January 29, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The Wednesday NBA card is loaded with a 12-game slate as only three of the contests involve division foes. The late-night division contest takes place in the Valley between the Lakers and Suns as Steve Nash plays his first game in Phoenix since getting sent to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason. The night begins at the Barclays Center as the Nets are playing with double-revenge against the defending World Champions.
Heat at Nets - 8:05 PM EST
Miami was honored on Monday when it visited the White House to celebrate the franchise's second championship. The Heat continues a four-game road trip at Brooklyn, as Miami tries to rebound from Sunday's double-overtime setback at Boston. Meanwhile, the Nets attempt to beat the Heat for the first time in three tries this season after getting drilled twice in South Florida.
Both the Heat and Celtics shot 41% from the floor on Sunday, but Boston made the shots in the big moments to cool off Miami, 100-98 as 3 ½-point home 'dogs. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Miami, while the Heat fell to 1-5 ATS the last six games off an ATS victory. In the two home wins over the Nets earlier this season, Erik Spoelstra's club beat Brooklyn by 30 and 13 points, as the 'under' cashed each time.
The Nets improved to 13-4 SU and 9-7-1 ATS since P.J. Carlisemo took over as head coach on December 27 with Monday's blowout of Orlando. Brooklyn has won eight straight home contests since falling to Boston on Christmas Day, while the Nets own a 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS mark as a home 'dog this season. The Nets have allowed less than 100 points in nine of the last 11 games at Barclays Center, but Brooklyn allowed an average of 102.5 points per game in the two defeats to Miami.
Bulls at Bucks - 8:05 PM EST
Chicago and Milwaukee hook up for the final time in the regular season as the road team has taken each of the first three matchups. The Bulls squandered a pair of home losses to the Bucks, blowing a 15+ point lead each time, while Brandon Jennings dropped 35 points on Chicago in the latest 104-96 triumph earlier this month. The Bucks return home following Tuesday's blowout of Detroit, as Milwaukee goes for its fourth cover at BMO Harris Bradley Center in five tries.
The Bulls failed to cover for the second time this season at home against the Bobcats, but Chicago avoided an upset as 13-point favorites in a 93-85 victory on Monday. Tom Thibodeau's club is rolling with wins in seven of their last nine games, while two of their previous road contests have gone to overtime. Wednesday's contest is the first of a six-game road trip for the Bulls, as Chicago heads to Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Indiana coming up.
Since losing a 16-point decision to Detroit on January 11, the Bucks have won six of seven games. Milwaukee owns a 4-6 SU/ATS record with no rest this season, while allowing at least 99 points in six consecutive home contests (5-1 to 'over'). The Bucks have struggled in the role of a home underdog, going just 1-5 SU/ATS, as the lone victory came over the Heat in late December.
Rockets at Nuggets - 9:05 PM EST
Denver grabbed the first two matchups of the season series in Houston, as the Rockets search for their fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday. This streaky Houston squad rebounded from a seven-game skid throughout mid-January to win four of their last five contests. However, that solitary loss in this recent stretch came to the Nuggets at the Toyota Center, a 105-95 defeat last Wednesday as three-point home favorites.
The Nuggets continue a six-game homestand following victories over the Kings and Pacers, but failed to cash as five-point 'chalk' in Monday's one-point squeaker over Indiana. George Karl's team has played to the 'over' in six consecutive games at the Pepsi Center, as Wednesday's total of 217 ½ is the highest home number the Nuggets have seen this season.
The Rockets put together their most impressive effort of the season on Monday by routing the Jazz by 45 points, 125-80 as 3 ½-point road 'dogs. Houston has allowed 94 points or less in four of the last six games, a major improvement after giving up at least 103 points in the five previous contests.
Lakers at Suns - 10:35 PM EST The big story heading into Wednesday's showdown will obviously center around Nash's return to the Valley after 10 seasons as the face of the Suns' organization. Phoenix has actually played some inspired basketball since the firing of head coach Alvin Gentry, as the Suns won the first two games against the Kings and Clippers. However, the Suns could only hang so long with the Spurs in a nine-point setback on Saturday, followed up by a blowout loss at Dallas. The Lakers need to continue to pile up wins after the slow start, as Los Angeles knocked off Utah and Oklahoma City at home.
Mike D'Antoni also makes his return to Phoenix, but the Lakers' head coach has already been back to U.S. Airways Center as the head man of the Knicks. Los Angeles has compiled a putrid 5-15 SU and 6-13-1 ATS record on the highway, while posting a 4-5-1 ATS mark in the away favorite role. The Lakers knocked off the Suns at Staples Center in mid-November, a 114-102 triumph that cashed the 'over' of 201. Nash missed that victory with his leg injury, but Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 31 points as the Lakers won the fourth straight home meeting with the Suns.
The Suns won both home matchups last season against the Lakers, but Bryant missed one of the games. Phoenix is riding an eight-game 'under' streak at home, while hitting the 'under' in 11 of the last 12 games at U.S. Airways Center. The Suns have been held to less than 100 points in 17 of the last 19 contests, while last topping the 100-point mark at home back on December 19 against Charlotte.
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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