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NBA • Thursday Service Plays • 2/25/16

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    Preview: Golden State At Orlando

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
    Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

    The rigors of a long road trip have tested the almighty Golden State Warriors, but Steph Curry seems unfazed. Curry and Warriors seek their fourth consecutive win as they continue a seven-game road trip at the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

    Following a 32-point loss at Portland in the second game of the trek, Golden State has survived three straight games with some late drama, including a 118-112 triumph in Miami on Wednesday, as Curry scored 10 of his 42 points in the final 66 seconds. Klay Thompson added 33 points as the Warriors (51-5) continued to stay ahead of the record pace set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who were 50-6 after 56 games. Orlando will be facing the league’s best team two nights after taking care of its worst with a 124-115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Nikola Vucevic’s season-high 35 points was the catalyst as the Magic won for the second straight time on the road following a 1-9 span away from home.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (Golden State), FSN Florida (Orlando)

    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (51-5): Curry hit 6-of-12 3-pointers against the Heat and has made at least one in 127 straight games, tied with Kyle Korver for the longest such run in NBA history. The reigning MVP continues to tear it up on the road, with Wednesday’s effort leaving his scoring average at 32.4 (compared to 27.1 at home) and his shooting percentage at 52.1 (48.9 at home). Thompson has enjoyed similar upticks in road games and is averaging 27.8 points on the trip.

    ABOUT THE MAGIC (25-30): While Orlando had few issues piling up the points in Philadelphia, coach Scott Skiles knew it was an incomplete effort that will not translate when the level of competition soars Thursday night. “Golden State will score 300 on us in the next game if we play like that,” Skiles told reporters after his team let the woeful 76ers shoot 54.4 percent from the floor. “Every time I watch them I feel like I’m watching the best team I’ve ever seen play.” Vucevic is carrying the load on the offensive end with a scoring average of 24.2 points over his last six games.


    1. Magic SG Evan Fournier has topped 20 points in four of his last six games after reaching that mark just three times in his previous 37 contests

    2. Golden State is 13-1 in the second game of a back-to-back.

    3. Curry’s 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left lifted the Warriors to a 98-97 victory in the previous meeting on Dec. 2, 2014, at Golden State.

    PREDICTION: Warriors 109, Magic 102


    Preview: Milwaukee At Boston

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
    Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

    The Boston Celtics were not pleased with their defensive effort during a 1-2 road trip but will have plenty of time at the team practice facility to iron out those issues over the next three weeks. The Celtics begin a five-game homestand and a stretch of seven of eighth in their own building by hosting the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

    Modest expectations at the beginning of the season were elevated when Boston went into the All-Star break in third place in the Eastern Conference, and securing a high seed is now one of the goals. “We’re as close to ninth as we are to second,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “That’s real. That’s what it is. … You’re going to have to play these last 25 games as well as you can. You’re not going to feel safe, that’s for sure.” The Bucks are trying to put together a late run at one of those playoff spots in the East and have won four of their last five, beginning with a 112-111 home win over Boston on Feb. 9. Milwaukee is another team trying to figure things out on the defensive end but did enough offensively behind forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s triple-double on Monday to knock off the Los Angeles Lakers 108-101.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), CSN New England (Boston)

    ABOUT THE BUCKS (24-33): Milwaukee began its new lineup experiment against the Celtics in that Feb. 9 meeting and has continued to bring center Greg Monroe and point guard Michael Carter-Williams off the bench. “(Monroe) and Michael, it just makes our bench stronger,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd told reporters. “For them to sacrifice, look, everyone wants to start. Those two have the right to say they should be starting, but we have no bench right now. Our bench is hurt. With the move of those two guys, it takes being unselfish and thinking about the team. And those two have done that for us.” Antetokounmpo remains in the starting lineup and is seeing more time handling the ball with the first unit.

    ABOUT THE CELTICS (33-25): Boston dropped from third in the NBA in field-goal percentage defense to fifth entering play on Wednesday after allowing the Minnesota Timberwolves to shoot 51.8 percent from the field in a 124-122 loss on Monday. “You get caught up in trying to outscore teams,” Celtics guard Avery Bradley told reporters. “Maybe that is what can happen. Everything is going well in the offensive end and you forget to play defense. That’s where we have to hold each other accountable.” Boston will play 14 of its final 24 games at home, where it has won eight straight.


