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NBA • Thursday Service Plays • 3/17/16

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    Preview: Toronto At Indiana

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

    The Toronto Raptors still have their sights set on the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference and started out their road trip in impressive fashion on Tuesday. The Raptors will try to move up at the expense of another team fighting for postseason position when they visit the Indiana Pacers in the finale of the two-game trip on Thursday.

    Toronto gave leading scorer DeMar DeRozan the night off to rest on the second game of a back-to-back Tuesday and still crushed the Milwaukee Bucks 107-89. Kyle Lowry took care of the offense with 25 points and 11 assists but it was the defense – forcing a young, athletic Milwaukee team to play at its pace – that was most impressive after the Raptors had struggled on that end in a 109-107 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday. The Pacers are trying to stay clear of the bottom of the East postseason bracket and are two games ahead of the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons battling over the No. 8 spot entering play on Wednesday. Indiana’s inconsistency was on full display in the last two games, when they followed up a 104-75 loss at Atlanta with a 103-98 triumph over the Boston Celtics at home.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), FSN Indiana

    ABOUT THE RAPTORS (45-21): Toronto doesn’t have to worry much about being caught from behind for the No. 2 spot in the East and is trying to balance keeping everyone on the roster healthy with attempting to catch the Cavaliers for the top spot. The Raptors not only rested DeRozan on Tuesday but also gave starting center Jonas Valanciunas a night off to rest a bruised left hand. Bismack Biyombo, who got comfortable with the starting unit when Valanciunas missed 17 games in November and December, stepped up and delivered 12 points, 13 rebounds and a pair of blocks against the Bucks.

    ABOUT THE PACERS (36-31): Indiana has won four of its last five games – including wins over San Antonio, Dallas and Boston – to make the setback at Atlanta look like a blip on an otherwise upward trend. The Pacers began a string of eight home games in nine contests with the win over the Celtics and are hoping to use the home-heavy portion of the schedule to gain a little separation in the East. “We are right there and ready for a postseason run,” Pacers star forward Paul George told reporters. “I know I am watching the standings. We have a chance to move up.”


    1. The Pacers need one more home win to clinch a winning home record for the 27th consecutive season – the longest active streak in the NBA.

    2. Raptors reserve F Patrick Patterson is 10-of-19 from 3-point range in the last four games.

    3. Indiana earned a 106-90 win at home over Toronto on Dec. 14 despite 20 points apiece from Lowry and DeRozan.

    PREDICTION: Raptors 103, Pacers 101


    Preview: Washington At Philadelphia

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Philadelphia 76ers have given up 256 points in the last two games as they strive to reach double-digit victories. The 76ers try to get a few more stops on the defensive end against a team that can put up some points when they host the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

    Philadelphia is missing some defense on the wings and down low with Richaun Holmes, Robert Covington (concussion) and Jerami Grant (concussion) out and allowed the Detroit Pistons and the Brooklyn Nets to shoot a combined 53 percent in the last two games. “It’s the same story all year long,” veteran forward Carl Landry told reporters. “We dig ourselves in a hole so deep we can’t get out no matter how hard we fight. The same story every night.” The Wizards will keep putting pressure on that leaky defense with an offense that averaged 120.5 points in its last two games. Washington dropped into 10th place in the East with a five-game losing streak but crushed the two teams it was chasing for the No. 8 spot this week, sailing past Detroit 124-81 on Monday and ripping the Chicago Bulls 117-96 on Wednesday.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington), CSN Philadelphia

    ABOUT THE WIZARDS (32-35): The John Wall-led offense has been impressive in the last two games but the big turnaround is at the other end of the floor, where Washington held the Pistons and the Bulls to less than 41 percent from the field and limited the two to a combined 9-of-43 from 3-point range. “If we’re a defensive-minded team on any given night, any given night we can beat anybody,” Wall told ESPN on Tuesday. “That’s the key to our success for the last 17, 16 games. Just play defense and don’t worry about the offense.” The Wizards remain two games behind the Pistons for the No. 8 spot, with the Bulls in between, but play six of their next nine games against teams with losing records as they try to make up the gap.

