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Steve Merril’s NBA Fullcourt Report (February 02)
The NBA takes center stage with a pair of nationally televised games on Thursday night. Two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference face off when Cleveland visits Miami. Meanwhile, the reigning world champion Spurs pay a visit to a young but talented team from Golden State.
Below is a preview of the two TNT clashes tonight.
CLEVELAND at MIAMI (-7, 198) (TNT)
The Cavaliers have been a very streaky team this season, both good and bad. They started the year 9-2 ATS, then went just 1-8 ATS. That was followed by an 8-1 ATS run and then a recent 2-6 ATS slide. The Cavaliers are once again warming up as they entered on a 6-0 SU (5-0-1 ATS) streak last night. Cleveland extended its winning streak to seven games, but ultimately failed to cover the single-point spread, winning 91-85 as a 7-point home favorite.
LeBron James led the way with a triple-double as he had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Nets. The win improved Cleveland’s home record to 17-5 SU this season, but the Cavaliers were weaker on the road, going just 10-12 SU. Cleveland has also struggled against superior teams with a 4-7 ATS underdog mark, compared to a 21-10 ATS record as the runout favorite. However, Cleveland is 4-2 ATS in its last six underdog roles.
Miami was embarrassed in the first head-to-head meeting Dec. 15 when Cleveland won 115-107 as a 1½-point home favorite. Cleveland dominated the game more than the final eight-point margin would indicate as the Cavaliers held a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Miami comes into this game with three straight wins, including a 118-114 home win over the LA Clippers on Tuesday in which the Heat barely failed to cover as 4 ½ point favorites. Overall, Miami is 9-3 SU (7-5 ATS) in its last twelve games.
Star guard Dwyane Wade continues to battle an ankle injury and missed the Heat’s 91-85 win at Charlotte on Saturday night. Wade has played well in the last two games, scoring 32 and 28 points, but depth at the point guard is a concern as substitute Jason Williams sits out with a broken finger.
SAN ANTONIO (-7) at GOLDEN STATE (TNT)
Golden State played its third straight game last night without leading scorer Jason Richardson, who is suffering from back pain. Richardson is once again questionable tonight and leads the Warriors in scoring (22.8 ppg) and is second in assists (2.8 apg), steals (1.4 spg) and third in rebounds (5, 9 rpg).
Golden State lost to Seattle 111-107, but point guard Baron Davis played great and led the way with 35 points and nine assists. The Warriors held a 62-56 halftime lead but were outscored 29-9 in the third quarter and trailed by 14 points early in the final period.
Golden State had actually topped its two previous opponents without Richardson as the Warriors beat Portland 98-83 on Saturday, following a 106-105 overtime loss to the Lakers the previous night. Golden State led the Lakers by seven points early in the fourth quarter. Overall, the Warriors have played better than their recent record seems to indicate, as Golden State has led the fourth quarter in seven of their last nine games.
San Antonio has won and covered five straight and overall the reigning world champions are 36-10 SU this season and 15-7 SU on the road. Despite the solid win/loss percentage, bettors overestimated Spurs as evidenced by the team’s mediocre 22-23 ATS mark.
Spurs are now set to play their third game on the road in just four nights and must travel restless after an 86-82 win at Portland. San Antonio is shorthanded as veteran substitutes Nick Van Excel (16 minutes per game) and Robert Horry (19 minutes per game) are both questionable with injuries and didn’t play last night.
The Spurs dominated the first meeting at Golden State on Nov. 23. San Antonio led 66-36 at halftime and edged the Warriors 55-38 percent from the field.
STEVE MERRIL is a professional sports handicapper and a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Get its Premium games here.
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