    1. Celtics G Marcus Smart collected 10 steals in the last three games.

    2. Bucks G Jerryd Bayless (hyperextended knee) missed the last three games and is questionable for Thursday.

    3. Milwaukee won its last trip to Boston 110-101 on April 3, 2015.

    PREDICTION: Celtics 106, Bucks 95


    Preview: Oklahoma City At New Orleans

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
    Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

    New Orleans All-Star forward Anthony Davis suffered a scoring dropoff of 50 points in his last game and looks to regain his form when the Pelicans host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. Davis scored an NBA season-high 59 points against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday and then was swarmed by Washington defenders and held to nine points in Tuesday’s 109-89 loss.

    Davis did collect 20 rebounds for the second straight game but was just 3-of-9 shooting as the Wizards made sure he couldn’t operate offensively. “I think they decided to double-team me, deny me the ball a lot,” Davis told reporters. “We talked about it, we knew they were going to try and do that, and we needed to have other guys play off of that to free me up a bit. They did a good job defensively.” Oklahoma City All-Star guard Russell Westbrook has torched the Pelicans twice this season and is averaging 33 points, nine rebounds, nine assists in the Thunder’s two victories. Westbrook had 24 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds as Oklahoma City finished a four-game season sweep of Dallas with a 116-103 victory Wednesday.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Oklahoma

    ABOUT THE THUNDER (41-16): Oklahoma City felt the Dallas game was highly important after losing back-to-back contests, including a 115-92 drubbing by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. “We didn’t want to lose three in a row,” Thunder forward Kevin Durant said afterward. “We definitely don’t like losing games. The guys came out and played with a sense of urgency. We moved the ball well and the guys didn’t force anything.” Durant scored 24 points and has scored 20 or more points in 42 consecutive games.

    ABOUT THE PELICANS (22-34): Davis missed the first meeting with the Thunder because of an injury and scored 23 in the second — a 121-95 loss in Oklahoma City on Feb. 11. Coach Alvin Gentry hopes his team will adjust better the next time a team takes Davis completely out of a game like the Wizards did. “I think what we have to do is create space, but he has to be a facilitator more than anything,” Gentry told reporters. “If we are getting easy basket after easy basket, then we have to make them adjust. We never really got to that point where we made them adjust. They were going to make other guys beat us, which makes total sense.”


    1. The Thunder have averaged 115.5 points while winning both of this season’s meetings.

    2. New Orleans C Omer Asik (ankle) will miss his second straight game and isn’t expected back until early March.

    3. Oklahoma City SG Andre Roberson (knee) had four points in 21 minutes against Dallas after missing the previous nine games.

    PREDICTION: Thunder 118, Pelicans 111


    Preview: Brooklyn At Phoenix

    When: 9:00 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
    Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona

    The Phoenix Suns have dropped 12 straight and 18 of 19 but could be looking at their best chance to snap that string. The Brooklyn Nets, who visit the Suns on Thursday, have dropped seven in a row on the road and began their nine-game road trip with a 112-104 setback in Portland on Tuesday.

    Phoenix may have hit rock bottom on Monday, when it was wiped off the floor in a 124-84 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. “This is a competitive league,” Suns interim coach Earl Watson said on Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf radio show. “The process we are going through right now is we are finding out the mental toughness of our team. More than anything, we do not make excuses. We come out and we compete and whatever the result is we are accountable for that result.” The Nets nearly pulled off a signature win on Tuesday after coming back from a 19-point deficit to tie, but in the end they suffered a 112-104 loss to the Trail Blazers. Brooklyn, which will travel nearly 8,000 miles on the longest road trip in team history, is 4-20 away from home.

    TV: 9 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), FSN Arizona (Phoenix)

    ABOUT THE NETS (15-42): Brooklyn would be battling Phoenix for the number of ping pong balls available in the draft lottery, but the Nets traded their first-round pick this season to the Boston Celtics as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade prior to the 2013-14 season. The Nets at least still have center Brook Lopez, who put up a season-high 36 points and 10 rebounds at Portland. Lopez has gone over 30 points twice in three games since the break and is averaging 23.6 points on 57.8 percent shooting in nine games this month.

    ABOUT THE SUNS (14-43): Lopez will do battle with Phoenix center Alex Len, who was one of few players drawing praise from his coach. “I think it was great (for Len) to have starters minutes against the best big-man defender in the league,” Watson told the radio show after Len went up against Los Angeles’ DeAndre Jordan. “There was one play where he had the ball in the paint, made a move, made a pivot and had an and-one dunk. To me, that was more impactful than anything he did the entire game. He always gives you his heart, he’s always in tune with the game and he cares – that means more than anything to us as a program.” Len saw an increase in minutes in the last three games with center Tyson Chandler (shoulder) ailing.


