You looking for possibly the best individual rivalry for the next five years at least in the NBA? I give you former Rookies of the Year and No. 1 overall picks from Kentucky: the Pelicans' Anthony Davis and Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns. Before last season, when NBA GMs were polled on who they would build their team around, Davis was the majority pick. This year, that answer was Towns after his historic rookie season. It's not that Davis didn't have a fine 2015-16 campaign, but he hasn't proven very durable yet. These two should be staging excellent battles for the next several years; here's hoping their teams can actually get good so we can see them do it in the playoffs. The Pelicans visit the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
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Grizzlies at 76ers (+3.5, 201.5)
Memphis won a fifth straight Monday, 105-90 in Charlotte despite playing without Chandler Parsons, who will miss a couple of weeks with a knee bruise. Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 31 points. Tony Allen was questionable with a groin injury but did play and had 12 points. Philadelphia has won back-to-back games! The Sixers beat the visiting Heat 101-94 on Monday. It's the first time the franchise has had consecutive wins since March 2015. Offseason acquisition Jerryd Bayless made his season debut for Philadelphia and scored four points in 16 minutes. Memphis swept last year and held the Sixers to no more than 90 points in each. The Grizz have won seven straight overall in the series and six in a row in Philly.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 6-1 against the spread in the past seven at Philadelphia. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of the Sixers' past 10 vs. the West.
Early lean: 76ers and under.
Spurs at Hornets (+4.5, 196.5)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. San Antonio won a sixth in a row Monday, 96-91 over Dallas. Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and nine rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker both got the night off. Charlotte lost by 15 at home to Memphis on Monday. Kemba Walker had 17 points for the Hornets, snapping a string of 11 straight games with 20 or more. Cody Zeller missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury. These teams split last year, with the Hornets winning 91-88 at home.
Key trends: The Spurs are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after a win. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Suns at Magic (TBA)
Phoenix lost a second in a row Monday, 106-101 at Washington. Devin Booker had 30 points and Eric Bledsoe scored 29 for Phoenix. But T.J. Warren (illness) missed his second straight game and Tyson Chandler (personal reasons) sat out for the third consecutive. Orlando lost 93-89 in Milwaukee on Monday. The Magic coughed it up 24 times. Phoenix swept Orlando last year and has won five of the past six meetings.
Key trends: The Suns are 5-11 ATS in the past 16 meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five in Orlando.
Early lean: Magic and over regardless.
Trail Blazers at Cavaliers (-11, 220.5)
Portland was at the Knicks on Tuesday. Cleveland has been off since a 104-81 win over Detroit on Friday. Kyrie Irving had 25 points and LeBron James 21. J.R. Smith, who returned after missing three games with a sprained right ankle, hit three 3-pointers and moved past the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki into 15th place on the NBA's career list for 3s. Portland and Cleveland split the 2015-16 season series, with each team winning at home.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 6-1 in the past seven in Cleveland.
Early lean: Cavs and over.
Hawks at Pacers (TBA)
Atlanta hosted New Orleans on Tuesday. Indiana was trashed at home by Golden State on Monday, 120-83. Not a huge surprise considering the Pacers played without superstar Paul George, starting center Myles Turner and reserve C.J. Miles as all were banged up. Point guard Jeff Teague left in the third with a sprained right ankle. The Pacers and Hawks split the regular-season series last year at two games apiece. Indiana won both home matchups with the Hawks and has won five of the last seven regular season home games over Atlanta.
Key trends: The home team is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-1 in Indiana's past six overall.
Early lean: Wait on all those Pacers.
Celtics at Nets (+6.5, 207.5)
Boston won at Minnesota 99-93 on Monday, rallying from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit. Isaiah Thomas scored 29 points and Al Horford added 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. This team should take off now with Horford healthy. Brooklyn lost a fourth straight Sunday, 129-109 vs. Portland. Brook Lopez had 21 points for the Nets. Trevor Booker had 16 and Bojan Bogdanovic 15. Boston beat visiting Brooklyn 122-117 on opening night. Thomas led all scorers with 25 points to go along with six boards and nine assists.
