November 13, 2012
By Kevin Rogers
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The NBA season is in full force heading into its third week with several teams making their mark. The Grizzlies have won and covered five straight games, while the Bulls failed to cash in all four games on their recent homestand. We'll take a look at four of the key Wednesday contests, including the late-night showdown between the Heat and Clippers.
Jazz at Celtics - 7:05 PM EST
Utah is fresh off its first road victory of the season at Toronto, a triple-overtime thriller to even its mark at 4-4. The Jazz will try to extend their winning streak to three as they head to Boston for the second of a four-game East Coast swing. The Celtics return to TD Garden after covering their first two games of the season in road victories at Milwaukee and Chicago.
Boston put together an impressive showing in Monday's triumph at the United Center, picking up its fourth win in five tries by beating the Bulls, 101-95 as 2 ½-point underdogs. All five starters scored in double-figures, while the Celtics broke the 100-point mark for the third time in four contests. Doc Rivers' squad has failed to cover a home game this season in three tries, as Boston has lost outright to Milwaukee and Philadelphia at TD Garden.
The Jazz rallied to force overtime in Monday's wild win over the Raptors, just their first victory away from Salt Lake City in five attempts this season. In Utah's three defeats as a road underdog, Tyrone Corbin's club has lost by at least nine points, while allowing at least 100 points each time. Utah looks to snap a four-game losing skid in Beantown, as the Celtics pulled away from the Jazz in a 12-point win in late March.
Grizzlies at Thunder - 8:05 PM EST
These two teams were thought of as the up-and-coming squads in the Western Conference two years ago when Oklahoma City eliminated Memphis in the second round of the playoffs. Both clubs are contenders once again in the West, but the Grizzlies are the hottest team in the league at the moment. After losing its opener to the Clippers, Memphis has run off five straight wins, while covering each game, including a blowout of defending champ Miami on Sunday night.
The Grizzlies have won each of their last five games by eight points each, as Memphis grabbed a 15-point halftime advantage over Miami in a 104-86 rout. Memphis dominated in its previous two road contests at Golden State and Milwaukee, but Lionel Hollins' team is playing with some revenge after losing three of four meetings to Oklahoma City last season.
The Thunder has quietly grabbed five straight victories, topped off by a non-cover in a two-point road triumph at Detroit on Monday. Granted, OKC has beaten four teams in this stretch that own records of .500 or below, but all four home wins this season have come by at least 11 points. The defense is stepping up recently as the Thunder has allowed 94 points or less in seven of eight contests, resulting in a 6-2 mark to the 'under.'
Bulls at Suns - 9:05 PM EST
The "Circus" road trip is coming at a good time for Chicago, who failed to cover all five games on its recent homestand at the United Center. The Bulls lost three times straight-up, with the lone victory coming over the one-loss Timberwolves, but Minnesota managed to cash as eight-point 'dogs. Now, Chicago heads out the Valley to take on a Suns' squad that has quietly compiled a 4-4 record through eight games.
Phoenix pulled out a 110-100 home victory over Denver on Monday as 4 ½-point 'dogs, improving to 3-1 at U.S. Airways Center. However, the Suns have allowed at least 100 points in five of the last six games after giving up less than 89 points in the first two contests against the Warriors and Pistons. The 187 total is by far the lowest this season for Phoenix, while hitting the 'over' in five of the previous six contests.
The Bulls are amazingly playing only their second road game of the season, while beating down the Cavaliers in their away opener on November 2 by a 115-86 count. Chicago hasn't lost consecutive games all season, coming off Monday's home defeat to Boston. The Bulls have won each of the last three meetings in Phoenix, all while topping the 115-point mark each time.
Heat at Clippers - 10:30 PM EST
Miami plays the fourth of a six-game road swing, looking to cover for the first time since winning at Atlanta last Friday. The Heat failed to cash in Monday's three-point win at Houston, but Miami rallied from a late seven-point deficit to improve to 6-2. The task will not be easy on Wednesday, taking on a Clippers' club that is going for their fourth consecutive victory.
Los Angeles rebounded from ugly home losses to Golden State and Cleveland by knocking off San Antonio, Portland, and Atlanta -- all by double-digits. In all five victories, the Clips have limited opponents to 95 points or less. Vinny Del Negro's club faces a Miami offense that has topped the 110-point mark in four games this season. L.A. is receiving balanced scoring, as six different Clippers tallied at least 10 points in Sunday's win over the Hawks.
LeBron James led Miami's late comeback in a 113-110 victory at Houston as 5 ½-point favorites, but the Heat owns a 1-3 ATS record away from South Florida. The Heat have scored a bunch of points this season, while cashing the 'under' in four of five games coming off a win.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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