Some around the NBA believe that the Golden State Warriors didn't repeat last season partly because of the Boston Celtics, specifically C's coach Brad Stevens. You see, Stevens seemed to show a blueprint how to beat the record-setting Warriors. Boston went to Oakland last April 1 and upset the Warriors 109-106, ending their NBA-record 54-game winning streak in the regular season at Oracle Arena. The Celtics should have swept the season series as they really had their home game in hand against Golden State earlier in the season but lost 124-119 in double OT. You may remember the Dubs lost the next night in Milwaukee, ending their record 24-game winning streak to open a season. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers both took little nuggets from those Celtics games to give the Warriors trouble in last year's playoffs. Alas, earlier this year it wasn't close when the Warriors were in Boston, winning 104-88. They also had Kevin Durant then.
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Bulls at Magic (TBA)
Chicago lost a second straight Monday, 109-95 in Detroit and played without Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo due to minor injuries. Jimmy Butler had 27 points. Orlando dropped its second in a row Monday, 113-105 to the Knicks. The Magic were outscored 28-13 in the fourth. Elfrid Payton had his first triple-double of the season with 16 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds for Orlando. Chicago is 2-0 vs. Orlando this season, but the Magic have won three of the past four in the series at home.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-5 against the spread in their past six in Orlando. The "over/under" has gone under in the five meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Wade - like under regardless.
Nets at Hawks (-9.5, 219)
Brooklyn won for the second time in four games Monday with a shocking 122-106 upset in Memphis. Sean Kilpatrick led the Nets with 23 points, and Jeremy Lin scored nine straight points down the stretch. Atlanta dropped its third in a row Monday, 119-111 at home to Golden State. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 23 points -- 19 coming in the first quarter, the highest-scoring period of his career. But he was benched about midway through the third quarter and didn't return after arguing on court with Dwight Howard. Atlanta won the first meeting with Brooklyn 117-97 on Jan. 10 and has taken the past four home meetings.
Key trends: The Nets are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-0 in the past five.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
Hornets at Heat ( -4, 207)
Charlotte won for the third time in four games on Monday, 100-88 over Indiana. Kemba Walker scored 28 points and Nic Batum added 21 as the Hornets won consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 20-21. The Hornets played without Frank Kaminsky due to a shoulder injury and he's likely to miss at least two weeks. Miami completed a very impressive home-and-home sweep in Cleveland on Monday, 106-98. Dion Waiters scored 29 points, and Goran Dragic added 21. I was dead wrong on Miami this year - I thought it would be one of the worst teams in the league. Charlotte leads Miami 2-0 this season and can win the season series for the first time since 2009-10.
Key trends: The favorite is 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 7-0 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Hornets (trap game for Heat) and under.
Knicks at Bucks (-5, 213)
New York ended a two-game losing streak Monday, 113-105 in Orlando despite playing without Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks dominated the fourth quarter largely with reserves. Courtney Lee led the Knicks with 20 points. Anthony expects to return here. Milwaukee won its third in a row Monday, 112-98 at Philadelphia. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points, and Tony Snell had 18 of his season-high 21 in the first half as the Bucks never trailed. Michael Beasley (hyperextended left knee) missed his third straight game. He's not likely here. New York and Milwaukee have split two meetings, each winning on the road.
Key trends: The Knicks are 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 6-1 in the past seven in Milwaukee.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Raptors at Pelicans (-1.5, 201.5)
Toronto lost in Milwaukee on Saturday, 101-94, in a clear trap game following a big win in Washington on Friday. The Raptors led by seven after one but then were outscored by 18 in the second. Serge Ibaka led Toronto with 19 points, while DeMar DeRozan had just 11. New Orleans couldn't build off its first win with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup Sunday as it fell in Utah 88-83 on Monday. The Pelicans shot a season-low 35.7 percent. Anthony Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Cousins added 15 points.Toronto beat New Orleans 108-106 in OT on Jan. 31 and has won three straight in the series.
