February 8, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
Things get hot and heavy on the final Friday night prior to the All-Star break in the NBA. The banged-up Clippers continue their Grammy trip in Miami, while the Bulls play their second game in as many nights at Utah. The night begins in the Nation's Capital with the red-hot Wizards looking to avenge an overtime loss to Brooklyn.
Nets at Wizards - 7:05 PM EST
Washington wasn't exactly a hot ticket for bettors early in the season, but the Wizards have won and cashed in six of the last seven home contests. Since John Wall returned to the lineup, posting an 8-7 SU and 12-3 ATS record, including four outright victories as home underdogs. The Nets enter D.C. off a stretch of alternating wins and losses in each of their last six games.
Brooklyn edged Detroit, 93-90 on Wednesday as two-point underdogs, the third straight game the Nets have finished 'under' the total. P.J. Carlisemo's club looks to cover consecutive contests for the first time since January 23, as the Nets own a dreadful 2-5 ATS record the past seven games. The Nets outlasted the Wizards in the last meeting at the Verizon Center in early January, 115-113 in double overtime. Washington cashed as six-point 'dogs, as the Wizards blew a 14-point lead in one of their last games without Wall.
This recent stretch of success for Randy Wittman's team is blindsiding to bettors, especially coming off a pair of solid home wins over the Clippers and Knicks this week. Rookie star Bradley Beal is expected to return to the Washington lineup tonight after missing the last five games with a sprained wrist, as the former Florida standout scored 24 points in the double-overtime setback to Brooklyn last month. The Wizards are seeking their second three-game winning streak of the season, as this current homestand mirrors a mid-January stretch when Washington grabbed back-to-back home 'dog wins before routing Orlando.
Clippers at Heat - 8:05 PM EST
Los Angeles snapped a three-game skid with a victory over beat-up Orlando on Wednesday, as the Clippers attempt to get healthy tonight in Miami. Chris Paul has missed the last nine games with a knee injury, as L.A. has covered just three times in this span, while Blake Griffin sat out the previous two contests with a strained hamstring. On the Heat side, Chris Bosh is expected to return after a one-game absence with a cold.
Miami was anything but cold from the field in Wednesday's home 114-108 victory over Houston, but the Heat failed to cover as 7 ½-point favorites. Since Christmas, Erik Spoelstra's club has put together a 2-5 ATS record at home, while the Heat is 6-1 SU in this period. Despite the 'over' on Wednesday, Miami owns a 9-4 mark to the 'under' at the American Airlines Arena since December 10.
The home team has won eight straight meetings in this series, including L.A.'s 107-100 victory at Staples Center over Miami on November 14. The Heat shot just 45% from the floor in that defeat, as Dwyane Wade hit just 2-of-10 shots for six points. The Clippers are 3-7 ATS the last 10 games, while the offense has put up less than 100 points eight times. Los Angeles will be listed as a road underdog for the seventh time this season, as the Clips have covered four times, including twice without Paul.
Blazers at Rockets - 8:05 PM EST
Portland has solved the Houston mystery twice this season with a pair of overtime victories over the Rockets. Granted, both those wins came back in November, when the Rockets lost seven of nine games following a 2-0 start. The Rockets have rebounded since that slow start to forge three games above .500 and be right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
The Blazers continue their trek through the Lone Star State tonight after getting tripped up by the Mavericks on Wednesday night, 105-99, snapping a two-game winning streak. Portland owns a 5-2 SU and 4-2-1 ATS the last seven contests off a road loss, but both ATS losses came in the home favorite role to Cleveland and Dallas. The offense has picked up recently by topping the 99-point mark in six of the last eight games, resulting in five 'overs.'
The last time the Rockets played at the Toyota Center, Houston dropped a season-high 140 points in Wednesday's rout of Golden State. Since New Year's Eve, Kevin McHale's squad has compiled a 6-2 SU/ATS record the last eight home contests, including a 5-0 ATS mark as a favorite of at least four points. The 'over' is 4-2 in six home games with a total set at least 210, including Wednesday's high-scoring affair with the Warriors.
Bulls at Jazz - 10:35 PM EST
Chicago has no time to digest last night's blowout loss at Denver, as the Bulls make the short trip to Salt Lake City tonight. Even the stout Bulls' defense couldn't slow down the red-hot Nuggets in a 128-96 setback as six-point road underdogs, the third loss in the last four games for Tom Thibodeau's club. The Jazz keeps climbing the ranks in the Western Conference at 28-22, while Utah looks to finish off a three-game homestand at 3-0.
Utah is quietly winning games at a rapid rate, picking up 13 victories in the last 18 trips to the court since the start at January. In this stretch, Tyrone Corbin's club is a scorching 10-1 SU and 7-4 ATS at home, with the lone slip-up coming in a 45-point blowout loss to the Rockets in late January. The Jazz has won all seven home contests against Eastern Conference foes, including over division leaders Miami and Indiana.
In spite of consecutive road losses, the Bulls still own the best away record in the East at 14-9. However, the defense needs to get fixed up after allowing 128 and 111 points in these two defeats, after a span of nine games of giving up 93 points or fewer. Chicago is still a solid bet as a road 'dog, cashing in seven of the last 10 opportunities when receiving points away from the United Center.
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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