January 15, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The dog days of the NBA are here with the best teams trying to slug their way until the playoffs, while the struggling clubs are seeking a way to save their seasons. The team playing the best right now in the Southeast Division is the Wizards, who own just eight victories all season. However, Washington has won three straight, including an incredible upset over Oklahoma City at home. On the flip side, the Hawks have lost six of seven games, while the Heat has cooled off by dropping three of the first four contests on a six-game road trip.
Nets at Hawks - 7:05 PM EST
Joe Johnson makes his triumphant return to Philips Arena for the first time since getting dealt to Brooklyn in the offseason. Since firing head coach Avery Johnson, the Nets have won eight of their last nine games, as Brooklyn begins a home-and-home set with Atlanta. The Hawks can't get out of their own way lately, as Atlanta put together its worst performance of the season on Monday.
Five. That's how many points the Hawks scored in the second quarter of a 97-58 beatdown at Chicago, as Larry Drew's club shot just 29% from the field. Atlanta is a 15-point rally against Utah away from dropping seven straight contests, while the Hawks own a dreadful 5-12 ATS record the last 17 games overall. The Hawks will be without forward Josh Smith tonight, as he was suspended by the team just one day after getting kicked out of practice. Since losing back-to-back home games to Oklahoma City and Golden State, the Hawks have won four of their past five at Philips Arena, as each victory came by at least seven points.
Brooklyn's offense has opened up since the change to P.J. Carlisemo as head coach, as the Nets have scored at least 97 points in nine of the last 10 games (6-3 to the 'over'). The naysayers to Brooklyn's sudden success will point to the fact that the Nets played only three teams (Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Indiana) that own records of .500 or higher. However, the Nets have won each of their last three road contests, while busting the 109-point mark each time.
Nuggets at Thunder - 8:05 PM EST
The top two teams in the Northwest Division meet for the first time this season as Denver heads to Oklahoma City with no rest. The Thunder returns home from a perfect 3-0 road trip at Los Angeles, Portland, and Phoenix, while the cashing the 'under' each game. Oklahoma City hits the highway again after Wednesday's contest for six more road games, including a visit to Denver on Sunday night.
The Nuggets have thrived with no rest by covering seven of nine games on the second of a back-to-back, while cashing the 'over' seven times. Five of those ATS wins came away from the Pepsi Center, including a 112-105 victory over the Lakers on January 6. Denver is riding a 13-4 SU and 10-7 ATS run over the last 17 games, as four of those ATS losses came as a favorite of at least eight points. The Nuggets staved off the Blazers in overtime last night, 115-111, as Portland cashed as nine-point 'dogs.
Oklahoma City grabbed two of three meetings with Denver last season, although the lone victory by the Nuggets came in the final game of the season with nothing on the line. The Thunder's defense is stepping up recently by cashing the 'under' in six of the last seven games, while limiting five of those foes to 92 points or less. Playing at home off a road win this season, OKC owns a 5-1 mark to the 'over,' as the Thunder has put up 114 points each of the last three times in this situation.
Grizzlies at Spurs - 8:35 PM EST
Memphis rallied past San Antonio at the FedEx Forum last Saturday night in overtime, the second time these two teams have played past regulation this season. The Grizzlies pulled out a 101-98 victory as 2 ½-point favorites, as Tony Parker helped out 'over' bettors by drilling a three-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime. The venue shifts to the AT&T Center tonight, where the Spurs will be playing without one of their "Big Three."
Manu Ginobili will miss at least 10 days with a hamstring injury, which was suffered in Sunday's home blowout of the Wolves. San Antonio improved to 16-2 SU and 11-6-1 ATS at home, while cashing the 'under' for the fourth straight time at the AT&T Center. As a single-digit home favorite, Gregg Popovich's team owns a 7-4-1 ATS mark, while busting the 100-point mark in 10 of the last 11 home contests.
Since knocking off the Spurs on Saturday, the Grizzlies have dropped a pair of games by double-digits each to the Mavericks and Clippers. Los Angeles strolled into Memphis and dumped the Grizzlies on Monday, 99-73, as Rudy Gay missed the loss to attend his grandmother's funeral. Gay is expected back with the team on Wednesday, as Memphis has lost three of their last five contests at FedEx Forum following a 12-2 start at home.
Heat at Warriors - 10:35 PM EST
Miami continues its miserable road trip, which stops in the Bay Area for the beginning of a back-to-back stretch against the Warriors and Lakers. The Heat fell behind early in Monday's 104-97 defeat at Utah as 2 ½-point 'chalk,' even though Miami cut a 21-point deficit to two in the final two minutes. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh played a combined 40 seconds in the fourth quarter at Utah, as the Heat dropped to 1-3 SU/ATS on their current six-game roadie.
The Warriors have failed to cover in four straight games, while squandering a 10-point second half lead in Sunday's setback at Denver. Golden State owns a 6-2 SU record the last eight games at Oracle Arena, but Mark Jackson's team has covered just four times at home over the last month. The Warriors have dominated the Eastern Conference at home by compiling a 7-1 SU/ATS record.
The last time these teams hooked up in South Florida, Jarrett Jack put in a baseline shot in the final seconds to lift the Warriors past the Heat, 97-95 as 8 ½-point underdogs. Miami has won three of its past four trips to Oakland, but the Warriors rallied for a 111-106 overtime triumph last January as nine-point 'dogs.
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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