The Hawks aren't on Saturday's schedule, but I want to address some bad news that could affect them in the playoffs. Swingman Thabo Sefolosha isn't a starter and only plays about 19 minutes per night, but he's a hustle guy and a terrific defender. Sefolosha has the best defensive rating on the team by a wide margin and ranks sixth out of 86 qualified small forwards in defensive real plus-minus. However, he will now miss the rest of the season, playoffs included, with a fractured fibula and ligament damage suffered in that weird incident at a New York City nightclub early Wednesday morning. He and teammate Pero Antic (not hurt) were arrested for interfering with the arrest of Pacers forward Chris Copeland, who was stabbed. Sefolosha was hurt while allegedly resisting arrest. The players were there separately at 4 a.m. Sefolosha would usually be on the court at crunch time guarding an opponent's best perimeter player, so this could be a major factor.
Knicks at Magic (-9.5, 193)
Orlando hosted Toronto on Friday, and the Knicks hosted Milwaukee. So advantage Magic in that they didn't have to travel -- not that much of an advantage is needed against New York. This is Orlando's home finale, so I'm sure it will want to win it. I really think this team could take a big step forward next season because the backcourt of rookie Elfrid Payton and second-year Victor Oladipo has played so well of late. Payton has become a mini-Russell Westbrook in that he's a triple-double waiting to happen almost every night. I have nothing positive to say about the Knicks, who could clinch the NBA's worst record in this game and depending what Minnesota does Friday and Saturday. The Knicks have won nine of the past 12 vs. the Magic, but Orlando leads 2-1 this season.
Key trends: The Knicks are 5-1-1 against the spread in their past seven trips to Orlando. The "over/under" has gone over in 10 of Orlando's past 11 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Raptors at Heat (TBA)
Toronto was in Orlando on Friday with a "possibility" that All-Star guard Kyle Lowry could return from his back problems. Miami lost a crusher on Thursday, 89-78 at home to Chicago in a weird game and one that could end up costing the Heat a playoff spot. Miami led by 19 at halftime and then the Bulls scored 39 of the first 47 points in the second half. The Heat missed their first 12 shots of the third quarter. Dwyane Wade was just 4-for-20 for nine points. Miami pretty much has to win out now and get a bit of help. The Raptors and Heat have split two meetings, each winning at home. Miami is 28-8 all-time at home against Toronto.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-5 ATS in its past six in the second of a back-to-back. The Heat have failed to cover six straight. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Heat will win because they have to.
76ers at Bulls (TBA)
Philadelphia lost its seventh straight Wednesday, 119-90 against Washington. The Sixers never led and shot 34.8 percent from the field, while Washington shot a franchise-record 65.3 percent. Robert Covington scored a career-high 27 points for Philly. However, promising rookie big man Nerlens Noel left in the fourth quarter with a right ankle sprain, and he's not going to play in this game -- or perhaps the rest of the season. Also out is guard Isaiah Canaan, who has missed three straight with a right foot sprain and is done for the year. Chicago rallied from a 19-point halftime deficit in Miami on Thursday and won 89-78 to temporarily take back sole possession of the third seed in the East. In a surprise, Derrick Rose did play the second of a back-to-back and had 12 points in 20 minutes. His shot has been way off in the two games of his return. Rose will be limited to around 20 again in this one. Chicago played without All-Star Jimmy Butler due to a calf injury. I could see him or someone like Joakim Noah sitting here because the Bulls can win this game without them -- especially with Noel out. The Bulls are 2-0 this season against the Sixers, although neither was a blowout. Chicago has won 10 of the past 11 meetings overall and five straight at home.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings in Chicago.
Early lean: If this opens in double digits, take Philly. Bulls will win but won't crush the Sixers.
Grizzlies at Clippers (-6.5, 195.5)
Memphis was in Utah on Friday. The Clippers are peaking at the right time, having won four straight and 11 of 12. They have scored in triple digits in all but one of those games. L.A. comes off a 105-100 win over the Lakers on Tuesday to complete the season sweep. Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick scored 27 points apiece. However, the most important thing to take from that game was the return of Clippers guard and sixth man Jamal Crawford. He played 19 minutes in his first game since early March and had four points. He admitted his rhythm was a bit off. Memphis leads the season series 2-1 and won the lone game in L.A. 90-87 on Feb. 23. The Grizzlies have won three straight at the Clippers.
Key trends: Memphis has covered four straight at the Clippers. The over is 4-1 in the past five there.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
Jazz at Trail Blazers (-7, 185.5)
Utah hosted Memphis on Friday. Portland lost 116-105 in Golden State on Thursday, but the Blazers played great until the fourth quarter, where they were outscored 32-21. More bad injury news for Portland as guard Arron Afflalo suffered an injury to his shooting shoulder and was to undergo medical testing Friday. Afflalo couldn't lift his arm above his shoulder, so it doesn't sound good. Acquired at the trade deadline, Afflalo moved into the starting lineup when Wesley Matthews was lost for the season. The Blazers lead the season series 2-1. In the most recent matchup March 25 in Salt Lake City, Portland overcame an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to win 92-89. Damian Lillard had 13 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Portland has won three straight at home against the Jazz.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 8-1 in the past nine in Portland.
Early lean: I'll take the points as the Blazers could be deflated if the Afflalo injury is serious, and he's pretty clearly at least going to miss this game.
Timberwolves at Warriors (-20, 213.5)
Minnesota was at the L.A. Lakers on Friday, and this is the team's final road game. Golden State beat Portland 116-105 on Thursday behind 45 points and 10 assists from Steph Curry. He became the first Warriors player with at least 45 points and 10 assists in a game since Latrell Sprewell in 1997. Curry also broke his own NBA single-season record for made 3-pointers and was an amazing 17-for-23 from the field (8-for-13 from long range). This game means less than nothing for the Warriors against a Wolves team that is missing half its roster due to injuries. I understand Steve Kerr has said he won't flat-out sit his guys down the stretch, but I'm willing to bet he does here. At least injury-prone center Andrew Bogut. I'll also be stunned if any key Warrior who does play gets more than 25 minutes. Let the home fans see the guys for a bit and then get them out of there and empty the bench. The Warriors are 3-0 vs. the Wolves this year, although the most recent was close. Golden State has won 17 of the past 20 meetings overall and is looking for the season sweep for the second time in three years.
Key trends: Minnesota has covered only six of the past 20 meetings. The over is 5-1 in Golden State's past six at home vs. teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: After being pushed to the limit Thursday and facing an injury-ravaged, terrible Wolves team there's NO WAY Kerr doesn't rest some guys. Right? Take the points -- I'm shocked it's this high -- because the Warriors will likely go through the motions.
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