Indiana - Boston
You can get a read of a team from how they deal with adversity. After failing their biggest test of the NBA season so far in squandering an opportunity to beat the Miami Heat on Tuesday, the Indiana Pacers rebounded to utterly dominate the Houston Rockets and improve their league-best record to 21-5.
In holding the NBA’s most prolific offense to just 81 points, it underlined that Indiana are capable of throwing a blanket over almost anyone as they continue to concede just 89.9 per game. But the return of Danny Granger could make them even harder to contend with in the months to come.
The former All Star had a low-key seasonable debut against Houston, scoring just five on 1-7 shooting. That’s understandable rustiness after so long on the sidelines but if he approaches his former self, he’ll provide a huge lift for a second unit that is adding only 24.5 per game on average, the fifth-worst return in the league.
It should turn the Pacers into a tougher match-up for elite opponents with longer benches, like San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City while making Indiana a safer bet in second quarter spreads.
On Sunday, they host the Boston Celtics whose own bench is putting up just 29.3 points towards its team tally of 95.5. When the teams met last month, the C’s lost 97-82 with Lance Stephenson getting a triple-double and Paul George scoring 27. For the re-match, Indiana are favoured by -11.5 on the handicap with the total points line at 187.5.
LA Clippers - Minnesota Timberwolves
Sunday’s late game sees the Los Angeles Clippers host the Minnesota Timberwolves and a head-to-head duel between Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. The former had 25 points when the Clips beat their Western rivals 109-107 in early November and 20 in a 102-98 win in Minnesota later that month, when Love was held to just 10.
For the third meeting, the Clippers – coming off four straight victories – are -5.5 on the handicap at 1.85.
Go under the total points line of 187.5 in Indiana-Boston at 1.90
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