    ABOUT THE 76ERS (9-58): Philadelphia beat the Nets 95-89 on Friday to snap a 13-game slide but had no idea how to stop that same team four days later with Bojan Bogdanovic, who missed the first meeting but carved the 76ers up for 44 points Tuesday. “We knew they were going to come out and try to fix some of the things that they felt they needed to in the games we won previously,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown told reporters. “I thought they were physical. I give them credit, and Bojan Bogdanovic had a heck of a game.” The 76ers also play teams in the top third of the league in scoring average in Boston and Oklahoma City during their three-game homestand.


    1. 76ers G Nik Stauskas is averaging 14.3 points in the last three games

    2. Wall recorded his third triple-double of the season with 29 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds Wednesday.

    3. Washington has taken each of the first three meetings by an average of 9.7 points.

    PREDICTION: Wizards 120, 76ers 101


    Preview: Charlotte At Miami

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida

    The jumbled Eastern Conference playoff race takes front and center Thursday when the Charlotte Hornets visit the Miami Heat in a matchup of teams that have been climbing the ladder of late. The Heat gained sole possession of third place in the East by virtue of Boston’s loss Wednesday and have won four in a row at home.

    “Our guys are pros, they’re competitors. Everybody looks at the standings,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters Wednesday, a day after a 124-119 victory over Denver. “That’s fine. I have no problem with that. A lot of guys are aware of it.” The sixth-place Hornets kept pace with a 107-99 triumph over Orlando on Wednesday, pulling a game behind Miami and a half-game behind Boston while even with Atlanta. That capped a 6-1 homestand for Charlotte, which begins a stretch in which it plays 10 of 14 on the road in a place that it has dropped 12 in a row. There were 26 lead changes the last time these teams met, when Dwyane Wade scored 22 points to help the Heat steal a 98-95 victory on the road.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), FSN Sun (Miami)

    ABOUT THE HORNETS (38-29): Charlotte has won 14 of 17 overall and Wednesday’s result was not nearly as close as the final score would suggest as the gap was 26 points at one point in the second half. Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum scored 26 points apiece while Cody Zeller registered 13 points and 13 rebounds. Williams is averaging 20.2 points over a six-game hot stretch and had a season-high 27 on 12-of-17 shooting in the previous meeting with Miami.

    ABOUT THE HEAT (39-28): Rookie Josh Richardson continued to emerge with 17 points against the Nuggets, giving him an average of 15.3 – nearly 11 more than his season average – over his last four games. Fellow first-year standout Justise Winslow had 20 points versus Denver as seven Heat players reached double figures in the squad’s second-best offensive output this season. Hassan Whiteside (18 points, 10 rebounds) was held out of the contact portion of Wednesday’s practice because of soreness, but is expected to play Friday.


    1. Wade needs 24 points to become the 45th player in NBA/ABA history to reach 20,000 for his career.

    2. Charlotte entered Wednesday tied for third in the NBA in 3-pointers per game (10.5), while Miami was 28th (6.0).

    3. Whiteside had a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks) and Miami went 0-of-9 from 3-point range in the previous encounter.

    PREDICTION: Heat 104, Hornets 98


    Preview: Denver At Atlanta

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

    The Atlanta Hawks are streaking and look to post their seventh victory in eight games when they host the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. The Hawks stand a season-high 10 games above .500 and the hot stretch has allowed them to move within a half-game of the third-place Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

    Atlanta rallied from an 11-point third-quarter deficit while posting a 118-114 road win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. “They came out firing; they played really well,” center Al Horford told reporters of the Pistons. “I just felt like in the fourth our defense, the intensity turned up a little bit.” Denver has allowed an average of 120 points while losing the first two games on a five-game excursion after winning the final four games of a 5-2 homestand. “That’s two games in a row on this road trip that we’ve gotten away from what gave us success at home in that 5-2 homestand,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters. “We allowed (Orlando) to score 116 points and (shoot) 54 (percent) from the field, which is crazy.”

