January 2, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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Things quiet down on the NBA front on Thursday night with just two games, as three Western Conference teams take the court. Fresh off snapping the Clippers' 17-game winning streak, the Nuggets look to capitalize on Thursday with the Timberwolves invading the Pepsi Center. The night begins at Madison Square Garden as New York attempts to get on track against streaking San Antonio.
Spurs at Knicks - 7:35 PM EST
San Antonio plays with no rest following Wednesday's victory at Milwaukee, as the Spurs have won seven straight games. Gregg Popovich's club used to struggle on the second of a back-to-back, but San Antonio owns a solid 5-3 SU and 5-2-1 ATS record on no rest this season. The last two times on the road in this situation, the Spurs fell at Portland and Denver, while San Antonio enters Thursday's contest with revenge on its mind.
In the previous meeting between the Spurs and Knicks at the AT&T Center on November 15, New York pulled out a 104-100 triumph as 5 ½-point underdogs. Mike Woodson's team improved to 6-0 with that victory, as Raymond Felton tallied a game-high 25 points, while Carmelo Anthony scored just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. Felton will miss Thursday's contest with a finger injury, but Amare Stoudemire is back in the Knicks' lineup after making his season debut on Tuesday.
Stoudemire sat out the first 30 games this season due to offseason knee surgery, as he eased into the lineup by scoring six points and pulling down one rebound in 17 minutes of action in a five-point loss to Portland. The Knicks returned home from a 1-2 SU/ATS West Coast swing only to fall to the Blazers, 105-100 as 9 ½-point favorites, while suffering their third defeat in their last five games at the Garden. From the betting standpoint, New York owns a putrid 1-5 ATS record the past six home games, all in the role of a favorite.
The Spurs opened up as one-point underdogs on Thursday, as San Antonio is winless in three tries as a road 'dog this season. The lone cover came as 13-point 'dogs at Miami in late November in which the Spurs sat out Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan in a 105-100 defeat. The other two games were losses in a tough back-to-back spot at Oklahoma City and Denver in mid-December. San Antonio is turning into an 'under' team of late by cashing in eight of the last 11 contests, including a 4-1 mark to the 'under' the previous five away games.
Timberwolves at Nuggets - 9:05 PM EST
George Karl's squad finally figured out the Clippers as Denver snapped L.A.'s 17-game winning streak on Tuesday night, 92-78. The Nuggets improved to a stellar 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS at the Pepsi Center this season, including three straight wins by at least 12 points. Denver will welcome a Minnesota club coming in with no rest, as the Wolves lost to the Jazz on Wednesday night.
This will not be an easy spot for Minnesota, as road teams on the second of a back-to-back this season playing at Denver are just 1-3 SU/ATS. The lone club to solve this mystery was Miami, who won at Pepsi Center with no rest on November 15 as 3 ½-point 'dogs, 98-93. The Wolves have covered four of seven times on the second of a back-to-back, but went 2-5 SU in those contests.
This is the first meeting between these Northwest Division rivals in Denver this season, as the Wolves and Nuggets split the first two matchups at the Target Center. Denver knocked off Minnesota in Kevin Love's season debut on November 21 in a 101-94 triumph as 3 ½-point 'chalk,' as the Nuggets rallied from a 17-point deficit. The Wolves picked up revenge three weeks later by holding off the Nuggets, 108-105, but Denver cashed again as four-point underdogs. In spite of making just 2-of-14 shots from three-point range, the Wolves took care of business at the line by converting 30-of-37 free throws.
The Nuggets knocked off the Clippers on Monday by 14, but did so without point guard Ty Lawson, who sat out the contest with an Achilles' strain. Lawson is listed as questionable for Thursday's game, while Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio is out with back spasms. The Wolves shot just 34% from the floor in last night's defeat at Utah, while scoring 39 second-half points in a 106-84 setback.
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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