I'm not a big Los Angeles Clippers fan, but they are an entertaining team to watch. I want them to do well for that reason and because I so dislike the Lakers and thus want the Clips to own that town, even if briefly. While I don't want to overreact to one NBA regular-season game in early December, I have little faith now that the Clippers can give the Warriors a fight in a potential playoff series -- meaning this team is probably going to be broken up next offseason. L.A.'s first true litmus test of the season was Wednesday night at home against Golden State, and the Clippers failed miserably in a 115-98 loss that didn't even feel that close. If you can't beat the Warriors when they are just 7-for-30 from long range and both Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are held under 20 points, then you aren't ever going to. The Clippers are now 1-8 vs. Golden State since Steve Kerr took over as coach in 2014. Now the goal -- other than hoping for a major Golden State injury -- would be to at finish with the second-best record in the West and at least avoid the Warriors until the West Finals, a place the Clippers have never been.
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Bucks at Wizards (-4.5, 212.5)
Milwaukee hosted Atlanta on Friday. Washington beat visiting Denver 92-85 on Thursday. Bradley Beal had 26 points and the Wizards forced 29 Nuggets turnovers. John Wall was held to 15 a game after a career-high 52. The Wizards won the four-game season series against the Bucks last season, 3-1. Washington averaged 113.0 points in its three wins. The Bucks have lost four straight in D.C.
Key trends: The favorite is 7-1 against the spread in the past eight meetings. The "over/under" is 11-5-1 in the past 17.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Nuggets at Magic (+1.5, 200)
Orlando was in Charlotte on Friday. Denver lost a second straight Thursday, 92-85 in the second of a back-to-back at Washington. Starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay missed it with a sprained ankle, and Kenneth Faried simply was a DNP-CD. He should go in this one, but Mudiay will be questionable. Orlando was 2-0 vs. Denver last year and has won 19 of the past 23 at home in the series.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Wait on Mudiay, but I don't think Orlando should be a home dog.
Trail Blazers at Pacers (-2, 215.5)
Indiana comes off a Friday game in Dallas. Portland lost a second straight Thursday, 88-86 at Memphis in the second of a back-to-back. CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 24 points, and Damian Lillard had 19. Maurice Harkless sat out with an injury and Evan Turner got his first start of the season. Portland has won five straight regular-season games over the Pacers and seven of the last eight dating back to the 2012-13 season. The Blazers won at home 131-109 over Indiana last Saturday.
Key trends: The Blazers are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Hornets at Cavaliers (TBA)
Charlotte hosted Orlando on Friday and Cleveland was home to Miami. Both J.R. Smith (knee) and Kevin Love (back) were questionable for the Cavs vs. the Heat and Channing Frye was out Friday and won't play here, either, for personal reasons. Cleveland has won three straight in the series against Charlotte after a 100-93 home victory on Nov. 13 as LeBron James led a rally playing the entire fourth quarter with reserves. The Hornets have lost five in a row in Cleveland.
Key trends: The Hornets are 1-5-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 11-1 in Charlotte's past 12 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait on Love and to a lesser extent Smith.
Heat at Bulls (-8, 198.5)
First of an NBA TV doubleheader. Banged-up Miami was in Cleveland on Friday. I took the Bulls and the 4 points on Thursday at home vs. San Antonio as I thought Chicago would win that game against the tired Spurs and they did: 95-91 to end a three-game losing streak. Dwyane Wade had 20 points and Rajon Rondo was an assist shy of a triple-double. Doug McDermott returned from a long concussion absence and had eight points. Chicago won in Miami 98-95 in Wade's return there on Nov. 14, a game with 19 lead changes. But the Heat have taken the past three in the Windy City.
Key trends: The Heat are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 8-2 in the past 10.
Early lean: I would worry about a Bulls letdown here in a big way, but Miami is really short-handed and playing a second game in 24 hours. More prefer the under.
Warriors at Grizzlies (+10.5, 210)
Golden State won a fourth straight Thursday, 106-99 in Utah in the second of a back-to-back. Steph Curry finished with 26 points and had 14 during a 29-1 run that gave Golden State a 29-5 lead. Game was over then. Kevin Durant added 21 points and 11 rebounds. Shaun Livingston got the night off to rest. Draymond Green tweaked his ankle, but it's not thought to be anything. Memphis won a fifth straight Thursday, 88-86 over Portland. Marc Gasol had 36 points and Toney Douglas hit the wining free throws with less than a second left. He was just signed off the street because of all the Grizzlies injuries. Golden State has won six straight in the series and past three in Memphis.
Key trends: The Warriors are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 8-2 in the past 10.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
Mavericks at Rockets (-13.5, 210)
Dallas hosted Indiana on Friday and Houston was in Oklahoma City. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle had a rare team meeting after the Mavs were blown out by the Kings on Wednesday. Carlisle was so ticked off at his team's effort that he took technical fouls for calling extra timeouts twice in the fourth quarter. The Rockets swept a home-and-home series against Dallas in late October by a combined nine points. The Mavs have lost their past two in Houston.
Key trends: The Rockets are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings at home. The under is 4-1 in the past five overall.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
Nets at Spurs (-13.5, 210)
San Antonio had a chance to tie the NBA record of 14 straight wins to open a season on Thursday in Chicago, but the Spurs were weary in their third road game in four nights and lost 95-91. The Spurs cut an 18-point deficit midway through the third quarter to four in the closing minutes, only to come up short. Kawhi Leonard had 24 to lead San Antonio. Tony Parker did play after missing a game and had eight points. Brooklyn ended a three-game slide with a 116-111 home win over Denver on Wednesday but nearly blew a 29-point lead. The Nets have won six straight games against the Nuggets for their longest current streak against any opponent. San Antonio blew out Brooklyn twice last year, and the Spurs have won 13 straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 11-5 in the Spurs' past six at home.
Early lean: Love the under here.
Kings at Jazz (TBA)
Sacramento hosted the Knicks on Friday. Utah lost 106-99 at home to Golden State on Thursday to end a three-game winning streak. I thought the Jazz had a shot to win that (did cover), but then they ruled out Gordon Hayward (finger), Rodney Hood (hamstring) and George Hill (toe). Plus Derrick Favors (knee) has been out for a while. The Hayward injury was the surprise there. Sacramento won two of three vs. Utah last year, including the one in Salt Lake City.
Key trends: The Jazz are 6-0-1 ATS in their past seven vs. the West. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Wait on all the Jazz guys.
Pelicans at Clippers (TBA)
Second NBA TV game. New Orleans dropped a fourth straight Thursday, 99-88 at home to Philadelphia, which had lost 23 straight road games. Anthony Davis had 26 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore sat out again, but you still can't lose at home to the Sixers. Los Angeles has lost five of seven overall following that loss to Golden State on Wednesday, and four of its seven losses on the season are at home. Blake Griffin was awful vs. the Warriors, scoring 12 points on 5-for-20 shooting with seven turnovers. J.J. Redick was invisible with two points and was minus-23. L.A. has won 14 of the past 19 meetings vs. New Orleans and took a 114-96 home decision on Dec. 2.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in L.A. The over is 6-2 in the past eight meetings overall.
Early lean: Wait on Holiday -- he makes a big difference.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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