    1. Suns rookie G Devin Booker is 8-of-30 from the field in three games since the All-Star break.

    2. Brooklyn SF Joe Johnson is averaging 18 points on 11-of-19 shooting in the last two contests.

    3. Lopez scored 23 points in a 94-91 home win over Phoenix on Dec. 1.

    PREDICTION: Suns 103, Nets 101


    Preview: Houston At Portland

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
    Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon

    The Portland Trail Blazers are no longer thinking about just making the playoffs, but about earning a higher seed. The Trail Blazers are winners of six straight and 15 of their last 18 and will try to disappoint another team chasing them in the standings when they host the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

    Portland came out of the All-Star break in a three-team race for the last two spots in the Western Conference with Houston and Utah but has continued its surge to put those team in the rear-view mirror. The dynamic backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have each gone over 30 points in the last two games after Lillard responded to his All-Star snub by dropping 51 points on the Golden State Warriors on Friday. The Rockets had a chance to claim eighth place in the West on Tuesday but could not find a way around Utah in a 117-114 overtime loss. Houston has dropped seven of its last 10 games, including a pair of losses to the Trail Blazers by an average of 15 points.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, ROOT (Houston), CSN Northwest (Portland)

    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (28-29): James Harden is doing his part with an average of 34.6 points in the last five games and went for 42 at Utah on Tuesday. Jason Terry buried a 3-pointer to force overtime but could not get another to fall as the extra period came to a close. “This might have been the toughest loss of the season,” Terry told ESPN. “We fought back. Give credit to Utah, they were very resilient, hit big shots. But this one is going to sit with us. We’re going to be (an angry) team when we go into Portland on Wednesday.”

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (30-27): Lillard joined Geoff Petrie (1970) as the only players in franchise history to score 30 or more points in five straight games with 34 on Tuesday in a 112-104 over the Brooklyn Nets. Lillard downplayed the big scoring numbers and insisted the small things are the reason for the win streak. “I say it all the time – we don’t have the luxury of coming in and expecting somebody to lay down to us or expecting to win games, period,” Lillard told reporters. “We’ve got to come out, we’ve got to play four quarters, we’ve got to do those small things that make us the team that we’ve become.”


    1. McCollum is 12-of-17 from 3-point range in the last three games.

    2. Houston G Marcus Thornton, who was returned to the team after a voided three-team trade, could be back in uniform on Thursday.

    3. Portland has taken four of the last five in the series.

    PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 102, Rockets 99


    Preview: San Antonio At Utah

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
    Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

    The San Antonio Spurs have dominated Utah twice this season and look to make it three consecutive victories over the Jazz in Thursday’s road contest. Both the previous meetings were in San Antonio and the Spurs averaged 120.5 points in the two games while winning by an average of 31 points.

    Utah currently possesses the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference and coach Quin Snyder is seeing progress, especially after his club survived a night of miscues to produce a 117-114 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. “You have to learn how to play through mistakes, you have to learn toughness, and you have to learn how to win,” Snyder told reporters. “This was not a pretty game by any means, but it’s a game that we won. We’ve got a group that’s learning how to do that.” San Antonio All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard (calf) returned from a three-game absence on Wednesday to contribute 18 points and eight rebounds against Sacramento and the defensive issues during his time away quickly evaporated. The Spurs posted a 108-92 over the Kings after allowing an average of 109.7 without Leonard, significantly higher than the NBA-low 92.7 they are giving up for the season.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (San Antonio), ROOT (Utah)

    ABOUT THE SPURS (48-9): Point guard Tony Parker is averaging 23.3 points during the past three games and had a solid game against the Kings by scoring 23 points on 11-of-17 shooting to go with six assists. Leonard’s performance was up to the par on the defensive side but he struggled with his shooting rhythm and was just 5-of-16 from the field. “It didn’t feel good at all,” Leonard said afterward. “My teammates did a great job of driving and kicking the ball out to get me some open shots. The rhythm will come.”

