Interesting that the Boston Celtics are in Sacramento on Thursday because it's well known around the NBA that Celtics boss Danny Ainge covets Kings star center DeMarcus Cousins. And if there's one team that might convince the Kings to part with Cousins it could be Boston as it has some good young talent on the roster currently as well as potentially four first-round picks in the 2016 draft, including Brooklyn's unprotected pick that should be in the Top 3. Cousins and Coach George Karl haven't exactly been on the same page, although things have calmed down for now. But if the franchise does ever put Cousins on the market, my bet is he lands in Boston.
Thunder at Heat (+2.5, 199.5)
This is the NBA on TNT doubleheader opener -- starting at 7 p.m. ET this week -- and will have live betting at sportsbooks. Miami lost 105-95 at home to Boston on Monday, falling to 1-4 when allowing opponents to score at least 100 points compared to 9-2 when they don't. Dwyane Wade scored a season-high 30 for the Heat. Miami starting forward Luol Deng missed a third straight game with a hamstring injury and is 50-50 for this game. The Thunder's four-game winning streak ended on Atlanta on Monday, 106-100. It was their first loss this season with Kevin Durant in the lineup. Oklahoma City won both meetings last season with each very low scoring. OKC has won two straight in Miami overall.
Key trends: OKC is 1-5 against the spread in its past six after a loss. The Heat are 6-1 ATS in their past seven following a loss. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Miami's past nine vs. the West.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Nuggets at Raptors (-9.5, 199.5)
Both teams played Wednesday night, with Denver in Chicago -- likely again without starting guard Gary Harris (concussion) -- and Toronto in Atlanta. These teams have a link in the front office as in the spring of 2013, Nuggets general manager Masaj Ujiri left that franchise to join Toronto in the same position. He was an assistant general manager with the Raptors before taking the job as Denver's GM. The Raptors swept both games last year against Denver and have won three straight overall in the series.
Key trends: Toronto is 10-2 ATS in its past 12 vs. the West. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Magic at Jazz (-5.5, 191)
Orlando won a season-high fourth straight Tuesday, 96-93 in Minnesota. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. It's the franchise's first winning streak that long since December 2012. Scott Skiles for Coach of the Year! Utah's two-game winning streak ended in a106-103 home loss to the Warriors on Monday, a game the Jazz certainly could have won and had a late shot to do so but Rodney Hood missed a 3-pointer. The Jazz are now 0-6 when allowing at least 100 points. Utah lost 102-93 at Orlando on Nov. 13 in the second of a back-to-back for the Jazz. Utah was without two starters in the game as Hood was inactive and Rudy Gobert did not dress. Orlando was led by Evan Fournier's 21 points, while Tobias Harris had 19 points and 13 rebounds. The Magic jumped out to a 16-2 lead in the first four minutes as the Jazz were clearly gassed.
Key trends: The Magic are 0-4 ATS in their past four Thursday games. Utah is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 following a loss. The road team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-1 in Utah's past six.
Early lean: Under, under, under!
Spurs at Grizzlies (+2.5, 188)
This is the TNT nightcap and will have live betting. San Antonio was home to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Memphis won in New Orleans 113-104 on Tuesday behind a career-high 38 points from Marc Gasol (also had 13 boards). He hadn't scored more than 15 points in his previous five games. San Antonio beat the visiting Grizzlies 92-82 on Nov. 21 to snap Memphis' four-game winning streak at the time. The Grizzlies' only lead came on Tony Allen's 20-foot jumper to open the game. LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph missed the game due to injury. They are both healthy now.
Key trends: The Spurs are 11-4 ATS in the past 15 meetings. The over is 9-4 in the previous 13.
Early lean: Grizzlies as I expect the Spurs to rest a guy or two here.
Pacers at Trail Blazers (+1.5, 201)
Indiana was at the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday. Portland wasn't expecting to have star point guard Damian Lillard on Tuesday in the second of a back-to-back due to an illness, but he played in a 115-112 overtime loss to Dallas. Lillard finished with 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Blazers led by seven with 1:40 left. Portland won both of its games against Indiana in 2014-15, the team's first season sweep over the Pacers since 2009-10. The Trail Blazers haven't won three consecutive games against Indiana since taking five in a row from 2008-09 to 2010-11. Portland has won six in a row at home in the series. In two games against Indiana last season, Lillard averaged a team-high 20.5 points.
Key trends: Indiana is 2-6 ATS in its past eight in the second of a back-to-back. The Blazers are 0-7 ATS in their past seven vs. the East. The under is 7-3 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Celtics vs. Kings (pick'em, 210)
This game is in Mexico City (Kings are home team). Boston won in Miami by 10 on Monday behind 25 points from Avery Bradley as all five Celtics starters scored in double figures. Nine of the Celtics' 10 wins have been by at least 10 points this season. Sacramento ended a two-game slide with a 112-98 home win over Dallas on Monday. Cousins returned after missing three games with a lower-back strain and had 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The teams split last season, each winning pretty comfortably at home. The Kings' 109-101 victory was right after last season's All-Star break and was George Karl's coaching debut with the team. Sacramento has won four in a row at home over Boston.
Key trends: Boston has covered only two of its past nine Thursday games. The Kings are 1-4 ATS in their past five following a win of more than 10 points. The over is 15-6 in the Kings' past 21 vs. the East.
Early lean: Kings and over.
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