February 28, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
Three games take place on the Thursday NBA card, even though the lone non-nationally televised contest possesses the most intrigue. The Clippers travel to Indiana to begin an odd two-game road trip through the Midwest, while the Bulls and Lakers each seek home victories over struggling squads.
Clippers at Pacers - 7:05 PM EST
Indiana has been the hottest home team in the league over the last two months by winning 19 of the last 21 games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (the two losses came in overtime). The Pacers are also riding a five-game winning streak overall, with each victory coming by double-digits, including Tuesday's brawl-filled 108-97 triumph over the Warriors as 8 ½-point favorites.
Roy Hibbert will pay the price for the fracas between Indiana and Golden State as the Pacers' center is suspended one game by the league. Fellow big man David West avoided a suspension, while coming off a 28-point, seven rebound effort in the win. Indiana's offense has woken up recently by topping the 100-point mark in four of the five games during this hot streak, but Danny Granger has scored just seven points in the last two contests, his first two games of the season after sitting out nearly the first four months with a knee injury.
The Clippers rebounded from an embarrassing home loss to the Spurs last Thursday by racking up back-to-back routs of the Jazz and Bobcats. Los Angeles is in the midst of a 4-1 SU/ATS run on the highway, but that includes a victory over the cross-arena rival Lakers right before the All-Star break. During the Grammys road trip, the Clips had to deal with injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, resulting in losses to Washington and Toronto, but L.A. enters tonight's action at 3-1 ATS the last four tries as a road underdog.
76ers at Bulls - 8:05 PM EST
Philadelphia has turned into an unmitigated disaster recently by losing six straight games, including a humiliating home defeat to struggling Orlando on Tuesday night as 8 ½-point favorites. The offense has been offensive for Doug Collins' squad, failing to bust the 93-point mark in 11 consecutive games, resulting in eight 'unders.' The Sixers head to Chicago tonight, who hasn't exactly been a treat from a pointspread perspective.
The Bulls were tripped up by the Cavaliers on Tuesday, as Cleveland's top scorer Kyrie Irving sat out the game due to injury. The Cavs grabbed a 101-98 victory to shock the Bulls as 8 ½-point road underdogs, the third consecutive SU/ATS home loss for Chicago. Tom Thibodeau's club has won just three of its previous 10 games overall, but the Bulls have beaten the Sixers twice in low-scoring affairs this season.
Getting out of town may be a positive for the Sixers tonight, who took the Knicks and Bucks down to the wire as heavy road 'dogs, while having a late rally fall short at Minnesota right after the All-Star break. Since Derrick Rose's knee injury in the opener of the first round playoff series last April, the Sixers have won four of six the last seven meetings, while covering in two of the past three trips to the United Center.
Wolves at Lakers - 10:35 PM EST
It's very rare when Minnesota makes the appearance on national television, but that's the case tonight for Rick Adelman's team. The Wolves continue a three-game West Coast swing against a Lakers' team that Minnesota has lost to 20 consecutive times, dating back to March 2007. In fact, Minnesota hasn't grabbed a win at Staples Center over L.A. in 12 opportunities, which goes back to December 2005.
The Lakers aren't on cruise control like the past, as L.A. needs every win possible to get back into the top eight of the Western Conference playoff race. L.A. is taking care of its business recently with victories in 11 of its last 16 games, while posting a 6-1 SU and 3-4 ATS record at home. Mike D'Antoni's club has failed to cover in each of its last three games as home favorite of at least eight points against the Hornets, Suns, and Blazers, but the offense is returning to form by scoring at least 100 points in five straight games.
The Wolves have piled up plenty of injuries this season, but the latest one will definitely hurt the middle as center Nikola Pekovic is listed as questionable after receiving an IV following Tuesday's overtime loss at Phoenix. Minnesota has cashed in back-to-back losses to Golden State and Phoenix, while the 'under' hit each time. The Wolves now sit at 6-1 to the 'over' the last seven games away from the Target Center, while allowing at least 100 points in nine of the previous 11 road contests.
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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