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NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 12/5/15

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    Preview: Denver At Philadelphia

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Denver Nuggets broke out of their eight-game losing streak at Toronto on Thursday and will try to make it two wins in a row when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. The 76ers know a thing or two about long losing streaks but have a chance to win two straight home games.

    Philadelphia lost 18 straight to begin the season and a record 28 in a row dating back to last season before spoiling Kobe Bryant’s party with a 103-91 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, but fell right back down with a 99-87 loss at New York the following night. The loss to the Knicks marked the sixth time in seven games the 76ers have limited an opponent to 100 points or fewer, and improvement on the defensive end is keeping the young team in games. The Nuggets have been solid on the defensive end but were averaging 83.8 points in the five games prior to Wednesday’s 106-105 triumph at Toronto. Denver is playing the finale of a five-game road trip that began with losses at Dallas, Milwaukee and Chicago.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, Altitude (Nuggets), CSN Philadelphia

    ABOUT THE NUGGETS (7-13): Denver was without starting power forward Kenneth Faried (ankle) on Wednesday and moved Darrell Arthur into the spot, giving the team four players comfortable playing the perimeter in the starting lineup. Arthur ended up with 19 points and went 3-of-3 from 3-point range while Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton each added three more 3-pointers and combined for 43 points. The one lowlight was the continued struggle of rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who went 2-of-9 from the floor in the win and is shooting 24.4 percent in the last five games.

    ABOUT THE 76ERS (1-19): Philadelphia will be without rookie center Jahlil Okafor (suspension) for the second straight game, leaving Nerlens Noel alone in the middle to start. The 76ers went with Robert Covington and Jerami Grant at the forward spots against the Knicks, pushing Noel to center, and ended up shooting 37.2 percent from the field. Covington scratched out 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting to reach double figures for the seventh straight game and has knocked down at least two 3-pointers in each of those seven contests.


    1. The 76ers took both meetings last season, with Covington going off for 25 points in a 99-85 win at the Nuggets in the last matchup on March 25.

    2. Denver went 18-of-18 at the free-throw line on Wednesday after struggling to 13-of-22 in the previous game.

    3. Philadelphia G Isaiah Canaan is 14-of-35 from 3-point range in the last four games.

    PREDICTION: 76ers 103, Nuggets 98


    Preview: Golden State At Toronto

    When: 5:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

    The Stephen Curry show travels north of the border when the Golden State Warriors visit the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. Curry needed only 18 shots and 31 minutes to put up 40 points on Wednesday as the Warriors extended the best start in NBA history to 20-0.

    The undefeated defending champions are the last thing the struggling Raptors need to see after dropping their last two home games, including a 106-105 setback to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. “We’ve got to get a level of play that we’re going to decide we play at, from the start of the game to the end of the game,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey told reporters. “We can’t wait until we get our teeth kicked in before we start. That’s been our M.O.” The Warriors have no problem starting strong and outscored their last five opponents in the first quarter by a total of 52 points. Golden State burst out to a 32-23 lead after 12 minutes in Wednesday’s game, but it was the third quarter in which Curry caught fire and scored the team’s final 24 points before taking the fourth quarter of the 116-99 victory off.

    TV: 5 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (Golden State), TSN2 (Toronto)

    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (20-0): Golden State does not see an end to its undefeated streak in sight and intends to keep pushing. “The NBA has so many great teams and great talents, to be able to put on a run like this, it’s special,” Curry told reporters. “It’s really hard to celebrate it, because there’s so much of the season left, and we want to be playing our best come playoff time. But we understand how we’re winning, and we’ve got to bottle that up for the rest of the year.” The Warriors are winning by beating opponents at both ends of the floor and lead the NBA in field-goal percentage (49.3) while sitting sixth in defensive field-goal percentage (42.4).

    ABOUT THE RAPTORS (12-8): Toronto is just behind the Warriors in defensive field-goal percentage (42.7) but is not nearly as efficient at the other end of the floor (43.6). Toronto had to rally from 17 points down to earn a 96-86 win at Atlanta on Wednesday and did not have enough gas in the tank to overcome another large deficit on Thursday. “Teams are coming out aggressive and we aren’t matching their intensity,” point guard Kyle Lowry told reporters. “We have to figure out how to match other teams’ intensity or come out with more ourselves.”


