Good late morning or early afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! Let’s get you ready for tonight’s NBA slate and hit on some other topics across multiple sports. Here we go…
–First of all, let’s wish a Happy Birthday to the one and only, Stephen Orr Spurrier (!). He won the 1966 Heisman Trophy, married the Homecoming Queen, is the all-time leader in wins at both Florida and South Carolina, won ‘the national’ on Jan. 2 of 1997 with a 52-20 revenge pimpslap on FSU’s face, went 11-1 vs. Georgia at UF, owns a 3-1 straight-up record and a 4-0 against-the-spread ledger in four head-to-head meetings against Nick Saban (combined score of 140-54!) and led South Carolina to its only five-game winning streak over Clemson (with all five wins coming by double-digit margins). I could rip off about 80-90 more accomplishments, but there’s no need. HBD to the HBC!
–There’s a veteran WR and quality deep threat in the college football transfer portal. Arkansas won’t have Mike Woods in 2021 after he chose to leave Fayetteville with an announcement this morning.
–FSU has added a 2024 home game vs. Mike Norvell’s former team, Memphis.
—Tom Crean‘s Georgia program received crushing news this morning when Sahvir Wheeler simultaneously entered the NBA Draft and the transfer portal. Like Mac McClung leaving Texas Tech, Wheeler will keep his eligibility by not signing with an agent, and he’s not expected to stay in the draft (unless he’s good with not being picked). Wheeler is a big-time college player, though, leading the SEC in assists this past season and garnering first-team All-SEC honors from the coaches. He averaged 13.9 points and 7.3 assists for the Bulldogs in 2020-21. Crean hasn’t taken UGA to the NCAA Tournament after three seasons, and the Bulldogs haven’t been to the Sweet 16 since 1995 (the longest active drought among SEC schools) when Tubby Smith was roaming the sidelines in Athens.
–There are five games on tonight’s NBA card. Atlanta (-12 or -12.5) is the biggest favorite at home vs. Orlando. Portland and Brooklyn are underdogs due to injuries, while the Knicks are hosting an injury-riddled Charlotte squad. Sacramento also plays host to Minnesota.
–After leaving Sunday’s buzzer-beating loss at Miami in the first quarter, Kevin Durant is ‘out’ (thigh contusion) tonight at New Orleans. Nicolas Claxton is also ‘out’ due to health and safety protocols. The Nets are also without James Harden (hamstring), Chris Chiozza (hand), Tyler Johnson (knee), Reggie Perry (illness) and Spencer Dinwiddie (knee).
–As of early this morning, most shops had the Pelicans installed as three-point home favorites vs. Brooklyn with a total of 234.5. The ‘over’ is on a 5-2 run for the Nets to improve to 34-23 overall. The ‘over’ has cashed at a 37-15 clip for New Orleans in its last 52 games.
–New Orleans has lost three games in a row both straight up and against the spread, including back-to-back overtime losses at Washington and at New York on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Pelicans are mired in a 3-8 ATS slump, including a 139-111 loss at Brooklyn on April 7. We should note that Harden and Brandon Ingram were ‘out’ of that game. Durant played only 18:56, but he contributed 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, making all of five of his field-goal attempts, both of his 3-point launches and all five of his free throws. Zion Williamson was limited to 16 points, six assists and four rebounds in just 22:36 of action.
–Charlotte is hoping LaMelo Ball can return in the next 7-10 days. Ball was a huge favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors (and remains a slight ‘chalk’) when he was injured back on March 20. He needed surgery to repair a fracture in his right wrist. Ball was averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game through 41 games. Gordon Hayward (19.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG & 4.1 APG), Malik Monk (13.1 PPG) and Nate Darling remains out’ tonight at New York. Devonte’ Graham (14.2 PPG, 5.2 APG) has missed back-to-back games and is ‘questionable’ tonight at MSG in NYC.
–The Knicks are 5.5-point home favorites vs. the Hornets, who snapped a four-game losing streak both SU and ATS with Sunday’s 109-101 home win over Portland (sans Damian Lillard). The Knicks have won six straight games and are on a 9-0 ATS roll. The ‘over’ has hit in four consecutive games for the Knicks and seven of their last nine.
–Atlanta is on a 8-2 run both SU and ATS. The Hawks are going to get Tony Snell (57.1% shooter from 3-point land this year) and Danilo Gallinari back soon, but it won’t be tonight. Also, De’Andre Hunter, Kris Dunn and Cam Reddish remain ‘out.’ The Magic have lost eight of its last nine games while going 3-6 versus the number.
–Portland’s Dillard (28.7 PPG, 7.7 APG & 4.2 RPG) will miss his third consecutive contest with a hamstring issue. Also, Jusuf Nurkic (9.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG & 1.0 BPG) is ‘out’ (injury management). The Trail Blazers, who are just 3-6 both SU and ATS in their last nine outings, (and two of the wins came against lowly Detroit & OKC) are seven-point home underdogs vs. the Clippers, who won 133-116 vs. Portland as 6.5-point home favorites at Staples Center on April 6.
–L.A. will be without Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley tonight. The Clippers own the NBA’s fourth-best ATS record (35-23-1).
–The ‘under’ is on a 7-2 run for Portland in its last nine games. The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight games for the Clippers. Tonight’s total is 223.5 points.
–The Lakers are 7-10 in 17 games without Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Davis might return later this week, but James isn’t going to be back until early May.
–Denver has signed Austin Rivers to a 10-day contract. That’s a solid veteran addition of a player who can hit 3-balls consistently and has plenty of postseason experience. The Nuggets needed backcourt help with Jamal Murray out for the season with a torn ACL, in addition to Monte Morris being out with a hamstring issue. There’s no timetable on Morris’s return yet.
–Washington extended its winning streak to five games with last night’s 119-107 win over Oklahoma City as a 12.5-point home favorite. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 30 points, while Davis Bertans returned from a two-game absence to score 21 on 6-of-12 shooting from long distance. Russell Westbrook produced another triple-double with 13 points, 17 assists and 11 rebounds. The Wizards are 7-1 in their last eight games and they’re 7-2 ATS in their last nine contests. They host Golden St. on Wednesday, with Rui Hachimura (knee) likely to miss a second straight outing.
–Dallas guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is listed as ‘questionable’ for Wednesday’s game.
–Johnny Juzang, the breakout player of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, has declared for the NBA Draft, but he won’t sign with an agent to leave open the option of returning to the Bruins.
–USF’s David Collins (12.5 PPG) is transferring to Clemson.
–It’s UFC 261 Fight Week, and here’s Episode 1 of UFC 261 Embedded.
–Good luck with your bets, folks!