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NBA Tips – Tuesday, February 25, 2020
76ERS VS HAWKS
Venue: Wells Fargo Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Philadelphia 76ers put their league-best 26-2 home record on the line Monday night when they host the suddenly hot Atlanta Hawks. But the Sixers will have to do it without guard Ben Simmons, who reportedly will undergo more testing Monday on his ailing back. Simmons played just five minutes in Philly’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday after sitting out the game before. The Sixers have not lost a home game since Dec. 20, when the Dallas Mavericks routed them, 117-98. In fact, that game marked consecutive home losses for Philly, which lost at home two nights earlier to the Miami Heat. Now they host the Hawks, who own one of the worst records in the NBA but have suddenly found their footing on their season. The Hawks are coming off consecutive victories over the Miami Heat and, most recently, the Mavericks, both at home. Trae Young posted 50 points against the Heat and John Collins sounded off with 35 against the Mavs on Saturday night. Young scored 13 of his 27 in the fourth quarter to knock off the Mavs. Tobias Harris (knee) is listed as doubtful for the game.
Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Philadelphia 76ers -9.5
Total Points: Under 227.5
WIZARDS VS BUCKS
Venue: Capital One Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to clinch a playoff spot, the earliest a team has done so in the past 15 seasons. But there’s no letting up the gas peddle for the Bucks, who travel to D.C. to take on the Washington Wizards on Monday night. All Giannis Antetokounmpo can talk about is trying to get better despite averaging 30.0 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the 48-8 Bucks. The Bucks have won consecutive games and are 16-2 dating back to early January. They’re coming off a dismantling of the Philadelphia 76ers, 119-98, on Saturday night in Milwaukee. Giannis had a slash line of 31/17/8. Giannis didn’t play when last these teams met Jan. 28; Khris Middleton went for 51 points in a 20-point win over the Wizards. The Wizards have lost consecutive games, including Sunday’s nine-point loss at Chicago. Bradley Beal scored 53 points in the loss. Beal shot 15-for-27 from the floor, leading the Wiz to 50.7 percent shooting. The problem is, they allowed the Bulls to shoot 55.6 percent from the floor. Rookie Coby White came off the bench to drop 33 on the Wizards.
Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Washington Wizards +13.5
Total Points: Under 242.5
CAVALIERS VS HEAT
Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers play the second game of their home-and-home series Monday night in Ohio. It will be the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season, and the Heat are going for the sweep. The road has not been kind to the Heat in the month of February, but these are the Cavs, sporting the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Further, the Heat have defeated the Cavs by a combined 54 points in the first three meetings, including Saturday night’s 124-105 win in Miami. Kendrick Dunn led seven players in double-figures with 24 points as the Heat outscored the Cavs by 24 in the second quarter and never looked back. Like Saturday, the Heat will have to do it without Jimmy Butler, who has been ruled out (personal). Butler reportedly is not making the trip to Cleveland. Kevin Love (Achilles) and his 17.5 points per game is listed as probable to play. The Cavs had won consecutive games before losing at Miami on Saturday night. Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff is now 1-1 since taking over for the John Beilein, who resigned during the All-Star break.
Win: Miami Heat
Line: Miami Heat -6.5
Total Points: Under 222.5
NETS VS MAGIC
Venue: Barclays Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic both sport losing records, and if the playoffs started today, both teams would make the playoffs as the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Both will try to improve their standing Monday night when they tangle in Brooklyn, the first of three games between them in little more than a month. The Nets enter with a 2 ½-game lead over the Magic in the race to avoid playing the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. The Nets are coming off a 115-86 rout of the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, a game in which they put eight players in double-figures in their second game since finding out Kyrie Irving would be lost for the rest of the season. This game in Brooklyn starts a stretch that sees the Magic play seven of their next nine on the road. The Nets are 10-2 in the past 12 home meetings with Orlando. The Magic are coming off a 112-106 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in Orlando. The Magic finished their four-game homestand 2-2. The Magic defeated the Nets in their first meeting, 101-89, in Orlando on Jan. 6. Markelle Fultz scored 25, including seven straight in the fourth quarter.