    1. The Warriors have taken three straight in the series and posted a 113-89 victory in their trip to Toronto last season.

    2. Raptors F DeMarre Carroll is 5-of-20 from the field in the last two games.

    3. Golden State F Harrison Barnes (ankle) is expected to miss his fourth straight game.

    PREDICTION: Warriors 110, Raptors 97


    Preview: Cleveland At Miami

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida

    LeBron James helped Miami increase its long homecourt winning streak against Cleveland during his four seasons with the Heat. James and Cavaliers take another swipe at ending their nine-game losing streak in Miami when they visit the Heat on Saturday.

    Cleveland’s last victory in Miami occurred Jan. 25, 2010, when James was still in his first tour of duty with the Cavaliers before spending four seasons with the Heat. Cleveland figures to arrive in a foul mood on the heels of back-to-back defeats to Washington and New Orleans — the latter a 114-108 overtime loss on Friday. Miami has been playing well with eight victories in 11 games and posted a 97-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in a contest that featured 38 lead changes and 11 ties. “Like a playoff atmosphere,” shooting guard Dwyane Wade told reporters afterward. “For our young team that hasn’t been in many of these kinds of games, it was great.”

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Ohio (Cleveland) Sun Sports (Miami)

    ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (13-6): James played 45 minutes in Friday’s overtime loss — he had 37 points and eight assists — so he certainly won’t be fresh in his latest return to South Beach. Cleveland had to make a fourth-quarter dash just to force overtime against the lowly Pelicans in what rates as a highly disappointing defeat. “From down 11 we were up three,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt told reporters afterward. “With one defensive possession and one offensive possession to win — it’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t close it out when we had the chance.”

    ABOUT THE HEAT (11-6): Point guard Goran Dragic has struggled thus far with season averages of 10.8 points and 4.5 assists and a porous 27.5 percentage from 3-point range. His difficulties have been so severe that contributing 14 points and seven assists in the win over the Thunder represents one of his better outings of the season. “We just talked to him, told him to play his game,” power forward Chris Bosh told reporters. “We felt that he was thinking too much. We were looking at certain situations and telling him to be aggressive. With a team like this, we have to spread the wealth a little bit, offensively.”


    1. James scored 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting as the Cavaliers posted a 102-92 home victory over the Heat on Oct. 30.

    2. Cleveland PF Kevin Love averaged 11.5 points on 8-of-25 shooting — including missing all eight 3-point attempts — in the back-to-back defeats.

    3. Miami SF Luol Deng (hamstring) is expected to miss his fifth straight game.

    PREDICTION: Heat 101, Cavaliers 96


    Preview: Charlotte At Chicago

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

    The Charlotte Hornets just got run over by the defending champion Golden State Warriors and now must go on the road and tangle with one of the best teams in the East. The Hornets will try to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since dropping the first three games of the season when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

    Charlotte put up a decent effort on the defensive end and still could not stop Stephen Curry from scoring 40 points on 18 shots in 31 minutes of a 116-99 loss to the Warriors on Wednesday. The Hornets can still count the seven-game homestand a success, as the only two losses came to Golden State and fellow NBA finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls are battling the Cavaliers for the top spot in the East but is still having trouble getting on the same page with first-year coach Fred Hoiberg’s scheme on offense. “We’re 11-5. C’mon, if it was the other way around we’d be hanging our heads and there would be something to talk about,” Chicago guard Derrick Rose told reporters in reference to any struggles. “As long as we are winning games, no matter how we win them, as long as we have one more point at the end of the games, we’re fine with it.”

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), WGN (Chicago)

    ABOUT THE HORNETS (10-8): Charlotte lost Al Jefferson to a calf strain and is having some trouble replacing the physical presence he provides in the post. The Hornets were outrebounded 53-41 on Wednesday and Cody Zeller, who was starting in place of Jefferson, managed three boards in 17 minutes. “The one thing that is disappointing, and that has to change, is you can’t pick and choose when you’re going to be physical,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told reporters.

