January 25, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The All-Star break is three weeks away in the NBA as teams are looking to close with a bang. The Wizards and Nets are two of the hottest clubs against the spread, while the Rockets and Lakers are losing money for bettors at a rapid pace. We’ll take a look at all ten games on the Friday card, starting with the best bet in the NBA over the last two weeks returning home.
Wolves at Wizards – 7:05 PM EST
Washington has won just nine of its first 30 games, but the return of former top pick John Wall has sparked this club in a positive way at the window. The Wizards have cashed eight straight games, including the last seven with Wall in the lineup. Washington heads back to the Verizon Center after cashing all five games on its West Coast swing, which included outright underdog wins at Denver and Portland. Minnesota is just seeking out any healthy body to help out its cause after losing Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic to injury, among others. The Wolves have dropped seven of their past eight games, while allowing at least 100 points in nine of the last 13 contests.
Celtics at Hawks – 7:35 PM EST
Boston travels to Atlanta with no rest after falling to New York at home on Thursday, as the Celtics look for their second win at Philips Arena this season. The C’s rallied past the Hawks, 89-81 earlier this month to cash outright as 5 ½-point ‘dogs, while limiting Atlanta to just nine points in the third quarter. Atlanta is banged up right now with guard Lou Williams out for the rest of the season (knee), as frontcourt mates Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia missed Wednesday’s win at Charlotte with injuries. The Hawks are seeking their first three-game winning streak since late December, while grabbing six victories in their last eight home contests.
Pistons at Heat – 7:35 PM EST
Miami is an interesting spot tonight, as the Heat may be in a look-ahead spot with their first trip to Boston on Sunday afternoon. The defending World Champions staved off the Raptors in overtime on Wednesday after a five-day sabbatical, while failing to cover as double-digit favorites. The Pistons knocked off the Heat at the Palace of Auburn Hills, 109-99 as six-point 'dogs in late December, as Detroit ripped off 41 points in the second quarter. Detroit has covered four straight games on the highway, while holding nine of its last 11 opponents overall to less than 100 points.
Bucks at Cavaliers - 7:35 PM EST
Cleveland returned from a long road trip to upend Boston as five-point home 'dogs on Tuesday, as the Cavs welcome in the Bucks tonight. Milwaukee has played extremely well since Scott Skiles was removed as head coach, winning and covering six of the last eight contests. The Bucks own a 4-1 SU/ATS record away from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in this stretch, but only one of those victories came in the favorite role (at Phoenix). The Cavs tripped up the Bucks in their last meeting in Milwaukee, a 94-82 triumph as eight-point underdogs in late December.
Nets at Grizzlies - 8:05 PM EST
Brooklyn continues to find that magic with P.J. Carlisemo as head coach, grabbing 12 of 14 games since the Avery Johnson firing on December 27. The Nets seek their fourth straight victory tonight against a Memphis squad that is just 3-4 SU/ATS the last seven contests. The Grizzlies took care of the struggling Lakers at home on Wednesday, while busting the 85-point mark for the first time in seven games. Memphis continues to play low-scoring affairs at FedEx Forum, cashing the 'under' in 12 of the last 16 games at home. Since losing by 31 at San Antonio on New Year's Eve, the Nets have won five of their last six away from the Barclays Center.
Rockets at Hornets - 8:05 PM EST
The last time these two teams met in the Big Easy earlier this month, Houston closed as a 2 ½-point road favorite and lost 88-79. This time around, the number is flipped in New Orleans' favor, as the Hornets are rolling with a 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS mark the previous 10 contests. The Rockets are flying in the other direction by dropping eight of their last nine, while failing to cover in all nine contests. New Orleans has done a majority of its damage against division foes by covering in eight of nine games inside the Southwest Division, including all four times against San Antonio.
Spurs at Mavericks - 8:05 PM EST
San Antonio has destroyed Dallas twice this season, beating the Mavs by 28 and 25 points. However, the Spurs aren't helping backers by cashing just three of their last nine games, including a 1-3 ATS mark away from the AT&T Center in this span. The Mavs aren't going away in the Western Conference playoff race, winning five of the past six games, while cashing tickets in seven straight games. Rick Carlisle's club has covered four straight games at the American Airlines Center since posting an 0-4 ATS home record through the end of December. The offense is picking things up by scoring at least 100 points in six consecutive games, resulting in a 4-1-1 mark to the 'over' for Dallas.
Warriors at Bulls - 8:05 PM EST
Golden State hits the road for four games against Eastern Conference foes, starting tonight at the United Center. The Warriors rallied past Oklahoma City on Wednesday night to complete an impressive two-game sweep of the Thunder and Clippers at home. The task doesn't get easier tonight against a Bulls' squad that has won five of their last six games, while limiting each of their last four opponents at home to fewer than 85 points. Luol Deng is listed as doubtful for the Bulls with a hamstring injury that has kept the forward out each of the last three games. The Warriors have put together a strong 5-2 ATS record against Eastern Conference foes away from the Bay Area, with all seven of those games coming on a trip in mid-December.
Thunder at Kings - 10:05 PM EST
Since 2010, Oklahoma City has grabbed 10 of the previous 11 meetings with Sacramento, including four of the last five at Sleep Train Arena. The Thunder play the fifth of a six-game road trip tonight, as OKC is just 1-3 ATS through the first four contests. The Kings blew a 10-point second-half lead in Wednesday's home defeat to the Suns, while losing seven of their last 10 games overall. OKC has struggled to cover numbers against teams off consecutive defeats, posting a 3-9 ATS record in this situation. In the last meeting in Oklahoma City, the Kings picked up a backdoor cover as 13-point 'dogs in a 113-103 loss by outscoring the Thunder by nine points in the second half.
Jazz at Lakers - 10:35 PM EST
The league's biggest mystery this season is the downfall of the Lakers, who lost their fourth straight game on Wednesday at Memphis. Los Angeles is 17-25 with Oklahoma City on deck Sunday afternoon, as the Lakers are also playing with double-revenge tonight against Utah. The Jazz are riding a four-game winning streak after holding off the Wizards on Wednesday, while Utah has won eight of 10 overall. In the last meeting between the Lakers and Jazz at Staples Center, Utah shot lights out (54%) from the field in a 117-110 triumph as seven-point 'dogs in December, in spite of L.A. drilling 15 three-pointers in the loss.
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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