Just like Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive games played streak of 2,632 will never be approached in Major League Baseball, neither will the NBA record of 1,192 straight games (basically 14.5 seasons) set by A.C. Green. He didn't miss a game from Nov. 19, 1986, all the way to his final game on April 18, 2001. Nowadays, it's very rare for players to even play all 82. Green was a good player on some great Lakers and good Suns teams. He's perhaps best known for his virginity - he didn't have sex until after retiring and marrying his wife Veronique on April 20, 2002. I recommend you check out the ESPN "30 for 30" on him appropriately titled "Iron Virgin." Why do I bring him up? On Wednesday, Cleveland power forward Tristan Thompson sat out in Boston, ending his current NBA-high streak of 447 straight games. You won't see Thompson on Friday, either, as he's dealing with a thumb injury. X-rays were negative, though.
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Hawks at Cavaliers ( -9, 213.5)
NBA TV game. Atlanta hosted Boston on Thursday night. Cleveland played its best game in a long while in thumping the Celtics 114-91 on Wednesday for a fourth straight win. LeBron James had 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. It was only Cleveland's second win in 11 tries this season in the second of a back-to-back. So now the Cavs will be the East's top seed if they win out or lose just once. Atlanta and Cleveland have split two meetings, each winning on the road. They play again Sunday.
Key trends: The Hawks are 1-5 against the spread in their past six in Cleveland. The "over/under" is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Cavs and over.
Heat at Raptors (-5, 208.5)
This matters for both with Miami fighting for a playoff spot and Toronto for the third seed. Miami got a big win Wednesday in Charlotte, 112-99. Goran Dragic scored 33 points, and the Heat made a franchise-record 21 3-pointers. Hassan Whiteside added 13 points and 20 rebounds. Toronto won in Detroit on Wednesday, 105-102. The big story there was Kyle Lowry's return from wrist surgery (told you that might happen), and he had 27 points and 10 assists. So much for easing Lowry in as he played 42 minutes. Toronto won for the 21st time this season when it trailed at some point by double digits.Toronto is 2-1 vs. Miami and has taken four straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 7-0 in Toronto's past seven at home.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Knicks at Grizzlies (TBA)
New York hosted Washington on Thursday with Kristaps Porzingis questionable. Memphis lost a third straight Wednesday, 103-100 vs. Oklahoma City. Marc Gasol led Memphis with 23 points, and Zach Randolph had 20 points and nine rebounds. Mike Conley sat out with a gash over his eye. The Grizz are essentially locked into the No. 7 seed so they have no reason to push Conley. Memphis beat New York way back on Oct. 29, 111-104.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 10-3 in the Knicks' past 13 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait on Porzingis, Conley.
Pistons at Rockets (-12.5, 223.5)
Detroit is toast from a playoff perspective after losing 105-102 at home to Toronto on Wednesday. It could be officially eliminated on Friday. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wasn't expected to play as his wife went into labor early Wednesday, but he arrived in the second quarter and had two points in 17 minutes. Houston won a second straight Wednesday, 110-104 over Denver. James Harden returned from a one-game illness absence with 31 points. The Rockets officially clinched the West's No. 3 seed so they have no reason to care the rest of the way. Houston won the first meeting in Detroit on Nov. 21, 99-96. It's one of just four times the Rockets have scored under 100 this season.
Key trends: The Pistons are 1-6 ATS in their past seven on the road. The under is 4-1 in the Rockets' past five.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Spurs at Mavericks (+2.5, 190.5)
San Antonio clearly didn't give a hoot on Wednesday at home vs. the Lakers (whom I recommended) in a 102-95 loss. The Spurs started their usual five other than Danny Green, but Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge didn't play in the second half. Manu Ginobili didn't play at all. Dallas lost at the Clippers 112-101 on Wednesday. Dirk Nowitzki was held to nine points a night after the sitting out the Mavs' loss at Sacramento with a sore Achilles tendon. Seth Curry missed a third straight game with a left shoulder injury. The Mavericks snapped a seven-game regular-season losing streak against the Spurs with a 105-101 comeback win at San Antonio on Jan. 29 in the last meeting.
Key trends: The underdog is 16-5 in the past 21 meetings. The under is 8-3 in the past 11.
Early lean: Mavs and under.
Pelicans at Nuggets (-6.5, 229.5)
Interesting scheduling here in that it's a home-and-home series for New Orleans but not Denver. The Pelicans lost their home finale on Tuesday to the Nuggets, 134-131. Perhaps the last home game as Pels coach for Alvin Gentry? I think so. Anthony Davis had 41 points and four blocks and DeMarcus Cousins 30 points and 14 rebounds. Jrue Holiday had two crucial late turnovers and missed a 3-pointer a time expired. Denver, meanwhile, lost in Houston 110-104 on Wednesday. Danilo Gallinari had 23 points. The Nuggets are a game behind Portland for the West's final spot.
Key trends: The road team is 8-1 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Cousins is questionable, but I think the Nuggets crush the Pelicans regardless because Denver must have it.
Timberwolves at Jazz (TBA)
Minnesota was in Portland on Thursday. Utah beat those Blazers 106-87 on Tuesday. Gordon Hayward scored 30 points and Rudy Gobert added 20 points and 11 rebounds. Rodney Hood (knee), Derrick Favors (knee), George Hill (groin) and Raul Neto (groin) did not play. Guard Dante Exum left in the third with a hip injury and didn't return. The visiting team has won 10 of the past 14 meetings between the Jazz and Wolves, including all three this season.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Wait on those Jazz guys.
Thunder at Suns (+7, 225.5)
Second NBA TV game. Oklahoma City won a second straight Wednesday, 103-100 in Memphis. Russell Westbrook had 45 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds - one stinking rebound from setting the NBA single-season triple-double record of 42. Westbrook's streak of seven triple-doubles in a row ended. If I'm the Thunder, I'm re-checking the film and trying to find a rebound to send to league office. Westbrook needs just six assists here to clinch a season triple-double, which is frankly amazing. Phoenix lost a 13 th straight, tying a single-season team record, Wednesday vs. Golden State, 120-111. Alan Williams scored 16 and grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds for the Suns. Phoenix ended a six-game losing streak against OKC with a 118-111 home win on March 3 despite Westbrook's 48 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists.
Key trends: The Thunder are 6-2 ATS in their past eight road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Phoenix.
Early lean: Thunder and over.
Kings at Lakers (TBA)
Sacramento won its second straight Tuesday, 98-87 over Dallas. Ben McLemore scored 21 of his 22 points in the second half. Sacramento started two backups and three players who weren't even with the team at the beginning of the season. So the Kings aren't hiding their tanking. The Lakers had a very costly win Wednesday, 102-95 in San Antonio. It was hilarious how much Coach Luke Walton was trying to lose that game. A healthy D'Angelo Russell sat out. Walton benched Brandon Ingram at halftime and sat Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. for the fourth quarter. The Lakers are now probably stuck with the league's third-worst record instead of second-worst (Phoenix). Sacramento leads L.A. 2-1 and has won four in a row at the Lakers.
Key trends: The Kings are 8-2-1 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The under is 5-0 in the past five.
Early lean: Wait and see who sits on both sides in this Tankapolooza.
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