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NBA Tips – Thursday, February 13, 2020
CAVALIERS VS HAWKS
Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The two worst teams in the Eastern Conference will do battle Wednesday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit the Cleveland Cavaliers. If not for Golden State, the Hawks and Cavs would be the worst teams in the entire league. However, both teams are a bit emboldened by their acquisitions before last week’s trade deadline. The Hawks got Dewayne Dedmon and Clint Capela, although Capela (heel) won’t play until after the All-Star break. The Cavs welcomed Andre Drummond, who promptly went for 19 points and 14 rebounds in his first game with the team Sunday against the Los Angeles Clipers. Dedmon has 24 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots in his first two games with Atlanta. The Hawks are coming off a 135-126 loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday night. The Hawks shot 53.4 percent from the floor but allowed the Magic to shoot 52.6 percent, including 47.4 percent from the 3-point line. They also got crushed on the boards 55-37. The Cavs, meanwhile, are caving. They enter with a six-game losing streak and defeats in 13 of their past 14. They were destroyed by the Clippers at home Sunday 133-92. The Cavs won the first meeting between the teams 121-118 in Cleveland on Dec. 23.
Win: Atlanta Hawks
Line: Cleveland Cavaliers +2.5
Total Points: Under 234.5
MAGIC VS PISTONS
Venue: Amway Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Orlando Magic will be coming off their best offensive output of the season when they play host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. The Magic also can pad their lead for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break with a win. Orlando scored a season-high 135 points against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night. They made a season-best 18 3-points en route to scoring 42 points in the fourth quarter. The victory snapped a three-game losing skid. The Pistons have dropped three in a row, their latest an 87-76 decision at home to the Charlotte Hornets. The Pistons are 0-3 since trading away Andre Drummond at the trade deadline and have dropped nine of their past 11. The Pistons were led by Thon Maker’s 12 points. Maker averages just 4.4 points per game. The Pistons shot just 35.4 percent from the floor, including 7-for-35 on 3-pointers. Derrick Rose (hip) is expected back after missing five games for Detroit. The Pistons drubbed the Magic in their first meeting, 103-88, on Nov. 25. But that Pistons team featured a healthy Blake Griffin (17 points), Luke Kennard (20 points) and Drummond, who scored seven points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
Win: Orlando Magic
Line: Detroit Pistons +6.5
Total Points: Over 208.5
NETS VS RAPTORS
Venue: Barclays Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT
At 15 games and counting, the Toronto Raptors no doubt will want to keep their franchise-best winning streak going on into the All-Star break. All it will take is a road victory Wednesday over the Brooklyn Nets. The latest Raptors victory came Monday, 137-126 at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. No. 14 in the streak came Saturday in a 119-118 struggle against the Nets. Pascal Siakam scored 34 points Monday, while OG Anounby had a career-best 25, while also matching a career high with 12 rebounds. Against the Nets on Saturday, it was Fred VanVleet who did the heavy lifting with 10 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. The Raptors were playing without Kyle Lowry on Saturday because of whiplash, but he returned Monday with 27 points and 11 assists. The Nets are much improved of late winning three of their last four games and six of their last nine following a dreadful stretch where they lost 12 of 14. The Nets were able to finish off the Indiana Pacers on Monday in a 106-105 victory. Against the Raptors on Saturday, Caris LeVert’s 3-pointer to win the game bounced off the rim, while Joe Harris grabbed the rebound but missed inside as well.
Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: Toronto Raptors -4.5
Total Points: Under 223.5
KNICKS VS WIZARDS
Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal will bring his torrid scoring streak into Manhattan for a game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. Beal is averaging 35.6 points per game over his past 10, including 30 against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night. Beal has led the Wizards to four wins in their past six games, their latest a 12-point win over the Bulls. Beal shot 12-for-23 from the floor. The Wizards survived Zach LaVine’s 41-point performance. The Knicks are coming off a double-overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday after compiling a season-high four-game win streak. The Knicks dropped to 20 games under .500 despite Julius Randle’s 35-point game. Randle also had 35 points in a loss to the Wizards on Dec. 23 in New York. He then hung 30 on the Wizards in a 107-100 win over the Wizards five days later in D.C. The Knicks were undone by Trae Young’s 48 points Sunday. Young made all 16 of his free throws to defeat the Knicks in double overtime. Beal, who has led the Wizards in scoring 11 games in a row, is averaging 19.1 points per game on the season, good for fifth in the league.
