Suns at Pacers
It's the NBA best team -- at least by record -- against perhaps the league's most surprising of the season with Indiana an opening 10-point favorite against Phoenix on NBA odds with a total of 199.
The Suns (29-14-1 ATS, 24-19-1 O/U at sportsbooks entering Wednesday) were supposed to fall apart when guard Eric Bledsoe went down with a knee injury in early January that could cost him most if not all the rest of the season. Phoenix struggled immediately after that injury but has righted the ship. It had won four of its past five games entering Wednesday night's visit to the NBA's worst team, Milwaukee. The Suns probably aren't going to have an All-Star, but guard Goran Dragic is having a great season, averaging 19.4 points, 6.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He would get a $1 million bonus if named a reserve on Thursday.
Indiana (29-15 ATS, 18-25-1 O/U at sportsbooks) finished a five-game trip through the Western Conference with a 104-92 victory at the plummeting Lakers on Tuesday. They have an All-Star starter in Paul George and are hoping to get two reserves in Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert. Stephenson is putting up near-LeBron James numbers in his past three games, averaging 20.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Stephenson will be a very rich man this summer as a free agent. The Pacers return home with by far the NBA's best home record at 21-1 (16-6 ATS).
These two teams met in the desert Jan. 22 and it was a fairly shocking result with the Suns winning 124-100, the most points allowed this season by the No. 1 Indiana defense. It also matched the Pacers' worst loss of the year. Phoenix scored exactly 62 in each half, the most in any half allowed by the Pacers, and shot 54 percent overall. Dragic had 21 in that one. George had 26 for Indiana but was minus-14. The Pacers were 5.5-point favorites for sports bettors.
Free NBA picks: Pacers -10 and under. Don't think Indiana won't remember that last meeting? The under has hit in 15 of Indiana's 22 home games.
Cavaliers at Knicks
The TNT opener is Cleveland's first visit of the season to Madison Square Garden. New York opened as a 5.5-point favorite on NBA odds with a total of 196.5. Two Eastern Conference All-Star starters are in this one in Cleveland's Kyrie Irving and the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony.
The Cavaliers haven't gotten the boost they expected in trading for Chicago's Luol Deng as they are just 4-6 in games the former All-Star has played. Deng's numbers are all way down from his first 23 games this season with the Bulls, although he is dealing with a sore Achilles' and has seen his minutes cut by about five per game.
Cleveland just completed a five-game homestand by losing four of them, and the only win was against the NBA-worst Bucks. The Cavs heard the boo-birds in Tuesday's 100-89 defeat to New Orleans. Deng was just 3-for-10 from the field for six points. There actually was a pulse from 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett. He played a season-high 31 minutes and responded with a career-high 15 points and eight rebounds. Cleveland played without starting big man Anderson Varejao with a knee injury and he's questionable for Thursday.
The Knicks (19-26 ATS, 24-21 O/U at sportsbooks) have followed a five-game losing streak that brought out rumors of Coach Mike Woodson's job status again with a three-game winning streak. That latter run began Saturday when Anthony scored a career- and franchise-record 62 against the Bobcats. Thanks largely to Melo, the Knicks offense is averaging 116.3 points in the past three (all over the total for sports bettors). New York has had five players score in double figures in back-to-back games.
Starting Knicks guard Iman Shumpert hurt his shoulder in Tuesday's rout of the Celtics and is questionable for Thursday. Either J.R. Smith or Tim Hardaway Jr. would likely to move into the starting lineup. Starter Andrea Bargnani remains out indefinitely with an elbow issue.
The Knicks visited Cleveland in the teams' only meeting thus far on Dec. 10 and lost 109-94 with the Cavs easily covering the -2.5 points for sports bettors. Irving had 37 points and Anthony 29. Tyson Chandler missed that game for the Knicks.
Free NBA picks: We'll take the Knicks -5.5 and the under in our NBA picks. New York has won four straight at home in this series. Cleveland has covered only two of its past nine road games against teams with a losing home record. The under has hit in five straight for the Cavs.