I know games this early in the NBA season don't really mean much in the grand scheme of things, but in some ways Wednesday night is the most interesting day of this season at least until Christmas. That's because the L.A. Clippers visit Dallas and San Antonio is in Portland. Both those games are on ESPN and will have live betting. I guarantee you there will be extra security on hand in Big D as Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is Public Enemy No. 1 there after agreeing to sign with the Mavs this summer and then changing his mind. I actually think the Spurs' LaMarcus Aldridge will be warmly welcomed in his first game back in Portland. He certainly was one of the best Blazers of all-time before choosing to leave in free agency this summer for the chance at a championship in San Antonio.
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Knicks at Hornets (-4.5, 194)
New York was in Toronto on Tuesday. The Hornets were in Minnesota. Perhaps the greatest Knicks player ever, Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, is an assistant with the Hornets. And of course Jeremy Lin is a backup with Charlotte, and Linsanity started a couple of years ago while he was a Knick. The Hornets won the season series 3-1 last year. Three of the four meetings were very close. Charlotte has won three straight at home vs. New York.
Key trends: The Knicks are 1-5 against the spread in their past six in the second of a back-to-back. Charlotte is 4-9 ATS in its past 13 vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" is 9-1-1 in the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: Hornets and over.
Lakers at Magic (TBA)
Los Angeles was in Miami on Tuesday. Kobe Bryant isn't going to play every back-to-back this season but on Monday, L.A. coach Byron Scott said he did expect Kobe to play both stops in the Sunshine State. You could see his minutes limited in this game, and obviously it might depend on what happens against the Heat. Orlando had a two-game winning streak snapped 97-84 at Indiana on Monday. Center Nikola Vucevic was inactive for the third straight game with a bone bruise on his right knee.
Key trends: The Magic are 4-0 ATS in their past four against the West. The under is 7-1 in the past eight meetings in Orlando.
Early lean: Magic will win this one.
Raptors at 76ers (TBA)
Toronto hosted New York on Tuesday and DeMarre Carroll was game-time decision. Philly looks for its first win here as it lost its seventh straight on Monday, 111-88 at home vs. Chicago. Jahlil Okafor was a bright spot with 21 points and 15 rebounds, his first double-double. Nerlens Noel sat with a sore wrist, but it's not serious. He's questionable here. The Sixers have lost 17 straight games dating to March 27, 2015. That matches the fourth-longest mark in franchise history. I'm looking ahead to Philly's schedule and I don't see a great chance at a win until Dec. 1 vs. the Lakers.
Key trends: The favorite is 8-3 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The over is 10-1 in the Sixers' past 11 vs. the East.
Early lean: Raptors SU whether Carroll plays or not.
Pacers at Celtics (-6, 203)
Boston was in Milwaukee on Tuesday and guard Marcus Smart was doubtful to return from his injury, so that means he's probably not playing here. Indiana is off a 13-point home win over Orlando on Monday. Paul George appears back to his pre-broken leg self as he had 27 points, his fourth straight with at least 20. Forward C.J. Miles started against the Magic in his first game back after missing three straight with a sore right ankle. Boston was 3-1 vs. Indiana last year and won both at TD Garden.
Key trends: The underdog is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 9-3 in the past 12.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Pelicans at Hawks (-9.5, 213)
New Orleans hosted Dallas on Tuesday looking for its first win of the season. Atlanta had one of the more perplexing losses of any team this season on Monday, 117-107 at home to Minnesota to end a seven-game winning streak. The Wolves were up 34 at one point yet blew that before then pulling away at the end again. The Timberwolves' 42 points in the second quarter and the Hawks' 42 in the third tied for the second-highest of any quarter in the NBA this season. Atlanta won in New Orleans 121-115 last Friday as Kyle Korver was 8-for-8 from the field for 22 points. Anthony Davis tied a career high with 43 points. Because this is the second of a back-to-back for the Pelicans, don't expect to see point guard Jrue Holiday.
