Wednesday's Tip Sheet
January 3, 2018
By Kevin Rogers
Game of the Night: Cavaliers at Celtics – 8:00 PM EST
The two teams on a collision course for the Eastern Conference Finals meet up in Boston as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving square off for the second time this season. The Cavaliers (24-12 SU, 11-24-1 ATS) held off the Celtics (30-10 SU, 24-14-2 ATS) on opening night, 102-99, but Boston cashed as 4 ½-point underdogs. Of course the storyline from that game was the devastating leg injury suffered by Celtics’ forward Gordon Hayward, which overshadowed Irving’s return to Cleveland after helping the Cavaliers to three straight Eastern Conference titles.
Irving scored 22 points in the opener, but didn’t face off with the guard he was traded for in the offseason as Isaiah Thomas continued to nurse a hip injury. Thomas returned to the lineup on Tuesday against Portland to score 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench to help lead the Cavaliers to a 127-110 home victory. The cover as 8 ½-point favorites snapped a five-game ATS skid for Cleveland, while the Cavs own a 6-0 UNDER streak when playing with no rest this season.
The Celtics continue a four-game homestand following close victories over the Rockets and Nets. Boston erased a 26-point deficit in last Thursday’s 99-98 shocking win over Houston, while holding off Brooklyn, 108-105 on Sunday as 9 ½-point favorites. Brad Stevens’ squad fell to 3-7-1 ATS the last 11 games as a home favorite, while suffering three outright setbacks at TD Garden in December to Utah, Miami, and Washington.
Since the start of last season, the Cavaliers have captured eight of 10 matchups with the Celtics, including a 4-1 record in Beantown. Cleveland won all three meetings in the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden, as two of those victories came by 30 points or more.
Third Times a Charm?
The Bulls (13-24 SU, 22-14-1 ATS) have been one of the hottest ATS teams recently by covering 13 of the past 15 games. Chicago failed to cash in its last trip to the court on New Year’s Day by losing in overtime to Portland, 124-120 as 4 ½-point favorites. In the role of an underdog recently, as Fred Hoiberg’s team owns a solid 10-1 ATS record when getting points.
Chicago dropped the first two meetings to Toronto this season at Air Canada Center, but covered the most recent matchup as 11-point underdogs in early November. The Raptors (25-10 SU, 20-15 ATS) are sandwiched between the Celtics and Cavaliers for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference following back-to-back home wins over the Hawks and Bucks. DeMar DeRozan is coming off a career-high 52-point effort in Monday’s overtime triumph over Milwaukee, as the Raptors look to snap a two-game losing streak on the road.
Shooting for 20
The Pacers and Bucks each sit at 19 victories heading into Wednesday’s Central division clash at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Indiana (19-18 SU, 20-17 ATS) looks to snap a four-game losing streak, coming off Sunday’s 107-90 home defeat to Minnesota as three-point underdogs. The Pacers have been without leading scorer Victor Oladipo (24.9 ppg) the last three games due to a sore right knee, as the former University of Indiana standout is questionable against the Bucks.
Milwaukee (19-16 SU, 15-15-5 ATS) fell short in overtime at Toronto on Monday, 131-127, but cashed as six-point underdogs for its third consecutive ATS win. The Bucks won seven of their nine December home contests with both losses coming to the Bulls, while erasing a 20-point deficit in its last home win over the Wolves last Thursday. Milwaukee and Indiana have yet to play this season as the Bucks grabbed three of four matchups last season, including a pair of double-digit home victories by Jason Kidd’s squad.
Phony as Favorites
The Wizards (21-16 SU, 18-19 ATS) seem to play up or down to their competition, as evidenced by a 2-8 ATS stretch in the favorite role the last 10 opportunities. Washington cruised past Houston last Friday as a short home underdog, but failed to cash as eight-point favorites in a 114-110 home victory over Chicago on Sunday. In spite of these recent ATS struggles, the Wizards have won seven of their last 10 games to remain atop the Southeast division.
