game roadtrip. Russell Westbrook will sit this one out to be fresh for his return to Oklahoma City on Thursday night. Houston has won two straight games in Atlanta after losing six of the previous eight there. In the previous matchup, the Hawks put up 111 points but fell well short of the Rockets – who poured in 158 points on Nov. 30 in Houston, a game best-remembered by James Harden’s 60-point effort. Atlanta has won two of four since enduring a second 10-game losing streak this season but lost to Denver on Monday. The Hawks are paced by guard Trae Young, who had 29 points and 12 assists against Denver to garner his 11th double-double of the season. Young scored 37 against the Rockets in November.

Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Houston Rockets -8.5
Total Points: Under 237.5

MAVERICKS VS NUGGETS

Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT

In some ways, All-Star Nikola Jokic cannot win in Denver. Expectations are so high for Jokic that when he’s not perfect, he is hearing it from the home fans. That’s the space Luka Doncic has entered in Dallas, where even after a 40-point triple-double he shrugged and smiled at his numbers as if to say “what else did you expect?” Doncic and Jokic are going head-to-head on Wednesday in a bout between two of the exciting young teams in the Western Conference. Dallas is sixth in the Western Conference standings at 23-13, just two games behind second-place Denver. The Mavericks face the Nuggets without 7-foot-3 forward Kristaps Porzingis, who will miss his fifth straight game with right knee soreness. Doncic arrives fresh off of a 38-point, 11-rebound and 10-assist performance against the Bulls, giving him his ninth triple-double when scoring 30 or more points.

Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: Denver Nuggets +3.5
Total Points: Under 220.5

PELICANS VS BULLS

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

Two of the Eastern Conference’s bottom teams collide in New Orleans on Wednesday night. The Pelicans are not expected to play Zion Williamson (knee) in the game and are 14th in the Eastern Conference. Of late, Lonzo Ball is picking up the scoring with four consecutive games over 20 points. Paired with Brandon Ingram, he has helped the Pelicans find consistent points. Problems have been at the other end of the floor, where Williamson should lend a big hand soon. The Bulls have lost four straight and five of six after falling 118-110 at Dallas on Monday. That dropped them to a season-worst 11 games under .500. One of Chicago’s best interior defenders, Wendell Carter Jr. exited the court in a wheelchair after injuring his right ankle in the third quarter against the Mavericks. He won’t be available against New Orleans.

Win: New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Chicago Bulls +3.5
Total Points: Under 224.5

JAZZ VS KNICKS

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

The Knicks attempt to quickly gain their balance after a 40-point shellacking at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. But Utah has begun making a move in the Western Conference standings with an 11-1 record in its past 12 games. Utah closed out a successful three-game road swing on Monday with a 128-126 victory over New Orleans. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with a season-high 35 points on 11-of-21 shooting. New York lost control very quickly in a 117-87 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night. The Knicks shot 38.9 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers. Utah swept both games with New York last season by an average margin of 26.5 points. Rudy Gobert averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in those contests.

Win: Utah Jazz
Line: New York Knicks +14.5
Total Points: Over 213.5

WARRIORS VS BUCKS

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

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks make their first visit to Chase Center to play the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. They’ll find plenty has changed for the Warriors, who are riding with a slew of new faces in their state-of-the-art arena with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson still sitting with injuries. Milwaukee needs no help figuring out its lineups, but the Bucks remain challenged by their 3-point shot They died by the 3-pointer against the Spurs to open a four-stop trip with loss at San Antonio. The 3-point shot has overall become a big weapon for the Bucks this season. Heading into Tuesday’s games, they ranked fourth in the NBA in attempts per game (39.1) and makes (14.0) while shooting 35.9 percent, the 14th-best mark in the league. The loss in San Antonio snapped a five-game winning streak, gave the Bucks a 32-6 record.

Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Golden State Warriors +13.5
Total Points: Under 217.5