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NBA Tips – Thursday, January 23, 2020
MAGIC VS THUNDER
Venue: Amway Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Orlando Magic return home off their longest road trip of the season to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, coming off a season-defining victory. The Magic will be playing their first game at home in two weeks after completing a six-game tour through the West Coast and Charlotte, where they trounced the Hornets 106-83 on Monday to finish the trip 3-3. Evan Fournier led the Magic with 26 points despite fighting off an illness. The Magic blew it open early in the fourth with a 27-8 spurt. The Thunder have won consecutive games after an impressive rally at Houston on Monday. Oklahoma City was down 15 points in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul scored 28 points, with 27 of those in the first half. Danilo Gallinari (25 points) and Dennis Schroder led the late charge. Schroder scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half. The Thunder defeated the Magic earlier this season in Oklahoma City 102-94 on Nov. 5. It was just the seventh game of the season for both. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led OKC with 24 points and Steven Adams contributed a double-double. Adams left the game against Houston after injuring his ankle.
Win: Orlando Magic
Line: Orlando Magic -1.5
Total Points: Under 209.5
PISTONS VS KINGS
Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Sacramento Kings will try to snap a five-game losing streak when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Sacramento has lost three of those five games by single digits, including a 118-113 defeat in overtime against the Miami Heat in their most recent game Monday evening. Nemanja Bjelica led the Kings with 22 points, Buddy Hield added 20 points, and Marvin Bagley posted a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Now the Kings must turn their attention to Detroit, which has won two of its last three games but is coming off a 106-100 loss against the Washington Wizards on Monday afternoon. Derrick Rose scored 21 points to lead the Pistons, and Andre Drummond provided another strong performance in the paint with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Both teams have produced similarly on offense, with Detroit averaging 108.9 points per game and Sacramento averaging 106.8 points. On defense, Sacramento is allowing 110.1 points per game and Detroit is giving up 110.8. This is the first of two meetings this season between the teams. They also will play against each other March 1 in Sacramento.
Win: Detroit Pistons
Line: Detroit Pistons -1.5
Total Points: Under 221.5
HEAT VS WIZARDS
Venue: American Airlines Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The last time the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards played in late December, the Heat were felled by players like Jordan McRae, Garrison Mathews and Ian Mahinmi. At least they know what they’re up against Wednesday night when Bradley Beal leads the Wizards into Miami. Beal, the Wizards’ leading scorer, is coming off a 29-point outing Monday night against the Detroit Pistons, a game the Wizards won by six to snap a three-game skid. The Wizards are healthier now than they were in the last meeting, but they continue to struggle defensively and on the road. The Wizards give up a league-worst 119.8 points per game and are 5-17 away from D.C. The Heat are coming off an impressive overtime win against the Sacramento Kings on Monday. The Heat never led in the fourth quarter, trailed in overtime and still found a way to win, all without leading scorer Jimmy Butler, who sat out with a sore hip. The Heat improved to 19-1 in Miami, matching last season’s home win total. The Heat have won three of their past four. Derrick Jones Jr. left the game after getting poked in both eyes. The Heat won the first game of the season series on Dec. 6, 112-103 in Miami.
Win: Miami Heat
Line: Washington Wizards +9.5
Total Points: Under 229.5
RAPTORS VS 76ERS
Venue: Scotiabank Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors each will carry four-game winning streaks into their matchup Wednesday night in Toronto. The teams have played each other twice already this season, splitting those games, with the home team winning each time. Philadelphia will be without center Joel Embiid, who is sidelined because of a torn ligament in his left ring finger. Embiid’s absence could increase the pressure for another dominant performance from Ben Simmons, who posted a triple-double his last time out with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. He shot 12 of 14 from the field. Veteran forward Al Horford also will look to contribute after scoring 19 points on 9-for-15 shooting in a win over the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors are led in scoring by Pascal Siakam, who is averaging 23.7 points per game. Toronto is coming off a win over the Atlanta Hawks that featured a team-high 27 points from Norman Powell, who made 7 of 14 shots from the field and 6 of 9 shots from beyond the arc. The Raptors are 15-7 at home this season. The 76ers are 9-14 on the road. A defensive battle could be in store with the 76ers ranked No. 2 in defense (105.0 points allowed per game) and the Raptors ranked No. 6 (106.2).
Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: Philadelphia 76ers +6.5
Total Points: Under 217.5
HAWKS VS CLIPPERS
Venue: State Farm Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Los Angeles Clippers could be extremely shorthanded when they travel to Atlanta for a game against the Hawks on Wednesday. Defensive stalwart Patrick Beverley left Tuesday’s game at Dallas with a sore right groin, Paul George is expected to miss his seventh consecutive game with a sore left hamstring and Kawhi Leonard typically does not play in both games of a back-to-back. Leonard scored 36 points in Tuesday’s 110-107 victory against the Mavericks, including 11 in the final quarter. The Clippers have won four consecutive games and eight of their last 10. It was Leonard’s sixth consecutive game of at least 30 points, matching a career-long streak. On Nov. 16 in Los Angeles, the Clippers found their offense in a 150-101 blowout victory over the Hawks, one of two 150-point games this season. It was also the largest margin of victory in franchise history. George scored 37 in that one in just 20 minutes on the court of his home debut with the Clippers. Leonard didn’t play. The Hawks have just 10 victories but two have come in their last four games. They dropped their last two games, including a 122-117 decision at home to the Toronto Raptors on Monday. Trae Young scored 42 points against the Raptors, his seventh game with 40 or more this season.
Win: LA Clippers
Line: LA Clippers -3.5
Total Points: 234.5
KNICKS VS LAKERS
Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Los Angeles Lakers are angry and tied for the best road record in the NBA. The New York Knicks are hapless and tied for the third-worst overall record in the league. It could get ugly Wednesday night in Manhattan. The Lakers got trounced Monday night in Boston 139-107 despite the return of Anthony Davis. The Celtics had been reeling but they hung 69 points on the Lakers in the first half, the most given up by L.A. this season. The Lakers watched Boston make 13 of its first 23 3-point attempts. Davis played 23 minutes after missing the past five games with a bruise near his tailbone and scored just nine points. The Knicks are coming off a win Monday night after a three-game losing skid. They put together a strong second half and trounced the Cavaliers by 20. Marcus Morris Sr. and Julius Randle each scored 19 in the win. But it was just their third win in January as they have lost eight of 11 to start the new year on their way to another lottery pick in June. The Lakers blew out the Knicks by 30 in L.A. on Jan. 8, a game better known for the fall that Davis suffered that forced him to miss five games.
Win: LA Lakers
Line: LA Lakers -11.5
Total Points: Under 233.5
CELTICS VS GRIZZLIES
Venue: TD Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Boston Celtics got their act back together in a big way Monday night, but they had better bring their A-game again Wednesday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies. The Celtics snapped a three-game skid by blowing out the Los Angeles Lakers, who came into the contest with the NBA’s best road record. Kemba Walker (illness/knee) and Jaylen Brown (thumb) returned for the Celtics and they trounced the Lakers 139-107 behind 20 points each from their two stars. The Celtics had lost six of eight heading into the game, including consecutive losses at home. Now they draw the young Grizzlies who are coming off a loss but are 10-3 since Dec. 21. The Grizzlies lost to the equally hot New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night at home 126-116. Dillon Brooks went for 31 points but he was topped by Jrue Holiday, who made his return from a five-game absence with a game-high 36 points. Holiday nailed seven 3-pointers in leading the Pelicans to a franchise-record 21 for the game. Rookie Ja Morant leads Memphis in scoring (17.9 points) and assists (7.0). Walker leads the Celtics at 22.1 points per game and showed that he is recovered from his ailments.
Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Memphis Grizzlies +7.5
Total Points: Under 231.5
BULLS VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: United Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Minnesota Timberwolves have lost six games in a row as they travel to take on the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. Minnesota is coming off a 107-100 loss against the Denver Nuggets on Monday despite a strong performance from veteran center Karl-Anthony Towns, who scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished five assists. Towns could be in store for another big day against the Bulls, who are depleted in the frontcourt because of injuries to Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) and Daniel Gafford (thumb). Despite a slew of injuries, the Bulls have looked competitive in recent weeks. They have won three of their past six games but are coming off a 111-98 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks. Bulls coach Jim Boylen could not design a way to stop Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who posted his fourth triple-double of the season. Former Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine leads the Bulls in scoring with 25.0 points per game, and Lauri Markkanen is second on the club with 14.9 points per game. Towns is tops on the Timberwolves with 26.0 points per contest. This is the first of two games this season between the Bulls and Timberwolves. Their second matchup is slated for March 4 in Minneapolis.
