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NBA Tips – Sunday, March 8, 2020
HORNETS VS ROCKETS
Venue: Spectrum Center | Start: 9:00am AEDT
The Houston Rockets will have to refocus after a game billed as a showdown didn’t turn out that way because of their performance. The loss to the Los Angeles Clippers was a significant disappointment, so the ability to bounce back will be part of the plan for Saturday at Charlotte. The Rockets had 18 games in a row with at least 10 baskets from 3-point range. That string was snapped with 7-for-42 shooting on 3s against the Clippers. Russell Westbrook had 29 points for the Rockets. If Eric Gordon can’t play in Charlotte, it could put more pressure on the Houston backcourt that will also be without Westbrook, resting on the front end of a back-to-back. Gordon didn’t return against the Clippers after departing with knee soreness. The Rockets have lost two games in a row. They have one three-game skid and one four-game losing streak this season. This will be Houston’s third road game in a four-game span. James Harden scored 40 points for Houston when it topped Charlotte 125-110 in a Feb. 4 game in Houston. The Hornets have lost the first three games of a four-game homestand. The last two have come by one and two points, with failures to score on their final possessions. Charlotte guard Devonte’ Graham returned from a one-game absence with an ankle injury to score a team-high 24 points on Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets.
Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Charlotte Hornets +8.5
Total Points: Under 219.5
PISTONS VS JAZZ
Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Utah Jazz have taken care of business recently and will try to keep it going with Saturday’s game at Detroit. The Jazz won 99-94 on Friday night at Boston behind Mike Conley’s 25 points. The Jazz had a four-game losing streak that has been followed by the current four-game winning streak after the Boston game. There have been a variety of contributors. Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic shared scoring honors with 23 points each Wednesday night when the Jazz topped the New York Knicks. For Utah, this is the sixth consecutive matchup against teams from the Eastern Conference. It will also end a four-game road trip that began with three victories. The Pistons haven’t played since a 114-107 loss Wednesday night to the Oklahoma City Thunder. That gave Detroit nine losses in its last 10 games. Despite the setback, the Pistons received a career-high 29 points from Christian Wood, who has led Detroit in scoring in six of the team’s past seven games. Derrick Rose’s 31 points Feb. 28 against Phoenix led the Pistons, but he could be out at least a couple of weeks with an ankle injury. Four of the last five games for the Pistons have been decided by seven points or less. The Jazz defeated Detroit, 104-81, on Dec. 30.
Win: Utah Jazz
Line: Utah Jazz -8.5
Total Points: Under 211.5
CAVALIERS VS NUGGETS
Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Denver Nuggets have fought a bad habit all season of losing to inferior teams, and they get a chance to exact some revenge against one of those Saturday night when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nuggets inexplicably lost to the Cavs in Denver on Jan. 11, 111-103. Another case in point came Tuesday when the Nuggets fell to Golden State by 16, also at home. Then the Nuggets had to rally to beat the 21-41 Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night, 114-112. Jamal Murray’s running 13-footer with 5.1 seconds remaining helped the Nuggets defeat the Hornets. With 20 games remaining, it’s imperative the Nuggets beat the cupcakes if they want to regain the No. 2 seed in the West. Denver shot just 20.5 percent from the 3-point line in that January loss to the Cavs, who are now mired in a four-game losing streak. The Cavs got 41 points form Collin Sexton but lost to the Boston Celtics by six Wednesday night. The Cavs were shorthanded big-time without centers Andre Drummond (calf) and Tristan Thompson (knee), but both players and their combined 29.7 points per game were full participants in practice Friday. Guards Darius Garland (groin) isn’t expected to play and Kevin Porter Jr. (concussion) is out indefinitely.
Win: Denver Nuggets
Line: Cleveland Cavaliers +9.5
Total Points: Under 218.5
GRIZZLIES VS HAWKS
Venue: FedExForum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies play for the second time in six nights on Saturday night in Memphis. And, both are coming off losses and both will be playing on back-to-backs. The difference is, the Grizzlies are looking to hold onto a playoff spot while the Hawks are headed for the lottery. The Grizzlies destroyed the Hawks, 127-88, on Monday night in Atlanta. The Grizzlies led by just three points at halftime but outscored the Hawks 75-39 in the second half. Gorgui Dieng’s 17 points led nine Grizzlies in double figures. Trae Young led Atlanta with 19 points but he did not play in Friday night’s 118-112 loss at Washington with flu-like symptoms. Cam Reddish led the Hawks with 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting. The Hawks gave the Wizards a scare in the 4th, climbing to within four points late. The Grizzlies got clubbed at Dallas on Friday night, 121-96. Too much Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis and too much 3-point shooting spelled the end of a three-game winning streak for the Grizzlies. The Mavs connected on 18 3-pointers to Memphis’ nine, while Doncic-Porzingis combined for 47 points. The Mavs led by as many as 33 points. Memphis leading scorer Ja Morant scored just 11.
Win: Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Memphis Grizzlies -6.5
Total Points: Under 236.5
WARRIORS VS 76ERS
Venue: Chase Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
Stephen Curry hopes to do more in his encore performance than he did in his return from a 58-game absence when the Golden State Warriors entertain the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. After not having played since October because of a broken left hand, Curry whipped Warriors fans into a frenzy with a 33-foot 3-pointer as part of his 23-point performance in 27 minutes in Thursday’s 121-113 loss to Toronto. Alas, he made just two other 3s in 12 total attempts and couldn’t do enough to help Golden State avoid a 10th straight home defeat. The Warriors won’t see Joel Embiid (shoulder injury) in the rematch of a 115-104 76ers home win in January, but Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks, who contributed 32 points to the Golden State cause that night, have switched over to the other side for the second meeting. They teamed for 22 points off the bench when the 76ers won for the first time in three games on a Western swing, 125-108 at Sacramento on Thursday. Josh Richardson, who was forced to sit out the last two games of the club’s tour of California while on concussion protocol, could return for the trip finale.
Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Golden State Warriors +4.5
Total Points: Under 220.5
TRAIL BLAZERS VS KINGS
Venue: Moda Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT
Two teams trying to chase down a playoff spot in the Western Conference will do battle when the Sacramento Kings visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night. The Blazers are percentage points ahead of the Kings in the conference standings, and both teams trail the Memphis Grizzlies by 3.5 games for the 8th and final playoff spot. Both teams are coming off losses but the Trail Blazers will be on the tail end of a back-to-back. The Blazers lost by 10 points Friday night at Phoenix. The Blazers got down early, never led and trailed by as many as 26 as Aron Baynes posted a career-high 37 points for Phoenix. C.J. McCollum led Portland with 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting. But now the Blazers begin a six-game homestand, starting with the Kings, who are coming off a home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, who were shorthanded and hadn’t won on the road in more than a month. The Kings outshot the Sixers overall but Philly outscored the Kings from the 3-point line, 51-33. The teams play for the fourth and final time of the season after having played the first three games by Dec. 4. The Blazers have won two of the first three.
Win: Portland Trail Blazers
Line: Sacramento Kings +2.5
Total Points: Under 230.5