The New Orleans Pelicans have been an injury-ravaged mess for much of the early season, but they could become more competitive as soon as Wednesday night if Jrue Holiday returns. He has been away from his team since the preseason to tend to his wife, former US women's national team soccer player Lauren Holiday, as she recovers from the birth of the couple's first child and surgery to remove a benign tumor from the right side of her brain. She's apparently doing very well and thus Holiday is set to make his debut either Wednesday or Friday. Holiday is a good-but-rather-injury-prone player who averaged 16.8 points and 6.0 assists in 65 games last year. He's said to be in good shape, but his minutes will be limited at first to get into NBA form. The Pelicans' backcourt as currently constructed is one of the worst in the league, so this can only help.
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Wizards at 76ers (TBA)
Washington is on a two-game skid after losing by 11 in Chicago on Saturday. That it was that close was a moderate surprise as the Wizards were without their starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. The team is just being careful with Wall in the second of a back-to-back, while Beal is day-to-day with yet another injury. Thus you should see at least Wall here. The Sixers also have dropped two in a row following a 115-88 loss in Houston on Monday. Joel Embiid returned from a game off with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Philly. Washington was 4-0 vs. Philadelphia last year, although just one game was decided by double digits.
Key trends: The Wizards are 2-5 against the spread in their past seven following a double-digit loss. The "over/under" is 10-2 in Philly's past 12 vs. the East.
Early lean: 76ers to cover if Beal at least is out.
Pelicans at Magic (TBA)
New Orleans won its second game of the season Monday in beating visiting Boston 106-105. Anthony Davis had 25 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Tim Frazier drew a foul with 2.5 seconds left and hit the go-ahead free throw. Rookie shooting guard Buddy Hield made his first start in place of E'Twaun Moore for New Orleans. We shall see if that continues. It should, in my opinion. Orlando lost 88-69 in Indiana on Monday in Magic coach Frank Vogel's return to Indianapolis. It was a season low in points for the Magic. They have won three straight and five of the last seven meetings with New Orleans overall.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-2 in Orlando's past seven.
Early lean: Magic and under regardless.
Cavaliers at Pacers (+4, 209.5)
Has the makings of a letdown game for the Cavs as they had a big one at home vs. Toronto on Tuesday. Indiana dominated the Magic on Monday to end a two-game losing streak. Paul George returned from missing a game with a sprained ankle and had 13 points. The Pacers scored 20 points off 16 Magic turnovers. The Cavs won three of four meetings last year but lost the last one in Indianapolis.
Key trends: The Cavs are 0-6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 15-6 in the Pacers' past 21 at home.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Mavericks at Celtics (TBA)
Dallas lost a second in a row Monday, 93-77 at the Knicks. The Mavs are pretty terrible, but they have been without the injured Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams for a handful of games. Dirk is close to a return from his sore right Achilles. Boston lost by a point in New Orleans on Monday despite 37 points from Isaiah Thomas. He had tied the game late. Avery Bradley added 19 points and 10 rebounds. Al Horford missed his seventh straight game because of concussion symptoms, and it doesn't sound like he'll play here. Dallas won two close games against Boston last year and has taken its past three in Beantown.
Key trends: The Mavs are 7-0 ATS in their past seven in Boston. The over is 4-0 in the previous four meetings.
Early lean: Celtics should roll, Dirk or not.
Pistons at Knicks (TBA)
Detroit won a second consecutive game Monday, 104-88 over visiting Oklahoma City. Aron Baynes got plenty of playing time with Andre Drummond out with a sprained ankle and Baynes had 20 points and eight rebounds. Drummond is questionable for this one. New York beat Dallas by 16 on Monday. Coach Jeff Hornacek benched starting center Joakim Noah, he of the $72 million free-agent contract, at halftime and the Knicks took off with Kristaps Porzingis moving to center and guard Justin Holiday joining the other starters. Porzingis had 24 points. New York won for the first time in five games this season when scoring fewer than 100 points. Detroit has lost two consecutive games and 11 of the last 13 games at Madison Square Garden. But the Pistons beat the visiting Knicks 102-89 on Nov. 1.
