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NBA Tips – Thursday, February 27, 2020

HORNETS VS KNICKS

Venue: Spectrum Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Charlotte Hornets return home, where they have lost in their last three outings, to face the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. The most-recent home victory for the Hornets came Jan. 28 against the Knicks in a 97-92 outcome. Guard Terry Rozier racked up 30 points for Charlotte in that game. The Hornets are 1-9 across their last 10 home games dating back to prior to Christmas, so they’ll aim to make the Knicks the victims again. The Hornets also own a one-point victory against New York from mid-November, when Devonte’ Graham came up with 29 points. Charlotte lost 119-80 Tuesday night at Indiana. The Knicks lost 123-112 on Monday night at Houston, giving up 72 points in the first half. That result pushed the Knicks’ losing streak to four games. The Knicks have failed to reach 100 points in three of their last five games. This is a front-end of games on back-to-back nights for the Knicks, who go to Philadelphia on Thursday night before beginning a five-game homestand. Knicks guard Elfrid Payton has missed the past two games because of an injured right ankle, perhaps opening the way for more playing time for Dennis Smith Jr., who’ll be in his home state for the game at Charlotte.

Win: New York Knicks
Line: Charlotte Hornets +1.5
Total Points: Under 206.5

CAVALIERS VS 76ERS

Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Philadelphia 76ers will continue to adjust to a near-term future without Ben Simmons when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Simmons hurt his back Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, and on Tuesday, reports surfaced that he suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back. He is expected to be re-evaluated in about two weeks. Philadelphia fared well without Simmons in a 129-112 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, and the 76ers will look to make it two in a row against the Cavaliers. Joel Embiid enjoyed a mammoth performance with 49 points and 14 rebounds against the Hawks, increasing his season totals to 23.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. The showdown against the Cavaliers provides an intriguing matchup for Embiid, who will go up against recently acquired big man Andre Drummond. The UConn product has made five starts with Cleveland since he was dealt from the Detroit Pistons just before the trade deadline. In those five starts, Drummond is averaging 12.8 points and 10.6 rebounds while logging only 24.2 minutes per game, but that workload figures to increase as he adapts more to the Cavaliers’ scheme. Philadelphia will look to improve its dismal 9-20 road record, while Cleveland will try to build upon its even more disappointing 8-22 mark at home.

Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Philadelphia 76ers -7.5
Total Points: Under 220.5

WIZARDS VS NETS

Venue: Capital One Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The Brooklyn Nets will start a four-game road trip when they visit the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. Brooklyn is coming off a 115-113 loss at home against the Orlando Magic on Monday night, but the Nets have won three of their last five games and seven of their last 11. Minus injured point guard Kyrie Irving, the Nets turned to Spencer Dinwiddie in their most recent outing, and he delivered with 24 points and eight assists in 34 minutes. Caris LeVert finished with 19 points and eight assists, and Garrett Temple provided 18 points and five assists off the bench. Washington had a day off to rest following a wild set of back-to-back games against the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks. Bradley Beal topped 50 points in both contests, but the Wizards did not win either game. Beal has been remarkable this season, averaging a career-high 30.1 points per game to go along with 4.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists. He is tallying more than twice as many points as the Wizards’ No. 2 scorer, Davis Bertans, a 3-point specialist who is averaging 15.0 points per contest. The teams already have met once this season, with the Wizards holding on for a 113-107 win over the Nets on Feb. 1.

Win: Brooklyn Nets
Line: Washington Wizards +1.5
Total Points: Under 235.5

SPURS VS MAVERICKS

Venue: AT&T Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT

The third matchup of the season between Texas rivals the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs will take place Wednesday on the Spurs’ home turf. In the previous two matchups at Dallas, the Mavericks walked away with a 117-110 victory Nov. 18 and a 102-98 victory Dec. 26. The Mavericks’ Luka Doncic scored 42 points in the first victory but was held to a far more modest 24 points the day after Christmas. Dallas will enter off three victories in their previous four games, including a 139-123 decision against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. The Mavericks, though, will be without guard Jalen Brunson (8.2 points per game, 3.3 assists) because of a right shoulder sprain. Dallas’ victory Monday was so convincing that Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. The Spurs have lost six of their last eight games and are coming off a demoralizing 131-103 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. The Spurs actually led by nine in the second quarter but scored just 18 points in the third and shot just 36.9 percent from the field in the game. The teams will meet one more time, at San Antonio again, on March 10.

Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: Dallas Mavericks -4.5
Total Points: Under 232.5

HAWKS VS MAGIC

Venue: State Farm Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT

The Orlando Magic has been on the upswing by winning three of their past four games, including Monday night’s 115-113 decision at Brooklyn behind Aaron Gordon’s double-double. The game involved Orlando’s largest comeback for a victory this season, wiping out a 19-point deficit. Atlanta lost 129-112 on Monday night at Philadelphia, with guard Trae Young providing 28 points. Young was 2-for-11 on 3-point attempts, and the Hawks were unable to extend their win streak to a season-high three games. Young’s scoring average slipped to 29.9 points per game and he’s shooting 37 percent on 3-pointers. The Hawks have won three consecutive home games, so that streak is still in play. The Hawks have scored at least 100 points in 19 straight games. Atlanta has surrendered 124 or more points in five of their last six games. One of those came when the Magic defeated Atlanta 135-126 earlier this month at home behind Gordon’s 26 points. Even though it won, Orlando gave up the most points in that game since a Dec. 13 game against the Houston Rockets. The Magic lost the first two meetings of the season with the Hawks. This begins a four-game homestand for the Hawks.

