I love the NBA, but sometimes I hate the NBA, especially when I get bets down early in hopes of finding value. It's why I write these stories, to give you a head start. But then there are nights like Tuesday. Kobe Bryant was supposed to play in Miami but was a late scratch with a back injury -- if you live in an NBA city other than L.A. and are planning to buy a ticket to see Kobe when the Lakers come to town, I wouldn't bother because he's going to be questionable for about every away game going forward. Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Bradley Beal also were late scratches. Top MVP candidates Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis both left with injuries. Remember the days when guys like Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley played all 82 games and 40 minutes a night? Long gone.
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Jazz at Heat (-4.5, 184)
This is the one game not shown on TNT. Utah showed it's for real in a 118-114 loss in Cleveland on Tuesday, giving the Cavs all they could handle; the Jazz led by nine midway through the fourth quarter. You are going to have to monitor Jazz star center Rudy Gobert for this game as he left Tuesday in the fourth after twisting his ankle. X-rays were negative, and he's officially questionable. Miami beat the Kobe-less Lakers 101-88 on Tuesday -- so now all five Heat wins have been by double digits. Chris Bosh had a season-high 30 points to go with 11 rebounds, and Hassan Whiteside added 19 points and 15 boards. Utah and Miami played twice less than a week apart last season in December -- before Utah got better -- and each won on the road. In Salt Lake City, Dwayne Wade had 29 points in a 100-95 victory. Bosh had 22 points. Former Jazz player Enes Kanter led his team with 25 points. Five days later in south Florida, the Jazz won 105-87 despite 42 points from Wade. It was Wade's biggest-scoring game since he scored 45 on Dec. 29, 2010. Gordon Heyward led Utah with 29 points. The Heat trailed by 17 in the first quarter and never recovered. Gobert, the biggest reason the Jazz are much better now, averaged 7.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks against off the bench in both contests.
Key trends: The Jazz are 5-0 against the spread in their past five after a loss. Miami is 2-9 ATS in its past 11 following a double-digit win. The "over/under" has gone under in seven straight Miami games.
Early lean: Bit surprised there's an early line here with Gobert's status. Like Miami regardless, but I'd go over if no Gobert. Under if not.
Warriors at Timberwolves (TBA)
Golden State has looked so good thus far that I'm not sure if the Warriors even qualify for a potential trap game. But if so, this might be one off what should be a physical, intense matchup in Memphis on Wednesday night for the Warriors. Andrew Wiggins guarding Steph Curry in this one at times? Sweet. Because it's the second of a back-to-back for the Warriors, I wonder if we see Andrew Bogut in this one. Minnesota lost 104-95 at home to Charlotte on Tuesday while playing without Wiggins (sore right knee), Rubio (sore left knee) and Kevin Garnett (rest). Neither Wiggins' nor Rubio's injury is serious, so they should play here; it already has been released that Wiggins is expected to. The Warriors swept the Wolves 4-0 last year. They have won seven straight games at Target Center, the team's longest road winning streak against the Timberwolves in franchise history. Golden State is 12-1 in the past 13 overall in the series.
Key trends: The Warriors are 9-3 ATS in their past 12 in Minnesota. The under is 4-0 in the past four there.
Early lean: Wait and see on what Golden State does Wednesday and on Wiggins and Rubio. If this spread is double digits, though, I'd take the points.
Clippers at Suns (+5, 208.5)
Los Angeles is off what should be an emotional game in Dallas on Wednesday with the whole DeAndre Jordan circus. Phoenix will be well-rested as it hasn't played since a 124-103 loss in Oklahoma City on Sunday. The smallish Suns were pounded on the boards 52-33. Eric Bledsoe had 28 points and 11 assists for Phoenix but fellow starting guard Brandon Knight had eight turnovers to tie a career high. The Suns committed 23 turnovers that led to 30 Thunder points. Coach Jeff Hornacek is still clearly looking for something as the Suns have used 84 lineup combinations during a 3-4 start to the season. Phoenix is shooting 42.8 percent from the field. If that percentage were to hold up for the season, it would be a franchise worst. But the starting five of Bledsoe, Knight, Markieff Morris, P.J. Tucker and Tyson Chandler is among the best in the NBA with a plus/minus rating of plus-4.9. The Suns lost at the Clippers 102-96 on Nov. 2. Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Morris led the Suns with 19 points. The Clippers have won eight straight in the series, their longest streak ever against Phoenix.
Key trends: The Clippers are 6-2 ATS in their past eight Thursday games. Phoenix is 5-1 ATS in its past six on Thursday. The under is 7-2 in the past nine in Phoenix.
Early lean: Take the points -- Suns may well end the skid. Go over.
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