The NFL has parity -- just look at the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. Major League Baseball has it too as your last two champions are the Royals and Cubs. The NBA doesn't really have parity as the best teams just about always win the championship. I'm not here to tell you the Warriors or Cavaliers won't win it all this June. But we are at the time of year where the top teams are slogging through the season and waiting for the All-Star break -- Cleveland is a prime example. Thus you can get some nice underdog value at times. For example, entering the weekend the Warriors have the NBA's best record this month, but they also had an inexplicable loss in Miami earlier this week. Right behind them for January's best records are the Atlanta Hawks, who were supposed to have mailed in the season when they traded Kyle Korver, and the semi-tanking Philadelphia 76ers. On Monday, there were nine games, and eight underdogs won. It's that time of year.
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Kings at Hornets ( -6, 208)
I don't expect the Kings to have much in the tank here as it's Game No. 5 of a season-long eight game road trip and they were in Indiana on Friday night. Charlotte was at the Knicks on Friday. It's the first meeting of the season between Sacramento and Charlotte. They played two high-scoring overtime games last season, with the Hornets taking both. DeMarcus Cousins had a Kings record 56 points in a double-OT home loss.
Key trends: The underdog is 4-1 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" is 4-1 in those five.
Early lean: Hornets and over.
Pistons at Heat (TBA)
Miami was in Chicago on Friday with Hassan Whiteside out (ankle). Huge advantage for the Pistons as they haven't played since Monday when they lost 109-104 at home to Sacramento. Detroit starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returned after missing four games with a left rotator cuff injury. He scored 14 points but went only 4 of 14 from the field. Detroit is 2-0 vs. the Heat this year, with Caldwell-Pope is averaging 22.5 points. The Heat have taken five of the past eight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Pistons are 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 7-0 in Detroit's past seven vs. the East.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Celtics at Bucks (pick'em, 218.5)
Both on the second of a back-to-back as Boston hosted Orlando on Friday and Milwaukee was in Toronto. It's the first meeting of the season between these teams. The Celtics won two of three high-scoring meetings last year. Scorching-hot Boston guard Isaiah Thomas averaged "only" 20.0 points. Remember Bucks center Larry Sanders? He was a pretty good player for a while but then walked away from the NBA because of some off-court issues. He worked out for the Celtics on Thursday. They could use some rebounding help, so keep an eye on that. Sanders hasn't played since the 2014-15 season when he averaged 7.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in just 21.7 minutes per game for Milwaukee.
Key trends: The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their past five in Milwaukee. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
Clippers at Warriors (-14, 226.5)
This is your Saturday night ABC game. Los Angeles has been off since being upset Tuesday 121-110 in Philadelphia in Blake Griffin's return from injury. He had 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting on a bit of a minutes restriction (29 in that one). Doc Rivers didn't coach the team due to illness but should be back here. Golden State concluded a four-game road trip on Wednesday with a 113-103 win in Charlotte. Kevin Durant had 33 points and Steph Curry 28 in his hometown as the Warriors stretched their streak of not losing back-to-back regular-season games to an NBA-record 132 games. The Warriors beat the Clippers 115-98 on Dec. 7 and have taken seven straight in the series and the past nine in Oakland.
Key trends: The road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 6-2 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Might give the Clips a shot to win if Chris Paul was around but not here. I might take all those points though.
Grizzlies at Jazz (-6, 187.5)
Memphis was in Portland on Friday. Utah ended a two-game losing streak with a 96-88 home win over the sorry Lakers on Thursday. Newly-named All-Star Gordon Hayward had 24 points. The Jazz used a 16-0 run in the third quarter for a 68-56 lead that they never relinquished. Rodney Hood returned to the starting lineup after missing five games with a knee hyperextension and bone bruise. He had five points in 22 minutes. This is the final meeting of the season between Utah and Memphis, with the Grizzlies leading 2-1 in low-scoring games.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-1 in the previous six.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Nuggets at Suns (-1, 235)
These teams played Thursday in Denver and the Nuggets won 127-120, but it could have been costly. Nikola Jokic, who has been a monster for weeks, had 29 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists before leaving late after a hard fall. Right now it's being called a hip strain, but Jokic was set for an MRI on Friday. If he's out a long period of time, and early reports are at least two games, that crushes Denver's playoff hopes. Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay missed a third straight game due to a sore lower back and doesn't seem likely to play here. The Nuggets go for the four-game sweep and haven't scored less than 120 points vs. Phoenix this year.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 6-13 ATS in their past 19 at Phoenix. The over is 5-0 in the Suns' past five at home.
Early lean: Suns avoid the sweep. Go over.
Nets at Timberwolves (-10.5, 219)
Brooklyn was in Cleveland on Friday, so be on Brook Lopez sit-down alert here. Minnesota's attempt for a first four-game winning streak since December 2012 came up short at home to Indiana on Thursday, 109-103. Indiana outrebounded Minnesota 44-34 and shot 52 percent. Newly-named All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns had 33 points and 10 rebounds for his 35th double-double of the season. Minnesota lost in Brooklyn 119-110 on Nov. 8. Lopez scored 26 points and Bojan Bogdanovic hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute. The Wolves swept last year and have taken 10 of the past 15 meetings overall.
Key trends: The Wolves are 1-6 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The Nets are 2-10 ATS in their past 12 in Minnesota. The under is 6-1 in the Wolves' past seven at home.
Early lean: Wolves and under.
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