Key trends: The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 13-3 in the Knicks' past 16 after a win.
Early lean: Wait on Drummond.
Bucks at Hawks (-8, 207.5)
Atlanta was in Miami on Tuesday. Milwaukee ended a two-game skid with a 106-96 home win over Memphis on Saturday. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 points, while Michael Beasley added a season-high 19. The Bucks scored off nearly every Memphis turnover, turning 13 of them into 24 points. The Bucks defeated the Hawks 2-1 in last season's three-game series. Both wins came in overtime.
Key trends: The road team is 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Rockets at Thunder (-1.5, 219)
Houston blew out visiting Philadelphia on Monday. James Harden scored 23 of his 33 points in the first quarter and added nine assists and seven rebounds overall. The Rockets made 17 3-pointers and have made at least 10 3s in nine straight games, which ties a franchise record. Oklahoma City dropped a fourth straight Monday, 104-88 in Detroit. Russell Westbrook had 33 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists but no other starter scored even 10 points. Houston has won six of the past eight meetings but both losses are in OKC. Both teams have scored 100+ points in each of the past six meetings.
Key trends: The Rockets are 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 7-2 in the past nine in OKC.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Warriors at Raptors (+5, 218)
First of an ESPN doubleheader and an incredibly tough schedule for Toronto as it was in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Raptors and Nets are the only teams in the NBA this season scheduled to face last year's two conference champions on back-to-back nights. Golden State won a fourth straight Sunday, 133-120 over Phoenix. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson each had 30 points and Kevin Durant 29. The Warriors shot 50 percent or better from the field with at least 30 assists in a fourth straight game, the first time they have done so since 1994. Their offense is really starting to click. Toronto was swept by Golden State last year and has dropped two straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
Suns at Nuggets (-5.5, 219)
Phoenix lost a shootout in Oakland on Sunday for its second defeat in a row. The Suns were even with the Warriors with under five minutes left. Eric Bledsoe and T.J. Warren scored 20 points apiece to lead six players in double figures for the Suns. Center Tyson Chandler rejoined the team but missed his fourth straight game following the death of his mother Tuesday from cancer. Denver dropped a fourth consecutive game Sunday, 112-105 in Portland. Rookie Jamal Murray had a career-high 19 in the loss. Gary Harris was out with a sprained ankle. These teams split four meetings last year, with Denver taking the final two.
Key trends: The Suns are 8-3 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Grizzlies at Clippers (-11, 198)
Second ESPN game. Memphis won at Utah 102-96 on Monday. Marc Gasol had a season-high 22 points. Mike Conley had 18 points and seven assists. Los Angles won its seventh straight game Monday, 127-95 over Brooklyn. Chris Paul had 21 points and nine assists and Blake Griffin added 20 points. The Clips' 127 points was a season high and they are the NBA's best team right now with an obscene point differential. Los Angeles won in Memphis 99-88 on Nov. 4 behind 27 points from Paul. The Clips have also taken the past three at home in the series.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 6-1 ATS in their past seven in L.A. The under is 4-0 in the past four there.
Early lean: Clippers and under.
Spurs at Kings (+7, 198.5)
San Antonio won its third straight Monday, 94-90 over visiting Miami despite the Spurs shooting just 26 percent in the second half. Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and 12 rebounds. The Spurs had their projected starting five for the first time this season in a home game but then Danny Green didn't play in the second half due to a groin injury. Sacramento has been off since a 122-120 OT loss in Portland on Friday. Both DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay missed tying shots on the Kings' final possession. San Antonio has won seven straight in the series, including opening the Kings' new Golden 1 Center with a 102-94 victory on Oct. 27. Leonard had 30 in the win and Cousins 37 points and 16 rebounds in a losing effort.
Key trends: The Spurs are 4-1-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-0 in the previous five.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
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