I generally don't root for anyone to fail -- OK, unless it benefits my team or my betting position -- so I was happy to see the Philadelphia 76ers beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night for their 10th win of the season, assuring that wretched team won't tie for the NBA record of single-season losses at 73. Maybe the 76ers drew inspiration from the night before when Villanova beat North Carolina for the school's first national title since 1985. One thing the 76ers haven't done yet this season: win consecutive games. Friday against the Knicks is probably their last chance to do so. And this will be Philly's first game since GM Sam Hinkie resigned on Wednesday. Hey, he did what ownership wanted: get really bad to eventually get really good. It just didn't work -- the Sixers never were able to win the lottery, although there are some good assets there potentially. The Sixers are 47-195 since Hinkie took over prior to the 2013-14 season, including a 10-68 mark this season. If they lose their final four games this season, they will have posted the worst three-year span in NBA history. Bryan Colangelo will take over as GM. He is the son of Jerry Colangelo, who moved into a front office role with the 76ers in December. Bryan is also a two-time NBA Executive of the Year.
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Nets at Hornets (-16, 205.5)
Brooklyn lost a sixth straight Wednesday, 121-103 in Washington. Thomas Robinson scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Nets, who have those six by an average of 19.3 points. Charlotte ended a two-game skid with a 111-97 win at the Knicks on Wednesday. Kemba Walker had 34 points and Al Jefferson, who was questionable, added 24. Nic Batum missed a second straight with a strained knee. He has a decent chance of playing here. Charlotte has won all three meetings this season but only by a combined 18 points.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 against the spread in the past six meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight Charlotte home games.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Heat at Magic (TBA)
Miami hosted Chicago on Thursday and as beaten up as Dwyane Wade is, I'd be moderately surprised if he plays here. Plus Hassan Whiteside was a game-time call Thursday. Orlando lost 108-104 at home to Detroit on Wednesday. Nikola Vucevic had 15 points, 13 rebounds and three assists off the bench. He did start the second half and Coach Scott Skiles said Vucevic is still a starter even though he has been a reserve since returning from injury. Sounds like he might start here. Miami leads the season series 2-0 and has won seven straight in Orlando.
Key trends: The Heat are 5-1 ATS in the past six in Orlando. The over has hit in eight of the past 11 meetings there.
Early lean: Wait on the Heat duo.
Knicks at 76ers (+3.5, 200)
New York lost a second straight Wednesday, 111-97 at home to Charlotte. Carmelo Anthony returned from a one-game absence but was held to 15 points. New York remains without injured starters Kristaps Porzingis and Jose Calderon, and they are probably done. As noted above, Philly beat New Orleans 107-93 on Tuesday to end a 12-game losing streak. By the way, Sixers coach Brett Brown apparently will keep his job going forward despite the front office change. He deserves one season with an actual NBA roster. New York leads the season series 3-0 and has won four straight overall vs. Philly.
Key trends: The Knicks are 10-3 ATS in the past 13 in Philly. The under has also hit in 10 of those.
Early lean: Knicks (as long as Melo plays) and under.
Bucks at Celtics (TBA)
Milwaukee lost 109-80 at home to Cleveland on Tuesday, its second straight defeat. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 22 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. The 18 3s allowed were a season-worst for Milwaukee. The Bucks played again without injured leading scorer Khris Middleton and guard Jerryd Bayless. They are questionable here. Boston won a third straight Wednesday, 104-97 over New Orleans. Isaiah Thomas had 32 points. He has scored at least 20 in 17 straight games. Boston leads this season series 2-1 and won the game in Beantown 112-107 on Feb. 25.
Key trends: The Bucks are 5-1 ATS in the past six in Boston. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Celtics by double digits.
Wizards at Pistons (TBA)
Washington beat Brooklyn 121-103 on Wednesday. John Wall sat out with a minor knee injury and Ramon Sessions stepped up with 18 points and 13 assists in his first start of the season. Washington still has faint playoff hopes but has to win out and get plenty of help, including having these Pistons lose out. The team thinks Wall will play here. Detroit won in Orlando 108-104 on Wednesday and is one victory from clinching a playoff spot. Washington leads the season series 3-0, winning the last two by at least 12 points each.
