BRK @ MIL: After laying an egg on national TV yesterday, the Nets hit the road. Don’t expect an immediate turnaround. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are rested and at home. Larry Sanders is averaging 8.2 BLK, 9.9 REB and 3.6 BLK in December. It wasn’t long ago (Dec. 9) that the Bucks won in Brooklyn and I like them quite a bit this evening.
PHI @ MEM: Both of these teams are defense-oriented, so don’t expect a huge score. Jason Richardson (back) is out, making Dorell Wright a solid spot play. Philly has no answer for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph up front, but Mike Conley will have his hands full trying to slow down Jrue Holiday. I don’t gamble on individual games, but a parlay of the Grizzlies and the under makes sense if you do.
TOR @ SAS: The team that’s won five in a row has no chance. Toronto has been getting tremendous leadership from Jose Calderon since Kyle Lowry (triceps) went down, and they haven’t missed Andrea Bargnani (elbow) with Ed Davis taking on a larger role. However, the recent loss of Jonas Valanciunas (broken finger) means Amir Johnson is now the #1 center, and fantasy cipher Aaron Gray will play more. The Spurs are at full strength, at home, rested and ready. Only the final score is in doubt.
GSW @ UTA: After stamping themselves as a playoff contender on a fabulous Eastern road trip, the Warriors are just 2-2 in the Pacific time zone. That was a stretch of four games in five nights; not they are well rested but it’s never easy for a visiting team in Salt Lake City. The Jazz will again start Jamaal Tinsley for Mo Williams (thumb) which might give Stephen Curry owners a belated Christmas present.
LAL @ DEN: This will be a soundness test for Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, playing two nights in a row. The Nuggets were also in L.A. last night getting Clipped; that game finished eight hours after the Lakers’ win. Both teams enjoy a fast pace, so there will be plenty of scoring, despite the inevitable fatigue at high altitude. I’ll take Kobe at the buzzer for the win.
NYK @ PHO: There are no easy back-to-backs. On the road Christmas Day, then again on December 26, seems worse than most. If Melo could bring his “A” game, the Knicks might win, but he was banged up several times yesterday and his left knee might be tender. An upset is possible, especially if Marcin Gortat feels inspired.
SAC @ POR: This is a revenge match after the Blazers got blown out in Sacramento on Sunday. DeMarcus Cousins was suspended that game (for insubordination) and his teammates rose to the challenge. Tonight, DMC is back, which may actually have a negative effect on the Kings’ volatile chemistry. Portland would be a cinch if Wesley Matthews (hip) was 100%, but even without him, expect LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum to take charge.
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