Very unusual schedule for the Dallas Mavericks (2-6) as they played Wednesday and don't again until Monday -- I can't really remember a team not playing once an entire weekend outside of the All-Star break -- so perhaps now is a good time to talk about potentially the first coach fired this NBA season. Already you are hearing some rumors about the Mavs' Rick Carlisle, whom I think would be on any Top-10 list of the best active coaches in the league. But sometimes you can be somewhere too long, and Carlisle has been in Big D since the 2008-09 season. Maybe it's time for him to move on and try to find a contending-type club because Dallas isn't going anywhere for at least a few years because that roster is both bad and old. Carlisle did sign a five-year, $35 million contract extension last season, but Mark Cuban finds that type of money in his couch. Perhaps Carlisle agrees to leave with a decent buyout and knowing he would be flooded with offers next offseason. If the Mavs keep losing, keep an eye on that situation.
Lakers at Pelicans (-1.5, 211.5)
Los Angeles won in Sacramento on Thursday, 101-91 to go over .500, which I didn't see happening all season. Lou Williams scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers rallied. They were down as much as 19 in the first half. Los Angeles has four wins in a five-game stretch for the first time since November 2013. New Orleans got its first win of the season Thursday in Milwaukee, 112-106. Anthony Davis hit a key pair of free throws with 12 seconds left and scored 32 points. Los Angeles didn't win many season series last year but did against New Orleans, 2-1. Davis played in just one of the games and had 39 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson averaged 20.7 points in the three for the Lakers.
Key trends: The Lakers are 5-1 against the spread in their past six. The Pelicans are 1-5 ATS in their past six at home. The "over/under" is 9-1 in New Orleans' past 10 vs. the Pacific Division.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Celtics at Pacers (-4, 216)
Boston hosted New York on Friday without Al Horford and Jae Crowder again. For sure the latter is out another week or so, and it's not looking great for Horford. It's way too early to call the big Horford signing a bust, but he hadn't been playing anywhere near his Hawks levels before getting hurt. Granted, it was only three games and Horford likely has to find his role on the team. Indiana was in Philadelphia on Friday. Indiana took three of the four regular-season matchups over the Celtics last season, including both games at home.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-1-1 in the past nine in Indiana.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Knicks at Raptors (TBA)
Both playing the second of a back-to-back. New York was in Boston and Toronto in Charlotte. Travel edge: Knicks. Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas was questionable to return Friday from his injury, so you will want to monitor that here. If not, rookie Jakob Poeltl will start again at center, and the Raptors can thank the Knicks for the No. 9 overall pick in this year's draft to take Poeltl as the final payment from the Andrea Bargnani trade. Toronto won three of four against the Knicks last year, but the one loss was at home.
Key trends: The Knicks are 4-1 ATS in the past five in Toronto. The over is 7-1 in the previous eight there.
Early lean: TBA for Valanciunas again.
76ers at Hawks (-13.5, 206)
Philadelphia hosted Indiana on Friday and Joel Embiid was going to play that game but not this one as the team monitors its prized rookie's minutes. It was likely that Jahlil Okafor was going to rest on Friday and play this game as he's also on a minutes restriction. Atlanta beat visiting Chicago 115-107 on Wednesday for its third straight win. Paul Millsap had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Kent Bazemore jammed his right pinkie against the backboard on his hard foul and had X-rays, but they were negative. Thus he should continue to play. Atlanta won in Philadelphia 104-72 on Oct. 29. Millsap scored 17 points to lead five Hawks in double figures. Embiid and Sergio Rodriguez had 14 points apiece for the 76ers.
Key trends: The Hawks are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 10-4 in Atlanta's past 14 home games vs. teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
Wizards at Bulls (TBA)
Washington hosted Cleveland on Friday potentially without Bradley Beal, although at least an MRI on his hamstring came back clean. Chicago won in the second of a back-to-back on Thursday in Miami, 98-95. Dwyane Wade hit two big free throws with 13.7 seconds left and had 13 points in his emotional return to south Florida. Jimmy Butler scored 20 points and Rajon Rondo finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Washington won last season's series vs. Chicago 2-1.
Key trends: The Wizards are 9-2 ATS in the past 11 in Chicago. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: TBA on Beal. Bulls regardless.