Key trends: The road team is 6-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over is 5-0 in Brooklyn's past five overall.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
Heat at Pistons (TBA)
Miami's two-game winning streak ended in a 101-94 loss in Philly on Monday. Hassan Whiteside set a career high with 32 points while reaching double digits in rebounds for the 13th consecutive game to start the season. He had 13 boards. Justise Winslow sat out. Detroit dropped a fourth in a row Monday, 99-96 at home to Houston. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 26 points and Andre Drummond had 13 points and 16 rebounds for Detroit. The Pistons are going to struggle to score until Reggie Jackson makes his season debut. Detroit went 2-2 against the Heat last season.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 4-0 in the previous four.
Early lean: Pistons and under regardless.
Raptors at Rockets (-3.5, 219.5)
Toronto dropped a second in a row Monday, 123-115 at the Clippers. The Clippers led by 17 in the second half, but the Raptors cut the margin to 119-115 on a 3-pointer by Kyle Lowry with less than a minute to play. Toronto wouldn't get closer. Lowry had 27 points. Houston won its third straight Monday, 99-96 in Detroit. James Harden finished with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Houston swept Toronto last year and has won nine straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Raptors have covered just two of their past nine in Houston. The over is 7-1 in their past eight overall.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Clippers at Mavericks (TBA)
Los Angeles won its third consecutive game Monday, 123-115 over Toronto. Chris Paul had 26 points and 12 assists, and DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and 15 rebounds. Reserve forward Wesley Johnson returned after missing the previous five games with an injured left heel. He played 12 minutes. Dallas lost a sixth in a row Monday, 96-91 in San Antonio. At 2-11, the Mavs are off to their worst start since 1993-1994, when they opened 1-23 in a 13-win season. Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams were out again. The Clippers have won 11 of the last 15 regular-season meetings with the Mavericks and were 1-1 in Big D last year.
Key trends: The Clippers are 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 6-1 in the past seven in Dallas.
Early lean: Clippers and under regardless.
Nuggets at Jazz (TBA)
Denver hosted Chicago on Tuesday. Utah has dropped four straight and has been off since losing 105-91 in Denver on Sunday. Gordon Hayward had 25 points for the Jazz but he got little offensive help. Derrick Favors missed his third straight game with a bruised left knee, while George Hill missed his eighth consecutive game with a sprained thumb. Utah had been 4-0 vs. the Nuggets last year.
Key trends: The Jazz are 0-4 ATS in their past four. The under has hit in three of their past five at home.
Early lean: Wait on the Jazz guys, although I'm not real confident they play
Timberwolves at Pelicans (-2.5, 212.5)
Second ESPN game. New Orleans was in Atlanta on Tuesday. Minnesota lost a second straight Monday, 99-93 at home to Boston in blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead. Towns had 27 points and 18 rebounds for the Timberwolves. These teams split four games last year. In the season finale loss at Minnesota, a 144-109 Wolves win, the Timberwolves set a Pelicans opponent franchise record for points scored, FGM (56), FG% (.651) as well as marked the fourth worst defeat in Pelicans history. Davis played in just two of the games and averaged 31.0 points. KAT averaged a team-high 24.3 points.
Key trends: The Wolves are 1-5 ATS in their past six in New Orleans. The over is 4-0 in the past four there.
Early lean: Wolves and under.
Lakers at Warriors (TBA)
Los Angeles hosted Oklahoma City on Tuesday with D'Angelo Russell questionable. Golden State has won eight in a row following a blowout victory in Indiana on Monday to close a four-game road trip. Klay Thompson had 25 points and Steph Curry 22 in handing the Pacers their worst home loss ever. Golden State was stunned at the Lakers 117-97 on Nov. 4. That was the game Curry's NBA-record streak of 157 games with a 3-pointer ended. Julius Randle had 20 points and 14 rebounds for L.A. Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Draymond Green had 16, but the Warriors never led.
Key trends: The Lakers are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in Oakland. The under is 5-0 in the past five overall in the series.
Early lean: Warriors will win by blowout.
Thunder at Kings (+1, 209.5)
OKC was at the Lakers on Tuesday. Sacramento ended a four-game skid with a 102-99 home win over Toronto on Sunday. Rudy Gay had 23 points and nine rebounds. The Kings caught a break when a Raptors tying 3-pointer at the buzzer wasn't counted when there might have been a clock issue. These teams split four meetings last year. Sacramento's final game at the Sleep Train Arena was a 114-112 victory over Oklahoma City.
Key trends: The Thunder are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 6-2 in the previous eight in Sacramento.
Early lean: Kings and under.
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