Key trends: The Raptors are 10-3-1 ATS in the past 14 meetings. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Jazz at Rockets (-5.5, 216)
Utah won its third in a row Monday, 88-83 over New Orleans. Gordon Hayward scored 23 points and Rudy Gobert posted his 44th double-double of the season with 15 points and 15 rebounds. George Hill (rest) and Joe Johnson (groin) sat out the second of a back-to-back. Houston's two-game winning streak ended Monday, 112-110 in San Antonio. James Harden finished with 39 points (just four in fourth quarter) and 12 assists in the final matchup of the season between the two, although they are lined up to likely play in the West semifinals. Forward Ryan Anderson exited the game in the third quarter with lower back tightness.Houston and Utah have split two meetings, each winning at home.
Key trends: The Jazz are 1-5 ATS in their past six in Houston. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Clippers at Timberwolves (+2.5, 211)
Los Angeles won its second in a row Monday, 116-102 over Boston. Blake Griffin scored 26 points and Chris Paul added 23. Jamal Crawford had 17 of his 19 in the second half as L.A. rallied from a 13-point deficit. Minnesota has an NBA-high six-game cover streak going. It was supposed to host Portland on Monday, but the game was postponed due to condensation on the court. Minnesota and L.A. have split two meetings, each winning on the road. The Wolves have lost nine straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Clips have covered 12 of their past 16 in Minnesota. The over is 4-1 ATS in the past five there.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
Pistons at Pacers (-3.5, 205)
First ESPN game. Detroit won a second straight Monday, 109-95 over Chicago. Reggie Jackson scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half -going 10-for-10 from the field after halftime. The Pistons and Bulls are now tied for the final two playoff spots in the East. Indiana completed a five-game road trip at 2-3 following a 100-88 loss in Charlotte on Monday. Paul George had 36 points. Indiana is 3-0 vs. Detroit and looking to sweep the regular-season series for only the third time in the history of it.
Key trends: The Pistons are 0-5 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-0 in the Pacers' past five vs. the East.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Kings at Spurs (-16, 197.5)
Sacramento is in full tank mode. It lost in Denver 108-96 on Monday, the Kings' fifth straight defeat. Darren Collison led seven Kings players in doubles figures with 17 points in the second of a back-to-back. San Antonio won its eighth in a row Monday, 112-110 over Houston. Kawhi Leonard scored 39 points, including 17 in the final quarter. He hit the go-ahead 3-pointer, blocked James Harden's layup attempt and added two free throws in about a 30-second stretch late in the game. MVP-caliber stuff. San Antonio is 2-0 vs. Sacramento and on an eight-game winning streak vs. the Kings.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-1 ATS in their past six in San Antonio. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Kings (Spurs likely looking ahead to Thursday at OKC) and under.
Wizards at Nuggets (TBA)
Washington started a five-game road trip in Phoenix on Tuesday. Denver is 1-1 on a four-game homestand after beating the Kings 108-96 on Monday. Wilson Chandler had a career-high 36 points along with 12 rebounds. Nikola Jokic sat out with an illness - I'm sure he could have played, but the Nuggets didn't need him against sorry Sacramento. Expect him back here. Washington won the first meeting 92-85 on Dec. 8.
Key trends: The home team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 9-3 in the past 12 in Denver.
Early lean: Nuggets if Jokic plays.
Celtics at Warriors (-7.5, 224)
Second ESPN game. Boston dropped a second in a row Monday, 116-102 at the Clippers. The Celtics led by as many as 13. Isaiah Thomas scored 31 points and Marcus Smart added 21 for the Celtics. Avery Bradley was back in the lineup but Al Horford sat again with an elbow issue and is questionable here. Golden State is back home after quite a newsworthy five-game road trip. The Warriors finished it with back-to-back wins. They took care of Atlanta 119-111 on Monday. Andre Iguodala scored a season-high 24 points and Steph Curry added 24. In that first meeting this season between Boston and Golden State, Durant had 23 points and 10 rebounds and the Warriors scored 18 in a row in the third quarter to blow the game open.
Key trends: The Celtics are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-0 in the Warriors' past four following an ATS win.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
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