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)

    ABOUT THE NUGGETS (28-40): Power forward Kenneth Faried went 11-of-11 from the field while scoring 24 points against Miami in the first game of the road trip but was practically invisible against Orlando. Faried played just 15 minutes and didn’t return after being subbed for midway through the third quarter when it appeared he was experiencing back issues. “He never mentioned anything about his back,” Malone told reporters while saying the move was performance related. “(Orlando’s) Aaron Gordon got going against him to start that third quarter — that group was not playing well. I just cannot sit there and watch. I’m going to make changes and get guys in.”

    ABOUT THE HAWKS (39-29): Atlanta is tied for fourth place with the Boston Celtics and just a half-game ahead of the sixth-place Charlotte Hornets in the tightly packed East. Horford had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over the Pistons and is averaging 19.5 points and shooting 62.3 percent from the field during the past four games. All-Star power forward Paul Millsap has scored in double digits in 13 straight games after contributing 13 points, 10 rebounds and four steals against Detroit.


    1. The Nuggets have dropped 21 of their last 24 visits to Atlanta.

    2. Atlanta SF Kent Bazemore had 15 points and 10 rebounds against Detroit for his first double-double of the season.

    3. Denver SG Gary Harris has scored in double digits in 11 straight games and is averaging 16.6 points during the stretch.

    PREDICTION: Hawks 107, Nuggets 99


    Preview: Brooklyn At Chicago

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

    All-Star center Pau Gasol is ailing and will miss his third straight contest when the slumping Chicago Bulls host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. Gasol is hindered with soreness in his right knee and hasn’t yet made enough progress to return to action.

    Chicago point guard Derrick Rose (groin) returned from a two-game absence and scored 16 points Wednesday but the Bulls were routed 117-96 by the Washington Wizards. The latest defeat – the seventh in 10 games – leaves Chicago tied with the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Wizards. Brooklyn snapped a four-game losing streak and posted a season best for points in Tuesday’s 131-114 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers as shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic exploded for a career-high 44 points. “He had a huge night,” Nets interim coach Tony Brown told reporters. “It was great to see him shoot the ball the way he did, and we kind of rode his back a little bit.”

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), CSN Chicago

    ABOUT THE NETS (19-48): Bogdanovic had four 20-point outings all season before the huge outing against the 76ers in which he made 17-of-27 field-goal attempts, including four 3-pointers. “That’s definitely what he’s capable of. I can’t say I’m surprised,” center Brook Lopez told reporters. “We’ve seen him get super hot before, but he just got a lot more looks.” Bogdanovic has prospered since the departure of veteran Joe Johnson and is averaging 18.1 points over the past nine games to raise his season average to 10.5.

    ABOUT THE BULLS (33-33): Shooting guard Jimmy Butler has struggled in two games since returning from a knee injury – averaging 15 points on 9-of-30 shooting – while Rose displayed encouraging signs against the Wizards. “I thought his burst looked good, for the most part,” coach Fred Hoiberg said after the loss. “We wanted to play him short stints, no longer than seven-minute stints.” Forward Taj Gibson is also ailing and is doubtful to play against Brooklyn after being limited to seven minutes against Washington because he aggravated a hamstring injury.


    1. The Nets have emerged victorious in their last two visits to Chicago, including 105-102 on Dec. 21.

    2. Chicago SF Doug McDermott is averaging 24.5 points and knocked down 15-of-21 field-goal attempts over the past two games.

    3. Brooklyn F Thaddeus Young matched his career high with 16 rebounds against the 76ers and has recorded back-to-back double-doubles.

    PREDICTION: Bulls 105, Nets 98


    Preview: Memphis At Milwaukee

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Injuries are decimating the Memphis Grizzlies and the team will try to fight out of a slump when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. Memphis suffered a 114-108 home loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday for its third consecutive defeat and fifth in seven games.