    ABOUT THE BULLS (11-5): Charlotte could use a physical inside presence to go up against Pau Gasol, who delivered 26 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks in a 99-90 win over Denver on Wednesday. “He’s a smart player,” Rose told reporters of Gasol. “He reads the plays well. A couple of times (Wednesday) he (fended off) the screen and I was able to get to the lane. That comes off just playing and his IQ. He’s a big who is very smart, who can pass the ball and read the play.” Gasol had 19 points and 13 boards in a 102-97 home win over the Hornets on Nov. 13.


    1. The home team has taken each of the last four games in the series.

    2. Charlotte G Kemba Walker is coming off a season-low four points on 2-of-16 shooting.

    3. Chicago F Nikola Mirotic (concussion) is unlikely to play.

    PREDICTION: Bulls 93, Hornets 91


    Preview: Sacramento At Houston

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

    The Houston Rockets aim to record their seventh consecutive victory over Sacramento when they host the Kings on Saturday. Houston continued its recent dominance in the series with a 116-110 victory Nov. 6 as guard James Harden contributed 43 points and 13 assists.

    The Rockets are showing signs of overcoming a disappointing start by recording victories in four of their past five games. Harden had 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in Friday’s 100-96 road victory over the Dallas Mavericks and has topped 20 points in each of the past nine games. “I’m just a playmaker, my man,” Harden said afterward in response to a question. “If I have the shot, shoot it. If I have the opportunity to pass it and make a good play, I will do that as well.” Sacramento has lost three of its last four games and fell 114-97 to the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN California (Sacramento), ROOT (Houston)

    ABOUT THE KINGS (7-13): Sacramento center Willie Cauley-Stein will miss four to six weeks with an open dislocation of his right index finger. He suffered the injury in the final minute of Thursday’s loss when he hit his hand against the backboard and immediately winced and headed toward the bench. Cauley-Stein was the sixth overall pick of the 2015 draft and had carved himself a place in the starting lineup and is averaging 4.8 points and 5.2 rebounds.

    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (9-11): Houston has won consecutive games against New Orleans and Dallas and interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the reason is the club’s fourth-quarter defensive effort. “Our last win we gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter, (Friday) we gave up 18 points in the fourth quarter,” Bickerstaff told reporters. “So, again, what we hung our hat on last year we’re doing more of now. We’re aggressive, forcing turnovers, and we’re just digging down and getting stops.” The Rockets forced the Mavericks into 18 turnovers and 8-of-29 shooting from 3-point range.


    1. Kings C DeMarcus Cousins sat out last month’s meeting with the Rockets due to an Achilles’ tendon injury but averaged 26.5 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists and 4.5 blocked shots in two games against Houston last season.

    2. Houston C Dwight Howard was rested on the front end of a back-to-back and will start Saturday’s game.

    3. Sacramento backup SF Omri Casspi (gastroenteritis) is listed as probable.

    PREDICTION: Rockets 119, Kings 112


    Preview: Portland At Minnesota

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Winning at home has been a troublesome task for Minnesota this season, and the Timberwolves attempt to change course when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. Minnesota fell to Orlando on Tuesday in the opener of a four-game homestand to drop to 2-7 on the home surface.

    The Timberwolves figure to be well-rested by going nearly 96 hours between tipoffs and interim coach Sam Mitchell gave the team a full day off before getting back to business on Thursday. “A lot of times when you only have limited practice time, you spend part of your time working on your stuff, part of your time working on your opponent’s stuff,” Mitchell told reporters. “(Thursday) was all about what we need to get better.” Portland notched an impressive 123-111 home victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday while draining a season-high 18 3-pointers. Standout point guard Damian Lillard made five 3-pointers while backup small forward Allen Crabbe went 4-for-5 from long range and has scored a career-best 18 points in each of the past two games.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, KGW (Portland), FSN North (Minnesota)

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (8-12): Portland has blown six fourth-quarter leads this season and that situation was in play again Thursday as an 11-point third-quarter advantage was cut to two in the final stanza by the Pacers. But the type of disaster that occurred on Tuesday – the Trail Blazers held a seven-point lead with less than two minutes left and ended up losing to Dallas in overtime – was averted this time. “To be put in a situation like we were, where the game could have gotten away from us, and against a really good team, it was a good win for us,” Lillard said afterward. “We did a lot of good things down the stretch.”

    ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (8-10): Rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month after averaging 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in his first four-plus weeks as a pro. “Just a testament to the work I put in over the summer to come out starting but it’s just one month,” Towns told reporters. “We just have to put a lot of work together not to have just one Rookie of the Month award but just to have a great team record and have the season that we imagine ourselves having.” Towns has a target to shoot for as teammate Andrew Wiggins won the monthly award five times last season on his way to capturing Rookie of the Year honors.


    1. Lillard scored 34 points as the Trail Blazers posted a 106-101 home win over the Timberwolves on Nov. 2.

    2. Minnesota PG Ricky Rubio (ankle) missed all five of his field-goal attempts and scored just three points against Orlando in his return from a two-game absence.

    3. Portland PF/C Ed Davis collected 13 rebounds against Indiana and has reached double digits on the boards in five of the past seven games.

    PREDICTION: Timberwolves 113, Trail Blazers 107


    Preview: New York At Milwaukee

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    The New York Knicks set the tone for their vast improvement this season with an impressive performance on opening night at Milwaukee. The Knicks return to the Brew City on Saturday looking for a repeat performance of that season debut, as well as a third straight win overall.

    Coming off an embarrassing 17-win season, a revamped New York squad began its bid for a turnaround with a 122-97 victory over the Bucks on Oct. 28. Although Milwaukee got a measure of revenge with a win at Madison Square Garden just over a week later, the Knicks enter this third of four meetings on another high after a 108-91 rout of Brooklyn on Friday. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis needed only 26 minutes to record his 10th double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds) while making three of his team’s 12 3-pointers. The Bucks, meanwhile, are just 4-10 since the victory in New York after falling 102-95 in Detroit on Friday.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

    ABOUT THE KNICKS (10-10): Carmelo Anthony sandwiched some rough outings around a missed game against Houston earlier in the week, but looked like himself again versus the Nets with 28 points and seven rebounds. He will be seeking a similar performance against the Bucks, who have limited the superstar to an average of 14 points on 31.2 percent shooting in the previous two encounters. It’s a good time for New York to get everyone in a groove, as the schedule has opened up a big opportunity for the Anthony’s crew to make some hay; they are 2-1 thus far on a stretch in which they play nine of 10 games against opponents who are currently below .500.

    ABOUT THE BUCKS (7-13): Milwaukee scored 16 first-quarter points against Detroit and trailed by 11 points at halftime, which came after it dug a 10-point halftime hole in its previous loss at San Antonio. Early deficits are an issue when a team can’t come back from the perimeter and the Bucks are just 28.2 percent from beyond the arc over the course of a five-game span (1-4). Khris Middleton, who had 21 points against the Pistons, has pulled his weight in that category with a career-high 46.7 percent mark, which bumps up to 53.5 percent at home.


    1. New York has made 52-of-60 free throws in a three-game stretch.

    2. Bucks C John Henson had a season-high 22 points and three blocked shots in the 99-92 win at New York last month.

    3. Knicks SG Arron Afflalo is averaging 20.7 points over his last three games.

    PREDICTION: Bucks 95, Knicks 94


    Preview: Boston At San Antonio

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

    The scorching hot San Antonio Spurs aim for their eighth victory in nine games when they host the Boston Celtics on Saturday. San Antonio has experienced few problems handling the Celtics while recording eight straight victories in the series, including a 95-87 win in Boston on Nov. 1.

    The Spurs rolled to a 103-83 road win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday as small forward Kawhi Leonard made a career-high seven 3-pointers as part of a 27-point effort. “I’ve been confident in it,” Leonard told reporters after raising his 3-point percentage to an NBA-leading 50 percent. “I got hot so I kept shooting until I missed. Shots just fell for me.” The Celtics are 2-1 on a five-game road trip and rolled to a 114-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday in a contest played in Mexico City. Boston, which has won four of its last five games, is forcing a league-leading 18.4 turnovers.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN New England (Boston), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)

    ABOUT THE CELTICS (11-8): Starting point guard Marcus Smart (leg) remains sidelined and coach Brad Stevens updated the situation on Thursday and made it clear the second-year pro isn’t close to returning. “Three weeks away from the injury would still be very aggressive,” Stevens told reporters. “I don’t see him playing anytime in the near future. Hopefully in a couple weeks he can rejoin us.” Versatile Isaiah Thomas is receiving most of the minutes at the point and he had 21 points, nine assists and four steals in the victory over the Kings.

