OK, now we see what size cajones that Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue and GM David Griffin have. Of course teams resting stars has been a hot topic around the NBA all week after Lue sat LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love last Saturday night in a national TV game. The NBA league office e-mailed its unhappiness to Griffin, who basically told the NBA to MYOB, and early this week Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all 30 team owners saying that resting key players has become a major issue and will be addressed at the next meeting. LeBron made a valid point this week that things get blown out of proportion when he sits simply because of who he is: "If it's somebody else, it gets blown up a briefly, it gets talked about a little bit, but it doesn't have legs and it's gone. But as soon as I'm involved it's just a whole different situation." The Cavs are in Charlotte on Friday and then host Washington in a much more important game on Saturday. Would Lue dare rest any of his guys against the Hornets in the wake of this firestorm? I doubt it, but I almost hope he does simply to see what the league office would do.
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Nets at Wizards ( -10, 223)
Brooklyn hosted Phoenix on Thursday looking for its first back-to-back wins of the year. The Nets haven't won three in a row since the 2014-15 season. Washington ended a two-game losing streak by beating visiting Atlanta 104-100 on Wednesday. Bradley Beal had 28 points and John Wall 22 and 10 assists. The Wizards, who trailed by 12 at one point, went on a late 14-2 run to win. Washington goes for the four-game season sweep of the Nets, although two were close.
Key trends: The Nets are 1-7 against the spread in their past eight in Washington. The "over/under" is 5-1 in the past six meetings overall.
I'm leaning: Wizards and over.
Cavaliers at Hornets (+3, 215)
Cleveland was routed in Denver on Wednesday, 126-113. The Cavs' defense has really been atrocious since the All-Star break. Irving led the Cavs with 33 points but James had just 18 and was minus-30. At least they didn't play heavy minutes with the game out of hand. This concludes a four-game trip. Charlotte won a third in a row Wednesday, 109-102 in Orlando. Kemba Walker had 22 points and seven assists in leading a rally from 10 down.Charlotte is 0-3 vs. Cleveland this year, losing each by at least seven. The Cavs have taken the past five overall in the series.
Key trends: The Cavs are 4-0-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 5-1 in the past six.
I'm leaning: Cavs (if they play everyone) and over.
Pistons at Magic (+2.5, 207)
Detroit lost for the fifth time in six games Wednesday, 117-95 in Chicago. Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris each scored 14 for the Pistons, while Andre Drummond was held to eight. That loss was very big because the Pistons now also lose a tiebreaker with Chicago. Orlando had a rare two-game winning run end Wednesday vs. Charlotte, 109-102. Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Jeff Green sat out with back spasms. Detroit has won seven of the past eight vs. Orlando (1-1 this year).
Key trends: The Pistons are 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven.
I'm leaning: Pistons and over.
Nuggets at Pacers (-4, 222)
Denver has become one of the more entertaining offensive teams in the NBA and blasted Cleveland 126-113 on Wednesday. Wilson Chandler scored 18 points in his return from a four-game absence with a strained groin. Nikola Jokic was three assists shy of a triple-double. Danilo Gallinari missed his fourth straight game with a bone bruise on his left knee but is getting close. Indiana continued its trend of alternating wins and losses since the All-Star break with a 109-100 defeat in Boston on Wednesday. Paul George led the Pacers with 37 points and Jeff Teague had 25. Indiana was smashed by Denver 140-112 in London on Jan. 12.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 4-0-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 10-3 in the past 13 meetings.
I'm leaning: Pacers and over.
Suns at Celtics (-14, 217)
Phoenix was in Brooklyn on Thursday on a five-game skid. Boston is just a game behind Cleveland for the East's top seed after a 109-100 home win over Indiana on Wednesday. Isaiah Thomas had 25 points as the C's won for the 12 th time in their past 13 at home. Thomas scored in double figures for the 120th straight game, the longest streak by a Celtic since Antoine Walker went for 126 from March 2000-January 2002. Phoenix, which gifted Thomas to Boston a couple of years ago, won the first meeting 109-106 on March 5 despite 35 from Thomas.
