Perhaps the Minnesota Timberwolves should have traded 21-year-old Zach LaVine in a package for Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler when they had the chance at the 2016 draft. The Bulls weren't doing any deal without LaVine and the No. 5 overall pick, among other things, and the Wolves balked even though new Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau loves Butler from his Bulls days. Now that trade won't be happening at all with the news that LaVine tore his ACL, meaning his season is over and he probably misses the start of the 2017-18 campaign. I doubt the Wolves were going to make the playoffs regardless, but this pretty much assures that fate. LaVine is averaging 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists. A lot of his game is based on explosiveness and jumping ability - as we saw when he won the past two Dunk Contests on All-Star Weekend (he wasn't going to defend later this month) -- so hopefully he can make a full recovery and continue his growth as a player.
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Spurs at 76ers (TBA)
San Antonio had a three-game winning streak end in an 89-74 loss in Memphis on Monday. Kawhi Leonard was a late scratch with a quad contusion. San Antonio had reached 100 points in 27 straight games. It was the start of an eight-game trip for the Spurs, so you are going to see guys resting a lot over the next two weeks. Philadelphia dropped a fourth in a row Monday in Detroit, 113-96, to complete a four-game trip . Joel Embiid missed his sixth straight game with a left knee problem.San Antonio beat Philadelphia 102-86 earlier this month and has won the past 11 in the series. Sixers head coach Brett Brown spent 11 seasons (2002-13) with the Spurs.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-5 against the spread in their past six following a loss of at least 10 points. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Leonard and Embiid.
Cavaliers at Pacers (+3, 215.5)
Cleveland ended Washington's 17-game home winning streak on Monday night in an absolute epic game, 140-135 in overtime. LeBron James hit a ridiculous turnaround fadeaway banked 3-pointer to send it to OT. He doesn't make that 10 out of 100 times. James fouled out in OT and Kyrie Irving carried the load from there with 11 of his 23 points in the extra period. James had a career-high 17 assists, and Kevin Love had 39 points and the marvelous three-quarters court pass on James' tying 3-pointer. I expect the Cavs to be very flat off that one. Indiana won its seventh consecutive game Monday, 93-90 over Oklahoma City. Paul George had 21 points and eight rebounds. The Pacers have held their past four foes under 100 points. With their 103-93 win over the Cavaliers on Nov. 16, the Pacers have won 12 of their last 13 regular-season home games against Cleveland.
Key trends: The Cavs are 0-7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 5-0 in Indiana's past five.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Wizards at Nets (+9, 223.5)
Brooklyn was in Charlotte on Tuesday on a nine-game losing streak and looking to get its first home win of 2017 here. As noted above, Washington's 17-game home winning streak and seven-game overall run ended Monday night in that OT loss to the Cavaliers. It was the best regular-season game of the year by far. Bradley Beal had 41 points and eight assists for the Wizards, but he missed a potential tying 3 with about 5 seconds left in OT.Washington is 2-0 vs. Brooklyn this season, scoring 118 points in each. The Wizards have taken the past five meetings overall.
Key trends: The Wizards are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings and the over is 4-1 in those.
Early lean: Nets (Wizards will be flat too) and over.
Nuggets at Hawks (-5.5, 223)
Denver beat Dallas 110-87 on Monday. Will Barton had a season-high 31 points. The Nuggets were without three starters: Danilo Gallinari (groin), Emmanuel Mudiay (back) and Kenneth Faried (personal). Atlanta had a two-game run end in a 120-95 home loss to Utah on Monday. The Hawks have lost five of their last 11 games by an average margin of 21.4 points. Atlanta has won the past three meetings vs. Denver and four straight at home.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 3-0-1 in the previous four.
Early lean: Wait on all those Nuggets.
Lakers at Pistons (-7.5, 218)
Los Angeles ended a two-game losing streak with a 121-107 victory at the Knicks on Monday. Lou Williams had 22 points and Nick Young added 17 to lead seven scorers in double figures Julius Randle returned from pneumonia and added 14. The Lakers had lost 17 of their past 18 on the road. Detroit won for the third time in four games Monday, 113-96 over Philadelphia. Andre Drummond finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds, and seven Detroit players scored in double figures. Detroit won at L.A. 102-97 on Jan. 15. But the Pistons are just 2-6 in their past eight at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 8-3 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The over is 8-1 in the Pistons' past nine at home.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Heat at Bucks (-2.5, 209)
Miami is on one of the most unlikely 11-game winning streaks in NBA history following a 115-113 victory in Minnesota on Monday. Goran Dragic scored 33 points and hit a career-high seven 3s. Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 13 rebounds. The only longer winning streak this year is 12 by the Warriors in November. Milwaukee ended a five-game losing skid with a 137-112 blowout in Phoenix on Saturday. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points to lead six Milwaukee players in double figures in the team's highest-scoring game of the year. Last meeting between these two with Miami leading 2-1.
