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NBA Tips – Saturday, January 25, 2020

HORNETS VS BUCKS

Venue: AccorHotels Arena | Start: 7:00am AEDT

Europe’s best basketball player will bring two teams across the Atlantic with him when the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets contest the NBA’s first-ever regular-season game in Paris on Friday night. The European “homecoming” will be the second in the NBA career of Greek superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who contributed 16 points to a 95-79 Bucks win over the New York Knicks in London five years ago. The Bucks’ return abroad will formally add France to the list of countries other than the United States and Canada that have hosted NBA regular-season games, joining Japan (12), Mexico (11) and England (nine). Mexico added to its total earlier this season when it hosted two games: Dallas-Detroit and San Antonio-Phoenix. The Hornets have never played a regular-season game in Europe, and look forward to shaking things up a bit after struggling through seven straight losses on U.S. soil. The matchup will be the second of the season for the Bucks and Hornets, with Milwaukee having stomped its guest 137-96 in November. Antetokounmpo had 26 points in just 20 minutes that night. The Bucks will take a seven-game winning streak onto the Paris court, seeking to become the NBA’s first 40-game winner this season.

Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Charlotte Hornets +14.5
Total Points: Under 219.5

PISTONS VS GRIZZLIES

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

The Memphis Grizzlies and Detroit Pistons each occupy the No. 9 spot in their respective conference standings despite the fact that their records are well below .500. Both teams will be eager for a victory when they tip off Friday night in Detroit. Memphis has lost back-to-back games against the New Orleans Pelicans and Boston Celtics and will try to avoid its first three-game skid since Dec. 2-7. Detroit has won three of its last four games, including a 127-106 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. The game could feature a couple of intriguing matchups, including Pistons veteran guard Derrick Rose versus Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant. Both are explosive playmakers, although Rose has become more of a savvy veteran almost 12 years after he was the No. 1 overall pick. Another battle in the paint could be worth watching if Pistons big man Andre Drummond goes up against the Grizzlies’ Jonas Valanciunas. Each player is averaging a double-double this season, with Drummond posting 17.3 points and 15.7 rebounds per game, and Valanciunas averaging 15.0 points and 10.1 boards. This is the first of two meetings between the teams during the regular season.

Win: Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Memphis Grizzlies -2.5
Total Points: Under 230.5

MAGIC VS CELTICS

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

The Boston Celtics will limp into a three-game trip when they visit the Orlando Magic on Friday night. The streaky Celtics are coming off impressive home wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis, the latter triumph having been accomplished without Jaylen Brown (sprained right ankle) and having ended with Jayson Tatum (strained right groin) also injured. Both are likely to play at some point on Boston’s five-day trip, but not necessarily on the first stop. The Magic also appeared to have a key setback Wednesday when Markelle Fultz dislocated the ring finger on his left hand in a 120-114 home loss to Oklahoma City. But Fultz has responded well to treatment and is expected to face Boston. Somehow, the Celtics and Magic have managed to avoid each other into the second half of the NBA campaign, but now will clash four times before the regular season ends. The Magic recorded a surprising three-game sweep of the Celtics last season, after Boston had gone unbeaten at Orlando (3-0) the previous two seasons. The Celtics’ Gordon Hayward (10-for-19 shooting, 4-for-7 on 3-pointers in the two-game winning streak) and Magic’s Nikola Vucevic (20.9 points, 10.7 rebounds in his last seven outings) are two players to watch this time around.

