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NBA Tips – Monday, March 9, 2020
NETS VS BULLS
Venue: Barclays Center | Start: 6:00am AEDT
With one last game to prepare themselves for a four-game West Coast road trip, the Brooklyn Nets will play host to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. The Nets are in a bit of a revival with two victories in their last three games, but that mini run followed a four-game losing streak. The Nets are coming off an offensive-minded 139-120 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. The Nets’ Caris LeVert had a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a game played in front of NBA legend Julius Erving. Joe Harris had 20 points, Spencer Dinwiddie had 19 and the Nets outrebounded San Antonio 51-38 and 9-2 on the offensive glass. The Bulls are simply playing out the string this season with defeats in four of their last five games and 12 of their last 14 going back to Jan. 29. That 14-game run started with a 115-106 overtime defeat to the Indiana Pacers, while the most recent defeat also was to the Pacers, 108-102 on Friday. Coby White led the Bulls with 26 points in the most recent matchup with the Pacers, while Shaquille Harrison had 25. Zach LaVine has missed three consecutive games with a strained left quadriceps.
Win: Brooklyn Nets
Line: Chicago Bulls +6.5
Total Points: Under 220.5
TIMBERWOLVES VS PELICANS
Venue: Target Center | Start: 6:30am AEDT
The New Orleans Pelicans will tip off a four-game road trip when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon. New Orleans is looking for back-to-back wins after a 110-104 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday night. Jrue Holiday led the way with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists, and Josh Hart notched a double-double off the bench with 19 points and 12 boards. Top rookie Zion Williamson will try to continue his impressive play after a typically strong effort against Minnesota in which he scored 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting and pulled down six rebounds. The Timberwolves have won two of their past three games but are coming off a 132-118 loss against the Orlando Magic on Friday night. The outcome could have been even more lopsided if not for the contributions of Minnesota guard Malik Beasley, who finished with 29 points on 14-for-21 shooting. The Timberwolves will remain without their most impactful player, Karl-Anthony Towns, who is expected to miss at least two more weeks because of a wrist injury. This is the third and final meeting between the Pelicans and Timberwolves during the season. The clubs have split their first two games, with the road team stealing a win each time.
Win: New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves +6.5
Total Points: Under 248.5
CLIPPERS VS LAKERS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 6:30am AEDT
Meeting No. 3 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will take place Sunday afternoon and so far, the matchup has been one-sided. The Clippers won the opening game of the season 112-102 against the Lakers. On Christmas Day, the Clippers got the best of their in-town foe once again, that one by a 111-106 score. The teams were supposed to meet Jan. 28, but that game was postponed after the Jan. 26 death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. In the most recent matchup between the teams, Kawhi Leonard scored 35 and Paul George had 17 for the Clippers, while the Lakers’ duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James combined for 47 points. The Clippers have won six consecutive games in a run that began when Leonard said it was time for the team to show how good it could be. The most recent victory came Thursday in a 120-105 decision against the Houston Rockets. The Lakers are getting into a late-season flow, winning three consecutive games and 10 of their last 11. The Lakers will enter off a momentum-building 113-103 home decision over the Milwaukee Bucks, when James had 37 points and Davis had 30. It was a matchup between the leaders from each of the NBA’s two conferences.
Win: LA Clippers
Line: LA Lakers +2.5
Total Points: Under 225.5
SUNS VS BUCKS
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 9:00am AEDT
The Milwaukee Bucks find themselves hoping they didn’t lose more than just a regular-season basketball game as they prepare to take on the host Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon. Giannis Antetokounmpo limped through the finish of Friday’s 113-103 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers after landing awkwardly on his left leg during a fourth-quarter fall. ESPN reported Saturday that Antetokounmpo was being sent for an MRI, the results of which will impact his availability for Sunday in Phoenix, Monday in Denver and perhaps moving forward when the Bucks return home to face Boston later in the week. The Bucks haven’t lost two straight all season. In fact, they’ve won their first game after each of their first nine losses by an average of 17.0 points. One of those nine wins came at home against Phoenix last month, a game in which the Bucks more than accounted for the margin of victory with a 45-18 edge in points from outside the 3-point arc. But that was before the Suns unleashed Aron Baynes on the league Friday night. He shocked the Portland Trail Blazers in a 127-117 win with a franchise-record nine 3-pointers and 37 points, the most ever scored by an Australian in an NBA game. The win was Phoenix’s first on a six-game homestand that ends Sunday.
