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Reply To: NBA • Tuesday Service Plays • 1/12/16

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Why NBA bettors should fade the Cavs on their ‘Texas Triangle’ road trip

It’s been a fantastically entertaining first half of the NBA season, with Golden State garnering most of the attention, due to its 24-game win streak to start the season. But a number of teams are starting to play very good basketball, among them the Clippers and Knicks. And that must make Commissioner Adam Silver very happy, as he no doubt wants relevant teams in the two biggest markets. Let’s take a look at some of the stories making news around the NBA.

Spread watch

The Brooklyn Nets are an absolute train wreck. They’re 10-27 SU, and fired GM Billy King and coach Lionel Hollins this weekend. Tony Brown, who played a season for the Nets in 1986-87, has been named interim head coach.

Owner Mikhail Prokhorov claimed that he made the moves because the franchise needed a “fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team.” But it was Prokhorov’s impatient “Win Now” vision, which was at the root of Billy King’s player moves the last few years, that started the team down this path.

Brooklyn has failed to cover its last four games and has been installed as a 14-point home underdog to the Spurs Monday night. Given that the Nets are 8-20-1 ATS their last 29 versus the Spurs does not bode well for Tony Brown’s first day on the job. Brooklyn’s best chance in the near term for a win seems to be at home versus Portland Friday.

Total watch

Two weeks ago, I highlighted the Atlanta Hawks, who were on a six-game streak of going Over the total. Well, all the Hawks have done since then is go Over the total in five of their last six (so, 11 of their last 12), including the last five in a row.

One of the main reasons for Atlanta’s high-scoring run has been the insertion of Kent Bazemore into the starting lineup by coach Mike Budenholzer. And, in their last 12 games, the Hawks have averaged 110.08 points, compared to 100.1 prior to the insertion of Bazemore into the starting five.

Atlanta will attempt to go Over the total for the sixth straight time when it takes the court on Wednesday, at Charlotte. And the Hornets have been a red carpet on defense, lately, as they’ve allowed five of their last seven opponents to reach the century mark and have given up an average of 107 points per game over their last seven games (compared to 98.9 ppg prior to that point). Another high-scoring game by the Hawks wouldn’t surprise.

Injury watch

Rudy Gobert missed 18 games for Utah with a sprained MCL, but returned last Thursday and played 15 minutes versus the Rockets. But his playing time expanded to 28 minutes against the Heat Saturday, and 30 minutes at the Lakers Sunday. Gobert’s one of the best defensive players in the league and his value is illustrated by the fact that, in the 18 games he missed, Utah’s defense was the fourth-worst in the NBA, but ranked as the seventh-best defense in the games Gobert’s played this season.

The Jazz held the Miami Heat to 83 points, in a 15-point win Saturday and followed that up with an 86-74 victory against the Lakers the next night. With games this week against Portland, Sacramento and the Lakers, I look for Utah to continue its strong defensive play and extend its win streak to five games.

Schedule watch

The Cleveland Cavaliers will embark on the dreaded “Texas Triangle” this week. They’ll play three consecutive road games at Dallas (Tuesday), San Antonio (Thursday) and Houston (Friday). LeBron James’ Cavs have been a money-burner on the road in the regular season the past two years, as they’re 25-34-1 ATS.

Since 1990, NBA teams are an awful 133-260 SU on this Lone Star State trip. And they’re especially poor when the Texas teams are off back-to-back SU/ATS wins, as they’re 12-47 SU and 22-36 ATS in that situation. So, check the recent results of the Mavericks, Spurs and Rockets prior to playing the Cavs to see if any of the games qualify under this angle.