If you are like me, you are rather tired of the Dunk Contest on All-Star Weekend but also can't not watch just in case something spectacular happens. Last year something did as the Magic's Aaron Gordon and Timberwolves' Zach LaVine staged an epic duel won by LaVine -- although most believe Gordon should have won. This year's Dunk Contest field hasn't been finalized yet, but Gordon will return. That's great news. The bad is that LaVine is not likely to pursue a threepeat. And another fabulous in-game dunker, Larry Nance Jr., the son of former Dunk Contest champion Larry Nance, also is passing. Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown also said he will not compete. The only other names I've heard along with Gordon who will compete thus far as Indiana's Glenn Robinson III and Suns lightly-used rookie Derrick Jones. Blah.
Kings at Pacers (-4.5, 215)
Indiana was in Minnesota on Friday. Sacramento won a second straight on Wednesday in a big upset, 116-112 in OT at Cleveland. Arron Afflalo hit the key 3-pointer with 17.3 seconds left. DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who trailed by five with 2:30 left in overtime and by 10 in the fourth quarter. Sacramento lost at home to Indiana 106-100 on Jan. 18 but has won its past two at Indiana.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-1 against the spread in the past six meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in the past four.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Nets at Cavaliers (-16.5, 224)
Cleveland's struggles continued with a third straight loss Wednesday, 116-112 in OT at home to Sacramento. The Cavs blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead and a five-point advantage in OT. LeBron James was understandably displeased afterward. He had a second straight triple-double with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. Kevin Love had 21 points and 16 rebounds. Cleveland was just 17-for-34 from the free-throw line. Not that it would have mattered, but Richard Jefferson was away from the team for the birth of a child. The Nets lost their third in a row Wednesday, 109-106 to the Heat. Brooklyn blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead. The Nets wasted a 33-point effort from Brook Lopez. Cleveland is 2-0 vs. Brooklyn this season and has won seven straight in the series at home.
Key trends: The Nets are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in Cleveland. The under is 6-1 in the past seven.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Magic at Celtics (TBA)
Orlando lost a second in a row Tuesday, 100-92 at home to Chicago. Leading scorer Evan Fournier was out again as was backup/sometimes starting point guard D.J. Augustin. Boston ended a three-game slide with a 120-109 home win over Houston on Wednesday. Isaiah Thomas continued his brilliance with 38 points, a 29th straight game with at least 20. Orlando lost by 30 at home to the Celtics on Dec. 7 and has dropped the past 11 in Boston.
Key trends: The favorite is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 9-2 in Boston's past 11 at home.
Early lean: Wait on Magic guys.
Bucks at Raptors (TBA)
Milwaukee was upset 114-109 at home by Philadelphia on Wednesday. Greg Monroe's season-high 28 points led the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points and 12 rebounds. John Henson was a DNP-CD for the second straight game. He had been starting. Toronto is on a season-high five-game losing streak after falling 101-99 in Memphis in the Raptors' second straight game without All-Star DeMar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry missed a tough 3-pointer at the buzzer. He had 29 points. Toronto is 2-0 vs. Milwaukee this season and has won the past six meetings overall.
Key trends: The Bucks are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Wait on DeRozan.
Hornets at Knicks (+2.5, 216)
Charlotte lost a second in a row Wednesday, 113-103 at home to Golden State. Kemba Walker was questionable with an illness but played through it and had 26 points. Center Cody Zeller was out with a quad contusion. New York lost 103-95 in Dallas on Wednesday. Carmelo Anthony had 30 points. Charlotte and New York have split two close games this season, each winning at home.
Key trends: The Hornets are 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 12-3-2 in the previous 17.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Rockets at 76ers (TBA)
ESPN game. Houston lost 120-109 in Boston on Wednesday for its second consecutive defeat. James Harden had 30 points and 12 assists. Eric Gordon was a late scratch due to lower back tightness. The 76ers are 2-0 this week, which I didn't see coming because they played both without Joel Embiid. They won in Milwaukee on Wednesday, 114-109. Nerlens Noel is really building up trade value as he has been great in the two games; Noel had 16 points and 13 rebounds vs. the Bucks. Houston blasted Philly 115-88 on Nov. 14 and has taken six in a row in the series.
Key trends: The Rockets are 1-4 ATS in their past five in Philly. The under is 7-1-1 in the Sixers' past nine at home.
Early lean : Wait on Embiid.
Heat at Bulls (-5, 204.5)
Miami won its fifth straight Wednesday, 109-106 in Brooklyn, rallying from an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit. Dion Waiters had a second big game in row with 14 of his 24 points in the third, including the clinching 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left. These wins are ruining Miami's tanking plans. Chicago blew a late 10-point lead at home and lost to Atlanta, 119-114 on Wednesday. Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler called out their teammates after. They combined for 73 points. Chicago goes for the three-game season sweep against Wade's former team.
Key trends: The Heat are 4-0 ATS in the past four in Chicago. The under is 8-3 in the past 11 meetings.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
Spurs at Pelicans (TBA)
San Antonio won its fifth in a row Tuesday, 108-106 in Toronto despite playing without Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol (who is out a while). The Spurs are simply a machine as they plug in guys and they perform in place of starters. The team is taking the cautious route with Leonard's hand injury, so it's not clear if he plays here. New Orleans lost 114-105 at home to Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game injury absence but, as seems to be the case too often with him, left in the second quarter after aggravating that problem. San Antonio is 2-0 vs. New Orleans this year and has won the past five meetings.
Key trends: The Spurs are 3-7 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The under is 4-1-1 in the last six.
Early lean: Wait on Leonard and Davis.
Wizards at Hawks (-4, 213.5)
Washington continued its home dominance with a 123-108 victory over Boston on Tuesday. Bradley Beal scored 13 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, and the Wizards extended their home winning streak to 14 games. John Wall added 27. Atlanta rallied from down 10 with about three minutes left in Chicago on Wednesday and won 119-114. Dennis Schroder scored 24 points and Paul Millsap added 21. Washington and Atlanta split two early-season meetings, each winning at home.
Key trends: The Hawks are 5-2 ATS in their past seven at home. The over is 10-2 in the past 12 meetings in Atlanta.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Grizzlies at Trail Blazers (-2, 207)
Memphis beat short-handed Toronto 101-99 on Wednesday behind Marc Gasol's career-high 42. He also hit the deciding free throws. Tony Allen added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Forwards Chandler Parsons and JaMychal Green sat out with knee injuries. Portland won its second in a row Wednesday, 105-98 over the visiting Lakers. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum scored 24 points apiece in the Blazers' 11th straight win in the series. The Grizzlies are 6-2 against the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center since the start of the 2012-13 season. It's Memphis' only trip there this season.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 2-5-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 7-2 in Portland's past nine after a win.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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