If the Philadelphia 76ers are going to avoid tying the NBA single-season record of 73 losses, set by their 1972-73 forefathers in Philly, it's probably going to be this week or never. The Sixers host the Pelicans on Tuesday, and New Orleans actually has fewer good players at this point than Philly does due to injury. You could probably score a ticket to that game for $1 on StubHub. Then Philly hosts the Knicks on Friday and Bucks on Sunday. Also losing teams, although both certainly better than the Pelicans. The 76ers close with road games in Toronto and Chicago, and I see no chance for wins there unless the Raptors and Bulls punt on those. It's an unusually busy Tuesday schedule because the NBA went dark on Monday in deference to the NCAA Championship Game.
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Pelicans at 76ers (-2.5, 204)
Injury-ravaged New Orleans won a second straight Sunday, 106-87 in Brooklyn. Someone named Tim Frazier -- I actually do remember him at Penn State; he went undrafted out of there in 2014 -- had 19 points and 13 assists for the Pelicans. Philly dropped a 12th straight Saturday, 115-102 at home to Indiana. The Sixers actually had a six-point lead in the fourth quarter. Nerlens Noel missed a sixth straight game with a right knee contusion and Hollis Thompson was a late scratch with an illness. Noel is listed as questionable here. The Pelicans won the first meeting 121-114. Former 76er Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson combined for 50 points but are both now done for the season.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 1-5 against the spread in their past six Tuesday games. The 76ers are 5-2 ATS in their past seven after an ATS loss. The "over/under" has gone under in four straight New Orleans games. The under is 4-0 in the Sixers' past four vs. the West.
Early lean: Wow, Philly is favored! Can't do it. Go Pelicans and under.
Hornets at Raptors (-5.5, 202)
Charlotte had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 112-93 loss at Cleveland on Sunday. Kemba Walker had 29 points in a losing effort. Al Jefferson sat with a bruised thigh and Nic Batum hurt his knee in the first half and didn't return. I doubt you see him here. Toronto lost 102-95 in San Antonio on Saturday. As I predicted, the Raptors essentially waived the white flag in the second of a back-to-back and rested All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors got good news Monday with DeMarre Carroll practicing in full, but he's not likely to play here. He hasn't played since Jan. 3 and had knee surgery shortly after that. These teams have split two meetings this season. The Raptors have won two straight at home vs. Charlotte.
Key trends: The Hornets are 11-3 ATS in their past 14 in Toronto. The over is 6-2 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Raptors and over if DeRozan and Lowry play.
Pistons at Heat (TBA)
Detroit got a very big win in Chicago on Saturday that is going to make it hard for the Bulls to beat out the Pistons for a playoff spot. The Pistons would now win any tiebreaker against Chicago. The Andre Drummond free-throw experiment just gets worse. He was 1-for-10 from the stripe vs. the Bulls and is now being pulled late in games. How is it possible he's hitting only 35.4 percent from there this season? Miami played a second straight game without Dwyane Wade on Saturday and lost 110-93 in Portland. He'll be a game-time call here. Detroit leads the series 2-0.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 4-0 in Detroit's past four. It's 4-1 in Miami's past five.
Early lean: Wait on Wade.
Suns at Hawks (-15, 206)
Phoenix has said goodbye to guard Brandon Knight for the rest of the season due to a sports hernia. Might as well shut him down with nothing to play for. Knight missed seven weeks for the sports hernia from Jan. 21 to March 9. He aggravated the problem last Wednesday. Phoenix has lost six straight games. Atlanta lost a second straight Friday, 110-108 in OT at home against Cleveland. Al Horford was 0-for-6 from 3-point range and missed one at the end of OT. Kent Bazemore took a scary fall but X-rays on his wrist were negative. He says he's playing here. Phoenix won the first meeting 98-95 on an Archie Goodwin game-winner.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: Suns and under.
Bulls at Grizzlies (TBA)
Chicago pretty much has to win out for any shot at the playoffs, and even that might not be enough. The Bulls are off a 102-98 win in Milwaukee on Sunday. Derrick Rose was out with an elbow injury as was Taj Gibson with a broken rib. You won't see Gibson here and Rose is questionable to play in the city where he starred for one year in college. Memphis lost a sixth straight Sunday, 119-107 in Orlando. It's the franchise's longest skid since November 2009. Chicago won the first meeting 98-85 on Dec. 16. The Bulls have won two straight in Memphis as well.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 17-4 in Memphis' past 21 at home vs. teams with a losing road record.
