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NBA Tips – Sunday, February 23, 2020
CLIPPERS VS KINGS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 7:30am AEDT
With three defeats in four games before the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Clippers will look to get back on track when they play host to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. The third best team in the Western Conference added Marcus Morris Sr. at the trade deadline and he began the assimilation process by averaging 11.0 points over three games with his new team. Over the break, the Clippers added point guard Reggie Jackson, who received a buyout from the Detroit Pistons. Patrick Beverley is expected back from a groin injury. Paul George came away from Feb. 13 game at Boston with his third hamstring injury of the season, but he was a full participant in practice Friday. The Kings have already returned to the court after the break, earning a 129-125 victory at home over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday. Harrison Barnes scored a season-high 32 points in the victory, while also making seven 3-pointers. The Kings have four consecutive home victories, but dropped their final two before the break on the road. The Clippers earned a 105-87 victory between the teams on New Year’s Eve at Sacramento, but the Kings got revenge with a 124-103 victory in L.A. on Jan. 30.
Win: LA Clippers
Line: Sacramento Kings +8.5
Total Points: Under 231.5
HORNETS VS NETS
Venue: Spectrum Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Charlotte Hornets are on an unusual roll, looking for their fourth victory in a row (something they haven’t achieved this season) when they take on the visiting Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night. The Hornets returned from the All-Star break by winning 103-93 on Thursday night at Chicago with reserve Malik Monk providing 25 points. Now getting guard Devonte’ Graham back in a groove will be among the priorities as he was scoreless for the first time this season. He and Terry Rozier lead the team with 17.8 points per game, and Graham had scored at least four in every previous outing this season. Cody Martin returned to action after suffering a concussion prior to the break, though he wore a protective mask. This will be the fourth meeting of the season between the teams, with Charlotte winning 113-108 in the most-recent matchup behind Graham’s 40 points. The Nets can move on knowing that guard Kyrie Irving is out for the rest of the season after the team announced that shoulder surgery is planned. The Nets have played a large chunk of the season without Irving, so that could made the adjustment easier and there’s no longer the question about when he might be back. Brooklyn fell 112-104 in overtime Thursday night at Philadelphia, with Caris LeVert providing 25 points and Spencer Dinwiddie posting 22 points.
Win: Brooklyn Nets
Line: Charlotte Hornets +4.5
Total Points: Over 210.5
HAWKS VS MAVERICKS
Venue: State Farm Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT
Both the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks opened the season’s second half with victories, and it’s the Hawks who look to slay another Goliath on Saturday night in Atlanta. The Hawks secured an improbable five-point victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday night in Atlanta behind Trae Young’s career-best 50-point game. Now they set their sights on the Mavs, the 7th best team in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Mavericks look for their third straight win, dating back to before the All-Star break. The Mavs are coming off a 122-106 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night behind Luka Doncic’s near triple-double. Doncic scored 33, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out eight assists against the Magic. Doncic was out with an injured ankle when the Mavs defeated the Hawks by 23 points on Feb. 1 in Dallas. Young, meanwhile, scored just 12 points against the Mavs on 4-for-13 shooting. John Collins (26 points) and Jalen Brunson (27) were the scoring leaders for their teams in that contest. Young had a magical night his last time out, shooting 12-for-25 from the field to help the Hawks score the last 10 points of the game to knock off the Heat.
Win: Atlanta Hawks
Line: Atlanta Hawks +1.5
Total Points: Under 235.5
HEAT VS CAVALIERS
Venue: American Airlines Arena | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Miami Heat started the second half of the season the way they ended the first – with a loss on the road. The Heat return home to play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, the first game of a home-and-home between the teams. With their loss at Atlanta on Thursday night, the Heat ended their longest road swing of the season with a 1-5 record. But now they get six of their next seven at home, starting with the Cavs, winners of consecutive games, a rare feat for the 15-40 team. The Cavs gave interim coach J.B Bickerstaff his first win since taking over for the dispatched John Beilein on Friday night, 113-108, over the Washington Wizards. Beilein stepped down during the All-Star break. Collin Sexton scored 14 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to help rally the Cavs. The Heat were outdone by Trae Young and his career-high 50 points Thursday night. The Heat have defeated the Cavs in the first two meetings between the teams by a combined 35 points. The brutal road trip dropped them four games behind the Boston Celtics for fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Heat are 22-3 at home this season.
