Suddenly not everything is kosher in Cleveland. J.R. Smith pushed the panic button after a recent loss, and on Monday you heard a report from Stephen A. Smith that point guard Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland. Does Stephen A. Smith irritate me beyond words? He does. But Smith is right more often than not when he says these things; he was the guy who first reported LeBron James would go to Miami back in 2010. Irving has denied any problems and winning will cure all there. Even with a loss to Toronto over the weekend, the Eastern Conference-leading Cavs are still clear favorites to get back to the NBA Finals. Now, could I see Kevin Love in a different uniform next season? No question. But not Irving. Perhaps firing David Blatt wasn't the answer, though.
Bulls at Magic (TBA)
Chicago was in Miami on Tuesday night with Derrick Rose likely to return from a hamstring injury. Hard to see him playing both ends of a back-to-back with that injury. Orlando was in Dallas on Tuesday. The Bulls won the first meeting this season, 92-87 in Chicago on Nov. 1. The Bulls led by as many as 15, but after Orlando cut the lead to one with 3:36 left in the game Chicago scored five unanswered points. The Magic had lost eight straight matchups in Orlando against the Bulls before winning on April 8, 2015.
Key trends: The Bulls are 0-5 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in 11 of the past 15 meetings in Orlando.
Early lean: Orlando wins this.
Hornets at 76ers (TBA)
Charlotte hosted Phoenix on Tuesday. Philadelphia lost a ninth straight game Monday, 116-108 in Washington. The Sixers actually led entering the fourth quarter, which counts as success lately. Rookie center Jahlil Okafor missed the game with a bruised right shin and is day-to-day. The Sixers have officially been eliminated from the playoffs. And the sky is blue. The Hornets beat the visiting 76ers 113-88 on Nov. 20, leading wire-to-wire. Al Jefferson led all scorers with 26 points, while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Kemba Walker added 20 points. Charlotte has won two in a row overall in the series but did lost their most recent trip to Philly last year.
Key trends: Charlotte is 1-4 ATS in its past five playing the second of a back-to-back. The under is 6-2 in the past eight meetings in Philly.
Early lean: Might give the Sixers a shot at a win here if Okafor plays.
Trail Blazers at Celtics (-5.5, 218.5)
Portland was at the Knicks on Tuesday. Boston won its third straight game overall and 11th in a row at home on Monday, 100-95 over Utah. Jae Crowder led the C's with 22 points and put the team ahead for good on a 3-pointer with less than a minute left. Boston is the only team Portland hasn't played this season. The Blazers have won four of the past five in the series and two straight in Boston.
Key trends: The road game is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 11-2 in Boston's past 13 vs. the West.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
Jazz at Raptors (-5.5, 197)
Utah lost a third straight Monday, 100-95 in Boston. The Jazz have been held under 100 points in each game of the skid. Trey Burke didn't play a minute vs. Boston despite being healthy. Reserve forward Trevor Booker was out for personal reasons but should play here. Toronto opted to rest All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry on Sunday in Detroit and lost 114-101 to end a four-game winning streak. I don't get that because the Raptors had closed within two games of Cleveland's East lead and then had two days off before this game. Lowry will be back in there Wednesday as the Raptors start a seven-game homestand. Utah beat Toronto 93-89 on Nov. 18. Alec Burks made the go-ahead jumper with 1:12 left and scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Derrick Favors had 18 points, 11 rebounds and a clinching three-point play for the Jazz. Utah lost by 18 in Toronto last season.
Key trends: Utah has covered seven of its past nine in Toronto. The over is 6-2 in the past eight meetings overall.
Early lean: Raptors and under.
Pelicans at Rockets (TBA)
New Orleans lost 112-110 at home to Minnesota on Saturday -- the Pelicans can't lose those types of games and still hope to make the playoffs. They did play without star Anthony Davis after he sprained his right big toe in pregame warm-ups. He should be back here but why the TBA. Houston lost a second straight Monday, 128-121 in Milwaukee. James Harden had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Rockets reportedly are working on a buyout with point guard Ty Lawson, who has been a mega-bust. Houston has won two of three high-scoring meetings this season. The Rockets have won eight of the past nine at home vs. New Orleans.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 13-3 in Houston's past 16 after a loss.
