I love the NBA, but if I'm being honest the regular season really doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things. The most memorable regular-season games I can remember in my lifetime off the top of my head involved individuals: Michael Jordan's first games out of retirement; Kobe Bryant's 81-point night against Toronto; LeBron James' first game as a member of the Heat and then first game back in Cleveland with Miami. Things like that. But I can't recall an actual game matchup I have anticipated more than Saturday night's epic Golden State at San Antonio showdown, which is the ABC Saturday Primetime Game. Not much will take my attention away from the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament, but this will. The result could determine whether the Warriors do break the Bulls' NBA record of 72 wins and if we have two teams incredibly finish the regular season unbeaten at home. Enjoy!
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Nuggets at Hornets (-8.5, 216)
Denver lost a third in a row Thursday in Atlanta, 116-98. The Nuggets' starters combined for only 49 points in the team's third game already this week (all on road). Starting forward Kenneth Faried sat with lower back soreness. He should return here. Charlotte won in Miami on Thursday, 109-106 for its second straight win. Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker each had 21 points as the Hornets rallied from 15 down. Center Cody Zeller was unable to play in the second half due to knee soreness. Charlotte lost in Denver 95-92 on Jan. 10 but has won two straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 1-4 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in the past five.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Nets at Pistons ( TBA)
Brooklyn lost 118-102 in Chicago on Thursday. The Nets nearly rallied from a 24-point deficit late but then faded. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets' comeback with 26 points. Detroit hosted Sacramento on Friday night looking to end a two-game losing streak. Detroit goes for the season series win vs. the Nets with a 2-1 lead. The Pistons have won four of the last five games at home against Brooklyn.
Key trends: The Nets are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 8-1 in Detroit's past nine in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Not really sure why this is TBA. Reggie Jackson originally was questionable for the Pistons on Friday but set to play. They win here regardless.
Thunder at Pacers (+4, 212.5)
Oklahoma City was in Philadelphia on Friday in a potential trap game ahead of this one. Indiana lost 101-94 at home in overtime to Toronto on Thursday. Monta Ellis had a chance to win the game in regulation at the free-throw line but made just 1-for-2 to tie it at 85. The Pacers are 1-7 in overtime games, and they've played 16 games decided by one possession. Rodney Stuckey played for the first time since Jan. 13 and finished with four points and five rebounds. Indiana is looking to sweep the season series for the first time in seven years as it pulled off a 101-98 upset in OKC on Feb. 19.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 11-1 in the past 12 in Indiana.
Early lean: Thunder and over.
Knicks at Wizards (-8, 207.5)
New York didn't put up much of a fight in Oakland on Wednesday, losing 121-85 to the Warriors. Carmelo Anthony had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists. Kristaps Porzingis played through an illness but probably shouldn't have as he was 1-for-11 from the field for two points. Washington won a third straight Wednesday, 99-94 in Philadelphia. John Wall had 16 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season. Guard Bradley Beal (pelvic sprain) and swingman Alan Anderson (left ankle) didn't play. These teams have split two meetings, each winning on the road. Washington had won seven straight vs. the Knicks entering the season.
Key trends: The road team is 7-0-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 9-1 in New York's past 10 games overall.
Early lean: Knicks will be gassed at end of season-long six-game trip. Go Wizards.
Rockets at Hawks (-6.5, 216.5)
Houston hosted Minnesota on Friday. The next time Houston visits Atlanta, Rockets center Dwight Howard could be in a Hawks uniform. They are expected to go after Howard in free agency, and Howard is from there so might actually go. Atlanta won a fourth in a row Thursday, 116-98 over Denver. Tim Hardaway Jr. got his first start of the season and had 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists. I wondered why that guy had been buried on the bench after coming over in a draft night trade from New York. Hardaway started because Kent Bazemore was out, but certainly Hardaway has earned more minutes at a minimum. Atlanta has won four straight in the series following a 121-115 victory in Houston on Dec. 29. Al Horford had 30 points and 14 rebounds in that one.
Key trends: The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Cavaliers at Heat (+4.5, 209)
Cleveland was in Orlando on Friday, and Coach Tyronn Lue already has said he plans to let LeBron James play both ends of the back-to-back. All his guys, actually, assuming they aren't hurt Friday. Miami lost 109-106 at home to Charlotte on Thursday, blowing a 15-point lead. Dwyane Wade missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer. He's never been much of a 3-point shooter. Wade scored 11 points, getting him within 13 of 20,000 for his career. Miami reached 100 points for the ninth consecutive game. These teams have split two low-scoring meetings, each winning at home. They haven't played since early December. Miami has won 10 straight at home vs. the Cavs.
Key trends: The home team is 7-0 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 5-0 in Miami's past five games.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Jazz at Bulls (TBA)
Utah won a fourth straight Thursday, 103-69 over sorry Phoenix. Shelvin Mack was close to a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Gordon Hayward missed a second straight game with a foot injury, and I doubt he plays here. Joe Ingles started again for him. The 69 points were a season low allowed. Chicago beat the visiting Nets by 16 on Thursday. Doug McDermott had his third strong game in a row with 25 points. Pau Gasol missed a third in a row and won't play here. Chicago lost in Utah 105-96 in OT on Feb. 1. Hayward scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and overtime for the Jazz.
Key trends: The Jazz are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven.
Early lean: I'd probably take Jazz if Hayward was playing. Assuming not, go Bulls.
Clippers at Grizzlies (+10, 202.5)
L.A. ended a two-game losing streak with a 122-106 win in Houston on Wednesday. DeAndre Jordan had 23 points (8-for-8 from the floor) and 16 rebounds, and J.J. Redick 25 points. The Clippers shot 57 percent from the field. Memphis lost a fourth straight Thursday, 96-86 at Milwaukee. It's just a really bad team right now with all those injuries. It would be easier to tell you who played than who didn't. The Clips and Grizz have played once thus far, a 94-92 L.A. win in Memphis on Nov. 9. These teams made a trade Feb. 18 in which L.A. sent guard Lance Stephenson and a 2019 first-round draft pick to Memphis in exchange for forward Jeff Green.
Key trends: The road team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 4-0-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Clippers and under.
Warriors at Spurs (-4, 220)
I'm rather bummed the Warriors are playing the second of a back-to-back as they were in Dallas on Friday. Andre Iguodala missed that game and won't play here, either. I'd prefer both teams at full strength. San Antonio avoided looking ahead to this one too much Thursday against Portland but the Spurs didn't cover, as I said they wouldn't, winning 118-110 for their fifth straight victory. Tony Parker had 18 points and a season-high 16 assists for the Spurs, now 34-0 at home. I'm sure you remember the first meeting of these teams. It was Jan. 25 in Oakland and the Warriors slaughtered the Spurs 120-90; San Antonio had won 13 straight entering that one. Steph Curry had 37 points in just three quarters. The teams had the highest combined win percentage ever for opponents meeting at least 40 games into an NBA season. It should be noted the Spurs were without Tim Duncan, but obviously he alone isn't good enough for a 30-point swing. If the Spurs don't lose here, I only give them three other shots to be beaten at home: April 2 vs. Toronto, April 10 vs. these Warriors and April 12 vs. Oklahoma City.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-1 in the past six.
I'm leaning: Did you know the Spurs have won an incredible 32 straight regular-season home games over the Warriors? Make it 33. If the Warriors win this, the season is basically over. No one beats them in the playoffs. Go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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