Tonight promises to bring another crushing defeat for the LA Lakers, who are struggling with star men Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, writes Mark Woods...
Minnesota Timberwolves 1.12, LA Lakers 6.75 - BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 01.05 GMT
This could be the night where the Los Angeles Lakers finally get their point guard back. But whether Steve Nash makes his often-delayed comeback on Tuesday on the road at the Minnesota Timberwolves or not, it’s unlikely to lift his team from the depths.
The former NBA MVP played only six times this season before going down injured in early November. Yet in that stretch, even with Kobe Bryant out, he averaged only 6.7 points and 4.8 assists, both well below his career marks.
Just three days shy of his 40th birthday, there are many who think that with his aching back and the miles in his legs, Nash would be better off walking away than hobbling on for the final 18 months on his deal.
His minutes will be limited. His ability to elevate a team above its norm has been reduced. And with the Lakers pushing the pace to 97.2 possession per game (equal second in the league with Minnesota), you wonder if he’ll even be able to fit into Mike D’Antoni’s system.
It can’t surely make LA any worse than they are with six straight losses, a 16-31 record, and the absences of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol hanging around their necks.
The Timberwolves, who are favoured by -9.5 on the handicap at 1.83, have dropped two games in a row without Nikola Pekovic but they are 13-9 at home and Kevin Love should be able to impose himself on Ryan Kelly to find gaps in the Lakers already porous defence.
Atlanta Hawks 2.25, Indiana Pacers 1.65
The Indiana Pacers have re-taken the best record in the NBA and they get a chance to avenge one of their handful of losses when they visit the Atlanta Hawks.
Defeated 97-87 on their previous trip here last month, the Pacers have gone 9-3 since with Atlanta – who are 2.25 for the win - going 6-2 over their last eight games despite an injury list that now includes John Jenkins.
Much of the Hawks surge has been down to their offense which has put up 111.0 per game over that stretch, making it an intriguing challenge for the defensively-stringent Pacers.
But they’ve been able to solve such puzzles repeatedly and there’s good value in going under the total points line of 192.5 at 2.40.
Best bet: Take Minnesota at -11.5 on the handicap over the LA Lakers at 2.16.