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NBA Tips – Thursday, March 5, 2020
PISTONS VS THUNDER
Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Oklahoma City Thunder will start a three-game road trip when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. One night earlier, the Thunder lost 109-94 at home to the Los Angeles Clippers. Oklahoma City will seek a better start against Detroit after falling behind 38-27 in the first quarter against Los Angeles and playing catch-up from that point forward. Dennis Schroder scored 24 points off the bench to lead Oklahoma City, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari chipped in 15 points apiece. Detroit has been in a freefall since late January, losing 14 of 17 contests, and the Pistons will look to bounce back from a 106-100 loss against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. Christian Wood led Detroit with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season. This is the second and final meeting between the Thunder and Pistons this season. In the first matchup Feb. 7 in Oklahoma City, the Thunder held on for a 108-101 victory. Chris Paul led the way with 22 points in a winning effort, and Gilgeous-Alexander chipped in 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting. After visiting Detroit, Oklahoma City’s road trip will continue with stops in New York and Boston.
Win: Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Detroit Pistons +8.5
Total Points: Under 209.5
HEAT VS MAGIC
Venue: American Airlines Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Miami Heat are looking to put the finishing touches on a strong homestand when they play host to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. The Heat are 3-1 so far, with their only blemish a three-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves to kick off the home run. The Heat have struggled putting opponents away in the fourth quarter, but they buckled down to knock off the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night 105-89. The Heat kept the Bucks at bay in the final quarter, outscoring them 24-19 to secure their third win a row. The Heat harassed the Bucks into 20.6 percent shooting from the 3-point line and held Giannis Antetokounmpo to just 13 points. Now the Heat set their sights on the Magic, who they have defeated twice in three tries. It is the final meeting of the season between the teams. The Magic have dropped consecutive games after a 130-107 loss to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night. Nikola Vucevic was effective for the Magic, scoring 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting. But the usually stout Magic allowed the Blazers to shoot 55.7 percent from the floor, including 16-for-33 from the 3-point line. The Magic are fourth in the NBA in points allowed (106.9).
Win: Miami Heat
Line: Miami Heat -6.5
Total Points: Over 218.5
CAVALIERS VS CELTICS
Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Boston Celtics will look to recover from back-to-back losses when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Boston is coming off a 129-120 overtime loss against the Brooklyn Nets one night earlier. The Celtics had no answer for Nets guard Caris LeVert, who scored a career-high 51 points on 17-for-26 shooting, including 5-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Boston also was hindered by the absence of forward Jayson Tatum, who missed the game because of an illness. Tatum has been on a remarkable run as of late, and he is averaging a career-high 23.5 points to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in his third NBA season. His status is uncertain against Cleveland, but he could look to make a splash one day after his 22nd birthday. The Cavaliers have dropped three games in a row, including a 126-113 decision against the Utah Jazz at home on Monday night. Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 32 points on 11-for-17 shooting, and he will look to stay hot against the Celtics. Others who finished in double digits included Kevin Love (22 points), Kevin Porter (16) and Larry Nance (16).
Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Boston Celtics -3.5
Total Points: Under 216.5
NETS VS GRIZZLIES
Venue: Barclays Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT
Caris LeVert and the Brooklyn Nets will be coming off an incredible overtime victory when they play host to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. LeVert scored 51 points — including all of the team’s 11 points in OT — to lead the Nets to the comeback over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. The Nets trailed by 21 points with six minutes remaining in the third quarter but scored 51 points in the fourth to force overtime. LeVert was fouled at the 3-point line with 1.2 seconds remaining in regulation and calmly sank all three to force OT. LeVert shot 17-for-26 from the field. The win snapped Brooklyn’s four-game losing streak and moved them into seventh place in the East, a half-game ahead of Orlando. Memphis enters on a two-game winning streak as it tries to fend off a charge by a handful of teams for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Grizzlies have won the past two games by a combined 56 points, including a 127-88 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night. The Grizzlies put nine players in double figures, turning a close game at halftime into a runaway in the second half, outscoring the Hawks by 36 points.
Win: Brooklyn Nets
Line: Memphis Grizzlies +1.5
Total Points: Over 223.5
KNICKS VS JAZZ
Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Utah Jazz will try to avoid the same fate as the team they’re chasing in the Western Conference when they visit the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. Lowly as they may be, the Knicks (19-42) knocked off the Houston Rockets on Monday night, ending Houston’s six-game winning streak. Rookie R.J. Barrett scored a season-high 27 points and the Knicks held off a furious rally from the Rockets to hold on for their second consecutive win. The Knicks defeated the small-ball Rockets in the paint, where they served up a 64-36 advantage. The Knicks outrebounded the Rockets 65-34. Utah’s Rudy Gobert will have something to say about what happens in the paint in this contest. The 7-foot-1 center is third in the NBA in rebounding at 14.0 per game. The Jazz are coming off a 13-point victory at Cleveland on Monday for their second consecutive win. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points to lead the Jazz, who shot 56.6 percent from the floor, including 48.8 percent from deep. The win tipped off a four-game road trip for Utah. It’s the second and final meeting between the teams this season. The Jazz defeated the Knicks 128-104 in Utah on Jan. 8.
