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NBA Tips – Monday, February 24, 2020
LAKERS VS CELTICS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 7:30am AEDT
Two hot teams. A fabled rivalry. A sprinkle of revenge. National television. Welcome to the rematch between the Boston Celtics and host Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon. The clubs met in Boston on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was a 139-107 Celtics blowout the Lakers no doubt would love to forget and are anxious to avenge. The Celtics prevailed that day the same way they’ve disposed of nine of their last 10 opponents — with balanced scoring. Jayson Tatum led the way with 27 points. During a 127-117 victory at Minnesota on Friday, Gordon Hayward had 29, Tatum had 28 and Jaylen Brown and Daniel Theis 25 apiece. The Lakers also were taking care of business in their post-All-Star break return, parlaying 32 points from LeBron James and 28 from Anthony Davis into a 117-105 home win over Memphis on Friday. The Lakers have thrived in revenge opportunities when facing a team that beat them by more than 10 points in the previous meeting. In those cases, they reversed a 14-point loss to Dallas with a 13-point win, and a 24-point embarrassment against Denver with a four-point victory. The Celtics and Lakers have split four of their last five season series.
Win: LA Lakers
Line: Boston Celtics +6.5
Total Points: Over 220.5
RAPTORS VS PACERS
Venue: Scotiabank Arena | Start: 10:00am AEDT
Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse faces a tough assignment in his first game since passing Golden State’s Steve Kerr as the NBA’s all-time leader in winning percentage when his club hosts the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night. Nurse (99-39, .7174) passed Kerr (334-132, .7167) when the Raptors, propelled by Pascal Siakam’s 37 points, opened the post All-Star Game schedule with a 118-101 home win over Phoenix on Friday night. Toronto has won 16 of its last 17 games, a stretch that has included a pair of narrow victories over Indiana — 119-118 at home on Feb. 5 and 115-106 on the road two nights later. The Pacers had prevailed in the one earlier meeting, using overtime to record a 120-115 home win in December. Indiana has won just two of its last eight games, but they’ve come in succession after a six-game losing streak. The Pacers got 27 points from T.J. Warren when they returned from the All-Star break with a 106-98 win at New York on Friday. The Pacers are hoping for bigger and better things from Victor Oladipo, who has averaged just 10.8 points in eight games since returning from a ruptured tendon in his knee. But that hope might have to be put on hold temporarily, with Oladipo leaving Friday’s game with back pain. He will be a game-time decision.
Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: Indiana Pacers +5.5
Total Points: Under 219.5
NUGGETS VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: Pepsi Center | Start: 10:00am AEDT
Two teams involved in the biggest trade at the deadline get an opportunity to show off their new pieces to one another Sunday afternoon when the Denver Nuggets host the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets added three role players in the four-team swap — Noah Vonleh, Keita Bates-Diop and Shabazz Napier (who was subsequently flipped to Washington for Jordan McRae) — and the newcomers have filled in admirably as Denver has overcome recent injuries to Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Michael Porter Jr. and Mason Plumlee to win four of its last six and retain a slim lead in the Northwest Division. The Nuggets got Barton, Porter and Plumlee back for Friday’s 113-101 loss at Oklahoma City, their second straight defeat. Meanwhile, two new Timberwolves who arrived via the Nuggets — Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez — have flourished in their new surroundings, with Beasley averaging 23.3 points and Hernangomez 15.5 in their first four games in Minnesota. The Timberwolves, who have lost three straight and 16 of 17, have also added D’Angelo Russell since they last saw the Nuggets in January. Denver will be looking for a season-series sweep, having prevailed in the first three meetings by a total of just 18 points.
