Even though both these teams are currently sitting under .500, the race for eighth place in the Western Conference is heating up with Portland entering Friday tied with Denver. The Blazers (22-28 SU, 22-28 ATS) have won four of their past five games, including Tuesday’s 115-98 blowout of the Hornets as four-point favorites. The backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 45 points, while Allen Crabbe chipped in 21 points off the bench for Portland.
The Mavericks (19-30 SU, 26-23 ATS) are heating up at the right time by capturing victories in five of the previous six contests. Following an impressive back-to-back sweep of San Antonio and Cleveland earlier this week, Rick Carlisle’s team cruised past Philadelphia, 113-95 as 7 ½-point favorites. Seth Curry may not have the scoring prowess of his older brother, Stephen, but the younger Curry has scored at least 20 points in three of the past five games.
Dallas has cashed in nine of the previous 11 contests overall, while compiling a 7-4 ATS mark in the past 11 games away from American Airlines Center. Portland has performed well in the role of a home favorite since late November by posting a 9-3 SU and 8-4 ATS record, which includes a 96-95 setback to Dallas at the Moda Center on December 21. The Mavericks have covered in five of the last six meetings with the Blazers, including three straight as an underdog in Portland.
The Celtics/Lakers rivalry ruled the 60’s and 80’s and had a resurgence in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals. These teams are in different places now as Boston leads the Atlantic division, while Los Angeles is near the bottom of the Pacific division. The Lakers will be playing with no rest following Thursday’s 116-108 defeat at Washington, but Los Angeles cashed as 10 ½-point underdogs for its third straight road cover. However, Luke Walton’s squad has dropped 11 consecutive away contests with its last win away from Staples Center coming at Philadelphia on December 16.
Boston is riding a five-game winning streak after holding off Toronto on Wednesday in a key division showdown, 109-104. Since consecutive losses to New York and Portland in late January, the Celtics have won four straight at TD Garden, while posting an 11-2 home mark since Christmas. The road team won each matchup last season, including a 112-104 triumph by the Lakers in Beantown as 13 ½-point underdogs in December 2015.
Houston squandered a 20-point lead in Thursday’s 113-108 home loss to Atlanta as the Rockets have failed to win consecutive games since early January. The Rockets fell to 1-5 ATS in the last six games as Houston hosts Chicago tonight at Toyota Center. Mike D’Antoni’s team has responded well off a loss this season at 14-2 SU and 13-3 ATS, while posting an 11-1 SU and 9-3 ATS mark with no rest.
The Bulls are looking for their fourth winning streak of at least three games this season after beating the 76ers and Thunder this week. Chicago posted its best offensive effort of the season in a 128-100 blowout of Oklahoma City on Wednesday, as the Bulls shot 60% from the floor, led by Jimmy Butler’s 28 points. The Bulls have owned the Rockets recently by capturing four of the last five meetings, including a season sweep in 2016.
Oklahoma City remains in second place of the Northwest division at 28-22, but the Thunder have dropped three in a row following Wednesday’s 28-point blowout loss to the Bulls. OKC looks to bounce back tonight when Memphis comes to town as the Grizzlies continue a six-game road trip.
Following a three-point loss to Portland to kick off the trip, the Grizzlies have won three straight, while limiting each of those opponents to 99 points or less. In Wednesday’s 119-99 blowout of Denver as four-point favorites, Marc Gasol knocked down three treys in leading Memphis with 24 points. The Grizzlies and Thunder split each of the first two meetings with the home team winning each time, as Memphis has dropped three straight visits to Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Indiana is starting to pull away from the .500 mark as the Pacers own a 26-22 record following three consecutive victories. The Pacers picked up only their second win in the road favorite role in Wednesday’s 98-88 triumph at Orlando, the third victory over the Magic this season. Indiana heads to Brooklyn tonight looking to top the Nets for the third time this season after routing Brooklyn in each of the last two meetings in Indianapolis.
However, Indiana has lost three of its last four visits to Barclays Center, including a 103-94 in late October as six-point favorites. The Nets are seeking their 10th win of the season, while going 1-18 SU and 5-13-1 ATS in the past 19 games. In case you were wondering, the last time the Nets won at Barclays Center came back on December 26 against Charlotte as 6 ½-point underdogs.
The Bucks have spun out of control since the calendar turned to 2017, losing 11 of the past 14 games as Milwaukee travels to Denver. During this current 1-9 run, Jason Kidd’s team has covered only once, coming in a 123-114 home triumph over the Rockets as 4 ½-point underdogs on January 23. Since upsetting San Antonio on January 10, the Bucks have lost six straight games away from BMO Harris Bradley Center, while scoring less than 100 points in each of those defeats.
Denver tries to snap a two-game skid following losses to the Lakers and Grizzlies, as the Nuggets have allowed at least 112 points in four consecutive contests. The Nuggets are riding a four-game winning streak in the favorite role at Pepsi Center, while beating the Bucks in each in six consecutive home matchups.
— Toronto and Orlando have exchanged road victories in their two meetings this season as the teams hook up in central Florida tonight. The Raptors have dropped seven of their last nine games, while the Magic are 3-9 in their past 12 contests. Orlando edged Toronto in their previous matchup this past Sunday, 114-113 as 11-point road underdogs.
— Detroit seeks its fourth consecutive victory over Minnesota since 2015 as the Wolves visit the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons ripped the Wolves, 117-90 as 3 ½-point road favorites in December, as Minnesota has scored 90 points or less in its last three matchups against Detroit.
— Sacramento routed Phoenix on opening night, 113-94 as short road favorites as the two Pacific rivals meet for the first time since late October. The Suns head to Sacramento tonight looking to end a five-game losing streak, while the Kings return home from an eight-game road swing. The Kings have owned the Suns recently with four straight wins in the series, including a pair of home blowouts last season.