Key trends: The Suns are 1-6 ATS in their past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 11-4 in Boston's past 15 home games vs. teams with a losing road record.
I'm leaning: Suns (getting a few too many points)and over.
76ers at Bulls (-6, 210.5)
Philadelphia's seven-game cover streak ended Wednesday in a 122-97 loss in Oklahoma City. Nik Stauskas led the 76ers with 20 points, reaching the 20-point mark in consecutive games for the first time in his career. Dario Saric scored 12 points, extending his double-figure scoring streak to 21 games, the longest by a rookie this season. Chicago played without center Robin Lopez on Wednesday due to one-game suspension but still routed Detroit 117-95 in a game with potentially big playoff implications. Nikola Mirotic had a season-high 28 points. Joffrey Lauvergne filled in for Lopez and had 17 points and seven rebounds. Chicago has blown out Philadelphia twice this season.
Key trends: The 76ers are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 8-1 in the previous nine.
I'm leaning: Bulls and over.
Hawks at Bucks (-4.5, 201.5)
NBA TV game. Atlanta lost a fifth straight and fell to 0-6 this season without All-Star forward Paul Millsap in a 104-100 defeat in Washington on Wednesday. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 29 points and Dennis Schroder had 18. Millsap missed a third straight with a sore knee, and he's not playing here. Milwaukee closed a six-game Western Conference road trip at 4-2 with a 116-98 victory in Sacramento on Wednesday. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. The victory put the Bucks above .500 for the first time since Jan. 15.Atlanta goes for the four-game season sweep of Milwaukee.
Key trends: The Hawks are 7-1 ATS in their past eight at Milwaukee. The under is 9-2 in the Bucks' past 11 overall.
I'm leaning: Bucks and under.
Pelicans at Rockets (-7.5, 227.5)
New Orleans is surging a bit too late, winning for the fifth time in six games Tuesday, 95-82 over Memphis. DeMarcus Cousins had his best game since being traded to the Pelicans with 41 points and 17 rebounds. Anthony Davis had 19 points and 13 boards. Houston won its second in a row Monday, both over Denver. This time it was 125-124 at home as James Harden went untouched coast-to-coast to hit the winning layup with 2.4 seconds left. He had 39 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Houston leads New Orleans 2-1 this year and has won the past four at home in the series.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 6-0-1 ATS in their past seven vs. the West. The over is 9-2 in the Rockets' past 11 at home.
I'm leaning: Pelicans and over.
Timberwolves at Lakers (+4, 219.5)
Minnesota lost a fourth in a row Tuesday, 100-93 vs. San Antonio. Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves, while Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points. One good thing came from that game: the team announced it will unveil a new logo next month. The Wolves will look different next year, a needed change. The Lakers lost their sixth consecutive Tuesday, 133-109 vs. the Clippers. It was over midway through the second quarter. Brandon Ingram is showing signs of stardom lately and led L.A. with 21 points. Minnesota won the first meeting with L.A. back on Nov. 13, 125-99.
Key trends: The Wolves are 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 5-0 in the previous five.
I'm leaning: Wolves and over.
Kings at Warriors (-16, 215)
Sacramento dropped its third in a row Wednesday, 116-98 to Milwaukee. Rookie Buddy Hield had 21 points and Tyreke Evans added 18 for the Kings, now 3-11 since trading DeMarcus Cousins. Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson were rested. Golden State won a fifth straight Tuesday, 112-87 in Dallas. In doing so, the Warriors became the first team ever to win at least 28 road games in three consecutive seasons. Andre Iguodala got the night off with a minor injury. The Warriors won't need him here regardless. Golden State is 2-1 vs. Sacramento this year and has taken the past seven in Oakland vs. the Kings.
Key trends: The Kings are 0-6-1 ATS in their past seven in Oakland. The over is 4-1 in the past five there.
I'm leaning: Kings and over.
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