One of the most unlikely NBA winning streaks in recent history is on the line Thursday night, and I'll just get to the point and say I believe that it ends. The Chicago Bulls are featured on one of the TNT telecasts, and they have won 18 straight home TNT Thursday games dating to the end of the 2012-13 regular season. This is crazy unlikely because the Bulls usually are playing some of the NBA's best teams in these games - the schedule is set up that way for the most attention. This year, the Bulls are 2-0 vs. the Boston Celtics at home on TNT Thursdays and 1-0 vs. San Antonio and Golden State (handing the Warriors their second straight regular-season loss for the first time since April 2015, a league-record streak of 146 games). Those just so happen to be the three best teams in the league right now. Cleveland has been a frequent foe in these games for Chicago and that's the case this Thursday.
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Nets at Pistons ( -6.5, 213)
Brooklyn, which has been very competitive this month, lost 106-101 at home to Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Nets led with five minutes to go. Brook Lopez led them with 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Guard Sean Kilpatrick, who missed the last six games due to a hamstring injury, played 12 minutes and had nine points. Detroit lost a fifth straight Tuesday, 97-96 at home to Miami on a buzzer-beating tip-in. Pistons point Reggie Jackson (rest) was inactive for the second straight game, and there's some talk he might not play again this season. If Detroit loses this game, it doesn't deserve to make the playoffs as the Pistons would suffer a three-game season sweep at the hands of the NBA's worst Nets. Lopez is averaging 31.5 points and 9.0 rebounds against the Pistons this season. Both were in Brooklyn. Detroit has taken the past three at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 6-0 against the spread in the past six meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in Detroit's past seven at home.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Cavaliers at Bulls (+6, 212.5)
I only like Cleveland to end Chicago's streak if LeBron James plays, but he says he will after leaving Monday's embarrassing 103-74 defeat in San Antonio that dropped LeBron's team to second in the East standings. James took an elbow to the base of his neck in the third quarter and didn't return but the game was out of hand. That guy is indestructible, so he'll be in there unless Coach Tyronn Lue sits him simply for rest. Lue hinted Monday that he may be willing to sacrifice the top seed in the East in order to rest his best players. Chicago has been off since winning 109-94 in Milwaukee on Sunday. Nikola Mirotic tied a season high with 28 points, while Jimmy Butler had 20 points and a career-high 14 assists. It was his third straight game with double-digit assists. Chicago goes for the four-game season sweep of Cleveland. The Bulls also have taken four in a row at home in the series.
Key trends: The Cavs are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in Chicago. The over is 6-0 in the Bulls' past six vs. the East.
Early lean: Cavs (if everyone plays) and over.
Lakers at Timberwolves (-10.5, 222.5)
The Lakers dropped their second straight Tuesday, 119-108 to Washington to close a six-game homestand at 1-5. L.A. was outscored 37-13 in the fourth quarter. The Lakers had as many turnovers (five) as field goals. D'Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 28 points. Brandon Ingram sat a second game in a row with right patellar tendinitis. Minnesota ended a six-game losing streak with a 115-114 victory in Indiana on Tuesday. Ricky Rubio hit three free throws with 3.4 seconds left - it was a very questionable foul call and was Minnesota's only lead of the fourth quarter. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 12 rebounds. Minnesota and L.A. have split two meetings. They played last Friday at Staples Center and the Lakers won 130-119 in OT behind Jordan Clarkson's career-high 35 points.
Key trends: The Lakers are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 6-0 in the previous six.
Early lean: Love the over; go Wolves.
Clippers at Suns (TBA)
The Clippers hosted Washington on Tuesday. Phoenix dropped a ninth consecutive Tuesday, 95-91 in Atlanta to complete a winless six-game road trip. Mr. 70 Points, Devin Booker, sat out with an ankle injury. Or the Suns wanted to improve their lottery standing and not beat a struggling Hawks team. T.J. Warren led the Suns with 24 points. The Clippers lead Phoenix 3-0 this season.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 4-0 in the previous four in Phoenix.
Early lean: Wait on Booker.
Rockets at Trail Blazers (TBA)
Second TNT game. Might Houston be looking ahead to another game with Golden State on Friday in Oakland? The Rockets lost at home to the Warriors, 113-106 on Tuesday to see a four-game winning streak end. James Harden had 24 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds for his 20th triple-double this season. But the Rockets had their worst 3-point shooting night of the season at 5-for-31. Portland won a fourth in a row Tuesday, 122-113 over Denver. Jusuf Nurkic had a career-high 33 points with 16 rebounds against his ex-teammates, and CJ McCollum had 39 points. The Blazers now lead the Nuggets by a game for the West's final playoff spot. Houston leads Portland 2-0, and this is their last meeting. Harden is averaging 32.0 points, 12.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds. McCollum has scored at least 20 points in his last three games against Houston, after not reaching that mark in his first eight career games against the Rockets.
Early lean: I'm assuming this is TBA for Harden, who admits his wrist his bothering him. Harden says he doesn't plan to sit but it might not be his call. Houston is basically locked into the third seed.
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