Key trends: Washington is 4-9 ATS in the past 13 in Detroit. The under is 4-0-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Pistons eliminate Wizards, Wall or not.
Pacers at Raptors (TBA)
Toronto was in Atlanta on Thursday. About the only motivation the Raptors have left during the regular season is to break the franchise record of home wins. They have tied it with 30. But you could see some guys sit here. Indiana won a third straight Wednesday, 123-109 over Cleveland, which rested LeBron James. Paul George had 29 points as the Pacers shot 56.3 percent from the field and hit 16-for-31 from long range. Toronto leads the season series 2-1 and has won four straight at home vs. Indiana.
Key trends: Toronto is 5-0 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Wait to see which Raptors players potentially sit.
Lakers at Pelicans (-3, 204.5)
Here's hoping Kobe Bryant does play in his final visit to the Big Easy because there's no reason for those Pelicans fans to show up otherwise with that decimated, D-League-type roster. The Lakers dropped a third in a row Wednesday, 91-81 at home to the Clippers. Thus Kobe's next home game will be his last as this game begins a three-game road trip. Kobe had 17 vs. the Clippers. New Orleans dropped a second straight Wednesday, 104-97 in Boston. I can't even tell you who plays for the Pelicans these days. Los Angeles is 2-0 against New Orleans this season, both low scoring.
Key trends: The Lakers are 9-4 ATS in the past 13 in New Orleans. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Lakers and under.
Grizzlies at Mavericks (-6.5, 198)
Your lone national TV game on NBA TV and thus should have live betting at sportsbooks. Memphis ended a six-game losing streak with a 108-92 home win over Chicago on Tuesday. Zach Randolph had 27 points and 12 rebounds. He's about all the Grizzlies have left. Memphis avoided its first seven-game losing streak since November 2009. Dallas got a huge 88-86 home win over Houston on Wednesday for its fifth straight victory. The Mavs have completely changed their style since Deron Williams went out injured as they play slow and much better defense. The Mavs haven't scored more than 98 points in the winning streak or given up more than 89. Dallas lost the first meeting with Memphis this season but has won the past two.
Key trends: The Mavericks are 6-1 ATS in their past seven vs. the West. The over is 9-2-1 in the past 12 meetings.
Early lean: Huge on the under. Go Dallas.
Spurs at Nuggets (TBA)
San Antonio was at Golden State on Thursday, so I expect Coach Gregg Popovich to go very deep into his bench for the starting five in this one. The Spurs were, thankfully, expected to play every healthy guy against the Warriors. So there's no way anyone of note plays here. Denver dropped a third in a row Tuesday, 124-102 vs. Oklahoma City. Gary Harris led the Nuggets with 17 points and rookie Emmanuel Mudiay had 15. Mudiay apparently will play summer ball. Denver has lost nine straight in the series and five in a row at home.
Key trends: The Spurs are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 6-0 in Denver's past six on Friday.
Early lean: I say Denver wins this game outright.
Clippers at Jazz (-5, 187.5)
Los Angeles won a third straight Wednesday, 91-81 over the Lakers. Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford and Wesley Johnson all got the night off. And the Clips might rest nearly every starter here with nothing to play for. Blake Griffin for sure is out. Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and JJ Redick are all likely to sit as well. The Jazz will take that as they fight for a playoff spot. Utah lost 88-86 at home to the Spurs on Tuesday. Rodney Hood missed the potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Good news here for Utah: guard Alec Burks will return from a leg injury that has cost him 50 games. Obviously he will be limited. These teams have split two meetings back in 2015, each winning on the road. That 102-91 Utah win on Nov. 25 in L.A. snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Clippers.
Key trends: The road team has covered five of the past seven meetings. The Jazz are 4-0 ATS in their past four following a loss.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
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