Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Tuesday's Tip Sheet

ATS Rankings | Totals Report | Injuries

Game of the Night: Celtics at Warriors – 10:35 PM EST

Before the season started, this seemed to be the destined matchup for the NBA Finals after LeBron James took his talents west to Los Angeles. The Celtics (38-26 SU, 32-32 ATS) were a Game 7 home victory away last summer from squaring off with Golden State in the Finals, but Boston was shut down by James and the Cavaliers to avoid the franchise’s first Eastern Conference title since 2010.

Boston finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season, but the Celtics are currently sitting in third place of the Atlantic division with less than 20 games remaining. The C’s have dropped five of their past six games, including a 115-104 home setback to the Rockets on Sunday as two-point favorites. Boston fell behind by 22 points at halftime, while the Celtics shot 2-of-17 from three-point range if you remove the 6-for-11 effort from Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart.

The Warriors (44-19 SU, 25-37-1 ATS) snapped a two-game skid on Saturday night as they rallied past the 76ers, 120-117. Although Golden State failed to cash as five-point favorites, the two-time defending champions erased a 12-point halftime deficit behind 34 points from Kevin Durant and 28 points from Stephen Curry. The Warriors knocked down 14 three-pointers in the win despite the absence of Klay Thompson, who sat out with a sore right knee.

Golden State continues to struggle covering numbers as Steve Kerr’s squad slipped to 1-9 ATS the last 10 games. The Warriors are back at Oracle Arena for the first time since falling to Houston in a Western Conference Finals rematch on February 23 as 12-point favorites, 118-112. Golden State owns a dreadful 3-15-1 ATS mark in its last 19 contests in Oakland, while last covering as a single-digit home favorite against Portland on November 23.

The Celtics embark on a four-game trip through California that continues to Sacramento on Wednesday with no rest, followed by a pair of contests at Staples Center to face the Lakers (Saturday) and Clippers (Monday). Boston has covered in each of its past four visits to Oracle Arena, while winning twice outright in 2016 and 2017. The Warriors got the best of the Celtics at TD Garden in late January, 115-111 to barely cash as 3 ½-point favorites. The big difference in that victory for Golden State was the 29-14 advantage at the free-throw line, as the game stayed UNDER the total of 233.

But First

A pair of division leaders hook up in Toronto as the Raptors (46-18 SU, 27-37 ATS) welcome in the Rockets (38-25 SU, 28-33-2 ATS) for another interconference showdown on TNT. Toronto has lost consecutive games three times since the start of December as the Raptors hope to avoid a two-game skid following Sunday’s 112-107 overtime setback at Detroit.

After picking up impressive home wins over Boston and Portland, the Raptors fell apart in overtime by getting outscored, 10-0 in the final two minutes by the Pistons. Kawhi Leonard sat out for Toronto, but Kyle Lowry picked up the slack by leading the Raptors with 35 points. Recent pickups Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin combined to shoot 2-of-18 from the floor, while Lin finished with one point in 25 minutes. Toronto wrapped up February at 9-2, but closed the month at 1-7 ATS.

The Rockets grabbed their fifth consecutive victory since blowing a 19-point lead in a post All-Star break loss to the Lakers. James Harden led Houston with 42 points in Sunday’s 115-104 triumph at Boston to pull off the season sweep of the Celtics. Eric Gordon added 32 points, including hitting eight three-pointers to help the Rockets pick up their third consecutive road win against an Eastern Conference opponent.

In the first matchup between these squads at Toyota Center on January 25, the Rockets held off the Raptors as 3 ½-point underdogs, 121-119. Houston won in spite of getting outscored in each of the final three quarters as the Rockets jumped out to a 13-point advantage after 12 minutes. Chris Paul sat out for the Rockets, but Harden did his thing offensively by leading Houston with 35 points in spite of shooting 9-of-25 from the floor and converting only 2-of-13 three-point attempts.

Crash Landing

The Thunder (39-24 SU, 33-30 ATS) have not covered a game since the All-Star break, while riding an 0-7 ATS skid the last seven trips to the court. OKC rallied past Memphis on Sunday, 99-95, but failed to cash as hefty 10-point home favorites. The Thunder shot a miserable 35% from the field as the starting backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder combined to miss 29 shots.

Oklahoma City played a third consecutive game without leading scorer Paul George, who continues to nurse a sore right shoulder. Since George has been sidelined, the Thunder has scored 104, 102, and 98 points, as OKC last posted less than 100 points with the All-Star forward in the lineup in a January 6 home loss to Washington. So obviously no George has affected this Thunder offense, who will be without the former Pacers’ standout again on Tuesday at Minnesota.

The Timberwolves (29-34 SU, 32-31 ATS) return home following an 0-3 road swing at Atlanta, Indiana, and Washington. Minnesota’s defense was torched in all three losses, resulting in three OVERS, while falling to the Wizards on Sunday, 135-121 on a hefty 240 ½ total. The Wolves couldn’t hit a trey to save themselves in D.C. as Minnesota converted only 4-of-27 shots from downtown.

Oddly enough, the Wolves are probably excited to see the Thunder as Minnesota has picked up a pair of road victories at Oklahoma City this season. Both wins came by two points each, including a 119-117 triumph on January 8 as Andrew Wiggins paced Minnesota with 40 points. The Thunder is making their first trip to Target Center this season as OKC has dropped three of the past four visits to Minneapolis.

Barking Dogs

Since falling apart in the second half of a 10-point setback at Oklahoma City on February 5, the Magic (30-35 SU, 35-29-1 ATS) have performed well in the underdog role. Orlando has won and covered in the last five opportunities when receiving points, including knocking off the likes of Milwaukee, Golden State, and Toronto in this stretch.

On the flip side, the Magic have lost their three games in the favorite role, falling to doormats like New York, Cleveland, and Chicago in this span since the All-Star break. Basically, Orlando has played up to its competition as a ‘dog and down to its competition when laying points of late. Fortunately, the Magic is the hunter and not the hunted on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The 76ers (40-23 SU, 30-33 ATS) have lost back-to-back games only twice in 2019, as Philadelphia is coming off a late meltdown in Saturday’s 120-117 setback to Golden State. Four different Sixers posted at least 20 points, including a triple-double by Ben Simmons, who scored 25 points, pulled down 15 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists. However, Philadelphia has suffered two straight home losses for just the second time this season, while falling to 24-9 at Wells Fargo Center.

The Magic have held their own with the 76ers this season by covering in a pair of matchups this season as an underdog. Philadelphia edged Orlando, 116-115 as 12 ½-point favorites in late October, while the Magic erased a 16-point fourth quarter deficit in Jimmy Butler’s Philadelphia debut in a 111-106 upset as six-point home underdogs in mid-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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