Favorites and underdogs split the eight games in the NBA on Tuesday night as the 76ers, Kings, Pacers, and Lakers all won outright in the ‘dog role. The biggest blowout of the night came between a pair of division leaders in San Antonio as the Spurs drilled the Raptors on the final game of their road trip, 110-82. The highest-scoring contest of the evening took place at the Palace of Auburn Hills as the Pacers outlasted the Pistons, 121-116, marking Indiana’s second victory at Detroit within the last month.
Game of the Night – Bulls at Cavaliers – 8:05 PM EST – ESPN
These two Central division rivals meet for the second time this season after Chicago knocked off Cleveland at the United Center in early December, 111-105 as two-point underdogs. All five Bulls’ starters scored in double-figures, led by Jimmy Butler’s 26-point effort, while Rajon Rondo posted a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. Chicago has won four of the past five meetings with Cleveland, while the Bulls have cashed in each of the past three visits to Quicken Loans Arena.
The Bulls (17-18 SU, 16-19 ATS) continue their up-and-down first half after beating the Hornets on Monday, 118-111 as 1 ½-point underdogs. Dwyane Wade sat out for Chicago with a swollen knee, but Butler stepped up by scoring 52 points, including 21 points from the free-throw line. The Bulls improved to 3-10 ATS the last 13 games, but Chicago is riding an 0-6 SU/ATS run the last six games away from the United Center. Fred Hoiberg’s team owns a 5-8 ATS mark as a road underdog this season, as the last win in in this situation came against the Lakers on November 20.
Cleveland (26-7 SU, 16-15-2 ATS) has won 18 of 20 games at Quicken Loans Arena this season, including Monday’s 90-82 triumph over New Orleans. The Cavaliers failed to cash as nine-point favorites, but Cleveland allowed its fewest amount of points this season, while limiting the Pelicans to 13 points in the final quarter. Kyrie Irving sat out for Cleveland with a hamstring injury, as his status is up in air for tonight’s contest. Kevin Love is also questionable for the Cavaliers after losing 10 pounds in the last few days due to food poisoning over the weekend.
Blazing a Trail
The Warriors eliminated the Blazers from the second round of the playoffs last season, as Golden State goes for its third win over Portland this season. In the previous matchup at Oracle Arena on December 17, the Warriors routed the Blazers, 135-90 as Golden State shot nearly 59% from the floor. The Warriors have won eight consecutive meetings with the Blazers in Oakland, while covering seven times in this stretch. Damian Lillard is listed as doubtful for Portland with an ankle injury as the Blazers are 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS since the point guard has been sidelined.
Oklahoma City has struggled in the role of a road underdog recently, coming off Monday’s 98-94 loss at Milwaukee. The Thunder dropped to 1-4 SU/ATS in the last five opportunities when receiving points on the highway with the only victory coming at Boston on December 23. OKC heads to Charlotte tonight face a Hornets’ squad coming off consecutive losses to the Cavaliers and Bulls. In those two defeats, the Hornets allowed 121 and 118 points, but Charlotte has won five straight games in the home favorite role.
The Grizzlies continue their venture in Los Angeles after falling to the Lakers last night, 116-102, while allowing L.A. to hit 17 three-pointers. Memphis plays again at Staples Center tonight, facing the Clippers for the third time this season. The road team has won each of the first two meetings, including a 111-107 triumph by the Grizzlies as 12 ½-point underdogs on November 16. The Clippers snapped a six-game losing streak in Monday’s 109-98 triumph over the Suns as 4 ½-point favorites. Chris Paul will likely miss his fourth straight game with a hamstring injury as L.A. is 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS without the All-Star guard.
Heating Up Hawks
Atlanta has caught fire of late by winning three straight games, capped off by Sunday’s overtime victory against San Antonio as five-point ‘dogs, 114-112. The Hawks travel to Orlando tonight looking to avenge a 131-120 home defeat on December 13. The Magic shot 58% from the floor, while hitting 15 three-pointers in the win as 8 ½-point underdogs. Orlando outlasted New York on Monday, 115-103, but the Magic have struggled as a home ‘dog this season by covering three of nine times.
— The Bucks and Knicks are hooking up for the first time this season this evening at Madison Square Garden. Milwaukee grabbed two of three meetings last season, while the Bucks are 6-2 in the previous eight matchups since the start of the 2014-15 campaign.
— The Heat beat the Kings in their earlier matchup in overtime on November 1 in Miami. The two teams lock horns in Sacramento tonight as Miami goes for its sixth straight win in the series. Both squads are playing with no rest as the Heat are 1-6, while the Kings are 2-5 when playing on the second of a back-to-back set.