NBA Free Picks: Thursday Doubleheader On TNT
by Matt Severance - 1/28/2010
There are two good games to watch on TNT tonight, including one of the most unfathomable losing streaks in NBA history. Also, the NBA All-Star reserves will be announced during the telecast of the first game.
Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic, 8 p.m.
The line: Magic -4 (total at 187.5)
How they enter: The Celtics have won both games since Kevin Garnett returned from injury. But be aware that one was over a Portland team missing Brandon Roy and the other was at home against the road lousy Clippers. Boston had lost eight of 12 before KG got back. Orlando enters off a loss in Memphis – no shame in that anymore – but had won its previous three games.
Scouting report: I’m not saying Boston would overlook Orlando, but tonight’s game is the first of four games in four cities in five days for the Celtics, including a visit to Atlanta tomorrow where Boston is out for major payback and then a hyped visit from the Lakers on Sunday. No team relies more on the three-pointer than Orlando (having shot a whopping 1,295), which has shot 38.2 percent from beyond the arc in wins and 32.6 percent in losses. Boston and Orlando have met twice this season, splitting the two (each team winning on the road). The Celtics won in Orlando on Christmas Day without an injured Paul Pierce. The Magic had just 77 points in that game on 33 percent shooting, with Dwight Howard held to five points. Orlando is averaging 101.1 points a game this season but just 80 against Boston. The good news is Howard enters playing some of his best ball of the season, averaging 22.4 points, 14.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game over that span. He also made 73.7 percent of his free throws.
Key trends: The Magic have lost just once at home since that X-mas Day game. They are 11-9 ATS there overall.
The Celtics are 0-5 ATS in their past five games.
The under is 6-0 in the past six meetings.
The pick: The C’s tend to do a number on Howard with all of their big men, so I definitely love the ‘under’. I’d also take Boston to cover although I expect the Magic to win by a bucket.
Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns, 10:30 p.m.
The line: Suns -2.5 (total at 216)
How they enter: Phoenix has lost two in a row and seven of its past nine games and is sinking in the West amid rumors the team will trade Amare Stoudemire. Overall, Phoenix is 12-18 since a scorching 14-3 start. The Suns are still good at home (17-6, 12-11 ATS) but are no longer a lock there, losing two of their past three and covering just one of their past six. Dallas has won two games in a row and four of five (three of those on the road) and has one of the best road records in the NBA at 16-8 (15-9 ATS).
Scouting report: Inexplicably, the Suns have lost 18 consecutive games on TNT telecasts dating to March 13, 2008. That includes two playoff losses and two preseason losses. Phoenix played on the network as recently as MLK Day and allowed 125 points in a loss at Memphis. These two teams have met once this season, a 102-101 Mavericks’ win in Dallas on Dec. 8. Dallas is 13-4 this season in games decided by five points or fewer and tied an NBA record with Tuesday's win against Milwaukee with its 10th consecutive win in one-point games. The Mavs are 8-1 in games decided by three points or less. They inserted former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry into the starting lineup four games ago – moving Josh Howard to the sixth-man role -- and will stick with that for now after having outscored each of the past four opponents in the first quarter. In the first 41 games of the season, the Mavs, on average, were slightly outscored in the first. Terry, by the way, is shooting 55 percent from the field in the four games. Dallas center Erick Dampier is a game-time decision for tonight's game because of a sore knee.
Key trends: You mean other than that 18-game TNT losing streak for Phoenix?
The Suns are 13-2 when Jason Richardson scores 20 points, but he’s slumping. Dallas is 17-3 when scoring 100, and reaching that number seems likely tonight – the ‘over’ is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Phoenix.
The pick: Stoudemire has not been playing well of late as these rumors seem to be affecting him. Take the Mavericks and the over here.