Christmas Night Action
December 24, 2012
By Kevin Rogers
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The Christmas Day action transitions to night-time with three more showdowns in the NBA. The Clippers go for their 14th consecutive win as the Nuggets head to Southern California, while the Rockets go for the season sweep of the Bulls in Chicago. The prime matchup takes place in South Florida, as the Thunder look for redemption after losing in five games of the NBA Finals to the Heat.
Thunder at Heat - 5:30 PM EST
The last time these teams met up on June 21, Miami hoisted its second championship trophy by dispatching Oklahoma City in four straight games following a Game 1 loss. In that rout, the Heat shot lights out by drilling 14 three-pointers in a 121-106 silencing of the Thunder. That was the last game James Harden played in a Thunder uniform, but OKC hasn't skipped a beat since shipping their third-leading scorer to Houston in late October.
Scott Brooks' squad owns the best record in the Western Conference at 21-5, in spite of last Thursday's defeat at Minnesota as two-point favorites, 99-93. The loss snapped a 12-games winning streak for the Thunder, who had covered nine times during this hot stretch. Prior to the defeat at the Target Center, OKC eclipsed the 100-points mark in 15 of the previous 16 contests, but nine of those games took place at home.
The Heat is riding a four-game winning streak since a last-second loss to the Warriors on December 12. The latest victory came without Chris Bosh as Miami took care of Utah, 105-89 as 7 ½-point favorites on Saturday. Bosh sat out with a cold, as the All-Star forward is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday. Since allowing 112 points in a 20-point setback to the Knicks, Erik Spoelstra's club has held seven straight opponents to 100 points or less.
Rockets at Bulls - 8:00 PM EST
Chicago returns to the United Center after splitting a pair of road games at New York and Atlanta. The Bulls outlasted the Knicks on Friday, 110-106 as 6 ½-point 'dogs, but put together a flat effort the next night in a 17-point defeat to the Hawks. The Rockets head to the Windy City owning a three-game winning streak, including a pair of 20+ point home routs of the Sixers and Grizzlies.
Houston is hitting its stride offensively by topping the 100-point mark in six of the last eight contests, but five of those high-scoring outputs came at the Toyota Center. The Rockets are struggling on the highway with a 3-7 SU and 3-6-1 ATS record, including losses in seven of the past eight road games. However, all three victories came against Eastern Conference opponents (Detroit, Atlanta, and New York).
The Bulls have been a disappointment for bettors at home by compiling a dreadful 3-11 ATS mark, while picking up just one cover as a favorite of more than four points. Chicago has cashed the 'under' in 11 of 14 games at the United Center, as two of those 'overs' came against Boston. The last time the Bulls faced the Rockets, Houston grabbed a 93-89 home triumph on November 21 as one-point favorites, as Chicago shot just 40% from the field.
Nuggets at Clippers - 10:30 PM EST
The hottest team in the NBA resides in Los Angeles and isn't named Lakers. The Clippers continue to fight for L.A. supremacy by racking up 13 consecutive victories, including nine of those wins by double-digits. Los Angeles cruised past Phoenix on Sunday, 103-77 to cash easily as 6 ½-point 'chalk,' while holding its third opponent in the last four games to less than 80 points.
The Clips face a high-octane Nuggets' offense on Tuesday, as Denver is playing its league-leading 20th away contest. George Karl's team has won four of five, including a dispatching of the lowly Bobcats on Saturday, 110-88 to cover as 15 ½-point favorites. The Nuggets shot 6-of-20 from three-point range against Charlotte, which is a drastic improvement from the pathetic 0-for-22 from downtown at Portland on Thursday.
Los Angeles owns a 12-3 SU and 10-5 ATS record at home this season, while posting an 8-3 ATS ledger as a favorite of seven points or less. The 'under' is hitting at a nice pace for the Clips by cashing in seven of the previous eight games, including three straight 'unders' of totals listed at 200 or higher. The Clips took three of four matchups from the Nuggets last season, while four straight meetings between these teams at Staples Center have finished 'under' the total.
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