There are two homecoming games I am very much looking forward to this season. The first is Kevin Durant's initial game back in Oklahoma City on Feb. 11. I'm sure Durant will get some cheers, but there are a lot of people still angry he bailed on the franchise so there will be plenty of negativity. But it should only be positive on Thursday night when Dwyane Wade returns to Miami for the first time. Wade isn't just the greatest player in franchise history -- he gets the nod over LeBron James because James wasn't there long enough -- who led the Heat to three NBA titles, but Wade is probably the most beloved athlete in south Florida ever. It used to be Dan Marino, but of course he never led the Dolphins to a Super Bowl title. Wade never wanted to leave Miami but felt disrespected in contract negotiations and returned to his hometown of Chicago. I'm sure there will be a major video tribute for Wade and a huge ovation.
Pelicans at Bucks (-5.5, 209)
New Orleans remains the only winless team in the West following a 102-94 defeat in Sacramento on Tuesday. Anthony Davis had 34 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Pelicans, whose 0-8 start matches the 2004-05 team for the worst start in franchise history. Milwaukee has been off since an 86-75 OT loss in Dallas on Sunday. Giannis Antetokounmpo's long jumper at the buzzer missed, forcing overtime. Milwaukee had scored 117 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time since February 2009. Milwaukee was 2-0 last season vs. New Orleans. The Bucks won 103-92 at home, their first home victory vs. the Pelicans since 2012.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 1-4 against the spread in their past five road games. The "over/under" is 4-0 in the Bucks' past four at home.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Bulls at Heat (-1.5, 198.5)
First of the TNT doubleheader. It's the second of a back-to-back for Chicago as it was in Atlanta on Wednesday. Wade might sit out some second games in 24 hours this season but obviously not this one. Wade said a communication breakdown between himself and team president Pat Riley was why he left. Wade said "things started changing" after LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2014 and Riley gave Chris Bosh a max contract yet never offered Wade one. Also, Charles Barkley will actually leave the TNT studio to join the game broadcast for this one. He does that a few times a season. Should be entertaining. Miami lost a second straight game Monday, 97-85 in Oklahoma City. Miami's Hassan Whiteside, who entered averaging 20 points and 14.2 rebounds, finished with five points on 1-for-9 from the field. He did have 12 boards. Dion Waiters, in his return to OKC, was also 1-for-9 from the field. The Heat won all four games vs. Chicago last year.
Key trends: The Bulls are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 7-2 in the previous nine.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Warriors at Nuggets (TBA)
A rare Thursday where Golden State will not be featured nationally on TNT. The Warriors are in the second of a back-to-back as they hosted Dallas on Wednesday. Wouldn't surprise me to see Steve Kerr sit a key guy or two here or at least limit minutes quite severely. Denver lost in Memphis on Tuesday, 108-107 on a buzzer-beater. Wilson Chandler sat with a left hamstring injury but was at the shootaround, so you could see him here. Golden State won three of four meetings last year vs. the Nuggets but lost the last one 112-110 in Denver.
Key trends: The Warriors are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 6-0 in those.
Early lean: Not sure why the TBA as Chandler wouldn't be worth that. Must be that Kerr could rest guys. Nuggets should get plenty of points, and I like them here.
Lakers at Kings (-4.5, 209.5)
The second TNT game. The Lakers are actually quite fun to watch this season -- and improved -- as it's no longer Kobe Bryant just playing 1-on-5 and taking a fadeaway jumper as the shot clock wound down. Los Angeles is off a 109-97 home loss to Dallas on Tuesday. Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points as the Lakers' three-game winning streak ended thanks in part to 17 turnovers. Sacramento can get to .500 here, which is pretty noteworthy for that franchise even this early in the season, as it has won two straight following an eight-point home victory over New Orleans on Tuesday. DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and the team welcomed back presumed starting point guard Darren Collison from his eight-game suspension. He did come off the bench and had nine points and four assists. Collison might need a few games to get in shape before moving into the starting five for Ty Lawson unless Coach Dave Joerger suddenly likes what Collison does running the second unit. The Kings swept the 2015-16 series (4-0) vs. the Lakers for the first time in franchise history. Cousins averaged 27.0 ppg and 11.3 rpg in the four. Sacramento has won five straight at home in the series but in a different building.
Key trends: The Lakers have covered just one of the past eight meetings. The under is 5-1 in the Kings' past six vs. the West.
Early lean: Kings and under.
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