Win: Orlando Magic
Line: Atlanta Hawks +2.5
Total Points: Over 227.5

HEAT VS TIMBERWOLVES

Venue: American Airlines Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT

Jimmy Butler is lined up for a meeting against at least some of his former teammates when the Miami Heat play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Butler played one season and part of another for the Wolves before he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in November of 2018 and then moved to the Heat this past July. When the Wolves and Heat met in October, Butler was out for the birth of his child. The Wolves won that game 116-109 to improve to 3-0 on the season but have won just 13 games since. Butler, who missed the Heat’s last two games for personal reasons, has been a key contributor to a Miami team that is in playoff contention, scoring 20.6 points per game with 6.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists. The Heat is just 2-6 going back to Feb. 5, although they are starting a five-game homestand. Miami just split back-to-back games against Cleveland Cavaliers without Butler. The Wolves have not only turned over much of their roster in recent trades, mainstay Karl-Anthony Towns is out indefinitely with a fractured wrist. The Wolves have lost 18 of their last 19 games, including each of their last five. Minnesota is coming off a 139-123 loss to the Dallas Mavericks when D’Angelo Russell scored 29 points in his fourth game with his new team after arriving in a trade from the Golden State Warriors.

Win: Miami Heat
Line: Miami Heat -11.5
Total Points: Under 234.5

ROCKETS VS GRIZZLIES

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

The red-hot Houston Rockets will face the suddenly cold Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday at Houston. The Rockets’ small-ball approach has done wonders with four consecutive victories and eight in their last 10 games. James Harden scored 37 points in Houston’s 123-112 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday after attending Kobe Bryant’s memorial service earlier in the day at Los Angeles. Harden, Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker all were at the service didn’t arrive for Monday night’s game until just over an hour before it started. Westbrook was then scratched with a sore thumb. He is expected to play Wednesday. The Rockets’ Eric Gordon scored 16 points Monday in his second game back from a bruised left leg, but then left early with a sore knee and is listed day-to-day. The Grizzlies went into the All-Star break with four victories in five games but have now lost three consecutive, all in California. The last two were against the Los Angeles teams. Tuesday’s game will end the Grizzlies’ four-game road trip. Rookie Ja Morant scored 16 points in Monday’s loss to the Clippers, but Memphis’ starters scored just 31 points. Brandon Clarke played just four minutes because of a sore right hip.

Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Memphis Grizzlies +10.5
Total Points: Over 237.5

SUNS VS CLIPPERS

Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT

The Los Angeles Clippers might be adjusting to some new roster combinations, but they know it is time to make a move. The Clippers visit the Phoenix Suns for Wednesday night’s game just two nights after pummeling the Memphis Grizzlies 124-97. The Clippers welcomed Patrick Beverly and Paul George back to action after they had missed time with groin and hamstring injuries respectively, and it seemed to make an immediate difference. They might not be thrust into extended minutes right away as the Clippers have other sources capable of making significant contributions. The Clippers used newly acquired Marcus Morris Sr. in the starting lineup for the first time, increasing the number of starting combinations to 29 this season. The Clippers were strong on defense, with the 14 first-quarter points for Memphis the fewest for a Clippers opponent this season. Phoenix is coming off Monday’s 131-111 domination of host Utah on Monday night. Devin Booker’s 24 points gave him the team’s top scoring total for the fourth game in a row. The Suns have won two games in a row, but they haven’t had a three-game win streak since Oct. 30-Nov. 4. This will be the third meeting of the season, with the Suns winning in October and the Clippers prevailing in December. George had 24 points for the Clippers in the most-recent matchup with Phoenix.

Win: LA Clippers
Line: Phoenix Suns +5.5
Total Points: Under 233.5

JAZZ VS CELTICS

Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena | Start: 2:30pm AEDT

The Utah Jazz will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Utah has lost each of its past three home games against the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns. The most recent contest, a 20-point loss against the Suns, overshadowed a terrific individual performance from Donovan Mitchell, who finished with a team-high 38 points on 11-for-19 shooting from the field, including 6-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Recently injured point guard Mike Conley will look to improve against Boston after notching only eight points against Phoenix. The Celtics will go for their second win in as many nights after pulling away for a 118-106 win on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. Jayson Tatum continued his torrid stretch with 36 points on 14-for-22 shooting, including 8-for-12 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Tatum has stepped forward in the absence of guard Kemba Walker, who has been sidelined because of a lingering knee injury. Jaylen Brown also has stepped up, as proved by his 24-point performance against Portland, and he will look for another strong outing against the Jazz. It is the first meeting of the season between the teams.

Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Boston Celtics +5.5
Total Points: Under 218.5