Washington hosts New York (18-18 SU, 20-16 ATS), as the Knicks head to the Nation’s Capital following a 100-91 home setback to the Spurs on Tuesday. The Knicks have struggled away from Madison Square Garden this season by compiling a 3-12 road mark, even though one of those wins came in their last outing at New Orleans on Saturday. New York has eclipsed the OVER in six of seven games without rest, while looking to avenge a four-game season sweep to Washington last season.
The Warriors (29-8 SU, 17-20 ATS) will spend the next two nights in the Lone Star State as they head to Houston for a showdown with the Rockets on Thursday. Prior to that contest, Golden State travels to Dallas on Wednesday attempting to grab its 30th victory of the season. Steve Kerr’s squad finished off a seven-game homestand at 5-2, capped off by a 141-128 triumph over Memphis on Saturday as 14-point favorites. Stephen Curry returned from an ankle injury to torch the Grizzlies for 38 points, including knocking down 10-of-13 shots from three-point range.
Dallas (13-25 SU, 19-18-1 ATS) has caught fire of late by winning four straight games, including sweeping a three-game road swing. The Mavericks finished off the trip with an impressive 116-113 upset of the Thunder as 7 ½-point underdogs on Sunday, as Harrison Barnes paced Dallas with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Dallas has dropped eight consecutive meetings with Golden State since 2016, including a pair of defeats to the Warriors this season by double-digits.
The Jazz (16-21 SU, 19-18 ATS) snapped a three-game losing streak in Saturday’s 104-101 home victory over the Cavaliers. Since routing Washington by 47 points on December 4, Utah owns a dreadful 3-11 record, even though the three wins came against Cleveland, Boston, and San Antonio. Quin Snyder’s team is seeking consecutive victories for the first time since a six-game winning streak that ended in early December.
Utah welcomes in New Orleans (18-18 SU, 19-16-1 ATS), who blew a 12-point halftime lead in its last visit to Salt Lake City in a 114-108 defeat in December. The Pelicans have dropped three straight visits to Utah, while coming off a pair of home setbacks to Dallas and New York. New Orleans has lost six of its past seven in the role of a road underdog, while falling in each of its previous four games against Western Conference foes.
-- The 76ers begin a rough four-game homestand starting with the unrested Spurs. Philadelphia then hosts Detroit, Boston, and Toronto over the next week as the Sixers are coming off back-to-back wins at Phoenix and Denver. San Antonio has won 12 consecutive matchups with Philadelphia since 2012, including six straight at Wells Fargo Center.
-- The Rockets begin life without James Harden, who is sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring strain. Houston heads to Orlando looking to build off an overtime win over the Lakers on Sunday, which snapped a five-game skid. The Magic have dropped 11 of their last 12, while posting a 2-8 mark in their last 10 matchups with the Rockets.
-- The Wolves are getting back on track of late by winning seven of their last eight as they travel to Brooklyn. The Nets have covered three straight and have won twice in this stretch, but have lost three of the past four meetings with Minnesota.
-- Detroit begins a two-game road swing that starts in Miami, looking to beat the Heat for the second time this season. The Pistons are riding a 6-2 mark the past eight games, while the Heat have alternated wins and losses in their last five games and are fresh off a comeback victory at Orlando last Saturday.
-- The Suns shocked the Hawks with a late comeback on Tuesday, outscoring Atlanta, 11-2 in the final 90 seconds for a 104-103 win. Phoenix tries to turn around its bad fortune against Denver as the Nuggets have defeated the Suns six consecutive times, while the Nuggets try to snap a two-game skid.
-- Oklahoma City heads out west for three games, including a pair of contests at Staples Center. The Thunder faces the Lakers first, after suffering a pair of close home losses to the Bucks and Mavericks. The Lakers have dropped seven consecutive games, while losing nine of the past 10 matchups with the Thunder.
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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