    ABOUT THE SPURS (16-4): Leonard’s improvement as a 3-point shooter has been astonishing as he shot just 25 percent at the shorter college distance during two seasons at San Diego State. Last season’s 34.9 percent ratio was his lowest over his first four NBA campaigns, but his torrid performance so far this season has helped him increase his scoring average to 21.9. “He’s been shooting the ball very well this year from the 3-point line,” point guard Tony Parker told reporters. “I think his decision-making is improving and he’s taking great shots.”


    1. The Spurs are 10-0 at home this season and eight of the wins have come by double digits.

    2. Boston had four players score 20 or more points in the win against the Kings – Thomas and backup C Kelly Olynyk with 21 points and SF Jae Crowder and SG Avery Bradley with 20 apiece.

    3. San Antonio SG Danny Green missed all five of his field-goal attempts against Memphis and is 11-of-44 over his last six games.

    PREDICTION: Spurs 106, Celtics 98


    Preview: Indiana At Utah

    When: 9:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

    The Indiana Pacers finally had a rough night in a loss at Portland and are hoping not to make it two in a row when they visit the Utah Jazz on Saturday. The Pacers had a six-game winning streak come to an end with a 123-111 loss to the Trail Blazers, marking just their third setback since the start of November.

    The end of Indiana’s winning streak coincided with star forward Paul George finally cooling off and finishing with 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting, including 0-of-9 from 3-point range. George averaged 30.7 points and shot 51.5 percent from 3-point range in his previous 13 games and had just been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November before slowing down at Portland. The Jazz have a defense that can slow down the best of teams when it’s firing on all cylinders, but they surrendered an average of 104.5 points in back-to-back losses. Utah came up just short in a 106-103 loss to undefeated Golden State on Monday before falling to the Orlando Magic on Thursday with defensive anchor Rudy Gobert out.

    TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, ROOT (Utah)

    ABOUT THE PACERS (12-6): While George struggled on Wednesday, C.J. Miles caught fire and buried 8-of-11 3-pointers en route to a game-high 27 points. The veteran swingman, who spent the first seven seasons of his career in Utah, drained multiple 3-pointers in each of the last eight games and has struck for eight in two of the last five. Miles is averaging career highs in points (15.8), steals (1.3) and 3-point percentage (45.0) while working as a compliment to George.

    ABOUT THE JAZZ (8-9): Gobert, who averages 9.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.64 blocks, suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in practice on Wednesday and is out indefinitely. Utah moved Derrick Favors to the middle in the starting lineup on Thursday and added Trevor Booker to the unit while giving Jeff Withey and rookie Trey Lyles more time off the bench. “We went small and were better offensively,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder told reporters of a stretch of strong play in the first half on Thursday. “We just spaced the floor and played, obviously, a different style because of our personnel.”


    1. Gobert had 17 rebounds and three blocks in a 97-76 win at the Pacers on Oct. 31, which snapped a four-game losing streak in the series.

    2. Indiana G Monta Ellis (back) was limited to two points in 18 minutes before leaving Thursday’s contest and is day-to-day.

    3. Utah G Rodney Hood is 10-of-35 from the field in the last three games.

    PREDICTION: Pacers 101, Jazz 95


    Preview: Orlando At L.A. Clippers

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 5, 2015

    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

    The Los Angeles Clippers figure to be without their starting backcourt when they host the Orlando Magic on Saturday. Point guard Chris Paul is expected to miss his second straight game with a rib injury while shooting guard J.J. Redick sprained his right ankle during Wednesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers.

    Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers feels there’s a chance Redick can play against Orlando and said the sharpshooter certainly won’t be facing a long absence. “That doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss some games, or he may play the next game,” Rivers said after the contest. “He tried to give it a go at halftime. He just didn’t feel like he could do it. The good news there is if he’s trying to do it, that means it’s not awful.” The Magic are riding a five-game winning streak – their best stretch since Jan. 2012 – and have opened a five-game road trip with consecutive wins at Minnesota and Utah. Forward Tobias Harris led the way with 17 points in Thursday’s 103-94 victory over the Jazz.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)

    ABOUT THE MAGIC (11-8): Orlando won 25 or fewer games in each of the past three seasons but is thriving under first-year coach Scott Skiles due to a teamwork-oriented approach. That element was on display during Thursday’s victory as six players scored between 14 and 17 points. “That’s the name of the game,” Harris told reporters. “That is how our team is kind of built, everyone chipping in and really playing their part, playing their role.”

    ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (10-9): Underachieving Lance Stephenson received 28 minutes of playing time with Redick injured and scored a season-best 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The output was partially influenced by his motivation to succeed against the Pacers – one of his former teams – and there’s no telling whether or not he can follow up the strong effort. Stephenson has scored in double digits just three times this season while averaging 5.7 points.


    1. The Clippers won last season’s two meetings by an average of 26 points.

    2. Orlando backup PF Andrew Nicholson is averaging 14.3 points on 18-of-30 shooting over the past three games.

    3. Los Angeles PF Blake Griffin had 19 points on 6-of-18 shooting against Indiana to end a streak of four straight 20-point outings.

    PREDICTION: Clippers 100, Magic 93



    Hot teams
    — Unbeaten Warriors covered seven of last eight games. Toronto won five of its last seven games (6-1U).
    — Miami won five of its last seven games (1-4 last five HF).
    — Rockets won four of last five games (1-8HF).
    — Hornets won five of their last seven games (3-3AU). Chicago is 7-2 in its last nine games (1-7HF).
    — Knicks won last two games, by 12-17 points (2-2F).
    — Celtics won four of their last five games (3-1AU). Spurs are 7-1 in last eight games (7-3HF).
    — Pacers won six of their last seven games (2-2AF).
    — Orlando won/covered its last five games (5-3AU). Clippers won three of last four games (4-7HF).

    Cold teams
    — Denver lost eight of last nine games (0-2F). 76ers lost 19 of first 20 games (2-5HU).
    — Cavaliers lost three of last five games (2-0AU).
    — Portland lost four of its last five road games (1-3 last four AU). Minnesota lost three of last five home games (0-7H).
    — Kings lost six of their last nine games (4-4AU).
    — Milwaukee lost eight of its last ten games (3-2HU).
    — Jazz lost four of their last six games (1-0HU).

    Series records
    — 76ers actually won their last three games with Denver.
    — Warriors won six of last seven games with Toronto.
    — Cavaliers won three of last four games with Miami.
    — Trailblazers won six of last eight games with Minnesota.
    — Kings lost their last six games with Houston.
    — Hornets lost four of last five visits (3-2 vs spread) to Chicago.
    — Knicks lost five of last six games with Milwaukee.
    — Celtics lost their last eight games with San Antonio.
    — Pacers won four of last five games with Utah.
    — Clippers won four of last five games with Orlando.

    — Five of last six Denver games stayed under total.
    — Five of last six Golden State games went over.
    — Five of last six Miami games stayed under total.
    — Five of last six Mnnesota games stayed under total.
    — Over is 5-1-1 in last seven Sacramento-Houston games.
    — Last seven Chicago games stayed under the total.
    — Three of last four Milwaukee games stayed under.
    — Four of last five Boston games stayed under total.
    — Five of last seven Indiana games went over total.
    — Seven of last eight Clipper games stayed under.


    NBA Odds: Saturday, December 5 2015 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
    by Alan Matthews

    The Atlanta Hawks knew they were going to have a hole in their rotation entering 2015-16 because small forward DeMarre Carroll was going to be too expensive to re-sign as a free agent — and he left for $60 million or so in Toronto. So the Hawks made what I thought was a pretty good trade on draft night, sending their first-round pick, guard Jerian Grant (No. 19 overall), to the New York Knicks for swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. You never know what rookies will be, especially picked that low in the first round. Hardaway, meanwhile, is just 23 years old and had averaged 11.5 points last season with the Knicks in only 24.0 minutes a night. Yeah, he wasn’t a great shooter but was athletic. Thus far, that trade has flopped for the Hawks. Hardaway has played 44 minutes all season and was shipped to the D-League on Thursday. He was eligible to be assigned there because Hardaway has three years or under of NBA experience. Grant, meanwhile, is playing about 18 minutes a night and averaging 6.1 points,, 2.8 assists and 2.0 rebounds. Phil Jackson wins that trade right now.