Win: Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Milwaukee Bucks -6.5
Total Points: Under 228.5
CELTICS VS THUNDER
Venue: TD Garden | Start: 9:00am AEDT
The Oklahoma City Thunder can finish off a flawless road trip if they are able to beat the Boston Celtics on Sunday evening. Oklahoma City is 2-0 on its trip so far with wins over the Detroit Pistons (114-107) and New York Knicks (126-103). Next comes a visit to Boston, which has slipped as of late with losses in three of its past four games. The Celtics want to bounce back from a 99-94 loss against the Utah Jazz in which they shot a paltry 37.2 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point range. Despite the recent struggles, Boston sits comfortably in third place in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. Jayson Tatum has taken the next step toward stardom this year and is averaging a team-high 23.5 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Kemba Walker is second on the team with 21.6 points per game and first with 5 assists per game, and his matchup against Thunder point guard Chris Paul should be one to watch. Boston did not have Jaylen Brown (hamstring) or Gordon Hayward (right knee) in its most recent game, and it is uncertain whether either or both will return Sunday. Oklahoma City’s top scorer is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 19.3 points per game.
Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Boston Celtics -5.5
Total Points: Over 218.5
ROCKETS VS MAGIC
Venue: Toyota Center | Start: 10:00am AEDT
The Houston Rockets’ small-ball approach has been at a distinct disadvantage of late and the team will seek answers when it plays host to the Orlando Magic on Sunday. The Rockets are on a three-game losing streak, with each loss disappointing in their own way. First was a 125-123 loss to the lowly New York Knicks on Monday followed by a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday when the Rockets made just seven 3-pointers. Then came Saturday’s 108-99 loss at Charlotte when the Rockets had 20 turnovers, 10 from Harden alone. He did deliver a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. Russell Westbrook was held out of Saturday’s first game of a back-to-back for rest. The Magic put a three-game losing streak to bed Friday with a 132-118 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nikola Vucevic scored 28 in the victory, with 12 rebounds. Orlando was without head coach Steve Clifford for most of the second half, as he ended up hospitalized with dehydration. He has since been cleared to return to the team. The losing streak ended in emphatic fashion as Orlando shot a season-best 60.7 percent from the field. It came without leading scorer Evan Fournier, who is day-to-day with a right elbow injury.
Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Houston Rockets -8.5
Total Points: OVer 229.5
WIZARDS VS HEAT
Venue: Capital One Arena | Start: 10:00am AEDT
The Miami Heat have been terrific at home all season but have struggled on the road. They will look to improve their performance away from home Sunday night when they visit the Washington Wizards. At 40-23, Miami enters the contest in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Washington is much farther behind at 23-39, good for ninth place — and 4 1/2 games back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. However, Miami is only 13-19 on the road, compared with a 27-4 mark at home, so it cannot afford to relax as it heads to the nation’s capital. The Heat are led in scoring by Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 20.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.2 assists per contest. Butler figures to go head to head against Wizards star Bradley Beal, who is putting together the best campaign of his career with 30.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. On the interior, Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura (13.7 points, 6.0 rebounds) could look to continue his development against Heat big man Bam Adebayo (16.0 points, 10.5 rebounds). Both players are on the rise and look to have long careers in the league. Miami is 2-1 against Washington this season entering the fourth and final matchup.
Win: Miami Heat
Line: Washington Wizards +5.5
Total Points: Under 233.5
MAVERICKS VS PACERS
Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 10:00am AEDT
Two of the NBA’s top big men get an encore performance after a brilliant first meeting last month when Kristaps Porzingis and the Dallas Mavericks host Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night. Porzingis went for 38 points and 12 rebounds in a 112-103 win at Indiana in February, getting only slightly the better of Sabonis, who missed a triple-double by one assist in a 26-point, 12-rebound, nine-assist performance. Where Sabonis couldn’t come close to matching his rival was in 3-pointers, where Porzingis had six of the Mavericks’ 18. The Pacers countered with just seven. Both stars have been on their game of late. Porzingis has averaged 30.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in Dallas’ current two-game winning streak, while Sabonis has recorded eight consecutive double-doubles, helping Indiana win five of its last six. Luka Doncic, who missed the earlier meeting, and Victor Oladipo, who came off the bench the first time around, hope to share the spotlight with their teammates in the rematch, although both are a day to day. Doncic has an illness and Oladipo has a sore right knee. While the Mavericks seek to complete an unbeaten three-game homestand, the Pacers will try for a fourth win on a five-game trip.