Win: Utah Jazz
Line: New York Knicks +8.5
Total Points: Under 219.5
TIMBERWOLVES VS BULLS
Venue: Target Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
Two teams who have a much-needed reason to walk tall will meet Wednesday when the Chicago Bulls travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves. The Bulls picked up just their second victory in their last 12 games when they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 109-107 on Monday night. That came with Zach LaVine sitting out with a strained left quadriceps, as Coby White scored 19 points and Otto Porter Jr. added 18. Porter was returning after missing 51 games because of a broken left foot. The Bulls are six games out of a playoff spot, but little has gone right since Jan. 29, which was the start of an eight-game losing streak. LaVine is day to day and Lauri Markkanen is nearing a return from an injured hip. The Timberwolves are coming off a 139-134 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday that was shades of their 142-115 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb 8. But even with those two victories, the Wolves are just 3-20 going back to Jan. 11. Malik Beasley scored 28 points and D’Angelo Russell had 23 for Minnesota on Tuesday. The Wolves have 11 road victories this season and just seven home victories.
Win: Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Chicago Bulls +2.5
Total Points: Under 231.5
MAVERICKS VS PELICANS
Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 1:30pm AEDT
The New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks both will be looking to get back on track when the Southwest Division rivals meet at Dallas on Wednesday. The Pelicans will enter off a 139-134 home defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, while the Mavericks fell 109-107 on the road to the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Seventh in the Western Conference, the Mavericks are looking to make a playoff push over the final six weeks of the regular season. Dallas is 3-0 against the Pelicans this season including a 130-84 laugher on Dec. 7. It will be just the second home game since Feb. 12 for the Mavericks, who are 3-3 since that date. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 26 points and Luka Doncic added 23 against the Bulls, but Kristaps Porzingis was held out for injury management and Willie Cauley-Stein was left on the bench by head coach Rick Carlisle. New Orleans has lost three of its last four games, but two of those defeats were to the Los Angeles Lakers. The four main Pelicans scorers did their part Tuesday against the Timberwolves as Jrue Holiday had 27 points, Lonzo Ball had 26, Zion Williamson scored 25 and Brandon Ingram added 24, but it was the defense that did not hold its own.
Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: New Orleans Pelicans +6.5
Total Points: Under 240.5
BUCKS VS PACERS
Venue: Fiserv Forum | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Milwaukee Bucks are putting together a historically good campaign, and they will look to keep it going when they host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. Milwaukee sits atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 52-9 record, and only 21 games remain in the regular season before the Bucks begin a push for the championship. Indiana, as with any Bucks opponent, must try to find a way to slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 25-year-old is averaging a career-high 29.6 points to go along with 13.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists on the season. He is putting those numbers together despite averaging only 30.9 minutes per game, the lowest mark since his rookie season. Part of the extra rest can be attributed to the Bucks’ lopsided victories this season. The Pacers will bring a four-game winning streak into the matchup with Milwaukee. The past week proved to be great for the franchise as it notched wins over the Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who left the Bucks during the offseason, finished with 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the most recent outing.
Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Indiana Pacers +11.5
Total Points: Over 222.5
TRAIL BLAZERS VS WIZARDS
Venue: Moda Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT
After a high-scoring, end-to-end defeat Tuesday, the Washington Wizards will have to turn around and find the energy for a road matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. The Wizards fell 133-126 at Sacramento on Tuesday despite outscoring the Kings 46-19 in the third quarter. The problem was Washington’s 76-49 deficit at halftime. Sacramento led by 10 with 1:05 remaining before the Wizards made it interesting. Bradley Beal scored 35 points in 40 minutes for Washington while Rui Hachimura scored 20. The Wizards have lost five of their last seven games and are 1-2 on their four-game West Coast road trip. Washington sits just outside of playoff eligibility in the Eastern Conference, four games behind No. 8 Orlando. The Trail Blazers will enter off a 130-107 victory over the same Magic team as they return from a three-game road trip against Eastern Conference clubs. They went 1-2 on the road swing. CJ McCollum scored 41 points for the Blazers in the victory. Portland is just 2-4 after leading-scorer Damian Lillard went down with a groin injury right before the All-Star break. They lost three of their last four games with him, making the Blazers just 3-7 going back to Feb. 7.
Win: Portland Trail Blazers
Line: Washington Wizards +8.5
Total Points: Under 243.5