Anthony Davis has been in the NBA since the 2012-13 season but is just 23 years old because he left Kentucky after one fabulous freshman season. Davis is now easily a Top-5 player in the NBA and on a monstrous contract. Joel Embiid is playing his rookie NBA season but is already 22 because of course he missed what were to have been his first two seasons due to foot troubles. I am mega-excited to see Davis and Embiid face off for the first time ever, barring some AAU game or something back in their youth that I don't know about, on Thursday night when New Orleans hosts Philadelphia in a game that otherwise would get little attention. Two athletic 7-foot freaks who have range all the way out to the 3-point arc. The 76ers didn't play Wednesday and don't on Friday, so there should be no reason why the team would rest Embiid here as it does at times.
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Timberwolves at Raptors (-8, 214.5)
First of the TNT doubleheader, each game an hour earlier this week. Minnesota lost 105-91 at home to San Antonio on Tuesday. Zach LaVine scored 25 points for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 3 of 16. Toronto's six-game winning streak ended in a 116-112 home loss to Cleveland on Monday -- the Raptors are 0-3 vs. the Cavs this year. DeMar DeRozan had 31 points and Kyle Lowry added 24 for Toronto. DeRozan will set a franchise record for games played in this one. Minnesota and Toronto split last year. The Timberwolves have dropped 12 straight north of the border.
Key trends: The Wolves are 2-9 against the spread in their past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Nuggets at Wizards (-4, 217.5)
Denver was in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Washington lost 124-116 at home to Orlando on Tuesday despite a career-high 52 points from John Wall. He was 18-for-31 from the field and added eight assists. But only two other Wizards scored in double figures. Denver swept Washington last year and averaged 116.5 points in the two wins.
Key trends: The home team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 3-0-1 in the past four.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Trail Blazers at Grizzlies (-1, 205)
Portland visited Milwaukee on Wednesday. Memphis is missing a ton of guys due to injury and might not have much left in the tank as this is the Grizzlies' third game in four nights. But Memphis won a fourth straight game Tuesday, 96-91 over Philadelphia. Marc Gasol had 26 points and 12 rebounds as the Grizz scored the game's final seven points. Zach Randolph returned after missing seven games for personal reasons and had 12 points and 14 rebounds. The victory was the Grizzlies' 11th straight that either went to OT or was decided by five points or fewer. Portland won in Memphis 100-94 on Nov. 6 behind a career-high-tying 37 points from C.J. McCollum. He had 10 straight Portland points in the closing minutes to put the game away.
Key trends: The Blazers are 5-1-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-0-1 in the Grizzlies' past six at home.
Early lean: Blazers and under.
76ers at Pelicans (TBA)
New Orleans lost a third straight game Monday, 110-108 in double overtime at home to Memphis. Davis had 28 points and 17 rebounds, while Langston Galloway had season-high 26 points. But he missed a corner 3 that could have won it as second extra period ended. Guards Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore both were sidelined with toe injuries. Philadelphia dropped an eighth straight Tuesday, 96-91 at Memphis. Ersan Ilyasova had season bests of 23 points and 17 rebounds in the loss. Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington, Embiid and Jahlil Okafor were all out. Embiid was because it was the second of a back-to-back; the others are hurt. Philly and New Orleans split last year, each winning at home. The 76ers' win was near the end of the season and was their 10th and last of the 2015-16 campaign, assuring they didn't tie their own league record for fewest victories in an 82-game season.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 5-0 ATS in their past five vs. the East. The under is 10-3 in the 76ers' past 13 vs. the West.
Early lean: Have to wait on all the injured guys on both sides.
Warriors at Jazz (TBA)
Mega-trap game potential for Golden State after visiting the Clippers on Wednesday. First off, the Jazz tend to play the Warriors tough. Second, it would shock me not at all if Steve Kerr rests one or two of his stars here. Utah won a third straight Tuesday, 112-105 over Phoenix. Gordon Hayward had 28 points. Rudy Gobert scored a career-high 22 points and had 11 rebounds. The Jazz did cough up a 23-point lead before reasserting control. George Hill missed his fourth consecutive game with a sprained left big toe, and Rodney Hood did not return after halftime with a sore right hamstring. Golden State swept Utah last year, but the two in Salt Lake City were close and the Jazz probably should have won both.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 6-0 in Utah's past six overall.
Early lean: Have to wait on the potential Warriors resting and two injured Jazz guys. I would take Utah if Hill and Hood play.
Spurs at Bulls (+3.5, 199)
Second TNT game. San Antonio won a fourth straight and stayed unbeaten on the road with a 105-91 victory at Minnesota on Tuesday. Kawhi Leonard had 31 points as the Spurs shot 52.7 percent from the field. Tony Parker was out with a bruised knee and is being called 50-50 for Thursday. At 13-0 away from home, the Spurs are one win shy of tying the NBA-record road winning streak to open a season of 14 straight by last year's Warriors. Chicago lost a third in a row Tuesday, 102-91 in Detroit. The Bulls were playing their fourth game in five nights and faded in the fourth quarter. Rajon Rondo was back in the lineup after a one-game suspension and had 10 points. These teams split last year. Chicago has won the past two at home vs. San Antonio. Of course the Spurs signed Bulls All-Star forward Pau Gasol in free agency this offseason.
Key trends: The Spurs have covered just three of their past 17 on the road. The under is 6-0 in the Bulls' past six on Thursday.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
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