Key trends: The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Suns at Grizzlies (-9, 208)
Phoenix dropped a second in a row Monday, 111-106 in New Orleans. The Suns were just 5-for-27 from 3-point range. Devin Booker was 1-for-8 from out there and held to 14 points. Could be a trap game for Memphis here as it hosts Golden State up next. The Grizzlies won their second in a row Monday, 89-74 over San Antonio - obviously hugely benefitting when Kawhi Leonard was held out. The Grizz held the Spurs to nine fourth-quarter points. Memphis won the first meeting with Phoenix 115-96 on Jan. 30 by hitting 16-for-28 from long range.
Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 7-1 in the previous eight in Memphis.
Early lean: Suns and over.
Jazz at Pelicans (+4, 203)
Utah is on a three-game winning run following a 120-95 rout in Atlanta on Monday to start a three-game trip. Gordon Hayward had 30 points and the Jazz shot a season-best 61.3 percent. Guard Rodney Hood missed his second straight game with a right knee bone contusion and LCL sprain. He's not expected to play here. New Orleans ended a four-game losing streak with a 111-106 home win over Phoenix on Monday. Anthony Davis had 34 points and Jrue Holiday 30. Alas, the usually banged up Pelicans saw Tyreke Evans leave with a left ankle sprain in the second quarter. First meeting between Utah and New Orleans. They split four last season.
Key trends: The Jazz are 5-1-1 ATS in the past seven in New Orleans. The over is 6-0 in the past six there.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Raptors at Timberwolves (+4, 214)
Toronto won its second game in a row Monday, 118-109 over the visiting Clippers. DeMar DeRozan had 31 points after missing seven of the previous eight games. Toronto shot 51.5 percent from the field. Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 12 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season. Minnesota dropped its fourth consecutive game Monday, 115-113 to Miami. Karl-Anthony Towns had 35 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins had 27 points but missed two shots in the final seconds. Minnesota lost in Toronto 124-110 on Dec. 8 but did beat the visiting Raptors last season.
Key trends: The Wolves are 0-5 ATS in their past five. The under is 6-0 in Toronto's past six on the road.
Early lean: Raptors and under.
Clippers at Knicks (+1, 219)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. The Clippers lost a third straight Monday, 118-109 in Toronto. Blake Griffin recorded his fifth career triple-double, and first of the season, in three quarters, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high-tying 11 assists. Forward Wesley Johnson was out with a back issue. New York was embarrassed at home by the sorry Lakers on Monday, 121-107. After the Knicks scored the first four points, the Lakers went on a 20-4 spurt and never trailed again. Carmelo Anthony had 26 points. Derrick Rose had five points in his return from a four-game absence. First meeting of season between Anthony's current team and perhaps his next one. The Clippers have won the past eight in the series.
Key trends: The Clippers are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 4-0 in the previous four.
Early lean: Knicks and under.
Bulls at Warriors (TBA)
Second ESPN game. Chicago won for the third time in four games Monday, 112-107 in Sacramento. Dwyane Wade had 31 points. All-Star Jimmy Butler missed his second in a row with a bruised right heel. Golden State had a five-game winning streak end in a 109-106 OT upset at the Kings on Saturday. Steph Curry had 35 points but missed two late shots in the overtime. Coach Steve Kerr was ejected and has been fined by the NBA. First meeting between Chicago and Golden State. The Warriors swept last year for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
Key trends: The Warriors are 4-0-1 ATS in their past five at home. The over is 6-2 in the previous eight meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Butler.
Celtics at Kings (TBA)
Boston brings a seven-game winning streak into this one following a 107-102 home win over the Clippers on Sunday. Former King Isaiah Thomas had 28 points, snapping his streak of four straight with at least 35. The Celtics took a franchise-record 52 3-pointers. Boston will catch a huge break here as the Kings will be without star DeMarcus Cousins. He was ejected from Monday's 112-107 loss to the Bulls with two technical fouls, his 15th and 16th of the season. Once you hit 16, that's an automatic one-game suspension. Sacramento has lost three straight to Boston, including 97-92 on Dec. 2.
Key trends: The Celtics are 0-4 ATS in their past four. The over is 6-0 in the Kings' past six vs. the East.
Early lean: I guess this is TBA on the chance Boston's Avery Bradley returns from a long injury absence. Unless Cousins can appeal one of those techs.
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