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Inside the Paint - Thursday

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The Association slows down the pace Thursday with just three games on the docket, which includes TNT’s weekly double-header. Boston and New York will collide in the first matchup from TD Garden before the L.A. Clippers battle Phoenix from the desert in the late-night affair.

If you handicap and bet the NBA on a regular basis, you’re be able to see trends develop throughout the season. Personally, I’m a believer that all things do balance out in the long run but I’m weary of bucking certain angles. With that being said, my colleague Kevin Rogers pointed out an eye opening number to me and it the situation is in play tonight.

This week’s TNT broadcast will be the 11th installment on Thursday this season and if you’ve been following the late-night games or the second game of the double-header, you’ve seen some low-scoring affairs. And for our purposes, that means the ‘under’ has been a money-making machine.

2012-13 TNT Late-Night Games
Date Matchup Total Result
Nov. 1 Oklahoma City 84 San Antonio 86 204 Under
Nov. 8 L.A. Clippers 103 Portland 90 201.5 Under
Nov. 15 Miami 98 Denver 93 202.5 Under
Nov. 29 Denver 105 Golden State 106 199.5 Over
Dec. 6 Dallas 97 Phoenix 94 205 Under
Dec. 13 San Antonio 90 Portland 98 200.5 Under
Dec. 20 Miami 110 Dallas 95 203 Over
Dec. 27 Boston 77 L.A. Clippers 106 189.5 Under
Jan. 10 Miami 90 Portland 92 195 Under
Jan. 17 Miami 99 L.A. Lakers 90 207 Under
Jan. 24 L.A. Clippers at Phoenix - -

Looking above, you can see the ‘under’ has gone 8-2 in the first 10 late-night affairs played on TNT this season and if you include another late-night tilt on Thursday that wasn’t televised on Jan. 3, the number improves to 9-2 to the ‘under.’

Will the trend continue tonight when the Clippers and Suns square off from the desert?

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The total opened at 193 and has already dropped to 192 ½ at most betting shops. You can understand the move when you look at the ‘over/under’ numbers on Phoenix. The Suns have seen the ‘under’ go 25-17, which includes a 15-6 record at US Airways Center. Plus, nine of the last 10 games for the Suns have gone ‘under’ the number.

Phoenix will be playing its first home game under interim coach Lindsey Hunter, who replaced Alvin Gentry after he was fired last Friday. The Suns won Hunter’s first game last night as they rallied past the Kings 106-96 on the road as three-point underdogs.

It could be tough to back Hunter’s squad tonight when you look at their record in back-to-back spots this season. Phoenix has gone 1-8 straight up and 3-6 against the spread and that dismal record can be attributed to the offense or lack thereof. The Suns are averaging 88.1 points per game on zero days rest, which has helped the ‘under’ go 7-2, perhaps another reason to expect a low-scoring battle tonight.

Even though Los Angeles won’t have All-Star point guard Chris Paul (knee) in the lineup, the Clippers opened as seven-point road favorites over the Suns. Paul banged up his bruised knee in Monday’s loss at Golden State, 106-99. The next night, the Clippers felt his absence in a 109-97 loss at home to Oklahoma City.

Prior to the recent two losses, the Clippers had won four in a row and three of the victories came on the road without Paul in the lineup. Surprisingly, the Clips were ‘dogs in two of those games and all of the wins came by nine or more points.

This will be third meeting between the two teams this season. The Clippers blasted the Suns 117-99 at the Staples Center on Dec. 8 and two weeks later they posted a 26-point victory (103-77) from the desert.

Toronto at Orlando: The Magic is listed as four-point favorites over the Raptors and that line could have you scratching your head. Toronto has already beaten Orlando three times this season and that includes a 35-point road win (123-88) on Dec. 29 as a 3 ½-point underdog. If you follow the Raptors, you understand they’re 1-4 in their last five but three of the five setbacks came in overtime, including last night’s loss to Miami, 116-123. Fatigue could be a factor for Toronto but it has gone 5-5 SU on zero days rest and three of the five losses came by five points or less. The close calls have helped the team go 7-3 ATS and the ‘over’ is 6-4 during this span. Orlando is 2-8 in its last 10 games, which includes a 1-4 mark at home. The Magic haven’t been a good bet this season as a favorite, going 4-4 SU and 2-6 ATS, which includes six straight non-covers as favorites at home.

New York at Boston: The Celtics opened as one-point home favorites but the money has shifted to the Knicks and it’s hard to back either team in this spot. New York has gone 4-6 SU and 5-5 ATS in its last 10 games and three of the wins came against the Magic, Hornets and Pistons. Meanwhile, Boston has dropped four in a row and they've fallen to inferior opponents in the Hornets and Pistons. The other setback came to Cleveland (90-95), which occurred Tuesday. Boston defeated New York 102-96 as a 7 ½-point underdog on Jan. 7 at Madison Square Garden. During that outcome, there was an altercation between Boston's Kevin Garnett and New York's Carmelo Anthony, which made every guy go buy “Honey Nut Cheerios.” Tip-off for this battle takes place at 8:05 p.m. ET on TNT.

Chris David can be reached at cdavid@vegasinsider.com

  
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