Feb 21, 2020
Friday's NBA Game Previews: Odds, Lines, & Spreads
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Top Game: Pelicans (-4.5, 235.5) at Trail Blazers, 10:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Zion Williamson show picks up again. Last time we saw him came seven days ago, when the rookie took aim at the rim to close out the Rising Stars Challenge, missing a few ridiculous dunk attempts as Team USA rolled over the rest of the world.
The Pelicans open the post-All-Star stretch run in last place in the Southwest Division, five full games behind the Grizzlies in the race for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Portland is 3.5 games behind Memphis and hopes to ride Damian Lillard to a seventh straight playoff appearance. Unfortunately, they’ll have to gain traction without him for about a week since the groin strain that forced him to skip the All-Star Game is expected to keep him out for three to four games.
C.J. McCollum, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent, Jr. will have to help Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside hold the fort down on a crucial three-game homestand featuring games against the Pistons and Celtics. Center Jusuf Nurkic probably isn’t ready to return, so a shorthanded group will try and fend off a Pelicans team that will be back at full strength since Brandon Ingram has come off the injury list. Ingram missed time with an ankle injury last week and was limited in the All-Star Game but should play without restrictions.
The Blazers have given up at least 117 points in four of their last six games and are on a 2-4 run (3-3 ATS). New Orleans is 6-3 (5-3-1) over its last nine and has been successful as a road favorite, winning four of five in that role (3-1-1). The ‘over’ has cashed in four straight Pelicans’ games.
New Orleans has won all three regular-season meetings thus far, most recently posting a 138-117 rout on Feb. 11 behind Williamson’s 31 points. Ingram was sidelined. The Blazers swept last season’s contests, going 3-0.
Cavs at Wizards (-6, 236.5), 7:05 p.m. ET
Cleveland will play its first game under Bernie Bickerstaff after John Beilein resigned earlier this week, so we’ll see if a happier group gets results in D.C. The Cavs sent Beilein off with a win prior to the break, waxing Atlanta 127-105. They have only won consecutive games once in 2020.
Washington has pulled into the ninth spot in the East, three games behind eighth-seeded Orlando. Over the past 10 games, only Toronto, Milwaukee and Boston have a better record than the Wizards among Eastern Conference teams. Bradley Beal took his All-Star snub to heart and has led his team to victories in five of seven, scoring at least 30 points in eight of his last 10 games. Centers Thomas Bryant and Ian Mahinmi are questionable to play through foot injuries. Kevin Love is going to play despite Achilles issues. These teams have split their two matchups.
Mavericks (-4, 220) at Magic, 7:05 p.m. ET
Luka Doncic led Dallas to a rout of Sacramento last week in returning from an ankle injury that had kept him out since late January. The Mavs are opening a stretch where they’ll play six of seven games on the road, where they’ve been fantastic all season, coming in 18-8. That mark is second-best among all West teams and ranks fourth in the NBA.
Orlando has won consecutive home games after an 0-5 stretch at the Amway Center where it failed to even cover a spread. The Magic could get back reserve point guard D.J. Augustin, a sparkplug off the bench, as he’s listed as a game-time decision after missing over a month of action due to a knee injury. Dallas won the only regular-season meeting 107-106 on Nov. 6 and has seen the ‘over’ connect in six straight games, part of an 8-1 run. The high side is on a 4-1-1 run in Magic games.
Suns at Raptors (-7.5/228.5), 7:35 p.m. ET
Phoenix center Deandre Ayton will be back after missing last week’s contests with an ankle sprain and backup Aron Baynes will join him, returning from a 13-game absence due to a hip injury. Getting those two back gives the Suns an opportunity to pull off an upset against a Raptors’ team that has won 15 of 16 games.
Toronto still won’t have Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (finger) in the lineup and may also be without Patrick McCaw (illness). Overcoming injuries has been nothing new for Nick Nurse’s group, which carries a seven-game home winning streak into this one. The ‘over’ went 12-3 during the Raptors’ 15-game winning streak that ended in Brooklyn just before break. This is the first meeting of the season between these teams. The Raps have won their last four matchups against the Suns.
Pacers (-6.5, 211.5) at Knicks, 7:35 p.m. ET
Indiana’s six-game losing streak came to an end on Feb. 12 with a win over the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Bucks, so it is looking for consecutive wins for the first time since Jan 22-24. Victor Oladipo has started slowly since returning, shooting 33 percent and averaging 11.1 points per game, but he shot over .500 in a game for the first time all season in the win over the Bucks. T.J. Warren is hoping to overcome a back issue in order to play here.
