Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM

Tuesday's Tip Sheet

Game of the Night: Rockets (-5 ½, 221) at Thunder – 8:05 PM EST

The race for the top seed in the Western Conference is a good one coming down the stretch between Houston and Golden State. Entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockets (49-13 SU, 32-29-1 ATS) lead the Warriors by a half-game for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to an incredible 15-game winning streak.

The latest victim for Houston was a team that has NBA Finals aspirations in the Eastern Conference as the Rockets edged the Celtics on Saturday, 123-120 on Saturday night. Although Houston failed to cover as 8 ½-point favorites, Mike D’Antoni’s team rallied from a six-point halftime deficit led by Eric Gordon’s 29 points off the bench, including seven three-pointers. James Harden struggled from the floor by hitting 6-of-18 shots, but managed 26 points thanks to hitting 11 free throws. The Rockets had covered nine straight as a single-digit favorite prior to that ATS defeat.

Oklahoma City (37-28 SU, 26-39 ATS) returns home following a 2-1 road trip, capped off by a 108-100 defeat at Portland on Saturday as 4 ½-point underdogs. The Thunder played six of the last seven games away from Chesapeake Energy Arena, while covering just twice in this stretch. In Saturday’s setback, Carmelo Anthony didn’t play for the Thunder, while Russell Westbrook led OKC with 30 points as the Thunder shot 6-of-27 from three-point range.

Houston eliminated Oklahoma City in five games of the playoffs last season, but the Thunder captured the first meeting this season in a 112-107 triumph on Christmas night. Westbrook outdueled Harden, 31-29 in the points department, as the Thunder shot 54% from the field. However, the Rockets played without point guard Chris Paul, as Houston has won 22 of the last 24 games with the All-Star in the lineup.

Making it Look Easy

The Pelicans (36-26 SU, 33-28-1 ATS) are the second-hottest team in the league behind the Rockets as New Orleans is riding an eight-game winning streak. Five of those victories are on the road, including a pair of triumphs in Texas over San Antonio and Dallas, while topping the 120-point mark in six straight wins. New Orleans has hit the OVER in six consecutive games, while vaulting all the way to the fourth playoff position in the Western Conference.

The road trip continues for New Orleans with a visit to Staples Center in Los Angeles to face the Clippers (34-28 SU, 35-26-1 ATS). L.A. squeezed past Brooklyn on Sunday, 123-120 as seven-point home favorites, led by Austin Rivers’ 27 points and Tobias Harris posting 26 points as the Clips own a solid 11-4 SU/ATS record the last 15 games. The Pelicans and Clippers have split a pair of meetings this season in New Orleans, as L.A. erased an 11-point halftime deficit in a 112-103 victory in late January.

Buzzed Off

Following a 5-0 run towards the end of February, the Hornets (28-36 SU, 27-33-4 ATS) have fallen back to their old ways by dropping three straight games. Granted, the three losses came at Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto, all teams headed to the playoffs, but two of those defeats came by double-digits. Charlotte managed a cover as 8 ½-point underdogs in Sunday’s 103-98 setback at Toronto, but the Hornets sit six games behind Milwaukee for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Hornets get another shot at the 76ers after losing at Philadelphia last Friday as the two teams meet in Charlotte. Philadelphia (34-28 SU, 34-26-2 ATS) looks to rebound after blowing a 20-point lead in Sunday’s 118-110 defeat at Milwaukee to fall to 3-8 in the last 11 road games. The 76ers own an 0-4 ATS record in their past four in the role of an away favorite, while losing in four of the last five visits to Charlotte since 2015.

District Debacle

Washington (36-28 SU, 31-33 ATS) leads the Southeast division but isn’t getting the job done at Capital One Arena. The Wizards have lost three straight home games, capped off by Sunday’s 98-95 setback to the Pacers as four-point favorites, falling to 2-8 ATS in the last 10 opportunities as a home favorite. Washington suffered its first three-game losing streak of the season with Sunday’s defeat, but the Wizards own a 9-1 record this season off back-to-back losses.

The Heat (34-30 SU, 32-38-4 ATS) travel to D.C. after blasting the Suns on Monday, 125-103 to finish their homestand at 4-1. Miami has split its last six games with no rest on the road, but has covered five times in this stretch. The Heat swept the Wizards in the four-game season series in 2016-17, but the two division rivals have split a pair of meetings this season with the road team winning each time.

Blazin’ Away

Portland (38-26 SU, 33-26-5 ATS) erased an 11-point deficit at Los Angeles by outscoring the Lakers, 22-6 in the final 5:30 of regulation to pick up its seventh straight win, 108-103. Damian Lillard drilled four three-pointers during that run, while scoring 39 points to lift the Blazers to their third win over the Lakers. The Blazers have helped out backers by covering six times during this seven-game hot streak, while limiting four teams to below 100 points.

The Knicks (24-40 SU, 29-35 ATS) have hit the skids by dropping 12 of the past 13 games, including a loss in the final seconds at Sacramento on Sunday, 102-99. New York has lost four straight since beating Orlando in the first game after the All-Star break, while failing to cover in all four defeats. The Knicks look to avenge a 103-91 home loss to the Blazers in late November, as New York last won at the Moda Center in December 2015.

Back to the Bay

The Warriors (49-14 SU, 28-34-1 ATS) are seeking their 50th win on the season as they host Brooklyn as 15-point home favorites. Golden State put together a perfect three-game road trip out east by knocking off New York, Washington, and Atlanta, but failed to cover in the final two victories. Steve Kerr’s squad has three key games ahead over a four-day stretch against San Antonio, Portland, and Minnesota later this week.

The first task will be knocking off the Nets (20-44 SU, 36-28 ATS), who have lost nine consecutive games away from the Barclays Center. Brooklyn has covered three of its past four in the role of a road underdog, including in losses on this trip to the Cavaliers and Clippers. The Nets look to snap a five-game skid to the Warriors dating back to 2015, as Brooklyn covered as an 11 ½-point home underdog in a 118-111 setback to Golden State in November.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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