Win: Miami Heat
Line: Miami Heat -12.5
Total Points: Over 222.5
BULLS VS SUNS
Venue: United Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Chicago Bulls have lost seven games in a row going into Saturday night’s home game against the Phoenix Suns. The latest issue for the Bulls has been shooting after Thursday night’s 103-93 home loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Thaddeus Young was at least productive with team highs of 22 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. But the Bulls shot 22.6 percent (7-for-31) on 3-pointers. Even the All-Star break didn’t allow enough time for the Bulls to become much healthier and the active roster reflects that. While it sounds like the Bulls could be undermanned for a longer period, the team reports that Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. might be closer to returning to action. This is the second of four straight home games for Chicago. Phoenix returned to action from the All-Star break on Friday night, losing 118-101 at Toronto after facing a 24-point halftime deficit. The Suns were trying for back-to-back victories for the first time since Jan. 16 and 18, but that didn’t work out. Devin Booker of the Suns exited the break sitting 10th in NBA scoring this season with 26.4 points per game. Booker scored a team-high 21 at Toronto. The Suns and Bulls will meet again in April.
Win: Phoenix Suns
Line: Chicago Bulls +3.5
Total Points: Under 222.5
BUCKS VS 76ERS
Venue: Fiserv Forum | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
The top team in the NBA will not be home much over the next two weeks but one chance to play in front of their home fans comes Saturday when the Milwaukee Bucks play host to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks returned from the All-Star break with a 126-106 victory at Detroit on Thursday. The Bucks are 25-3 at home this season, but they are in a stretch where eight of their next 11 games post-break are on the road. Despite a busy time during All-Star festivities, Giannis Antetokounmpo looked refreshed while scoring 33 points with 16 rebounds against the Pistons. He has averaged 30.0 points with 13.5 rebounds per game. The 76ers are on a four-game winning streak, including a 112-104 overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. But those four games were at home where they are 26-2. They are also on a five-game losing streak on the road where they are just 9-19. Joel Embiid scored a season-best 39 points with 16 rebounds against the Nets. The 76ers earned a 121-109 victory over the Bucks on Christmas Day and it comes as no surprise that game was at Philadelphia. The teams played at Milwaukee on Feb. 6 and the Bucks earned a 112-101 victory.
Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Philadelphia 76ers +9.5
Total Points: Under 227.5
JAZZ VS ROCKETS
Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
It’s the No. 4 seed against No. 5 when the Utah Jazz host the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. Just one game separates the two and this game will be the third and final of the season between them. They have split their first two with the visitors winning both. The Jazz opened their second half with a loss at home Friday night to the San Antonio Spurs. The loss snapped Utah’s four-game winning streak and dropped them to 1-1 on their season-long six-game homestand. The Jazz trailed by 19 at halftime and could not recover despite a rally in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but the Jazz turned the ball over 17 times and allowed the Spurs to shoot 50 percent from the 3-point line. The Jazz fell to 20-6 at home. The Jazz have not lost consecutive games at home all season. The Rockets have won consecutive games and are coming off a 30-point lambasting of Golden State on Thursday night. The Rockets raced out to a 38-17 lead after one and were never challenged, avenging a Christmas Day loss to the Warriors in San Francisco. James Harden led the way with 29 points and 10 assists in 30 minutes.
Win: Utah Jazz
Line: Houston Rockets +2.5
Total Points: Under 233.5