Win: Chicago Bulls
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves +1.5
Total Points: Under 219.5
PELICANS VS SPURS
Venue: Smoothie King Center | Start: 1:30pm AEDT
The San Antonio Spurs will meet head on with Zion Williamson for the first of what could be four times this season when the New Orleans Pelicans raise the curtain on the rookie’s NBA career on Wednesday. Williamson is expected to start and reportedly will not have a minutes restriction as he makes his debut folowing a right-knee injury in the preseason. The Pelicans and Spurs not only will meet four times in the final three months, three come in a four-week span in March and April. Williamson joins a team that has warmed up without him. The Pelicans were 6-22 on Dec. 17, but have gone 11-5 since, including a 126-116 win at Memphis on Monday. The Spurs not only will be seeking to spoil the former Duke star’s big night but also to build a three-game winning streak for the first time. San Antonio has been as inconsistent as they come since starting the year 5-11, with no winning or losing streak of greater than two games in the past two months. Both teams are in good health, with the only significant question marks being the Spurs’ Rudy Gay (missed three straight with an illness) and the Pelicans’ Derrick Favors (sat out the Memphis game with a sore back).
Win: New Orleans Pelicans
Line: New Orleans Pelicans -3.5
Total Points: Under 237.5
ROCKETS VS NUGGETS
Venue: Toyota Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Houston Rockets will play host to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday wondering if they finally have hit rock bottom after a 112-107 home defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was the Rockets’ season-high fourth consecutive defeat and fifth in their six games. James Harden went just 1 of 17 from 3-point range but still contributed 29 points to the effort. Immediately after the game, he spent nearly a half hour working on his long-range shooting. Russell Westbrook had 32 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, his fifth consecutive game with 30 or more points and his eighth triple-double. The Rockets’ Austin Rivers has missed the last two games with a thumb injury. The Nuggets will enter with four victories over their last five games, including a 107-100 road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday when Michael Porter Jr. had 20 points and 14 rebounds. Nikola Jokic had 17 points and 13 rebounds for Denver. Paul Millsap (knee) missed his seventh consecutive game, Gary Harris Jr. (hip) missed his fourth and Jamal Murray (ankle) missed his third. The Nuggets are 13-7 on the road but lost 130-104 at Houston on Dec. 31 when Harden scored 35 points after returning from a toe injury. Westbrook received a day of rest in that game.
Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Denver Nuggets +8.5
Total Points: Under 228.5
SUNS VS PACERS
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
After their largest defeat of the season, the Indiana Pacers will continue their road trip with a game against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. The Pacers were crushed 118-88 at Utah on Monday in the second game of a back-to-back, falling to 1-1 on their five-game trip while seeing their five-game winning streak come to an end. No Pacers player scored more than 12 points as Indiana shot 41.9 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from 3-point range while getting outrebounded 53-30. Over their last seven victories, Pacers opponents had averaged 103.0 points per game before the Jazz blew past that number Monday. The Suns will enter off four victories in their last six games but lost 120-118 on Monday at San Antonio. Phoenix overcame a 20-point third-quarter deficit and had the lead with just under three minutes remaining but could not hold on. Entering play Monday, the Suns’ Devin Booker led the NBA in scoring in January with 32.4 points per game. Since returning to the court Dec. 30, Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton has 18.2 points and 12.4 rebounds. The Booker-Ayton duo combined for 62 points Monday and 65 in a victory Saturday at Boston. The Suns and Pacers will meet again at Indiana on March 23.
WARRIORS VS JAZZ
Venue: Chase Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT
Two teams seeking to avoid overtime will meet for the fourth and final time this season Wednesday when the Utah Jazz visit the Golden State Warriors. The Jazz narrowly avoided an extra session in each of their last two home wins over the Warriors, leading by just two with 17 seconds left in a 113-109 win in November, then by just three with 35 seconds to go in a 114-106 victory in December. The Jazz went to overtime Thursday at New Orleans and it was the only time they’ve lost in their last 13 games. The Warriors have gone to an extra period five times without winning one. Their last two defeats came in overtime against Denver and Portland. The Jazz has gone 3-0 against the Warriors this season and are one win away from their first season-series sweep since 2010. The key to their earlier success: Balanced scoring, with Donovan Mitchell (27.0 points), Mike Conley (24.5) and Bojan Bogdanovic (20.3) leading the offense, while Rudy Gobert added 16.0 points to complement 16.0 rebounds. Alec Burks was Golden State’s big producer in its two competitive efforts at Utah, going for 20 and 24 points against his former team. The Warriors have lost 11 of their last 12.
Win: Utah Jazz
Line: Utah Jazz -8.5
Total Points: Under 219.5