Win: Dallas Mavericks
Line: Indiana Pacers +6.5
Total Points: Under 217.5
CAVALIERS VS SPURS
Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | Start: 10:30am AEDT
The San Antonio Spurs must wonder what’s next when they wrap up a three-game trip against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night. The Spurs have split games on the trip, with Tim Duncan (unofficially) winning his first game as head coach in Gregg Popovich’s absence Tuesday at Charlotte. Then the Nets defeated the Spurs on Friday with Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson stepping down a day later. Now the Spurs encounter a Cavaliers team coming off a surprising 104-102 home win over Denver on Saturday night, with Kevin Love (27 points) powering Cleveland’s first win in four tries on a five-game homestand. The Cavaliers will be playing the second night of a back-to-back and might elect to rest Love after a 37-minute performance. Andre Drummond has missed three straight games with a strained left calf but did practice Friday. The Spurs once again will be without LaMarcus Aldridge (strained right shoulder) and have leaned on bench play to pick up the slack on their trip. Four different reserves have scored in double figures in the two games, including Rudy Gay twice. Cleveland will be looking for a season-series sweep after a 117-109 overtime win at San Antonio in December.
Win: San Antonio Spurs
Line: Cleveland Cavaliers +4.5
Total Points: Under 226.5
KNICKS VS PISTONS
Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 10:30am AEDT
Two teams without a chance of making the postseason meet when the Detroit Pistons visit the New York Knicks on Sunday. The Pistons have lost 10 of their past 11 games. That includes Saturday night’s 111-105 home setback to the Utah Jazz. Christian Wood has provided career-high point totals in the past two games for the Pistons, following Wednesday night’s 29-point effort in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder with 30 points against the Jazz. Newcomer Jordan McRae has come in handy for the Pistons in the backcourt, which has been without injured guard Derrick Rose. The Pistons had Bruce Brown back in action for the first time since Feb. 23 after he was out with an injured knee. The Knicks are coming off Friday night’s 126-103 loss to Oklahoma City. The Thunder also holds a victory against Detroit across a three-night stretch. Guard Elfrid Payton’s 18 points led the Knicks, while RJ Barrett added 17 points. The Knicks had center Mitchell Robinson back after missing a game last week with a hamstring injury. This is the end of New York’s five-game homestand, with the Knicks 2-2 so far with losses in the last two outings. Detroit won a November matchup with the Knicks before New York won a February rematch.
Win: New York Knicks
Line: New York Knicks -5.5
Total Points: Under 210.5
KINGS VS RAPTORS
Venue: Golden 1 Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Toronto Raptors will play for the first time since clinching a playoff spot when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. The Raptors became the second Eastern Conference team assured of some postseason action when they defeated the Golden State Warriors 121-113 on Thursday night. The outcome was highlighted by the return of Golden State guard Stephen Curry, but Toronto’s Norman Powell had a career-high 37 points and Kyle Lowry added 26 points and 10 assists. The Raptors have won two games in a row. Toronto has an 8-3 road record against Western Conference teams. In the first meeting of the season with the Kings, Lowry had 24 points in Toronto’s 124-120 victory at home Nov. 6. Sacramento bounced back for Saturday night’s 123-111 victory at Portland after losing Thursday to the Philadelphia 76ers. Bogdan Bogdanovic pumped in 27 points at Portland, as the Kings tied a franchise record with 21 3-pointers. Bogdanovic made seven of them, Buddy Hield had six and Harrison Barnes connected on five. The Kings have won six of their last seven home games, with the Philadelphia outcome the lone setback during that stretch. This begins a four-game homestand for Sacramento, which doesn’t have another road game until March 19.
Win: Toronto Raptors
Line: Toronto Raptors -6.5
Total Points: Under 226.5