    Nuggets at 76ers (+4, 193)

    Denver ended an eight-game losing streak with a 106-105 upset in Toronto in the second of a back-to-back on Thursday. The Nuggets made all 18 free throws in avoiding their first nine-game losing streak since the 2002-03 season when they dropped 14 straight. Denver never trailed. Philly followed up its first win of the season on Tuesday with a 12-point loss at the Knicks on Wednesday. The 76ers didn’t have Rookie of the Year candidate Jahlil Okafor for that defeat due to a two-game suspension for all his off-field stupidity, and he won’t play here, either. He and Denver guard Emmanuel Mudiay were the preseason favorites for ROY.

    Key trends: The underdog is 6-1 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The “over/under” has gone under in six of Philly’s past seven overall.

    Early lean: Can I just pass on this ugly game? Since no Okafor, go Denver and under.

    Warriors at Raptors (+7.5, 206.5)

    I like to say the Warriors are going for Blackjack here — 21 (straight wins to open the season). How good is Steph Curry? In Wednesday’s 116-99 win in Charlotte, Curry’s hometown, he had 40 points and it easily could have been 50 if Curry didn’t sit the fourth quarter. Curry’s dad was honored at halftime of that game as Dell Curry is the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer. Steph came out of the locker room for that and was inspired, scoring 28 points in the third quarter, including some ridiculous 3-pointers. Guy is amazing. Toronto was clearly caught looking ahead to this game on Thursday as it lost 106-105 at home to Denver, which entered on an eight-game skid. This will be the first time the Raptors play a second straight home game this season. They played Golden State tough in Oakland on Nov. 17 but lost 115-110. The Warriors have won 11 of the past 13 meetings.

    Key trends: The Raptors are 6-0 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.

    Early lean: Raptors and over.

    Cavaliers at Heat (pick’em, 192)

    This game is on NBA TV. Cleveland was in New Orleans on Friday. I think LeBron James will take the occasional second of a back-to-back off this season but highly doubt that it’s Saturday night in his return to Miami to face old pals Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami warmed up for this one with a 97-95 home win over the Thunder on Thursday. Wade provided the winning points with two free throws with 1.5 seconds left. He finished with 28 points. That game featured a crazy 38 lead changes. No other NBA game entering Thursday had more than 25 lead changes this season. It was the most ever in a game in Wade’s Hall of Fame career. Miami’s Luol Deng missed a fourth straight game (hamstring) and is questionable at best here.

    Key trends: The home team is 6-0 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 9-2 in Miami’s past 11 at home.

    Early lean: Heat and under.

    Hornets at Bulls (-7, 198)

    Charlotte is still licking its wounds after being Curry-ied on Wednesday night against the Warriors. Hornets point guard Kemba Walker was slightly outplayed by Curry as Walker was 2-for-16 from the field for 4 points. Hornets rookie Frank Kaminsky III had a career-high 16 points as he saw more action with center Al Jefferson out a few weeks. Chicago beat Denver 99-90 on Wednesday in a possible trap game following a big win over the Spurs on Monday. Derrick Rose was just 3-for-17 against the Nuggets. Backup guard Aaron Brooks played after missing the past few. The Bulls and Hornets have split two meetings this season, each winning at home. Chicago could be without Nikola Mirotic (concussion).

    Key trends: Charlotte is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-2 in the past eight meetings in Chicago.

    Early lean: Hornets and over.

    Kings at Rockets (-5.5, 216)

    Houston was in Dallas on Friday. Dwight Howard wasn’t going to play in that game so he can in this home one. Must be nice to earn $20 million a year or whatever and not have to work back-to-back nights. Sacramento lost 114-97 to Boston on Thursday in Mexico City. And the team got bad news as rookie first-round pick Willie Cauley-Stein will miss 4-6 weeks with a dislocation of his right index finger. That will hurt the Kings on the defensive end. The Rockets won in Sacramento 116-100 on Nov. 6 behind 43 points from James Harden. Howard was out as was DeMarcus Cousins.

    Key trends: Houston is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 5-1-1 in the past seven overall.

    Early lean: Rockets and over.