Win: Brooklyn Nets
Line: Orlando Magic +3.5
Total Points: Over 214.5
ROCKETS VS KNICKS
Venue: Toyota Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Houston Rockets’ version of small ball continues to flourish and will get another chance to prove itself in a home game Monday against the New York Knicks. The Rockets handed the Utah Jazz a home defeat on Saturday, picking up a 120-110 victory despite playing against trap and zone defenses meant to stop their long-range shooting and high-scoring pace. It didn’t work. James Harden scored 38 points and Russell Westbrook added 34. The Rockets are now 9-0 when they make 20 or more 3-pointers. They made 20 Saturday two days after tying a season high with 25 against the Golden State Warriors. Houston has won three consecutive games and seven of their past nine. After working his way through a thigh injury, Harden has averaged 31.6 points over his last 10 games. After a four-game winning streak earlier this month, the Knicks have lost three consecutive games. It is their seventh losing streak of at least three games this season. The most recent defeat came Friday in a 106-98 setback at home against the Indiana Pacers. Bobby Portis led the team with 19 points on a day when leading scorer Julius Randle scored just seven on 2-of-9 shooting. The teams will play each other again on March 2 in New York.
Win: Houston Rockets
Line: New York Knicks +14.5
Total Points: Under 229.5
MAVERICKS VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
Luka Doncic is expected to play Monday night when the Dallas Mavericks play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Doncic continues to struggle with a balky ankle. The 29-point-per-game scorer did not play Saturday night in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks, a game the Mavs would like to soon forget about. Also playing without Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavs lost to a Hawks team that features one of the worst records in the league. John Collins dropped 35 on the Mavs while Trae Young scored 13 of his 27 in the fourth quarter to put away the Mavs. The game wasn’t without controversy as an inadvertent whistle on a botched goaltending call helped the Hawks seal the win, an outcome that the Mavericks have protested. Owner Mark Cuban, no stranger to fines from the league office, went off on social media. Regardless, the Mavs need to regroup and take care of business against a T-Wolves team that is playing the second of back-to-back games after losing Sunday at Denver, 128-116. The Timberwolves had just nine players available with the extended absence of Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist fracture) and D’Angelo Russell (rest). The Mavs won the first meeting between the two, 121-114, on Dec. 5 in Dallas.
Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves +13.5
Total Points: Under 238.5
JAZZ VS SUNS
Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
Losers of two consecutive games, and both at home no less, the Utah Jazz will try to reverse that trend when they play host to the Phoenix Suns on Monday. The Jazz went into the All-Star break with just five home defeats, but losses in their own building on Friday to the San Antonio Spurs and Saturday to the Houston Rockets have put a dent into Utah’s intimidation factor. The Jazz were run ragged by the Rockets in a 120-110 defeat when James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 72 points. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell fought back with 31 points, including 18 in the final quarter alone. Jordan Clarkson added 22 points of the bench for Utah. The Suns will give the Jazz a more traditional look than the small-ball Rockets did but Phoenix guard Devin Booker might try to emulate some of what Harden and Westbrook did. Booker has scored 26.4 points per game and is coming off a 29-point performance Saturday when the Suns earned a 112-104 victory at Chicago. Big man Deandre Ayton did his part with 28 points and 19 rebounds, while point guard Ricky Rubio controlled the offense with 11 assists. The Suns and Jazz last met way back in October when Utah pulled out a 96-95 victory.
CLIPPERS VS GRIZZLIES
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT
The Los Angeles Clippers are looking for answers as they get set to play host to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. The Clippers have lost three consecutive games, including their first one after the All-Star break, and team leader Kawhi Leonard said the time is now for the team to show how good it can be. After adding Marcus Morris at the trade deadline, and Reggie Jackson during the break, the Clippers are dealing with continuity issues, according to head coach Doc Rivers, and it should be just a matter of time before the team gets back in a flow. The Clippers will enter off a 112-103 defeat to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday when Leonard scored 31 points and Lou Williams added 24. After making their own roster adjustments of late, the Grizzlies are also a team in transition, having lost both of their games after the break. Monday will be their third consecutive game in California after losses at Sacramento on Thursday and to the Lakers on Friday. Josh Jackson had a season-high 20 points against the Lakers, while rookie Ja Morant had 17 points but went 5 of 14 from the field. The teams have split their two matchups this season with the road team winning each time.
Win: LA Clippers
Line: LA Clippers -10.5
Total Points: Under 232.5