Tuesday’s Tip Sheet

Game of the Night: Nuggets (-2, 230 ½) at Lakers – 10:35 PM EST

The Lakers (30-36 SU, 36-30 ATS) continue to defend their home court as Los Angeles improved to 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS since January 7 at Staples Center following Sunday’s 127-113 blowout of Cleveland. Julius Randle put together a career game against the Cavaliers by scoring 36 points and pulling down 14 rebounds, while Isaiah Thomas burned his former team for 20 points off the bench. The Lakers still have plenty of work to do if they want to make the playoffs as they sit 6 ½ games back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Four teams are fighting it out for the final two positions in the Western playoff race as the Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, and Spurs are the teams that are trying to draw either Golden State or Houston in the opening round. Denver (37-30 SU, 31-33-3 ATS) has struggled on the road this season by owning an 11-20 record away from the Pepsi Center, but has won three of its last four on the highway. The Nuggets are fresh off a 130-104 blowout of the Kings on Sunday as 11 ½-point home favorites, as Denver shot 56% from the floor, while center Nikola Jokic posted a triple-double by scoring 20 points, pulling down 10 rebounds, and dishing out 10 assists.

The home team has won all three matchups this season, as the Nuggets knocked off the Lakers last Friday, 125-116 as seven-point favorites. Los Angeles led by two points heading into the fourth quarter until Denver pulled away by outscoring the Lakers, 31-20 to pick up the home cover. Three Nuggets scored at least 21 points, led by Jamal Murray’s 22, as Denver knocked down 26-of-30 free throws in the win.

Not on Target

The race for first place in the Northwest division is a good one with Portland currently leading the way. All five squads have a chance to make the playoffs, while the team in the middle is Minnesota (39-29 SU, 31-35-2 ATS), who is primed for its first postseason appearance since 2004. The Wolves travel to Washington looking to improve on a dreadful 2-13 SU and 3-12 ATS road mark in 2018, including recent divisional setbacks at Utah and Portland.

Minnesota is coming off a solid 109-103 home victory over Golden State on Sunday afternoon as 3 ½-point underdogs to snap a three-game skid. The Wolves look to avenge a 92-89 setback to the Wizards from late November at the Target Center, as Minnesota owns a 2-10 record against Eastern Conference teams on the road. Washington (38-29 SU, 32-34-1 ATS) looks to bounce back from a 27-point loss at Miami on Saturday, while losing four of its past six games at Capital One Arena.

Pacing Up

Due to Cleveland’s recent struggles, Indiana (39-28 SU, 38-29 ATS) has taken advantage by grabbing first place in the Central division by a half-game heading into Tuesday’s action. The Pacers rallied past the Celtics on Sunday, 99-97 as 4 ½-point road underdogs, improving to 5-1 SU/ATS in the last six games. Indiana has tightened up its defense in this stretch by allowing less than 100 points five times, while cashing the UNDER in seven consecutive games overall.

The 76ers (36-29 SU, 36-27-2 ATS) return home from a 2-2 road trip, capped off by Sunday’s 120-97 blowout of the Nets as 5 ½-point favorites. Philadelphia has yet to lose at Wells Fargo Center in 2018 by posting a perfect 13-0 record, while amazingly covering 12 times in this span. The Sixers and Pacers have split a pair of matchups this season as Indiana won at home in early February, 100-92.

Sweet Sounds

One of the most incredible runs this season in the NBA has been produced by the Jazz (37-30 SU, 36-31 ATS), who own a remarkable 18-2 record the last 20 games. The biggest of this winning stretch came in an overtime victory at Detroit on January 24, as the Jazz host the Pistons tonight. Utah swept a three-game road swing over the weekend by rolling past New Orleans, 116-99 as 1 ½-point favorites.

The Jazz return to Salt Lake City to start a four-game homestand against four teams all sitting below the .500 mark. The Pistons (30-36 SU, 29-335-2 ATS) embark on a six-game road swing against Western Conference foes, starting with Utah, Denver, and Portland over the next five nights. Detroit is on 3-10 run since a five-game winning streak, coming off Friday’s 99-83 rout of Chicago as 7 ½-point favorites. The Pistons have struggled on the road of late by dropping nine straight away from Little Caesars Arena, while covering once in this stretch.

Grounded Pelicans

New Orleans (38-28 SU, 35-30-1 ATS) pulled off 10 consecutive victories heading into last Friday’s contest against Washington. Anthony Davis sat out due to injury and the Pelicans’ hot streak came to a screeching halt in a 116-97 home setback to the Wizards. Two nights later, New Orleans fell to Utah by 17 points as the Pelicans look to end their sudden losing streak against the Hornets.

Charlotte (29-38 SU, 27-36-4 ATS) snapped a five-game skid by holding off Phoenix on Saturday, 122-115, but failed to cash as 13-point favorites. Charlotte has slumped from an ATS standpoint of late by covering only once in the last six games, while losing at Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto in this span. The Hornets have lost three straight meetings with the Pelicans since the start of last season, including a 101-96 home setback in late January.

Setting Suns

Phoenix (19-49 SU, 31-35-2 ATS) is back home for one game following an 0-4 road trip that included losses to Atlanta, Miami, Oklahoma City, and Charlotte. The Suns made a late run to cover as 13-point underdogs at Charlotte on Saturday, but Phoenix has put together an 0-8 ATS record in its last eight games off a cover. Phoenix is currently on a 1-15 run with the only victory coming at Memphis in late February, a Grizzlies’ team that has lost 18 straight games.

The Suns welcome in the Cavaliers (38-29 SU, 21-44-1 ATS), who are coming off consecutive losses in Los Angeles to the Clippers and Lakers. As a road favorite, Cleveland has compiled an embarrassing 2-13 ATS mark in their last 15 opportunities, including outright losses at Orlando, Sacramento, and Detroit. The Cavaliers have captured the last five matchups with the Suns since 2015, but have failed to cash in their past two road victories at Phoenix as a favorite.

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

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.