Key trends: Atlanta is 2-6 ATS in its past eight at home. The over is 8-3 in New Orleans' past 11 vs. the East.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Clippers at Mavericks (+5.5, 212.5)
Dallas was in New Orleans on Tuesday. Los Angeles ended a two-game skid with a 94-92 home win over Memphis on Monday. J.J. Redick scored six straight points in the final 55 seconds to complete the rally. Clippers star point guard Chris. Paul returned after missing one game with a sore right groin. He had to leave briefly against the Grizz after being poked in the eye but did return. The Clippers hosted Dallas on Oct. 29 and won 104-88 in a game that was quite intense. Jordan had six points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots. Dallas owner Mark Cuban disparaged the Clippers in pregame remarks, saying that "you can change the owner, you can change the players, but the Clippers are still the franchise that they've been for the last 30 years." There were four technical fouls in the game and several other hard fouls. I expect more of the same here.
Key trends: The Clippers are 7-1 ATS in their past eight on Wednesday. The over is 8-1 in the past nine meetings.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
Nets at Rockets (TBA)
Brooklyn looks for its first win of the season here. It's off a 94-86 win in Milwaukee on Saturday. The Nets' only good player, center Brook Lopez, left with a sore right foot -- and he has had major foot problems in his career. But X-rays were negative and he expects to play here (why TBA). Houston has won four straight after a 0-3 start. The Rockets are off a 109-105 win at the Clippers on Saturday behind 46 points from James Harden (his second straight 40-point game), who was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday.
Key trends: Houston is 10-4 ATS in its past 14 at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The over is 8-3 in the Rockets' past 11 following a win.
Early lean: Rockets will roll.
Warriors at Grizzlies (+5.5, 200)
Golden State remained unbeaten with a 109-95 home win over Detroit on Monday. Steph Curry was held to a season-low 22 points. Warriors State center Andrew Bogut played for the first time since suffering a concussion in the team's season opener. Golden State's 8-0 start is the second-best in franchise history. The Philadelphia Warriors won their first nine games in 1960-61. Memphis enters on a three-game losing streak, but I think plays this game like it's the postseason after being embarrassed 119-69 in Oakland on Nov. 2, the worst loss in franchise history. The Grizzlies also acquired guard Mario Chalmers from Miami on Tuesday, but it's not clear if he will play in this game.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Bucks at Nuggets (-2, 201)
Milwaukee hosted Boston on Tuesday, so Jabari Parker may not play here in the second of a back-to-back. Denver ended a two-game slide with a 108-104 home win over Portland on Monday. Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay was very good with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He looks like a player. The Nuggets played that one without guard Jameer Nelson (lower back), forward Wilson Chandler (hip) and centers Joffrey Lauvergne (back) and Jusuf Nurkic (knee). The Bucks and Nuggets split last year. Denver has won five straight at home in series.
Key trends: Denver is 7-3 ATS in its past 10. The under is 4-1 in Milwaukee's past five on the road.
Early lean: Nuggets and under.
Pistons at Kings (-3, 207.5)
Absolutely fantastic individual matchup here between the two most dominant centers in the NBA in Detroit's Andre Drummond and Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins. Drummond is averaging 19.4 points and 19.6 rebounds per game. He had 14 points and 15 rebounds in Monday's 109-95 loss at Golden State. Sacramento stinks as usual and enters on a six-game slide. It lost 106-88 on Monday at San Antonio. Cousins had 21 points in 12 rebounds after missing the previous four injured. He is averaging 21.8 points and 11.3 rebounds on the year. Darren Collison missed the Spurs game and is questionable here with a strained hamstring.
Key trends: The Pistons are 5-1 ATS in their past six vs. the West. The over is 11-2 in the Kings' past 13 vs. the East.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Spurs at Blazers (+6.5, 201)
Aldridge probably goes down, at least for now, as the second-best Blazer ever behind Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler, who is No. 1 on the team's all-time scoring list with Aldridge at No. 2. Aldridge is the franchise leader in rebounds. He thought about staying, but the chance to win a ring and return to his native Texas was too much. San Antonio brings a three-game winning streak into this one. The Blazers have dropped two straight. Portland won three of four against the Spurs last year and has won 11 of its past 13 at home in the series.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: Spurs and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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