    Among the injured Grizzlies are point guard Mike Conley (Achilles), power forward Zach Randolph (knee) and swingman Vince Carter (calf), and the casualties are taking its toll on a team that previously lost center Marc Gasol (foot) for the season. Shooting guard Tony Allen is the only original starter who was in the lineup against the Timberwolves and Memphis has signed four players to 10-day contracts during the past six days so it can field a viable roster. The Bucks had a three-game winning streak halted when it was routed 107-89 by the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo continued his superb all-around play with 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to narrowly miss his fifth triple-double in 12 games.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Memphis), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

    ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (39-29): One of the recent 10-day signees was point guard Briante Weber and he has played an average of 35.3 minutes during his first four NBA games. Weber was a standout college point guard at Virginia Commonwealth before tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus cartilage in his right knee during last season and he went undrafted. “I don’t even think there is a word in the dictionary or a phrase in a book that can explain the way I feel just getting the opportunity,” Weber told reporters. “I can’t even tell you how it feels.”

    ABOUT THE BUCKS (29-39): Milwaukee had a chance at making it four straight wins before falling apart in the third quarter against the Raptors, being outscored 29-17 while making just 6-of-22 shots. “They beat us. We didn’t play hard,” Antetokounmpo told reporters. “We are supposed to come in the third quarter and play hard so we can win the game because that’s really important for us right now. We just didn’t play hard. That’s it.” Antetokounmpo is averaging 21.9 points, 8.5 assists, 8.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.9 blocked shots in March.


    1. The Grizzlies posted a 103-83 home victory over the Bucks on Jan. 28 in this season’s first meeting.

    2. Milwaukee F Jabari Parker has scored in double digits in 16 straight games, topping 20 points on seven occasions.

    3. Memphis SF Lance Stephenson is averaging 25 points and 8.7 rebounds during his last three games.

    PREDICTION: Bucks 109, Grizzlies 105


    Preview: Portland At San Antonio

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

    The Portland Trail Blazers have slowed considerably since a hot stretch bridging the All-Star break vaulted them into sixth place in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers will try to avoid another set of back-to-back losses on Thursday by doing something that no team has managed in the NBA this season – win at the San Antonio Spurs.

    Portland looked primed to challenge the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 5 spot in the West and possibly climb even higher while winning 18 of 22 games through March 1, but losses in five of the last seven games have the team locked in a four-way battle for one of the final three spots with Houston, Dallas and Utah. The Trail Blazers got a look at just how far they are right now from being an elite team in the West when they were crushed 128-94 at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. The Spurs extended their home winning streak to 42 straight by breezing past the Los Angeles Clippers 108-87 on Tuesday and are focused on improving every game as they prime for a deep playoff run. San Antonio’s game-by-game focus should help it lock in on the task at hand on Thursday despite a showdown with Golden State looming on Saturday.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, KGW (Portland), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (35-33): Each of Portland’s last five losses have come on the road, and all have come against playoff-caliber competition. “I think we’re playing good teams,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “Golden State obviously is a pretty good team, Toronto is a pretty good team, Boston’s a pretty good team, Detroit, they’re a playoff team. Our last eight losses have all been to playoff teams, last five losses have been to playoff teams on the road.” That trend won’t let up much down the stretch, with Portland playing remaining road games at Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State while hosting Dallas, Boston, Miami and Oklahoma City over the last 13 contests.

    ABOUT THE SPURS (57-10): San Antonio is still within shouting distance of the Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference and has three meetings left with Golden State, including a pair at home. The Spurs ran their latest overall winning streak to four straight against the Clippers on Tuesday and have dominated playoff teams on the defensive end while holding Los Angeles and Oklahoma City to an average of 86 points in the last two contests. All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard is taking care of the heavy lifting at the other end and went 9-of-15 en route to a team-high 20 points in Tuesday’s triumph.


    1. Spurs G Danny Green went 4-of-5 from 3-point range on Monday after hitting 3-of-28 from beyond the arc in the first seven games this month.

