Sunday Night Tips
April 14, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The final Sunday card takes place in the NBA regular season today with eight games on the board. The only playoff spot to be determined is the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but the Lakers are in trouble after losing Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles tendon in Friday's two-point win over the Warriors. We'll take a look at the four evening affairs, starting at the Pepsi Center with two teams going in completely opposite directions.
Blazers at Nuggets - 5:05 PM EST
Denver continues to roll at the Pepsi Center with 21 consecutive victories, but the Nuggets are looking for a bounce-back effort today after Friday's overtime defeat at Dallas. The Nuggets are barely hanging onto the third playoff spot in the Western Conference, owning a half-game advantage over the Clippers and Grizzlies.
The Blazers have been the biggest disaster in the league since late March by losing 10 straight games, while covering only once in this span as a 10 ½-point underdog at Utah in a 112-102 defeat on April 1. Terry Stotts' team has dropped seven consecutive contests at the Rose Garden, while each of their last three road setbacks have come by double-digits.
The Nuggets close the regular season against three teams sitting below .500 (Bucks and Suns ahead), while settling for second place in the Northwest Division behind Oklahoma City. George Karl's club owns a 2-5 ATS record the last seven opportunities as a home favorite of at least 10 points, as the Blazers pushed the Nuggets to overtime in the last visit to Denver. Portland forced the extra session with a late three-pointer, but fell in overtime, 115-111 as nine-point 'dogs in mid-January.
Mavericks at Hornets - 6:05 PM EST
Dallas made a valiant comeback to sneak back into the playoff picture towards the end of the season, but just came up short as the Mavs attempt to finish above .500. Rick Carlisle's squad heads to the Big Easy tonight for the first of two meetings this week against New Orleans, as the road team has won each of the first two matchups this season.
The Mavs have won six of their last eight games away from the American Airlines Center, while posting a 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS record the previous six road contests in the role of a favorite. Dallas rallied past New Orleans in the last trip to Louisiana in late February, a 104-100 triumph as one-point 'chalk,' thanks to a three-pointer by Vince Carter in the final minute of play.
The Hornets couldn't seal the deal in Friday's home loss to the Clippers, but New Orleans managed a cover as nine-point 'dogs in a 96-93 defeat. Monty Williams' club is 5-3 ATS the past eight games in the home 'dog role, including outright wins over the Nuggets, Celtics, and Grizzlies. The defense has clamped down at home recently, allowing less than 100 points in seven of the last nine games.
Kings at Rockets - 7:05 PM EST
Houston sits a half-game behind Golden State for the sixth seed in the Western Conference, as the Rockets own the tiebreaker in the case the two teams finish with identical records. The Rockets play their regular-season home finale tonight, as Kevin McHale's team has limped to a 3-6 ATS record in the previous nine games, including a home setback to Memphis on Friday, 82-78.
The Kings are fresh off three consecutive covers following a late surge in Friday's 108-101 loss at San Antonio as 10 ½-point underdogs. Sacramento has quietly put together a 7-2 ATS mark in the last nine road contests, including four straight ATS wins away from Sleep Train Arena. Keith Smart's club is 6-2 ATS the last eight opportunities as a double-digit road underdog, while trying to avenge a recent home loss to Houston, 112-102 as four-point 'dogs.
The Rockets are not lighting up the scoreboard like they did earlier this season, as this team is riding a 10-1 stretch to the 'under' the last 11 home contests. Seven of those 'unders' came with a total of 204 or higher, as tonight's total sits at 216 ½, thanks to Sacramento ranking last in the league in defense. Houston has cashed just twice in the last nine opportunities as a home favorite, as the Kings are making their lone trip to the Toyota Center this season.
Spurs at Lakers - 9:35 PM EST
Los Angeles received the devastating news of Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles tendon on Saturday, sidelining the former MVP for at least six-to-nine months. The Lakers found a way to squeeze by the Warriors on Friday, 118-116 for their third straight win, but L.A. needs to dig deep to stave off Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Spurs are likely content finishing with the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs behind Oklahoma City, although Gregg Popovich's team enters tonight's action just a half-game behind the Thunder. San Antonio has alternated wins and losses in each of its last six games, coming off Friday's victory over Sacramento. The Spurs recently have been a disaster by posting a 3-12 ATS record the last 15 trips to the court, while dropping five consecutive games away from the AT&T Center.
The Lakers have split the two games in which Bryant sat out this season against the Kings and Suns. Los Angeles has won six of its last seven to control its own destiny for a playoff spot, but it will be difficult with Bryant out and Steve Nash listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury that has kept the point guard out for six consecutive games. The Lakers try to avoid the season sweep to the Spurs tonight, which includes an 84-82 home defeat as one-point 'dogs back in November.
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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