New York opened a season-best four-game winning streak with a 92-85 victory over Indiana on Feb. 1, but come into this one on a two-game slide. Elfrid Payton has been a catalyst for the Knicks, settling in as the starting point guard and averaging 12.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists over his last 12 games, but he’s nursing an ankle injury and is listed as questionable. The Knicks had lost seven straight against the Pacers before their upset to open the month. The ‘over’ is on a 15-6 run in Indiana games, prevailing in five of the last six.
Celtics (-6.5, 228.5) at Timberwolves, 8:05 p.m. ET
Boston won’t have All-Star point guard Kemba Walker at the controls due to a sore left knee, but the time off likely did wonders for Jaylen Brown’s sore ankles. Jayson Tatum outperformed Kawhi Leonard in a huge win over the Clippers last week and has blossomed into the best player from the 2017 draft class. The Celtics have won 11 of 13 games, covering on 10 occasions.
Boston will be a road favorite against a Timberwolves team missing star big man Karl-Anthony Towns and has gone 10-3 in that role this season. With Towns out due to a wrist injury and Andrew Wiggins shipped to Golden State, the new-look T’Wolves will rely on new guards D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley. If nothing else, Minnesota will have the element of surprise as an advantage but cohesion may be an issue.
Nuggets at Thunder (-1, 215), 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
Center Nikola Jokic has averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds and 9.2 assists in February to help Denver secure the second-best record in the West despite a number of major injuries. Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap have returned, while rookie Michael Porter, Jr. and backup center Mason Plumlee will both return to the lineup after extended absences. The Nuggets aren’t going to be whole since small forward Will Barton is likely to miss another game due to knee pain.
Oklahoma City has won 10 of 13 and will be home for four of the next six games, facing the Spurs, Kings and Clippers in important conference games. Only the Lakers and Nuggets have a better conference mark than the Thunder, who are hoping to shake a 4-6 slide at Chesapeake Energy Arena. OKC will face Denver three times between now and the end of the regular season and therefore can really make inroads if it can slow down Jokic, who had a triple-double in a 110-102 victory when the teams met in Denver on Dec. 14. The Nuggets have won the last seven meetings against Oklahoma City, winning each of the last five by at least seven points.
Spurs at Jazz (-7, 221.5), 9:05 p.m. ET
Barring a spirited comeback, San Antonio is going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1997, when it bottomed out without an injured David Robinson and drafted Tim Duncan. The Spurs open the evening 4.5 games behind Memphis but will have DeMar DeRozan in the fold after back soreness sidelined him for the final two contests prior to the All-Star break. They snapped a five-game losing streak with an upset of the Thunder on Feb. 11 to finally get on the board on this current Rodeo road trip and won’t play their first home game since Feb. 1 until next Wednesday.
Philadelphia’s comeback over Brooklyn on Thursday allowed it to match Utah with a league-best four-game winning streak, so holding serve would give the Jazz the league’s longest current surge once again. Mike Conley is taking the night off to avoid playing both sets of a back-to-back, but the Jazz are otherwise healthy as they try to improve on the NBA’s fifth-best home record. The ‘over’ has prevailed in five straight games involving the Spurs and three of the last four involving Utah.
Grizzlies at Lakers (-11, 232.5), 10:35 p.m. ET
Memphis looked listless for the better part of the first three quarters in Sacramento on Thursday night, ultimately costing it as its comeback bid fell short in a 129-125 loss. The Grizzlies have lost consecutive games only once in 2020 and have a 15-5 mark over their last 20, covering on 14 occasions. The Griz have won their last four contests on the second night of a back-to-back but they’re 0-2 against the Lakers this season, which includes a 120-91 rout at Staples on Oct. 29.
L.A. has a better road record than the 18-7 mark it has compiled at home, dropping three of its last five there. The Lakers have scored at least 120 points in each of their last six victories. Their 28-6 mark against Western Conference foes is by far the best in the NBA. Anthony Davis will play through a finger injury, so outside of DeMarcus Cousins, Frank Vogel will have his full roster at his disposal. The ‘over’ is on a 12-4 run in games involving the Purple and Gold.
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