I have to be honest in that I really enjoy watching the New York teams struggle, although it doesn't affect my handicapping judgment. Simply don't like the city or most people from there, at least those who act like NYC is the center of the universe and they are better than everyone else. Thus the fact that the Nets are the worst team in the NBA and on a 10-game losing streak and the Knicks are imploding, with Carmelo Anthony whining that Phil Jackson doesn't perhaps want him around any longer, both make me giddy. Melo has no one to blame but himself. He had the chance to go sign with Chicago a couple of years ago and potentially compete for a championship, but he's a selfish guy and he wanted all the money and attention he could get and re-signed to stay in New York. I'm not sure Anthony has a ton of value now, but he would have to waive his no-trade clause to get moved (he gets a $10 million trade bonus if dealt this season). Keep an eye on that situation because it sure seems like either Anthony or team president Phil Jackson won't be back next season.
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Raptors at Nets ( +11, 228)
Toronto beat the Knicks 116-101 on Sunday to complete a four-game homestand at 3-1 and led by as many as 38. The Dinos outscored New York 27-8 in the third quarter, tied for the Knicks' fifth-lowest-scoring quarter since 1954. Toronto had a 25-2 edge in the first 9:20 of the third. DeMar DeRozan had 32 points and Jonas Valanciunas 12 points and 16 rebounds. Patrick Patterson missed his second straight game and sixth of the past eight with a sore left knee. Brooklyn dropped its 10th straight Sunday , 137-112 at home to Houston. Trevor Booker scored 18 points for the Nets, who were still without Jeremy Lin (strained left hamstring) as well as Brook Lopez (rest). The latter should go here. Toronto has blown out the Nets twice this season, including 132-113 north of the border on Friday. It was the most points scored in a non-overtime game in team history and could have been much worse if not for the starters resting in the fourth. The Raptors have won six in a row in the series.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-2 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The "over/under" is 12-5 in the Raptors' past 17 vs. the East.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Rockets at Heat (+9.5, 221)
First of an NBA TV doubleheader. Miami starts a four-game homestand , but it has the fewest home wins in the NBA and only Orlando is worse ATS at home. The Heat finished a six-game road trip at 1-5 following a 116-108 loss in Milwaukee on Friday. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside each had 19 points for the Heat. Houston ended a two-game slide with a 137-112 win in Brooklyn on Sunday. James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season. Houston had 100 points before the fourth quarter for the seventh time this season. The Heat have won six of their last seven against the Rockets in Miami.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 6-1 in Houston's past seven on the road.
Early lean: Heat and over.
Mavericks at Bulls (-5, 197.5)
Dallas is on a rare two-game winning streak after beating the visiting Timberwolves 98-87 on Sunday. Wesley Matthews had 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 17. Nowitzki's 28 minutes played gave him 47,621 in his career, passing Reggie Miller for ninth place all-time. Chicago won a second in a row Sunday, 108-104 in Memphis despite Dwyane Wade sitting out the second of a back-to-back. Doug McDermott had a career-high 31 points. McDermott's 22 first-half points were more than his total for the four previous games (21). Nikola Mirotic sat out a fourth straight with an illness. Dallas has won three in a row vs. Chicago as well as the past three in the Windy City.
Key trends: The Mavs are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 8-3 in Chicago's past 11 at home.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
Timberwolves at Spurs (-12, 208)
Minnesota's season-high three-game winning streak ended in a 98-87 loss in Dallas on Sunday. Minnesota's last four-game winning streak was in December 2012. Zach LaVine returned from a two-game hip injury absence and had 11 points. San Antonio lost in Mexico City to Phoenix (told you to take the points there) on Saturday, 108-105. Kawhi Leonard had a career-high 38 points to become the first Spur to record three consecutive 30-point games since Tony Parker in 2012. San Antonio beat Minnesota 105-91 in the first meeting and has taken eight in a row overall in the series (four consecutive at home).
Key trends: The Wolves are 1-7 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 6-2 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Spurs and over.
Nuggets at Lakers (+1, 227)
Denver hosted Orlando on Monday in its first game since routing the Pacers in London last Thursday. Los Angeles lost its fourth straight Sunday, 102-97 to Detroit. D'Angelo Russell had 20 points for the Lakers, who have lost 20 of 25. In his previous three games, Russell averaged just 7.7 points on 9-for-34 shooting (26.5 percent). First meeting of the season between Denver and Los Angeles, where the Nuggets have won the past five.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 6-0 ATS in their past six at the Lakers. The over is 5-1-1 in the previous seven meetings.
Early lean: Lakers and over.
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