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Sunday Night Tips
The Western Conference playoff games tonight spotlight a pair of contests in the state of California. In the northern end, the Warriors look to grab a commanding 3-1 advantage against the stunned Nuggets at Oracle Arena. In the southern part of the Golden State, the Lakers hope tonight is not the last supper against surging San Antonio.

Spurs (-11, 189 ½) at Lakers - 7:00 PM EST - TNT

It was hard to expect a competitive series with Kobe Bryant not being able to play due to his Achilles' tendon tear earlier this month. Past Bryant, the Lakers are hard-pressed to field a lineup of enough warm bodies at this point with injuries to Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and most recently, Metta World Peace. The Lakers are in a rare position tonight as a double-digit home underdog in the playoffs, trying to bounce back from a blowout on Friday.

The Spurs cruised from start to finish in a 120-89 rout of the Lakers to cash as six-point favorites. San Antonio shot a blistering 61% from the floor, including an extremely efficient effort from Tim Duncan (12-of-16), who scored a game-high 26 points. The Lakers started the inexperienced backcourt of Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, but the two combined to score 44 points in the loss.

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The total in Game 3 fell to 184 ½ with the various injuries to the Lakers, but the oddsmakers have adjusted it back to 189 ½ for tonight's contest. However, 'over' backers will need help from Los Angeles, who has scored no more than 91 points in any of the three losses in this series. Four of the six games between the Spurs and Lakers have finished 'under' the total this season, but it's tough to judge with Bryant out.

Gregg Popovich's team closed out the regular season with seven consecutive ATS losses, but is now taking care of the number with a 3-0 ATS mark in this series. However, the Spurs are just a dreadful 4-12 ATS on the road in the playoffs since 2010. In elimination games the last two seasons, the Lakers have lost by 16 and 36 points, but both came on the road at Oklahoma City and Dallas, respectively.

Nuggets (-1 ½, 212) at Warriors - 9:35 PM EST - TNT

This series can be viewed in three different ways through three games. Golden State can argue that it is one or two plays from a commanding 3-0 series edge over Denver. The Nuggets can counter that argument by saying they threw away a third-quarter lead in Game 3 that could have swung the home-court advantage back in their direction. However, the truth is the Warriors have stepped up to the challenge as a sixth seed and own a 2-1 series cushion heading into tonight's Game 4 at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry was a game-time decision heading into Friday's pivotal Game 3 at home with a sprained ankle, but the sharpshooter stepped up with a 29-point, 11-assist effort in a thrilling 110-108 victory as 1 ½-point underdogs. The Warriors covered for the third straight time in the series in the role of a 'dog, while rallying from a 12-point halftime deficit. Golden State shot well again from the floor (52%), but the breakout game that was expected from Ty Lawson came on Friday, as the point guard put up a game-high 35 points after scoring a combined 31 points in the first two games.

Following an 'under' in the series opener (which was an early tip-off), the two teams have responded with 'overs' in Games 2 and 3, including an 'over' of 210 ½ on Friday. However, the oddsmakers are coming back with a 212 total tonight, as the Warriors are 3-2 to the 'under' at home with totals above tonight's number this season. There is no advantage regarding the Nuggets from a totals standpoint on the road above 212, as the team is 3-3 to the 'over' in six opportunities.

The Nuggets have lost three consecutive games on four occasions this season, with all four times coming on the highway. Denver is looking to snap a three-game ATS skid tonight, as George Karl's team is 6-1 ATS this season when coming off non-covers in three straight contests. The Warriors have been golden for backers recently by cashing six consecutive times, while posting a 6-3 ATS record their last nine chances as a home 'dog.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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