    2. Portland has allowed at least 116 points in each of its last six losses.

    3. San Antonio took the first two meetings this season, including a 93-80 home win on Nov. 16.

    PREDICTION: Spurs 106, Trail Blazers 89


    Preview: Phoenix At Utah

    When: 9:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
    Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

    The Utah Jazz are trying to keep sight of the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks fighting over the final three spots in the Western Conference playoff bracket and are inching closer with three straight wins. The Jazz will try to make it four in a row when they host the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.

    Utah plummeted out of the top eight with seven losses in eight games but has since won three straight in impressive fashion, including a 94-85 triumph over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. “It’s been a tough season for us putting together 48-minute games,” Jazz guard Rodney Hood told reporters after the win. “To do that against arguably one of the top two teams in the league was big, and it gives us a little bit of momentum.” The Suns were supposed to be in the mix for a playoff spot at this point in the season but instead were ravaged by injuries and turnover on the coaching staff. Interim coach Earl Watson has the team pointed in the right direction, and the return of point guard Brandon Knight from a sports hernia injury helped Phoenix grab a 107-104 win over Minnesota on Monday.

    TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), ROOT Rocky (Utah)

    ABOUT THE SUNS (18-49): Phoenix has won three of its last six games and was competitive in a 123-116 loss at NBA-best Golden State on Saturday in Knight’s second game back before Mirza Teletovic’s 3-pointer gave the team a win over Minnesota. Knight missed 21 games with the injury and is struggling to find consistency with his shot since returning to the lineup. The Kentucky product went 11-of-20 from the floor en route to 30 points in the close loss to the Warriors but had to rely on his teammates for more support while struggling to 3-of-18 from the field, including 2-of-11 from 3-point range, against the Timberwolves.

    ABOUT THE JAZZ (32-35): Utah is dealing with an injury of its own with forward Gordon Hayward struggling through plantar fasciitis, and Hood was ready to pick up the slack on Monday. The second-year guard poured in 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting and sealed the win at the free-throw line. “He probably felt a little more freedom because Gordon was out,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder told reporters of Hood. “Rodney’s really conscientious. He doesn’t like to take bad shots. Sometimes when you’re feeling good a bad shot is a good shot. He had a few of those (Monday).”


    1. Jazz G Shelvin Mack is averaging 19.3 points and is 10-of-16 from 3-point range in the last three games.

    2. Suns rookie G Devin Booker is averaging 25.6 points and 6.4 assists in the last five contests.

    3. Utah took the first two meetings this season by an average of 15 points.

    PREDICTION: Jazz 99, Suns 92


    Hot teams
    — Wizards won last two games, by 43-23 points (4-2AF).
    — Toronto won four of its last five games (2-4 last 6AF). Indiana also is 4-1 in its last five games (3-3HU).
    — Charlotte won eight of its last nine games (11-10AU). Miami is 7-2 in its last nine games (2-4 last 6HF).
    — Denver won four of its last six games (1-3 last 4AU). Atlanta is 8-2 in its last ten games (2-5 last 7HF).
    — Milwaukee won three of its last four games (6-1 last 7HF).
    — Spurs won 12 of their last 13 games (13-8-1 last 22HF).
    — Utah won/covered its last three games (2-4 last 6HF).

    Cold teams
    — 76ers lost 15 of their last 16 games (1-5 last 6HU).
    — Memphis lost four of its last five games (3-2 last 5AU).
    — Brooklyn lost four of its last five games (4-2 last 6AU). Chicago lost three of its last four games (5-6 last 11HF).
    — Portland lost five of its last seven games (0-3 last 3AU).
    — Phoenix lost three of its last four games (3-1 last 4AU).

    Series records
    — 76ers lost last five games with Washington (1-4 vs spread).
    — Pacers lost five of their last six games with Toronto.
    — Hornets lost three of last four games with Miami.
    — Hawks won three of last four games with Denver.
    — Grizzlies won nine of last ten games with Milwaukee.
    — Bulls won seven of last ten games with Brooklyn.
    — Spurs won three of last four games with Portland.
    — Jazz won five of last seven games with Phoenix.

