Apparently I'm psychic. On Wednesday's Opening Line Report, my lead was on the struggling Houston Rockets and how if something didn't change soon that the team with title aspirations might have to fire Coach Kevin McHale. That happened early Wednesday -- or at least it got out then -- ahead of Houston's game with Portland. The last straw must have been a players-only meeting on Tuesday. McHale had signed a three-year contract extension only a year ago. Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff, a defensive-minded guy, will take over head coaching duties on an interim basis. He's the son of former NBA head coach Bernie Bickerstaff and considered a rising star in the coaching ranks, so he has a shot at keeping the job. But guys with Rockets ties in the past, including Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau, also could be full-time candidates. Here's a look at Thursday's light schedule.
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Kings at Heat (-8, 199.5)
Sacramento was in Atlanta on Wednesday. Miami was surprised at home by Minnesota on Tuesday, 103-91, to end a three-game winning streak. The Heat were outscored by 19 in the fourth quarter. They wasted a dominant effort by Hassan Whiteside, who had 22 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks. Whiteside became the seventh player in NBA history with multiple points-rebounds-blocks triple-doubles. Gerald Green (illness, suspension) played for the first time since Nov. 1. He scored two points in 12 minutes. Last season, Miami swept the season-series with Sacramento and has won a franchise-best 13 straight at home against the Kings. The last time the Kings won in Miami was on Nov. 10, 2001. Be fun to see DeMarcus Cousins and Whiteside battle in this one.
Key trends: The Kings have covered four of their past six in the second of a back-to-back. They are 0-4 against the spread in their past four on Thursday. The Heat are 5-1 ATS in their past six at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The "over/under" has hit under in Miami's past nine games.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Bucks at Cavaliers (-9.5, 195)
This is Game 1 of the TNT doubleheader and will have live betting at sportsbooks. Milwaukee was routed in Washington on Tuesday 115-86 for its worst loss of the season. The Bucks' leading scorer was Khris Middleton with 14 points. Jabari Parker didn't make the trip due to pain and swelling in his sprained right foot but could play Thursday if those subside. That's unlikely, however. Coach Jason Kidd is hoping guard O.J. Mayo can make his season debut as he's been dealing with a strained right hamstring. Wouldn't count on that, either. Cleveland was surprised in Detroit 104-99 on Tuesday for its first two-game skid of the season. The Cavs led 97-93 late in the game. LeBron James had 30 points, passing Jerry West for 19th on the all-time list, but had only seven in the second half. Cleveland lost in Milwaukee 108-105 in double overtime last Saturday.
Key trends: The Bucks are 1-5 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. Cleveland is 0-9 ATS in its past nine after an ATS loss. The Bucks are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 5-1 in those six.
Early lean: Cavaliers and under.
Warriors at Clippers (TBA)
Your TNT nightcap and will also feature live betting. The Clippers have a pretty good shot at handing the Warriors their first loss of the season if -- IF! -- both Chris Paul and J.J. Redick are in the lineup. This would seem to set up well for Los Angeles if so as the Clippers have been off since a 101-96 win over Detroit on Saturday. Redick missed that with a back injury, so Jamal Crawford started in his place and had 37 points. Paul missed his second straight with a groin injury. Both were seen a practice Tuesday; Austin Rivers would start if Paul can't, and things could get ugly against Steph Curry if that's the case. The Warriors have been playing with fire for a few games and escaped a Toronto upset bid on Tuesday with a 115-110 win behind 37 points from Curry. So the Warriors are now three wins from tying the best start in league history. Their 12-0 start also ties the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls for the second-best start to a season by a defending champion, behind only the 1957-58 Boston Celtics (14-0). I don't see the Warriors losing until perhaps Nov. 30 in Utah if they win this game. Golden State beat the visiting Clippers 112-108 on Nov. 4, rallying from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Paul and Redick were healthy then. The Warriors have won three straight in the series overall.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 8-3 in the past 11 in Los Angeles.
Early lean: Take the Clippers -- home team almost always wins in regular season between these two -- if Redick and Paul play. Probably even if just Paul.
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