Seven games on the NBA schedule Tonight, highlighted by a potential NBA Finals preview between the Rockets & Hawks. SBR has all the games covered and here's a synopsis of each.
Lakers vs. Hornets (-8, 193), 7 p.m.
Covered by: Darin
Los Angeles had a season-high three-game winning streak snapped at home by Oklahoma City and this begins a three-game road trip. It's not clear if Lakers leading scorer Nick Young will play in Charlotte as he has missed the past three games with a sore left knee. Charlotte has followed a five-game losing streak by winning two of three, all on the road. The Hornets lost 107-92 in Los Angeles on Nov. 9 and they have dropped six of seven in the series, averaging just 87.8 points in the losses. Does Darin like L.A. to complete the season sweep?
Celtics vs. Cavaliers (-11, 209), 7 p.m.
Covered by: Scott
Here's the biggest spread mismatch on the NBA odds board Tuesday and the Cavaliers, particularly LeBron James, figure to play a bit angry as they have dropped two straight. In Sunday's entertaining 105-103 OT loss in Houston, LeBron had 37 points but also missed two free throws with 4.2 seconds left in OT and took the blame for the defeat. Cleveland has played its past two games without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, but he's expected back against Boston. The Cavs have won 11 straight at home, outscoring foes by an average of 14.8 points. Cleveland won its only meeting with the Celtics thus far, 122-121 in Boston in mid-November. Check out where Scott is leaning for this one.
Kings vs. Knicks (+2, 199.5), 7 p.m.
Covered by: Matt
Probably no game on Tuesday has more uncertainty around it than this one and it all surrounds Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, one of the most dominant players in the league this season and among the NBA leaders in double-doubles. Cousins has missed the past two games with a left ankle injury and is questionable for the Knicks. The Kings aren't very good even when Cousins plays and they are terrible when he doesn't, going 2-12 this year. When Sacramento beat visiting New York 132-129 in overtime earlier this season, Cousins had a season-high 39 points. The Knicks, now a roster of largely unknowns, bring a two-game winning streak into this game, only their third streak of that long all year. Matt says wait on the NBA pick for this game on Cousins' status.
Rockets vs. Hawks (-9, 199.5), 7:30 p.m.
Covered by: Joe C.
While this could be an NBA Finals preview, the Rockets are going to be without their two best players in James Harden and Dwight Howard. Harden was suspended for this game after kicking LeBron James in the groin during a skirmish in Sunday's win over Cleveland. It will be the first missed game of the season for the NBA's leading scorer. Howard has missed several weeks with an injury and isn't close to returning. Houston has won five in a row. Atlanta has won four straight and is a lock to be the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks won in Houston 104-97 on Dec. 20. Joe C. likes the possibility of a season sweep.
Wizards vs. Bulls (+1.5, 186.5), 8 p.m.
Covered by: Kevin
The injury-ravaged Bulls begin life without their best all-around player this season, All-Star guard Jimmy Butler. He strained his elbow in Sunday's home loss to the Clippers and will miss 3-6 weeks. Of course Chicago remains without Derrick Rose possibly through the end of the regular season. The team also will be without sixth man Taj Gibson for at least a few games as he's battling an ankle injury. Washington ended a six-game losing streak with Saturday's 99-95 win over Detroit. That game saw the return of Bradley Beal from an eight-game injury absence and Paul Pierce from missing two games. The Wizards have won five straight in Chicago, including last year's playoffs. Kevin doesn't like Chicago's chances so short-handed.
Jazz vs. Grizzlies (-8, 182), 8 p.m.
Covered by: Jason
Utah is playing some of its best basketball of the season after dealing young big man Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City ahead of the trade deadline. The Jazz are 4-1 since that deal as Rudy Gobert has really emerged as a defensive dynamo in the paint. This could be a bit of a trap game for Memphis, which might be looking ahead to Wednesday's matchup at division rival Houston, which trails the Grizzlies by 1.5 games for first place in the Southwest Division. Memphis has won eight of 10 in the series with Utah but split two meetings earlier this season. Jason likes taking the points here.
Bucks vs. Nuggets (+5.5, 192), 9 p.m.
Covered by: SBR staff
Denver has the longest current losing streak in the NBA at six straight amid rumors the team might fire Coach Brian Shaw after the season. The Nuggets also have dropped an embarrassing 10 straight games at home, the team's longest skid there since an 11-game losing streak in the 1997-98 season. One of the few bright spots on Denver this season has been the play of rookie center Jusuf Nurkic, but he will miss a third straight game with a foot injury. The Bucks have started a four-game road trip with losses at the Lakers and Jazz. Milwaukee beat visiting Denver 89-81 on Feb. 20. SBR staff recommends Denver in this one.