Free NBA Picks on TNT: Suns at Magic; Nuggets at Blazers
by Alan Matthews - 11/18/2010
Phoenix Suns at Orlando Magic (-9.5, 205)
How they enter: The Suns have the misfortune of doing the tough Florida swing on back-to-back nights. Phoenix had won three in a row and five of six before getting walloped in Miami on Wednesday night, 123-96. Orlando will be plenty rested, having been off since beating Memphis on Monday, 89-72, for it second win in a row.
Key injuries: It’s quite possible that Suns star point guard Steve Nash sits tonight. He was questionable to play against the Heat because of a sore groin, but he did go. However, he maybe shouldn’t have as Nash had just two assists and played a season-low 29 minutes. The last time he had only two assists in a game was late December 2008 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 141 games ago. And Wednesday marked only the ninth time in 737 games where Nash played at least 29 minutes and failed to get more than two assists.
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Phoenix is also without starting center Robin Lopez, who strained some ligaments in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s out for weeks.
Meanwhile, Magic guard J.J. Redick missed Monday’s game and the following practices this week due to a strained muscle in his back – an MRI revealed nothing serious. He hopes to play tonight, but it likely will depend on how he feels during the shootaround. Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietrus are dealing with minor injuries and missed practice Tuesday, but both should play. Jason Williams and Quentin Richardson both missed practice Wednesday, but Richardson, at least, should play.
Cool stat: The Magic tend to not play as well on national TV, although obviously they tend to get better opponents in those games. In the past two years, Orlando’s winning percentage is 20 percent lower when it plays on national TV. The Magic have lost seven games by 10 points or more in the last two seasons. Five of those games were televised on ABC, ESPN or TNT.
Key trends: Orlando is 1-6 ATS in its past seven games.
The ‘over’ is 5-1 ATS in Phoenix’s past six against as an underdog.
The Suns are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings with Orlando.
Free NBA picks for TNT Thursday: Phoenix has won nine of the past 12 meetings, but obviously those teams had Amare Stoudemire to help with Dwight Howard. With Amare in New York and Lopez out, Howard should totally dominate. The Suns are going to be tired and I don’t think Nash plays. Take the Magic.
Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers (-2.5 203)
How they enter: Denver won in New York on Tuesday night, 120-118, to break a three-game road losing streak. Portland broke a two-game losing streak by edging Memphis, 100-99, on Tuesday night.
Key injuries: Certainly the big one here is that Portland won’t have its best player, All-Star guard Brandon Roy. A sore knee has bothered him, but an MRI on Wednesday revealed he won’t need surgery. Roy, who leads the team with 18.1 points per game, will be evaluated again next week, so he’s out the rest of this week. Wesley Matthews no doubt will start again as he did against the Grizzlies, where he delivered a career-high 30 points in his first start of the season.
And while this injury wouldn’t have affected this game, by now you probably know about the sad news that Blazers center Greg Oden, the injury-plagued former No. 1 overall pick, will need another microfracture surgery – this time on his other knee. His career could be over. Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla are both questionable tonight with an ankle injury and knee injury, respectively.
Denver remains without big men Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen for the foreseeable future.
Cool stats: Denver has lost four of its past six visits to Portland, but the Nuggets have won at least one of the two games in Portland in seven of the past eight seasons. Denver won three of four in this series last year.
Nuggets guard J.R. Smith is starting to lose playing time. His average of 8.6 points this season is well off of his average of 15.3 points over the previous two seasons.
Denver is 0-3 this season when scoring less than 100 points.
The Blazers are 7-0 this season when holding opponents to less than 100 points.
Key trends: Denver is 3-12-2 ATS in its past 17 road games.
Portland is 4-1-2 ATS in its past seven as a favorite.
The ‘under’ is 6-1 ATS in Portland’s past seven home games.
The favorite (and home team) is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.
NBA Free Picks: With Roy out and the Blazers potentially a little down over the Oden news, I like Denver to win straight up tonight. And take the ‘over’.
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