Spurs at Rockets (+3.5, 209)
Interesting scheduling here in that these two played Wednesday and the Rockets haven't since but the Spurs hosted Detroit on Friday. Thus you are likely to see a key San Antonio guy or two sit here in the second of a back-to-back. Houston won in San Antonio 101-99 on Wednesday behind 24 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds from James Harden. He's your early-season MVP in my opinion, at least statistically. The Rockets were 10-for-30 on 3-pointers in snapping a four-game skid at San Antonio. Houston played seven of its first eight games on the road. That's a ridiculous schedule and no team had opened like that since Cleveland in 1970-71.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in Houston. The under is 6-1 in those.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
Clippers at Timberwolves (+5.5, 204)
Los Angeles was in Oklahoma City on Friday. Minnesota last played Wednesday in Orlando and won 123-107 to end a three-game skid. Zach LaVine scored 37 points and Andrew Wiggins added 29 for the Timberwolves, who led by as many as 30 in the first half in their first road win. The Clippers won three of four meetings last year, but the loss was at home. Minnesota has dropped eight in a row at home against Los Angeles.
Key trends: The Clips are 9-1-1 ATS in their past 11 in Minnesota. The over is 7-2 in the past nine meetings.
Early lean: Wolves and under (so much for trends).
Jazz at Heat (TBA)
Utah was in Orlando on Friday. Miami dropped a third straight Thursday, 98-95 to Chicago. Hassan Whiteside led Miami with 20 points and 20 rebounds. However, Heat point guard Goran Dragic left with a sprained ankle and he was seen limping around after the game. X-rays were negative, but it would be a surprise if he plays here. The Jazz and Heat split the 2015-16 season series. Gordon Hayward posted averages of 29.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two games for Utah. The Jazz added Joe Johnson in the free agency in the offseason, and he played well for the Heat last season after they got him from Brooklyn.
Key trends: The Jazz are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 19-6-1 in Utah's past 26 on Saturday.
Early lean: TBA for Dragic -- Jazz and under regardless.
Grizzlies at Bucks (-2, 203)
Memphis ended a two-game skid with a 108-107 home win over Denver on Tuesday. Vince Carter threw a perfect inbounds lob to Marc Gasol, who dropped it in at the buzzer. You never see those plays work. Grizzlies guard Tony Allen was placed on the inactive list before the game with a right groin injury. Milwaukee lost a second straight Thursday, 112-106 at home to the previously winless Pelicans -- this a game after losing to previously winless Dallas. Jabari Parker scored a season-high 33 points vs. the Pelicans. Both low-scoring meetings between these two last season were decided by at least 10 points, with the home side winning each. Milwaukee has won two in a row at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven. The under is 10-1 in the previous 11 meetings.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Pistons at Nuggets (TBA)
NBA TV game. Detroit was in San Antonio on Friday. Denver dropped a second in a row Thursday, 125-101 at home vs. Golden State. The Nuggets are 0-2 at home for the third time in four seasons. Wilson Chandler (left hamstring), Darrell Arthur (left knee) and Will Barton (left ankle) didn't play. These two will already be finished with one another after this game as on Nov. 5 in Detroit, the Pistons beat the Nuggets 106-83. Detroit opened on a 20-4 run and never really looked back. Andre Drummond recorded 19 points and 20 rebounds. Chandler led the Nuggets with 21 points, but he's questionable here. Detroit has lost seven straight in Denver.
Key trends: The home team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven in Denver.
Early lean: Like Nuggets even if all those guys are out again.
Nets at Suns (-6, 215.5)
These might be the two worst teams in the NBA, all due respect to the 76ers and Pelicans as those two will both get better as the season goes on and injured players return. Brooklyn lost 110-96 at the Knicks on Wednesday to open a five-game trip by falling to 0-3 on the road. The Nets are so thin at point guard due to injury that they gave Sean Kilpatrick his first career start. It's possible rookie Isaiah Whitehead can return from his concussion here. Phoenix beat visiting Detroit on Wednesday, 107-100. Eric Bledsoe had 21 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Tyson Chandler missed the game after his mother died, but he might be back here. The Nets swept the two meetings vs. the Suns last season, their fourth sweep in the past five seasons in the series.
Key trends: The Suns are 4-1 ATS in their past five at home. The over is 5-1 in the Nets' past six on the road.
Early lean: Suns and over.
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