If you are a devout NBA fan/bettor like I am, you probably did just what I was planning to do on Monday night: have a few cold ones on the couch while watching the entire NBA Finals rematch between the Warriors and Cavaliers, Golden State's first visit to Cleveland since winning last season's title in Game 6 there. I expected it to be a great game and was leaning Cleveland, which was the first team favored over the Warriors this season. Well, by halftime I was watching "Breaking Bad" reruns as the Warriors utterly destroyed the Cavs to sweep the season series. You don't want to overreact to any regular-season game in the NBA, but wow those clubs looked like they were from different leagues. Here's hoping another potential Finals rematch is much more competitive. Be interesting to see how both teams follow up that result on Wednesday.
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76ers at Magic (TBA)
Philadelphia lost 119-113 in double overtime at the Knicks on Monday. The Sixers should have won in regulation but were just 13-for-25 from the free-throw line. Ish Smith had 16 points and 16 assists in the loss. Rookie Jahlil Okafor had 20 points in 26 minutes but didn't play after the third quarter, and he wasn't hurt. Jerami Grant returned after missing two games with a left calf strain. He finished with nine points in 14 minutes. Orlando lost a third in a row Monday, 98-81 in Atlanta. The Magic shot only 34.5 percent from the field. Victor Oladipo missed it with a sprained right knee (why the TBA) and likely won't play here. Orlando won in Philly 105-97 on Nov. 7. Seven Magic players scored in double figures. Philadelphia's Nerlens Noel was ejected with 1:51 left in the third quarter after getting into a scrum with Orlando's Jason Smith.
Key trends: The 76ers are 2-5 against the spread in the past seven trips to Orlando. The "over/under" has gone under on four of the past five meetings there.
Early lean: Magic don't need Oladipo to win this one.
Heat at Wizards (-1.5, 198)
Miami hosted Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Washington lost 108-98 at home to Portland on Monday, the Wizards' second straight home defeat. John Wall scored just nine points on 4-of-17 shooting. Forward Otto Porter Jr. missed the game with a sore right hip and won't play here. The Heat and Wizards have split two meetings this season, each winning easily on the road.
Key trends: Washington is 11-4 ATS in its past 15 vs. the East. The over is 6-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Cavaliers at Nets (+12, 201)
Cleveland was embarrassed 132-98 against the Warriors on Monday. It could have been plenty worse as only some garbage time points allowed the Cavs to avoid the worst home loss in franchise history. LeBron James was held to 16 points, Kyrie Irving eight and Kevin Love three. J.R. Smith was ejected in the third quarter on a flagrant 2 foul, so there's a chance he could be suspended for this one. Brooklyn lost a third in a row Monday, 112-100 in Toronto. The Nets lost for only the second time this season when shooting at least 50 percent from the field. The Cavs have won five of the last six meetings with the Nets, including a 90-88 home victory Nov. 28.
Key trends: The Nets are 1-8 ATS in their past nine overall. The Cavs are 1-10-1 ATS in their past 12 road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The over is 7-2 in the past nine meetings in Brooklyn.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Jazz at Knicks (TBA)
Utah lost 124-119 in double OT in Charlotte on Monday as the Jazz couldn't stop Kemba Walker. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 36 points. Forward Derrick Favors, the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder, missed a 14th straight game with back problems that originally weren't supposed to be serious. New York beat the 76ers 119-113 in two OTs on Monday. Carmelo Anthony was just 7-for-28 from the field but hit the tying shot in the final seconds of regulation. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis had 16 points and 12 boards but missed the OTs with an injured foot. Obviously monitor that. He's questionable here (why the TBA). The Knicks lost by 21 in Utah on Dec. 9.
Key trends: Utah is 1-9 ATS in its past 10 in New York. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Porzingis.
Celtics at Raptors (-3, 202.5)
Boston lost 118-113 in OT in Dallas on Monday. The C's were down 17 in the fourth and then actually managed to lead by six. Boston started the game making just one of its first 15 shots. Toronto won its fifth in a row Monday, 112-100 over visiting Brooklyn. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 61 points. It was the first time Lowry and DeRozan have each scored at least 30 points in the same game. The Raptors closed the game on a 14-2 run. Toronto won in Boston 113-103 on Oct. 30 in the only meeting this season.