Win: Orlando Magic
Line: Boston Celtics +1.5
Total Points: Under 213.5

KNICKS VS RAPTORS

Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The Toronto Raptors will go for their sixth straight win when they visit the New York Knicks on Friday night. Toronto is coming off an emphatic 107-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in which six players scored in double digits. Fred VanVleet led the way with 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting, including 6-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. It was the third straight game he has scored 20-plus points since returning from a five-game absence because of a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, the Knicks have lost four of their past five games and nine of their past 11. They will attempt to bounce back from a 100-92 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. The Knicks are 8-15 under coach Mike Miller after posting a 4-18 record to start the season under David Fizdale, who was dismissed. This is the second of four meetings between the Raptors and Knicks in the regular season. Toronto won the first matchup 126-98 on its home court Nov. 27. Pascal Siakam scored 31 points to lead the Raptors, and Julius Randle scored 19 points to lead the Knicks. OG Anunoby contributed a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: New York Knicks +8.5
Total Points: Under 218.5

BULLS VS KINGS

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

The Sacramento Kings will try to snap a six-game skid when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. Sacramento has been weakened by injuries to Marvin Bagley (foot) and Richaun Holmes (shoulder), but the team welcomed in Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver for their team debuts Wednesday. Both players were acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this week. Chicago is coming off a 117-110 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night and has won four of its past seven contests. However, the Bulls have not won back-to-back games in more than a month, and they have followed up each of their past five victories with a loss. This is the second and final meeting of the regular season between the teams. Chicago won the first matchup 113-106 on Dec. 2 in Sacramento. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 28 points in that contest, while Buddy Hield led the Kings with 26 points. LaVine has scored at least 25 points in seven of his last nine games and will look to stay hot against the Kings. The Bulls carry a 10-14 home record into this game. Sacramento is 7-16 on the road.

Win: Chicago Bulls
Line: Sacramento Kings +2.5
Total Points: Under 217.5

TIMBERWOLVES VS ROCKETS

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

After a much-needed victory at home Wednesday, the Houston Rockets head to Minnesota on Friday for a matchup against the struggling Timberwolves. The Rockets had lost four consecutive and five of six before earning a convincing 121-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday as Russell Westbrook nearly delivered another triple-double with 28 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists. James Harden had 27 points and went 2 of 6 from 3-point range, one game after a brutal 1 of 17 performance from long distance. Austin Rivers returned for Houston and scored 11 points after missing the previous two games with a right thumb sprain. The Timberwolves have lost seven consecutive games and the return of big man Karl-Anthony Towns has not halted the losing. Towns has played four games after missing the previous 15 with a sore knee but it hasn’t mattered team-wise. He did have the most productive game since his return in a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, scoring 40 points. Andrew Wiggins had 25 points and nine assists, but only three of those points came in the second half. The Timberwolves’ last victory came Jan. 9 at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves +6.5
Total Points: Under 234.5

HEAT VS CLIPPERS

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

Winners of four of their last five games, including nine consecutive at home, the Miami Heat will have to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the arrival of the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. The Clippers will enter the game off a 102-95 road defeat to the lowly Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, but Los Angeles was without top scorers Kawhi Leonard (rest) and Paul George (hamstring), as well as defensive-minded guard Patrick Beverley (groin). Leonard is expected to play, with the status of George and Beverley still to be determined. George has missed the Clippers’ last seven games and eight of the last nine. The Clippers have won eight of their last 11 but will have a tough challenge at Miami where the Heat have the best home record in the league at 20-1. Yet things have become tougher of late as Miami has gone overtime to win its last two games, both at home to the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards. The Heat blew a 21-point lead before defeating the Wizards on Wednesday as Tyler Herro scored 25 points and veteran Jimmy Butler had 24, with nine of those in the extra period. Miami is 8-0 in overtime games.

Win: LA Clippers
Line: Miami Heat +2.5
Total Points: Under 219.5

THUNDER VS HAWKS

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

The Oklahoma City Thunder will take a three-game winning streak into a home matchup with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. The Thunder’s most recent victory was a 120-114 triumph over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday as they put on one of their better offensive shows of the season. Oklahoma City shot 60.5 percent from the field as Dennis Schroder scored 31 points, Chris Paul had 19 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 18. The Thunder will return home after a two-game trip having won eight of their last nine road games. Steven Adams (ankle) did not play Wednesday, but Nerlens Noel (ankle) saw action after missing the previous six games. Oklahoma City is 19-8 since late November. The Hawks will enter off a satisfying 102-95 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday that felt good even if Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were not playing. Also not in action was the Hawks’ Trae Young, who is third in the NBA with 29.2 points per game, but was nursing a right thigh contusion. Brandon Goodwin, who has spent much of his time in the G League, had 19 points. Jeff Teague, acquired this month in a trade with the Timberwolves, had eight assists over 25 minutes in his third game with his new team.

