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NBA Tips – Friday, February 7, 2020

KNICKS VS MAGIC

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

The New York Knicks will go for their third consecutive win when they host the Orlando Magic on Thursday night. The Knicks are coming off a 139-134 overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, which followed a 92-85 win against the Indiana Pacers two nights earlier. New York now will try to match its season-high three-game winning streak, which it set from Dec. 26-Jan. 1. The Knicks’ improved play comes as the organization dismissed president Steve Mills as part of its latest shakeup. Speculation also is growing about the near-term future of Knicks forward Marcus Morris, who is averaging 19.6 points per game and could be a valuable trade chip if the team decides to move him. Teammate Julius Randle is second on the scoring list with 18.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest. Orlando will play on short rest after losing 116-100 on the road to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Aaron Gordon scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to record a double-double for the Magic, and Evan Fournier led the team with 26 points on 8-for-15 shooting overall and 6-for-8 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. New York is 7-18 at home. Orlando is 9-17 on the road.

Win: Orlando Magic
Line: New York Knicks +1.5
Total Points: Under 206.5

BUCKS VS 76ERS

Venue: Fiserv Forum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

A Philadelphia 76ers team struggling on the defensive end really will be up against it Thursday with a visit to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Sixers will enter off a season-worst 31-point defeat Tuesday at Miami. That came one game after their previous season-worst 21-point defeat at Brooklyn on Saturday. Philadelphia gave up 81 points in the second half to the Heat, a franchise record for Miami over the final two quarters of a game. Philadelphia is a fine 22-2 at home, but is just 9-18 on the road and is on a three-game losing streak. In complete contrast is a Bucks team that will enter off a 120-108 victory Tuesday at New Orleans. Milwaukee has won two consecutive games, 11 of its last 12 and 16 of its last 18. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 points with 17 rebounds against the Pelicans and has at least 30 points and 16 rebounds in each of his last four games. The reigning MVP is averaging 30.1 points on the season with 13.2 rebounds. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton scored 20 for the Bucks on Tuesday. Milwaukee has not only scored 100 points in every game this season, it has reached the 110-point mark in each of its last 11 games.

Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Philadelphia 76ers +9.5
Total Points: Under 226.5

BULLS VS PELICANS

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

Rookie power forward Zion Williamson is expected to play when the New Orleans Pelicans visit the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. The No. 1 overall draft pick’s status for the game had been in doubt because of a right toe sprain, but the Pelicans announced late Wednesday that their rookie standout would be available to play. Williamson has fared well in his first seven starts, averaging 19.6 points per game to go along with 8.0 rebounds. He has scored 20-plus points in all but two of his starts, and he already has a pair of double-double performances. New Orleans’ other top threats include forward Brandon Ingram, who leads the team with 25.1 points per game, and guard Jrue Holiday, who is third on the scoring list with 19.4 points per contest. The Pelicans will try to snap a two-game skid, while the Bulls will try to end a three-game losing streak. Chicago is coming off a 129-102 loss on the road against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. The Bulls return home for the first time since Jan. 27, when they beat the San Antonio Spurs by one point. Chicago is dealing with a lengthy injury list including Kris Dunn (knee), Lauri Markkanen (ankle), Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) and Otto Porter Jr. (foot).

Win: New Orleans Pelicans
Line: New Orleans Pelicans -4.5
Total Points: Under 231.5

TRAIL BLAZERS VS SPURS

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

The strategy will not be too complicated when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Stopping the Blazers’ Damian Lillard will be the key for the Spurs as they continue their lengthy eight-game road trip. When Lillard averaged a whopping 48.8 points over a six-game stretch, Portland was 5-1. He was held to 21 on 8-of-23 shooting against the Detroit Nuggets on Tuesday and the Blazers came away with a 127-99 defeat. The last nine times Lillard was held to 26 points or less, the Blazers lost seven times. Since his scoring outburst went into overdrive on Jan. 21, Lillard has reached 50 points three times and 60 points on one of those occasions. Portland is playing on the first night of a back-to-back with a visit to Utah on Friday. The Spurs went 0-2 against the two Los Angeles teams to open the long road trip that takes place every year when the rodeo takes over their home arena. DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points in a 129-102 defeat to the Lakers on Tuesday, but LaMarcus Aldridge had just seven points. The Spurs were outrebounded 58-28 and gave up 21 points in a 3:31 stretch to open the fourth quarter.

Win: Portland Trail Blazers
Line: San Antonio Spurs +3.5
Total Points: Under 232.5

LAKERS VS ROCKETS

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

The Houston Rockets and their pair of Southern California superstars will pay a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. James Harden and Russell Westbrook both went to high school in the Los Angeles area and return to find the area’s sports fans still in mourning after the Jan. 26 death of Kobe Bryant and eight others in a helicopter crash. After a recovering from a recent thigh injury, Harden is back on track with consecutive 40-point games. Westbrook missed Tuesday’s 125-110 victory over the Houston Rockets with a thumb sprain but he is expected to play Thursday. Houston added both Robert Covington and Jordan Bell in a four-team trade Tuesday, but it is unknown if either will be available to face the Lakers. Houston has won three consecutive games. The Lakers are now 2-1 since returning to the court after Bryant’s death, winning at home for the first time Tuesday when they topped the San Antonio Spurs 129-102. LeBron James scored 19 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter, including five 3-pointers in the opening 3:31 of the final period. Anthony Davis scored 18 points as did Kyle Kuzma, who has been mentioned as a trade candidate heading into Thursday’s deadline.

Win: LA Lakers
Line: Houston Rockets +7.5
Total Points: Under 239.5