    Trail Blazers at Timberwolves (-2, 205)

    Portland ended a two-game slide with a 123-111 home win over Indiana on Thursday, a season high in points for the Blazers. Damian Lillard had 26 points. Minnesota dropped a second straight Tuesday, 96-93 to Orlando. Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points for the Timberwolves but missed a free throw with 5.6 seconds to play that would have tied the game. Minnesota is only 2-7 at home. For some reason, Coach Sam Mitchell kept No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench the entire fourth quarter for a third game in a row. Portland beat the visiting Wolves 106-101 on Nov. 2. Lillard had 34 points and seven assists.

    Key trends: The home team has covered four of the past six meetings. The over is 7-1 in the past eight in Minnesota.

    Early lean: Wolves and over.

    Knicks at Bucks (-2.5, 192)

    Milwaukee was on Detroit on Friday, while New York was home to Brooklyn. This will be the third meeting of the season between these teams already. The Knicks won in Milwaukee 122-97 on opening night despite Carmelo Anthony shooting just 4-for-16. Greg Monroe led the Bucks with 22 points and 14 rebounds. A little over a week later at the Garden, the Bucks won 99-92. John Henson had a season-high 22 points for Milwaukee. New York is 1-2 on the back end of back-to-backs this season.

    Key trends: The Bucks have covered five straight in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings in Milwaukee.

    Early lean: Bucks and under.

    Celtics at Spurs (-9, 194)

    Boston won in Sacramento 114-97 on Thursday in Mexico for its second straight away victory. Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 21 points against his former teammates and outplayed former Celtic Rajon Rondo. San Antonio won impressively in Memphis on Thursday, 103-83 in the second of a back-to-back. The Spurs actually played everybody, which was noteworthy. It was the 16th time this season San Antonio held an opponent under 100 points. San Antonio won in Boston 95-87 on Nov. 1 and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili surpassed the Celtics’ Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for the most all-time regular season wins by a trio in NBA history, earning their 541st.

    Key trends: The Spurs have covered four straight meetings. The under is 4-1 in Boston’s past five overall.

    Early lean: Celtics and under.

    Pacers at Jazz (+1.5, 194)

    Indiana closes a four-game West Coast trip here and is 2-1 on it after losing by 12 in Portland on Thursday to end a six-game winning streak. Paul George, the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October, was just 4-for-17 shooting for 11 points. Guard Monta Ellis left in the third quarter with a back injury, so monitor his status here. Utah got awful news Wednesday when center Rudy Gobert, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, was lost for 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. Gobert averages 9.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. Utah’s defense will not be the same without him (start betting over). The Jazz, who enter on a two-game losing streak, won in Indiana 97-76 on Halloween. The Jazz outscored the Pacers by 28 after intermission. Gobert had nine points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.

    Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 4-1 in those five.

    Early lean: Pacers and over.

    Magic at Clippers (-3.5, 198)

    Orlando brings a five-game winning streak into this one and comes off a 103-94 win in Utah on Thursday. Six different Magic players reached double figures in their longest winning streak in three years. The Clippers lost 103-91 at home to Indiana on Wednesday. Los Angeles was without All-Star guard Chris Paul due to a strained muscle, and he’s not likely to play here. Neither is backcourt mate J.J. Redick, who sprained his ankle in the first quarter against the Pacers. L.A.’s Paul Pierce is 15 points shy of 26,000 career.

    Key trend: The Magic are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-0 in the past five.

    Early lean: If Paul and Redick are out, I’ll take the points. Go under.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play On – Any team (MINNESOTA) off a upset loss as a favorite against opponent off an upset win as a home underdog
    70-33 over the last 5 seasons. ( 68.0% | 33.7 units )
    4-0 this year. ( 100.0% | 4.0 units )

    Play On – Home teams vs. the money line (MILWAUKEE) averaging 48 or less rebounds/game on the season, on Saturday games
    44-20 over the last 5 seasons. ( 68.8% | 25.5 units )
    2-0 this year. ( 100.0% | 2.8 units )

    Play Under – All teams where the first half total is between 95.5 and 100.5 points after being beaten by the spread by 30 or more points total in their last five games against opponent after being beaten by the spread by 42 or more points total in their last seven games
    67-31 since 1997. ( 68.4% | 32.9 units )
    1-0 this year. ( 100.0% | 1.0 units )



    15* Trailblazzers / T’Wolves – Over 203



    100* Cavs +2

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