Win: Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Oklahoma City Thunder -8.5
Total Points: Under 231.5

PELICANS VS NUGGETS

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

Zion Williamson has arrived and that is by far the most intriguing piece of news as the New Orleans Pelicans get set to play host to the Denver Nuggets on Friday. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, who didn’t play until Wednesday because of a knee injury in the preseason, scored 22 points in his debut against the San Antonio Spurs. Never mind the 121-117 defeat, the Pelicans are now focused on integrating all that potential into a group that had won 10 of their last 14 games before Williamson arrived. Finding enough scoring opportunities for everybody will be the biggest test. Brandon Ingram has 25.5 points per game and had a 49-point game in a victory Jan. 16. Jrue Holiday has 19.9 points per game and had 36 points in a victory Monday. The Nuggets have been hurting and will enter off a 121-105 defeat at Houston when five players were out. Michael Porter Jr. (back), Mason Plumlee (foot), Paul Millsap (knee), Gary Harris (hip) and Jamal Murray (ankle) all were spectators against the Rockets. Each one is listed as day-to-day. The Nuggets have lost two of their last three but a wider view shows them winning six of their last nine.

Win: New Orleans Pelicans
Line: New Orleans Pelicans -4.5
Total Points: Under 231

SPURS VS SUNS

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

The Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs will have dueled for the third time in three different cities over a five-week stretch after the clubs meet in Texas on Friday night. Whether it was Mexico City or Phoenix, the clubs have put on crowd-pleasing shows in their first two meetings, especially for Spurs fans, who were able to celebrate a 121-119 overtime win in Mexico last month and a 120-118 triumph in Arizona on Monday. Suns star Devin Booker misfired on a last-second 3-pointer that could have won the game for his team earlier this week, and Phoenix did not respond well, falling flat in a 112-87 home loss to Indiana two days later. The Spurs, meanwhile, will take their home court Friday having now won three in a row, surviving the circus-type atmosphere in New Orleans to spoil Zion Williamson’s NBA debut with a 121-117 victory on Wednesday. Patty Mills had 26 points, including a tie-breaking jumper with three-tenths of a second left, and Bryn Forbes had 24 points, all on 3-pointers in the Spurs’ two earlier wins over the Suns. Phoenix likely will be without Cameron Johnson (quad) and Aron Baynes (hip) in their effort to avoid three defeats in three cities to the Spurs.

Win: San Antonio Spurs
Line: Phoenix Suns +5.5
Total Points: Under 226.5

WARRIORS VS PACERS

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

Two teams streaking in opposite directions meet Friday night when the Golden State Warriors play host to the Indiana Pacers. The Warriors, whose 36 losses already are their most in a season since 2012, struggled through one of their least competitive outings of the year Wednesday, falling behind Utah by as many as 15 points in the first quarter en route to a 129-96 drubbing on their home floor. The loss was the team’s 12th in its last 13 games and followed an encouraging stretch in which the Warriors sandwiched a home win over Orlando with a pair of overtime losses to Denver and Portland. The Pacers, meanwhile, have won six of seven, including at Denver and Phoenix, with a loss at Utah in between, to begin a five-game trip. Malcolm Brogdon has been on concussion watch since colliding with teammate Myles Turner in the first half of the 112-87 romp at Phoenix on Wednesday, an incident that opened a three-stitch cut. The Pacers plugged T.J. McConnell into Brogdon’s spot for the second half of the win, and he responded by completing his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 assists. Indiana and Golden State have not yet met this season.

Win: Indiana Pacers
Line: Indiana Pacers -6.5
Total Points: Under 215.5