Early lean: Wait on Rose.
Cavaliers at Bucks (TBA)
Cleveland won a third in a row Sunday, 112-103 over Charlotte. LeBron James has really raised his game of late and had 31 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Kyrie Irving got the game off with a sprained ankle. No reason to rush him back now that Cleveland is all but a lock for the top seed in the East. Milwaukee's two-game winning streak ended in a 102-98 home loss to Chicago on Sunday. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 34 points. The Bucks played without leading scorer Khris Middleton due to a thigh injury. He's iffy here. Cleveland leads the season series 2-1. It lost the one game in Milwaukee in double overtime.
Key trends: The Cavs are 2-6 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 10-1 in the previous 11 in Milwaukee.
Early lean: Seems like a game the Cavs might rest some guys, so wait for that.
Thunder at Nuggets (+8.5, 219)
Oklahoma City lost at Houston 118-110 on Sunday. It was the Thunder's league-leading 13th loss this season in a game it led in the fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook was one assist shy of his 17th triple-double of the season. Denver lost 115-106 at home to Sacramento on Saturday even though the Kings were without DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. Darrell Arthur missed the game for Denver with sore knees. Jusuf Nurkic returned from a three-game illness absence. The Thunder are 3-0 vs. Denver this season and have won five straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 6-2-1 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over is 5-1 in the past six.
Early lean: Thunder if they play everyone and over.
Spurs at Jazz (+3, 185.5)
San Antonio won a third in a row Saturday, 102-95 over Toronto to stay unbeaten at home. Kawhi Leonard had a career-high 33 points as the Spurs set a franchise record with their 64th win of the season. I would be totally stunned if San Antonio plays all its key guys here and with a trip to Golden State coming Thursday. If Tim Duncan plays, he's one win from 1,000 career victories. His 999 wins are the most ever by a player with a single team. Utah won a second straight, 101-86 in Phoenix on Sunday. Gordon Hayward led five Utah players in double figures with 22 points. Derrick Favors returned after missing one game due to knee soreness. The Spurs are 3-0 vs. the Jazz this season.
Key trends: The Spurs are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in Utah. The under is 8-1 in the previous nine meetings there.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Trail Blazers at Kings (+2.5, 222)
Portland's four-game winning streak ended in a 136-111 loss at Golden State on Sunday. Damian Lillard scored 38 points to lead the Blazers. Sacramento won in Denver 115-106 on Saturday despite leaving Cousins and Rondo home for the one-game trip. Rudy Gay had 25 points. I presume both Cousins and Rondo will play here. Portland is 3-0 vs. the Kings this season and looking for its first sweep since 2009-10.
Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 8-1 in Portland's past nine road games.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Timberwolves at Warriors (-17, 225.5)
Minnesota lost a third in a row Sunday, 88-78 to Dallas. Andrew Wiggins scored 30 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 11 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists for the Timberwolves. Ricky Rubio left late after getting hit in the face. It's not likely to keep him out here. Golden State bounced back from its first home loss of the season Friday against Boston with a 25-point home win over Portland on Sunday. Steph Curry had 39 points. Draymond Green added 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his 13th triple-double. That was win No. 69 for the Warriors, tying for the second-most all-time. Festus Ezeli returned from a 31-game absence and played nine minutes. Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala both missed the game but practiced Monday and thus could play here. Golden State has won seven straight vs. Minnesota.
Key trends: The Wolves are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-2 in the previous nine in Golden State.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
Lakers at Clippers (-13.5, 207)
The Lakers lost 107-100 at home to Boston on Sunday despite 34 points from Kobe Bryant, his second-highest total of the season. Lou Williams got a DNP-CD and Coach Bryon Scott says he doesn't expect Williams to play the rest of the way. Scott also said he's resting Larry Nance here in the first of a back-to-back as these teams play again Wednesday. The Clippers beat Washington 114-109 on Sunday in Blake Griffin's return. He had six points and five rebounds in 24 minutes. Griffin hadn't played since Christmas. Coach Doc Rivers said Griffin will sit out at least one of the team's final six regular-season games.
Key trends: The Lakers are 3-11 ATS in the past 14 when they are a visitor in this series. The under is 5-0 in the past five.
Early lean: Clippers and under.
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