Win: New York Knicks
Line: New York Knicks -3.5
Total Points: Under 227.5
PACERS VS BUCKS
Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Milwaukee Bucks are expected to have Giannis Antetokounmpo back in action when they hit the road for a game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. It will be the last game before the All-Star break for each team. Antetokounmpo did not play in the Bucks’ 123-111 home victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday as he was out following the birth of his son earlier in the day. The Bucks improved to 5-0 in games the reigning MVP has not played in this season. All-Star Khris Middleton stepped up with 28 points as the Bucks used a 13-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to take control of the game. Milwaukee has won five consecutive games and 14 of their last 15. The Pacers have been in a rut since Victor Oladipo returned to action after a year away because of a ruptured tendon in his knee. The Pacers won in his return Jan. 29 but have lost six consecutive games since. They have also lost seven of their last eight. Oladipo’s rust has shown with 10.8 points per game in his six contests, while shooting 29.5 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from 3-point range. Indiana will enter off a 106-105 defeat to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
Win: Indiana Pacers
Line: Indiana Pacers -1.5
Total Points: Under 223.5
GRIZZLIES VS TRAIL BLAZERS
Venue: FedExForum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
Rookie Ja Morant will be coming off his first career triple-double when the Memphis Grizzlies play host to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Morant had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 106-99 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. It was the most points Morant scored in a game since he had 30 in the third game of his career way back in October. Memphis has won seven of their past nine games. Morant isn’t doing it alone, of course. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 14 points and had 11 rebounds against the Wizards, his third double-double of the season. Trade acquisitions Jordan Bell and Gorgui Deng were available but did not play. The Trail Blazers will enter after a 138-117 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday but have still won six of their last nine games. Portland was outscored 41-21 in the third quarter by New Orleans. The Blazers have been led by veteran Damian Lillard, who has scored 42.5 points per game ever since his franchise-record 61-point performance on Jan. 20. He had just 20 points, though, in Tuesday’s defeat. Wednesday is the first of three meetings between the teams over the final two months of the season.
Win: Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Portland Trail Blazers +4.5
Total Points: Under 235.5
TIMBERWOLVES VS HORNETS
Venue: Target Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
One team that has caught fire offensively encounters another that’s coming off one of its best defensive efforts of the season when the Minnesota Timberwolves host the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night. Energized by the acquisition of pal D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns has averaged 22.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in his last two games, making a total of six 3-pointers, as the Timberwolves had 142 points in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers and 126 in a loss to the Toronto Raptors. Russell finally got the green light to debut for the Timberwolves against the Raptors, contributing 22 points and four 3-pointers to the attack. Minnesota has totaled a whopping 44 threes in the two-game flurry, which has come at the end of a run of 14 losses in 15 games. The Timberwolves didn’t need Russell when they trounced the Hornets 121-99 in an earlier meeting in Charlotte, with Towns going for 37 points and 15 rebounds. Charlotte lost 13 of 14 before tightening the defensive screws on the Detroit Pistons in an 87-76 road win on Monday. Miles Bridges warmed up for his Rising Stars Game appearance — where he will team with Minnesota’s Devonte’ Graham and PJ Washington, and oppose the Timberwolves’ Josh Okogie — with 18 points, giving him an average of 19.6 on 48-percent shooting in his last seven games.