Key trends: The road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 7-1 in Toronto's past eight after a win.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Warriors at Bulls (+5.5, 216)
First of an ESPN doubleheader and should have live betting at sportsbooks. So much for Golden State looking vulnerable after losing two of three entering that Cleveland massacre. Steph Curry had 35 points in three quarters in the rout Monday. Draymond Green added 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who rested their starters in the fourth. Chicago played its first game Monday since learning Joakim Noah was out for the season and won at Detroit 111-101. Pau Gasol had 31 points and 12 rebounds, and Derrick Rose added 20 points for Chicago, which is 9-2 without Noah this season. The Warriors beat the visiting Bulls 106-94 on Nov. 20.
Key trends: Golden State has covered one of its past six in Chicago. The over is 12-3 in Warriors' last 15 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Pistons at Rockets (-3, 208)
Here you have the NBA's most physically dominating center in Detroit's Andre Drummond against the guy who used to hold that title in Houston's Dwight Howard. Detroit lost by 10 at home to the Bulls on Monday. Detroit guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had two technicals and was ejected. The Pistons were 5-for-26 from long range. Guard Brandon Jennings was questionable to play but did. Houston lost 140-132 in OT at the Clippers on Monday despite 36 points and a career-high-tying 26 rebounds from Howard for his 10th straight double-double. He was even 14-for-18 from the free-throw line. The Rockets have won nine straight at home vs. the Pistons. Detroit did beat visiting Houston 116-105 on Nov. 30.
Key trends: The Pistons are 3-7 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Hornets at Thunder (-10.5, 209.5)
Charlotte won 124-119 in two OTs on Monday against Utah behind a franchise-record 52 points from Kemba Walker. He was 16-for-34 from the field and 14-for-15 from the line. The previous team record was 48 by Glen Rice in 1997. Guard Jeremy Lamb missed his third straight game while recovering from a toe strain. Oklahoma City was in Denver on Tuesday likely to extend a four-game winning streak. The Thunder won in Charlotte 109-90 on Jan. 2.
Key trends: Charlotte has failed to cover its past eight in OKC. The over is 6-1 in the Hornets' past seven playing on one day of rest.
Early lean: Hornets and over.
Timberwolves at Mavericks (-9, 202.5)
Minnesota was in New Orleans on Tuesday. Dallas beat the visiting Celtics by five in OT on Monday. Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 in the fourth quarter and seven in OT on the way to 31 points, while Deron Williams had 10 of his 20 points in the extra period. It was Dallas' third straight home game to go to OT, a franchise record. Dallas won the first meeting this season with the Wolves, 93-87 in the Twin Cities. The Mavs have won four straight in the series.
Key trends: The favorite is 8-3 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The over is 4-1 in the past five in Big D.
Early lean: Mavericks and over.
Kings at Lakers (+5, 215)
Sacramento won at the Clippers on Saturday, 110-103 for its second straight win and to end L.A.'s 10-game winning streak. DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Kings never trailed in the second half. The Lakers dropped a third in a row Sunday, 112-95 at home to Houston. Kobe Bryant, playing through a sore right Achilles, had five points in 24 minutes and tied a season high with nine assists before sitting out the fourth quarter. He moved to second on the Lakers' all-time assists list, passing Jerry West. The Kings have won two very high-scoring games vs. the Lakers this season.
Key trends: The Kings are 4-1-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 7-2-1 in Sacramento's past 10 overall.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Hawks at Trail Blazers (+3.5, 208.5)
Your ESPN nightcap. Atlanta won a second in a row Monday, 98-81 over Orlando. The Hawks never trailed and their bench contributed 47 points, 19 assists and 17 rebounds. Atlanta improved to 9-1 when it has at least 30 assists. Portland won at Washington 108-98 on Monday two nights after getting blasted in Philadelphia. Mason Plumlee filled the stat sheet vs. the Wizards with 10 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Atlanta beat visiting Portland 106-97 on Dec. 21. Neither Damian Lillard nor C.J. McCollum played in that one for the Blazers. Atlanta has won three straight in the series.
Key trends: The road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 8-3 in the past 11.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
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