Need a point guard or power forward/center? The Milwaukee Bucks apparently are open for business and are happy to take offers on guard Michael Carter-Williams, whom the team acquired last year at the trade deadline from Philadelphia, and big man Greg Monroe, whom the team just got in free agency this summer. Milwaukee thought it could be a Top 4 team in the East this season after finishing sixth last year and pushing the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. With Jabari Parker back off ACL surgery and the addition of Monroe, I thought that was doable. But the Bucks got off to a terrible start and haven't recovered. Trading MCW I get because the guy simply can't shoot. But Monroe has been pretty solid and the Bucks beat out several bigger-name franchises (Knicks, Lakers to name two) in signing the former Piston to a three-year, $50 million deal. With the All-Star break starting after Thursday, trade talk could heat up around these two and others in the league.
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Spurs at Heat (+6, 193.5)
First of a TNT doubleheader and should have live betting at sportsbooks. San Antonio won a fourth in a row Saturday but failed to cover a huge spread in a 106-102 victory over the visiting Lakers (whom I recommended). Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Spurs win their 28th straight home game to open the season. The Spurs again played without Tim Duncan and he has already been ruled out for this one. Manu Ginobili will miss at least a month with surgery on an area I'd rather not discuss. This game starts the Spurs' annual Rodeo Road Trip. They aren't home again until March 2. Miami lost 100-93 at home to the Clippers on Sunday. Heat center Hassan Whiteside missed practice on Monday with an ankle issue but is expected to play Tuesday. Whenever San Antonio visits Miami, I'll always remember Game 6 of the 2013 Finals there when the Spurs were up 3-2 in the series and had LeBron James & Co. dead to rights late but fell apart, lost that game and Game 7 in allowing the Heat to repeat. To be fair, that collapse fueled the Spurs the entire next season and they would beat Miami in six games in the Finals. This is the first meeting of the season between the teams.
Key trends: The Spurs are 5-0 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in the past four.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Wizards at Knicks (-1.5, 207)
Washington lost 108-104 in Charlotte on Saturday. I'm still not sure why Wizards coach Randy Wittman is still employed. I would have thought he would have been the next coach fired, but that happened to be New York's Derek Fisher on Monday. The last straw was a 101-96 home loss to the Nuggets on Sunday, the Knicks' fifth straight defeat and ninth in 10 games. Assistant Kurt Rambis, a former Timberwolves and Lakers head coach, takes over. This is Washington's only trip to the Garden this season. The Wizards lost the first meeting at home, 117-110 on Halloween. Carmelo Anthony had 37 points to ruin Washington's home opener.
Key trends: The Wizards are 4-0 ATS in the past four in New York. The under is 5-0 in New York's past five at home.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Celtics at Bucks (+4, 208)
Boston won a fourth in a row Sunday, 128-119 over the visiting Kings. The C's turned it over a season-high 24 times but shot 56 percent from the field. Avery Bradley led the way with 25 points. Milwaukee lost its fifth in a row on Friday, 84-81 in Utah. O.J. Mayo missed an 11th straight game with a hamstring issue but might play here. John Henson probably won't, missing a fifth in a row with a back injury. Boston won the lone meeting thus far, 99-83 in Milwaukee on Nov. 10. Isaiah Thomas had 20 points and Jared Sullinger 11 points and 10 boards. The C's finished the third quarter on an 18-2 run. Marcus Smart was out for Boston and so was Carter-Williams for the Bucks.
Key trends: The road team is 5-0 ATS in the past five. The under is 8-1 in the past nine meetings in Milwaukee.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Jazz at Mavericks (-1.5, 184)
Utah won a sixth in a row Saturday, 98-89 over Phoenix to get to .500. The Jazz jumped out to a 10-0 lead and wouldn't trail. Dallas ended a three-game skid with a 114-110 overtime win at Memphis on Saturday. Didn't see that one coming after the Mavs were crushed the night before by San Antonio. Dallas won the lone meeting with Utah this season, 102-93 at home on Nov. 20. Deron Williams had with 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds. The Jazz have lost their last 10 visits to American Airlines Center.
Key trends: Utah has covered once in the past eight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past five in Big D.
Early lean: Mavericks and under.
Rockets at Warriors (TBA)
Houston laid an egg at home on Saturday, losing 96-79 to Portland. The Blazers lead was as high as 32. Houston forward Terrence Jones missed his second straight game after a car accident Wednesday. He's in the league's concussion protocol. James Harden hurt his finger in the game but is expected to be fine. Golden State won its ninth in a row Saturday, 116-108 over Oklahoma City. Steph Curry had 26 points in the team's 41st straight regular-season home victory. The Warriors' 46-4 record is tied for the best 50-game start in NBA history. The Warriors have lost backup center Festus Ezeli for 4-6 weeks due to left knee surgery. Golden State is 2-0 vs. the Rockets this season, winning both in Houston. The last, on New Year's Eve, was just 114-110. Klay Thompson had 38 points as the Warriors were without Curry and Harrison Barnes. Golden State has won seven straight regular-season games in the series and three in a row at home.
Key trends: The road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-1 in the past six in Golden State.
Early lean: I guess this is TBA for Harden even though it doesn't seem a threat he will sit out. I could see this being very close if Harden does play as Warriors might be a bit flat off that big OKC win.
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