    ABOUT THE JAZZ (28-28): Small forward Gordon Hayward is on a roll with six 20-point outings in the past seven games and he was highly efficient while scoring 28 points against the Rockets. Hayward took just seven shots — making six — to become the first NBA player since Chauncey Billups (29 in 2006) to score 28 or more points on just seven field-goal attempts. Hayward is averaging 21.9 points during his seven-game hot stretch but is averaging just 11 points against the Spurs this season, including a season-low four Dec. 14.


    1. The Jazz have won their past two home games against the Spurs.

    2. San Antonio PF LaMarcus Aldridge had just seven points on 2-of-11 against Sacramento and is averaging just 13 points in four games since the All-Star break.

    3. Utah PG Shelvin Mack started against the Rockets and is averaging 16.5 points in two games since being acquired from the Atlanta Hawks.

    PREDICTION: Spurs 103, Jazz 101


    Hot teams
    — Orlando won four of last six games (9-4HU). Warriors are 10-1 in last 11 games, but covered only one of last six.
    — Bucks won four of their last five games (2-5 last 7AU). Celtics won six of their last nine games (6-1 last 7HF).
    — Oklahoma City won eight of last 11 games (2-8 last 10AF). New Orleans won four of last six games (3-4HU).
    — Portland won its last six games (9-3 last 12HF).
    — Spurs won nine of last ten games, covered one of last five. Jazz won its last five home games (5-2HU).

    Cold teams
    — Nets lost three of their last four games (0-0AF). Phoenix lost its last 12 games (4-3HU with Watson as coach).
    — Rockets lost four of their last five games (6-10AU).

    Series records
    — Warriors won last four games with Orlando.
    — Celtics lost seven of last ten games with MIlwaukee.
    — Thunder won three of last four games with New Orleans.
    — Nets won six of last eight games with Phoenix.
    — Trailblazers won four of last five games with Houston.
    — Spurs won eight of last ten games with Utah.

    — Four of last five Orlando games went over the total.
    — Five of last seven Milwaukee games stayed under. Last six Boston games went over the total.
    — Four of last five Thunder games stayed under.
    — Eight of last ten Brooklyn games went over total.
    — Six of last seven Portland games went over total.
    — Five of last seven San Antonio-Utah games went over.

    — Golden State is 10-4 vs spread if it played the night before.
    — Oklahoma City is 2-5 vs spread on road if it played night before.
    — San Antonio is 11-0 SU if it played night before, 7-4 vs spread; 0-4 in last four, after 7-0 in first seven.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play On – Any team (SAN ANTONIO) after leading their last 2 games by 10+ points at the half against opponent after scoring 105 points or more 3 straight games
    49-20 since 1997. ( 71.0% | 27.0 units )
    4-1 this year. ( 80.0% | 2.9 units )

    Play Against – Home teams vs. the money line (NEW ORLEANS) after a blowout loss by 20 points or more against opponent after a combined score of 205 points or more
    85-53 over the last 5 seasons. ( 61.6% | 40.0 units )
    14-13 this year. ( 51.9% | -2.3 units )

    Play Over – Home teams where the first half total is greater than 105 after having won 5 or 6 of their last 7 games, a marginal winning team (51% to 60%) playing a losing team
    46-18 since 1997. ( 71.9% | 26.2 units )
    3-1 this year. ( 75.0% | 1.9 units )



    100* Over 221.5 – Thunder / Pelicans


    National Sports

    3* Phoenix +2


    NBA Basketball Betting Trends – Thursday – Feb, 25

    Golden State at Orlando, 7:05 ET
    Golden State: 41-26 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points
    Orlando: 22-7 OVER after 2 games forcing opp to commit 20 or + turnovers

    Milwaukee at Boston, 7:35 ET
    Milwaukee: 1-10 ATS after playing a game as favorite
    Boston: 11-2 ATS when the total is greater than or equal to 210

    Oklahoma City at New Orleans, 8:05 ET
    Oklahoma City: 7-17 ATS in road games
    New Orleans: 34-20 ATS after failing to cover 2 of their last 3 against the spread

    Brooklyn at Pheonix, 9:05 ET
    Brooklyn: 17-5 ATS in road games off a road loss
    Phoenix: 13-23 ATS after playing a game as an underdog

    Houston at Portland, 10:05 ET
    Houston: 29-16 ATS revenging a loss where opponent scored 110 or more points
    Portland: 10-22 ATS after allowing 100 points or more 4 straight games

    San Antonio at Utah, 10:35 ET
    San Antonio: 1-5 ATS off 2 or more consecutive road wins
    Utah: 5-1 ATS as a home underdog

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