I'd be wary of backing the Brooklyn Nets the rest of this season -- not that you probably would, but just in case. I bring this up because the Nets are in a weird spot. Normally a club in Brooklyn's position would essentially tank the rest of the way to improve its chances at winning the lottery and the chance to take LSU freshman Ben Simmons. But the Nets don't have their own draft pick. It belongs to the Boston Celtics. Thus, really what's the point of even putting your best players out there and risk injury? That's what happened on Saturday when the team was in Minnesota. Interim coach Tony Brown up and decided to rest the Nets' two best players, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. "Obviously, we're out of the playoff race," Brown said after. "We want to stay in the games, but we also want to be conscious about their physical well-being." Just be aware this could happen again at any time for Brooklyn, especially in a road back-to-back.
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Nets at Raptors (-12, 207)
Brooklyn's players probably are dragging at this point as this is game No. 8 of the team's nine-game road trip. The Nets lost by 14 at the Timberwolves on Saturday. With Lopez and Young out, Thomas Robinson got some actual playing time and had 18 points and 17 rebounds. I always thought that guy was going to be a lot better coming out of Kansas as the No. 5 overall pick in 2012 than he turned out to be. Toronto's team-record 12-game home winning streak ended Sunday in a 113-107 defeat to Houston. The Raptors are 2-0 this season against the Nets. A win here would clinch the season series for the first time since 2009-10.
Key trends: The Nets are 6-0 against the spread in their past six after an ATS loss. Toronto is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 Tuesday games. The "over/under" is 9-1 in Brooklyn's past 10 after a loss.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Spurs at Timberwolves (+11, 207)
San Antonio was in Indiana on Monday trying to extend its winning streak to nine in a row. So you have a potential sit down alert here for guys like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and/or Manu Ginobili. The latter scored a season-high 22 points Saturday in a 104-94 victory against Sacramento after missing 12 games following testicular surgery. Coach Gregg Popovich was to miss Monday's game and this one due to a family medical situation. Minnesota was in Charlotte on Monday. There's talk that the season, and probably the career, of Kevin Garnett could be over because of knee problems. He hasn't played since Jan. 23. San Antonio is 2-0 against Minnesota this season and has won six straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The Spurs are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 5-1 in those six.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
Knicks at Nuggets (TBA)
New York ended a three-game losing streak with a 102-89 win over Detroit on Saturday. Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Knicks played without rookie star Kristaps Porzingis. He's dealing with a lower left leg injury and is day-to-day, but the Knicks obviously will be overly cautious with their future franchise player. Denver beat Dallas 116-114 in overtime on Sunday, the Nuggets' second straight OT game. D.J. Augustin's two free throws with 0.9 seconds left were the difference. Kenneth Faried had 25 points and a season-high 20 rebounds for the Nuggets. Denver has won seven straight at home vs. New York.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-0 in the previous five.
Early lean: TBA for Porzingis. Nuggets win regardless.
Hawks at Jazz (-1.5, 191)
Atlanta finished off a sweep of the L.A. teams at Staples Center on Saturday with a 107-97 victory over the Clippers. The Hawks trailed by as many as 17 points. Paul Millsap had 20 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. Atlanta has now won six games this season in which it trailed by double digits. Utah ended a five-game slid with a 106-94 victory at New Orleans on Saturday. Derrick Favors had 28 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. Atlanta lost at home to Utah 97-96 on Nov. 15. Millsap missed a 12-footer at the buzzer. Jeff Teague missed the game for the Hawks, who had won eight straight over Utah.
Key trends: The Hawks are 4-1 ATS in the past five in Utah. The under is 8-3 in the previous 11 meetings there.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Wizards at Trail Blazers (TBA)
Washington lost a second straight Saturday, 100-99 at home to Indiana. It does appear the team avoided disaster on Bradley Beal. He took a scary-looking fall but only sprained his pelvis. Sure looked like it might have been worse. Beal may miss a game or two, but it doesn't appear to be a long-term thing. Portland lost a third straight Sunday, 123-103 in Detroit to finish a six-game road trip. A game after putting up 50, Damian Lillard was just 8-for-22 from the field. Funny moment from that game was when Blazers center Chris Kaman sank the first 3-pointer of his 13-year career. The Blazers won in D.C. 108-98 on Jan. 18. Portland hasn't won consecutive games against Washington since winning three straight contests from March 2008-January 2009.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 6-0 in Portland's past six at home.
Early lean: Wait on Beal.
Magic at Lakers (+4.5, 211)
Orlando was at Golden State on Monday. The Lakers pulled the biggest regular-season upset in NBA history on Sunday in a 112-95 victory over those Warriors. A team with a winning percentage as bad as that of the Lakers (was .190) had never before defeated a team with winning percentage as high as that of Golden State (.917). The game was the first in NBA history in which a team with a winning percentage of .900 or better played a team below .200 after 60 games. Seven Lakers scored in double figures led by Jordan Clarkson's 25. Kobe Bryant had 12. His shoulder is still bothering him and Kobe admits he's not sure how many games he will be able to play the rest of the way. Orlando beat the visiting Lakers 101-99 on Nov. 11. Nik Vucevic had the winning 18-footer at the buzzer.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 4-1 in the Lakers' past five.
Early lean: Lakers and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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