Win: Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves -5.5
Total Points: Over 224.5
MAVERICKS VS KINGS
Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
Luka Doncic is hopeful of getting in a game-situation workout before his appearance in NBA All-Star Weekend festivities when the Dallas Mavericks host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. After missing seven straight games with a sprained right ankle, Doncic got in a full practice Tuesday and gave a thumbs-up to his participation in Wednesday’s game against the Kings, who surprised the Mavericks 110-106 when they visited Dallas in December. Getting a 25-point, 15-rebound, 17-assist triple-double from Doncic, the Mavericks avenged that defeat with a 127-123 win at Sacramento last month. The Mavericks have lost three of their last four in Doncic’s absence, including 123-119 at home to Utah on Monday night in a game in which Tim Hardaway Jr. went for 33 points and Kristaps Porzingis 28. The Kings have won three of four and were competitive in the one loss — 123-111 at Milwaukee on Monday. Sacramento almost surely will be without Marvin Bagley III (sore left foot) in Dallas, but hope Jabari Parker (strained right shoulder) is able to make his Kings debut after being acquired from Atlanta last week. Buddy Hield has been a handful for the Mavericks in the first two meetings, going for 26 and 25 points.
Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: Sacramento Kings +8.5
Total Points: Under 225.5
JAZZ VS HEAT
Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The All-Star break will arrive just in time for the road-weary Miami Heat, who play their fifth straight away game Wednesday night in Utah against the Jazz. But their longest road trip of the season won’t end there; they play at Atlanta to tip off the second half of the season on Feb. 20. The Heat have delivered a splendid first half of the season, but not on the road, where they have a 13-15 mark. They endured a season-long three-game losing streak before winning at Golden State on Monday night. They are 1-3 on this trip and getting victory No. 2 won’t be easy against the Jazz, winners of three in a row. The Jazz are coming off a Texas two-game sweep of the Houston Rockets and, most recently, the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. The Jazz shot a blistering 59 percent from the floor and were led by Jordan Clarkson’s 25 points. They clobbered the Mavs on the boards 52-34 but turned the ball over 21 times, which nearly squandered a 21-point halftime lead. This is the second and final meeting between the two teams. The Heat won a hard-fought 107-104 battle on Dec. 23, the same day that the Jazz traded for Clarkson.
Win: Utah Jazz
Line: Utah Jazz -4.5
Total Points: Under 216.5
SUNS VS WARRIORS
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Golden State Warriors will trot out a third different starting point guard when they duel the host Phoenix Suns for the third time this season on Wednesday night. The five-time defending Western Conference champs saw their chances of a sixth straight trip to the NBA Finals go down the drain when Stephen Curry suffered a broken hand as the Warriors were losing 121-110 at home to the Suns in October. With Klay Thompson (knee surgery) also out of action, D’Angelo Russell took over the reins of the Golden State offense after the Curry injury and went for 31 points in a 105-96 home win over the Suns in December. Alas, Russell last week was dealt to Minnesota, putting the Warriors’ controls in the hands of Ky Bowman, an undrafted rookie who began the season as a two-way player. The Suns also have injury issues, most significant of which being Deandre Ayton (sore ankle), and hope Devin Booker responds well to the wounded pride that resulted from a season-low 10 points in Monday’s 125-100 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Booker hit six 3-pointers on a 31-point night in the October win over Golden State but struggled on threes (1-for-6) while going for 34 points in the December loss. The Warriors have lost three in a row, while the Suns have dropped six of seven.
Win: Phoenix Suns
Line: Phoenix Suns -7.5
Total Points: Under 227.5
NUGGETS VS LAKERS
Venue: Pepsi Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT
The game to watch before the NBA heads into the All-Star break pits the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers at the contending Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The Lakers have won four of their last five games, while the Nuggets are on a four-game winning streak. It is the longest winning run for the Nuggets since a seven-game winning streak in December. That run of victories included a 128-104 road triumph over the Lakers on Dec. 22. Denver’s Paul Millsap has played in two games since missing nearly a month because of a knee injury and scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half of a 127-120 home victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. Jamal Murray scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter of that one. The Lakers will enter off a 125-100 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday that was powered by the bench. Rajon Rondo scored a season-high 23 points while Dwight Howard had 14 points and 15 rebounds. The Lakers’ All-Star duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James combined for 42 points and 18 rebounds. The Lakers have reached the 40-victory mark, the first time they have done that before the break since 2010 when they won the NBA title.
Win: LA Lakers
Line: LA Lakers -3.5
Total Points: Under 220.5