Win: Denver Nuggets
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves +12.5
Total Points: Under 227.5
THUNDER VS SPURS
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The San Antonio Spurs will have the Oklahoma City Thunder’s full attention when the teams meet up Sunday on the Thunder’s home court. The Spurs walked out of Oklahoma City just before the All-Star break with a 114-106 victory on a night when LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points with 14 rebounds. San Antonio’s surprise result came on the heels of a five-game losing streak. The Spurs have since returned from the break to deliver another impressive road victory, 113-104 at Utah on Friday when Dejounte Murray scored 23 points. Sunday’s contest will mark the end of the Spurs’ eight-game rodeo trip. They have a 2-5 record on the voyage so far. The Thunder followed the defeat to the Spurs by heading into the break with a 123-118 victory at New Orleans. They returned to the court Friday with an impressive 113-101 home victory over the Denver Nuggets when Chris Paul followed his All-Star Game exploits with 29 points. Paul had 23 points with six assists while helping Team LeBron to the All-Star Game victory. Steven Adams had 17 rebounds against the Nuggets, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had nine rebounds and nine assists. Since Dec. 16, the Thunder have an impressive 22-8 record. That came shortly after a disappointing 6-7 mark in November.
Win: Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: San Antonio Spurs +5.5
Total Points: Under 221.5
BULLS VS WIZARDS
Venue: United Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Washington Wizards will try to beat the Chicago Bulls for the second time this month when the teams meet in Chicago on Sunday evening. The Wizards have won five of eight games to move into ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, and while a playoff date with the vaunted Milwaukee Bucks might not be the ideal scenario, the Wizards have their sights set on reaching the postseason for the third time in four seasons. If Washington achieves its goal, a big reason for that will be the excellent play of shooting guard Bradley Beal, who is averaging 29.1 points and 6.1 assists per game, both career highs. Chicago is heading in the opposite direction with losses in eight straight games, including a 112-104 defeat at home against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Bulls guard Zach LaVine appeared agitated at his head coach, Jim Boylen, after a timeout with less than a minute remaining and Chicago down by double digits. Boylen met privately with LaVine afterward to try to clear the air. LaVine said Boylen was the coach and had the right to call timeout whenever he wanted, but the team’s top scorer admitted that it was hard to stomach with the Bulls on their way to yet another loss.
Win: Chicago Bulls
Line: Chicago Bulls -1.5
Total Points: Under 231.5
WARRIORS VS PELICANS
Venue: Chase Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
Once an anticipated matchup, now two teams with losing records meet Sunday when the New Orleans Pelicans visit the Golden State Warriors. The Pelicans are yielding the most points of any Western Conference team, surrendering 117.3 per game. But Friday night, they played for the first time since the All-Star break and defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 128-115 behind rookie forward Zion Williamson’s 25 points. Golden State has won two of three meetings with the Pelicans this season, and this will be the final matchup. It will be the first time that Williamson faces the Warriors. Golden State hasn’t defeated a team from the Western Conference since Dec. 27 against the Phoenix Suns. Golden State has lost five consecutive games overall. The Warriors also have dropped their last five home games. This is part of a five-game homestand for the Warriors, who opened the post-break portion of their schedule by losing 135-105 on Thursday night to the Houston Rockets. The Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins has reached the 100 3-pointers for the fourth consecutive season, helping him continue a stretch of double-figure points in every game this season. Golden State rookie forward Juan Toscano-Anderson played a season-high 25 minutes and logged a career-best 10 points in Thursday’s game.
Win: New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Golden State Warriors +8.5
Total Points: Under 238.5
TRAIL BLAZERS VS PISTONS
Venue: Moda Center | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
It will be a battle of losing streaks when the Detroit Pistons visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night. The Blazers will try to snap their three-game losing skid without leading scorer Damian Lillard, who continues to sit with a sore groin. The Pistons enter the game with a five-game losing streak and are 20 games under .500 after their 20-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. Portland is the first of a four-game road trip for the Pistons. But the Blazers (25-32) maintain playoff aspirations and entered Saturday’s play 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eithth spot in the West. The Blazers tipped off the second half of their season with a 128-115 loss to New Orleans on Friday night, their second loss to the Pelicans in three games, the first coming before the All-Star break. In fact, Portland’s three-game losing streak has come to the Pelicans and Grizzlies. C.J. McCollum scored a game-high 27 for the Blazers on Friday but they allowed the Pelicans to shoot 53.6 percent from the floor, including 18 of 34 from the 3-point line. The Blazers made just 10 from long range. It’s the first meeting between the teams this season.
Win: Portland Trail Blazers
Line: Detroit Pistons +4.5
Total Points: Under 224.5