Early lean: Rockets win another high-scoring game, Davis or not.
Kings at Grizzlies (TBA)
Sacramento lost a third straight Monday, 131-116 at home to Oklahoma City. DeMarcus Cousins tweaked his ankle but played through it, finishing with 35 points and 12 rebounds. But he's why the TBA here. Rajon Rondo was one rebound shy of a triple-double. He reached double-digits assists for a 39th time this season, tying the franchise record. Memphis won in Denver 103-96 on Monday behind 22 points from Zach Randolph. This is the final meeting of the season with Memphis leading 2-0. The Grizzlies have won the last 11 meetings against the Kings in Memphis.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 8-2 in the previous 10.
Early lean: Wait on Cousins.
Pacers at Bucks (+2, 206)
Indiana dropped its third straight Monday, 100-96 in Cleveland. Monta Ellis scored 28 points and Paul George had 23 for the Pacers. Swingman C.J. Miles missed a fifth straight game with a strained left calf but is getting close. Milwaukee beat Houston 128-121 on Monday behind a career-high 36 points from Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo's second career triple-double (18 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists). It was the first time in NBA history that one player 21 or younger scored 35 points and another of that age recorded a triple-double in the same game. These teams have split two meetings in Indianapolis. Indiana's 37-point win on Nov. 21 was the largest margin of victory ever over the Bucks for the Pacers.
Key trends: The road team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Wizards at Timberwolves (+2, 218.5)
Washington won a third straight Monday, 116-108 over Philadelphia. John Wall had 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter. Markieff Morris had 16 points and 13 rebounds in his first double-double with Washington in what was also his first start with the team. Wizards center Nene and forward Alan Anderson sat out after playing Sunday. They should be back in there. Minnesota was routed 128-101 in Dallas on Sunday to fall to 1-10 on the second night of a back-to-back. First meeting of season between these two. The home team has won 10 of the past 11 in the series.
Key trends: Washington is 0-5 ATS in its past five in Minnesota. The under is 4-1 in those five.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Pistons at Spurs (-10, 201)
First of an ESPN doubleheader and will have live betting at sportsbooks. Detroit won a fourth straight Sunday, 114-101 against Toronto. Andre Drummond had 15 points and 18 rebounds. The Pistons had lost five in a row before this streak. San Antonio completed its eight-game Rodeo Road Trip at 7-1 with a 104-94 win in Houston on Saturday. It was win No. 50 on the season, extending the Spurs' NBA record of 17 straight 50-win seasons. The Spurs haven't played at home since Feb. 6. San Antonio won in Detroit 109-99 on Jan. 12. Tony Parker had 31 points and LaMarcus Aldridge 22 points and 13 rebounds. The Spurs did lose at home to Detroit last season.
Key trends: The road team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over has hit in four of the past five in San Antonio.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Lakers at Nuggets (TBA)
Los Angeles hosted Brooklyn on Tuesday with Kobe Bryant questionable. Denver, which has lost leading scorer Danilo Gallinari for at least a month if not the season, lost a second in a row Monday, 103-96 at home to Memphis. Gallinari has two torn ligaments in his ankle. JaKarr Simpson started for him vs. the Grizzlies. These teams have split two meetings, each winning on the road. This will be Kobe's final trip to Denver -- if he plays.
Key trends: The Lakers are 3-9 ATS in the past 12 meetings. The over is 7-1 in the past eight in Denver.
Early lean: Nuggets whether Kobe plays or not.
Thunder at Clippers (+1.5, 221.5)
Second ESPN game. Oklahoma City bounced back from that crushing home loss to Golden State on Saturday with a 15-point win in Sacramento on Monday. Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists for his ninth triple-double of the season. Enes Kanter was 11-for-11 from the field for 23 points. He's only the second player in the past six seasons to be perfect from the field and make at least 11 shots. Oklahoma City won the first meeting 100-99 on Dec. 21. Kevin Durant hit a 19-foot jumper with 5.8 seconds left before blocking a potential game-winning 18-footer by Chris Paul as time expired.
Key trends: The Thunder are 5-1 ATS in their past six in L.A. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Clippers -- might OKC be looking ahead to Thursday's rematch with Golden State?
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