    — Seven of last nine Philly games went over the total.
    — Nine of last 12 Toronto games went over the total.
    — Five of last six Miami games went over the total.
    — Over is 6-1-1 in last eight Denver games.
    — Six of last seven Memphis games went over total.
    — Five of last seven Brooklyn road games stayed under.
    — Five of last six Portland games went over the total.
    — Over is 3-1-1 in last five Phoenix games.

    — Wizards are 2-7 vs spread last nine times they played nite before.
    — Charlotte covered three of last four if it played night before.
    — Hawks are 5-8 vs spread last 13 times they played night before.
    — Memphis is 10-4 vs spread if it played the night before.
    — Bulls are 2-9 vs spread last 11 times they played night before.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play On – Home teams (MILWAUKEE) revenging a road loss vs opponent of 10 points or more, off an upset loss by 15 points or more as a favorite
    70-33 since 1997. ( 68.0% | 33.7 units )

    Play Against – Road teams vs. the money line (CHARLOTTE) off a home no-cover where the team won straight up as a favorite against opponent off an home win scoring 110 or more points
    102-47 since 1997. ( 68.5% | 43.8 units )
    2-2 this year. ( 50.0% | -0.5 units )

    Play On – Road teams vs. the 1rst half line (PHOENIX) a good offensive team (98-102 PPG) against an average offensive team (92-98 PPG) after 42+ games, after scoring 105 points or more
    67-31 over the last 5 seasons. ( 68.4% | 32.9 units )
    7-2 this year. ( 77.8% | 4.8 units )


    NBA Odds: Thursday, March 17 2016 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
    by Alan Matthews

    Looking for a breakout-type superstar in the NBA next season like Golden State’s Steph Curry was last year? I give you Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, a true Greek Freak who can basically play every position on the court at 6-foot-11 and with the wingspan with a pterodactyl. I’ve seen this guy go coast-to-coast in just four dribbles because his steps are so big. Antetokounmpo is still just 21 and he has exploded since Coach Jason Kidd moved him to point guard. Antetokounmpo is averaging nearly 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the 16 games since shifting there. He has four triple-doubles in that stretch. The Bucks have disappointed this season, but they have a bright future behind the Freak, Jabari Parker and a few other pieces. And should Milwaukee somehow win the draft lottery, look out! No TNT doubleheader this Thursday as that network is part of the NCAA Tournament coverage.

    Raptors at Pacers (TBA)

    Toronto won in Milwaukee on Tuesday, 107-89. It was the second of a back-to-back, so DeMar DeRozan got the night off for rest — his first game missed this season. Center Jonas Valanciunas also sat, but with a hand injury. That’s not thought to be serious. Indiana beat visiting Boston 103-98 on Tuesday. A 15-4 run midway through the fourth quarter was the difference. Paul George had 25 points. The Pacers are one home win away from clinching a winning record on their home court for the 27th consecutive season. These teams have split two meetings. Indiana snapped a five-game losing streak to Toronto with a 106-90 win on Dec. 14.

    Key trends: Toronto is 8-1 against the spread in the past nine meetings. The “over/under” is 5-1 in the previous six.

    Early lean: Wait on Valanciunas, although I expect him to go.

    Wizards at 76ers (TBA)

    Washington hosted Chicago on Wednesday with Bradley Beal in question after just returning from injury. Philly lost a second in a row Tuesday, 131-114 in Brooklyn. The Sixers led once: 3-0. Isaiah Canaan led the 76ers with 20 points. They have lost 15 of 16. The Wizards are 3-0 vs. the 76ers this season, taking all by at least eight points.

    Key trends: Washington is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 7-2 in Philly’s past nine.

    Early lean: Wizards can’t play around in games like this as they battle for a playoff spot. They win, Beal or not.

    Hornets at Heat (-4, 204.5)

    Charlotte hosted Orlando on Wednesday. Miami beat Denver 124-119 on Monday. Rookie Justise Winslow led with 20 points, and Hassan Whiteside had 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Heat reached 100 points for the eighth consecutive game. Dwyane Wade now needs 24 points to reach 20,000 career. Final regular-season matchup with Miami leading 2-1. It has won 12 straight at home vs. the Hornets.

