How much longer can the Sacramento Kings keep up with this charade? We all know that Coach George Karl and superstar center DeMarcus Cousins can't co-exist. We all know that star players always win out in that scenario. Cousins was suspended for Friday's game against Orlando for conduct detrimental to the team. It was GM Vlade Divac who announced the suspension on Thursday, but over the weekend Cousins said he believes it was Karl who was responsible for it. "That wasn't a suspension from the organization," Cousins said Sunday. "That was one from the head coach. There's a difference." When told of Cousins' view of the suspension, Divac said with a grin: "I love DeMarcus Cousins. That is my only comment." Remember that Karl was expected to be fired during the All-Star break but the Kings reversed course. I fully expect he's gone the day after the regular season ends.
Celtics at Pacers (-1, 209)
Boston's 14-game home winning streak ended in a 102-98 loss to Houston on Friday. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 30 points but had six turnovers. He had turned it over just once in the previous four games. The Celtics also lost forward Jae Crowder for at least two weeks with a high-ankle sprain. The underrated Crowder is averaging 14.4 points and 5.1 rebounds on the season. Evan Turner likely will move into the starting five. Indiana had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 104-75 loss at Atlanta on Sunday, a season low in points for the Pacers. Paul George was just 3-for-15 from the field in the second of a back-to-back. This is the final meeting of the regular season. Boston lost the first two very early in the season but won the most recent 103-94 at home on Jan. 13.
Key trends: The underdog is 7-2 against the spread in the past nine meetings. The "over/under" is 6-1-1 in the past eight at Indiana.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Nuggets at Magic (-5, 211)
Denver was in Miami on Monday. Orlando concluded a four-game West Coast trip with a 121-84 loss in Portland on Saturday. The Magic played without starters Elfrid Payton (elbow) and Nikola Vucevic (groin) as well as backup point guard Brandon Jennings (Achilles). Payton and Jennings might play here but Vucevic is going to be out a while longer. Orlando won in Denver 85-74 on Dec. 8. Vucevic had 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Magic won despite going 1-for-16 from long range. They were without Aaron Gordon too. The Nuggets didn't have Gary Harris.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-1 in Orlando's past six games.
Early lean: Magic and under.
76ers at Nets (-7.5, 208)
Philadelphia still hasn't won consecutive games this season, falling 125-111 at home to Detroit on Saturday, a night after beating Brooklyn. Robert Covington missed the Pistons game after being taken off the court on a stretcher Friday. He won't play here but he's not seriously injured. Brooklyn dropped a fourth in a row Sunday, 109-100 at home to Milwaukee. Philly's only two wins over the past 20 games are over the Nets. The Sixers have lost nine straight on the road but can take the season series with a win here. I'd say that would probably be rock bottom for Brooklyn if so.
Key trends: The home team is 9-4 ATS in the past 13 meetings. The under is 8-0-1 in the previous nine.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Raptors at Bucks (+3.5, 207)
Toronto was home to Chicago on Monday. Milwaukee won in Brooklyn 109-100 on Sunday. Giannis Antetokounmpo had his fourth triple-double in the past 11 games with 28 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. That's already a franchise record for a single season. In his first 212 career games, the Greek Freak didn't have any triple-doubles. Only four other active players have had four triple-doubles in a span of 11 games at any point in their NBA careers: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Draymond Green. Toronto looks for the four-game sweep. It won 111-90 in Milwaukee on Dec. 26 in the most recent meeting.
Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under has hit in four of those five.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Clippers at Spurs (-8.5, 203)
Your lone national TV game of the night on NBA TV and should have live betting available. Los Angeles played maybe its worst game of the season Sunday, getting thumped 114-90 at home by Cleveland. The Clippers actually led 17-7 at one point. Paul Pierce missed his second straight game with a sore big toe. San Antonio won a third in a row Saturday, 93-85 over Oklahoma City. It was the Spurs' 41st straight home win, which is third-best in league history. San Antonio set a league record by winning its 51st straight game when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The Spurs also clinched the Southwest Division if such a thing matters. This likely will be the last time these teams play this season, including playoffs. That's because the Clippers probably will finish as the West's No. 4 seed and thus be eliminated by Golden State in the conference semifinals. The Spurs will be the No. 2. The teams have split two meetings, each winning at home.
Key trends: The underdog is 16-5 ATS in the past 21 meetings. The over has hit in 15 of the past 23 in San Antonio.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
Kings at Lakers (+3, 217)
Sacramento lost a fifth straight Sunday, 108-99 at home to Utah. Cousins returned from his suspension with 31 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first time all season that the Kings never led in a home game. The Lakers dropped a second in a row Sunday, 90-87 at home to the Knicks on a buzzer-beater. Kobe Bryant had 14 points in his final game against friend and rival Carmelo Anthony. This will be Kobe's final game against the Kings, and that brings me back to those great Lakers-Kings games in the early 2000s. Sacramento goes for the four-game season sweep here. The Kings haven't scored less than 112 points in the three games. Overall, Sacramento has won six in a row against the Lakers.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-1-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 19-9 in the previous 28 in L.A.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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