    Key trends: The Heat have covered 14 of the past 21 meetings. The over is 7-0 in the past seven in Miami.

    Early lean: Heat and over.

    Nuggets at Hawks (-7, 208.5)

    Atlanta was in Detroit on Wednesday. Denver lost a second straight Tuesday, 116-110 in Orlando. Coach Mike Malone benched starters Kenneth Faried and JaKarr Sampson for the final 18 minutes. Faried had gone 11-for-11 from the field the night before in Miami but got only 15 minutes vs. the Magic. Denver lost the first meeting by 14 at home and has dropped three in a row in Atlanta.

    Key trends: Denver is 7-2 ATS in its past nine road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 5-1 in Atlanta’s past six in the second of a back-to-back.

    Early lean: Nuggets and over.

    Nets at Bulls (TBA)

    Chicago was in D.C. on Wednesday potentially again without Derrick Rose and definitely sans Pau Gasol. Brooklyn avoided the embarrassment of losing the season series with the 76ers thanks to a 131-114 win on Tuesday to snap a four-game losing streak. Bojan Bogdanovic had a career-high 44 points. That’s the most points by any Nets player since the franchise moved to Brooklyn. Chicago won in Brooklyn on the second night of the season but then lost at home to the Nets in December. Chicago has dropped two straight at home in the series.

    Key trends: The Nets are 3-7 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 12-3 in Brooklyn’s past 15 on one day of rest.

    Early lean: I could see a Nets upset here if Bulls are down Rose and Gasol. You might not see Jimmy Butler play the second of a back-to-back, either.

    Grizzlies at Bucks (TBA)

    Memphis hosted Minnesota on Wednesday with half the Grizzlies team out injured or questionable. Milwaukee’s three-game winning streak ended in a 107-89 home loss to Toronto on Tuesday. Antetokounmpo had 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, just missing another triple-double. Forward John Henson returned after missing 20 games with a sore lower back but played only six minutes. Memphis won in Milwaukee 103-83 on Jan. 28, but the Grizzlies were pretty much whole then.

    Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 9-1 in the past 10.

    Early lean: Bucks by double digits.

    Trail Blazers at Spurs (-10.5, 207)

    Your lone national TV game on NBA TV. Portland lost 128-94 in Oklahoma City on Monday. Damian Lillard had 21 points, but the Blazers shot a season-low 34.1 percent. San Antonio stayed unbeaten at home with a 108-87 win over the Clippers on Tuesday. The Spurs are actually ahead of the Warriors for one home record: longest streak to open a season. It was San Antonio’s 33rd straight, and the NBA record is 37 by the Chicago Bulls in their 72-win season. Golden State is currently 31-0 at home. San Antonio has trailed for fewer than 10 minutes this season at home. Crazy. The Spurs are 2-0 this season against the Blazers and going for the first season sweep since the 2007-08 campaign. Portland is a solid 3-3 in its past six in San Antonio but lost there by 13 on Nov. 16. Both games between these clubs were very early in the season.

    Key trends: The home team is 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings. The over is 5-1 in the past six.

    Early lean: I’m taking Portland — no way the Spurs aren’t looking ahead to Saturday’s mega-showdown at home with Golden State. Go over.

    Suns at Jazz (TBA)

    Phoenix ended a three-game winning streak with a 107-104 home win over Minnesota on Monday. Mirza Teletovic hit the winning 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left. P.J. Tucker led Phoenix with a career-high 23 points. Utah won a third straight Monday, 94-85 vs. Cleveland despite playing without leading scorer Gordon Hayward, who has plantar fasciitis in his right foot. That can take a while to recover from. Rodney Hood led Utah with 28 points. Reserve Joe Ingles started in Hayward’s place. Utah leads the season series 2-0, holding Phoenix to exactly 89 points in each.

    Key trends: The Suns are 1-6 ATS in the past seven in Utah. The under is 15-6 in the past 21 meetings.

    Early lean: Wait on Hayward but go under regardless of number.



    100* Heat -4


    Wiseguy Insider

    Miami Heat -4

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