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What bettors need to know: TNT NBA double header

What bettors need to know: TNT NBA double header

What bettors need to know: TNT NBA double header
By CHRIS MARAKOVITZ

Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls (+8.5, 195.5)


Big Ben turning back the clock

The Cavs posted a dominant 12-2 record in the month of December and wins in 21 of their last 24 games. However, after ripping off 11 ATS wins in a row they are only 7-6 ATS in their last thirteen outings.

A big factor for the team is the resurgence of center Ben Wallace. Wallace has shown flashes of his old dominant self defensively and on the boards. The team is 7-0 when Big Ben grabs 10 or more rebounds.

"Defensively, he does things you can't measure by numbers," Cavs coach Mike Brown told reporters. "On the weak side, (he'll act) like he's coming to help, but gets back to his man. His mere presence makes the paint look crowded. It makes the person with the basketball think twice about driving and having to deal with Ben Wallace."

Wallace missed Cleveland's previous game against the Memphis Grizzlies with a stomach flu and is listed as questionable for Thursday.

Bulls shaping up

The Bulls are finally getting healthy. Monday night, they featured a full lineup for the first time all season. Luol Deng returned after missing eight games with a sprained ankle and Kirk Hinrich was in the lineup for the first time since November 7.

"For some reason, it feels like opening night,” Deng told the media Monday. “Everyone's happy everybody's healthy, looking forward to getting out there and kind of feeling a little energy."

The Bulls looked good early, jumping out to an 11-point lead, before being overpowered by the Blazers in the second half. The new-look lineup fared better Wednesday, posting a 102-98 win as four point dogs at Toronto.


Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets (-1.5, 220)

Resurgent Shaq


Shaquille O'Neal is playing his best ball in years. The Suns center is averaging 22.4 points and 10.1 rebounds along with a 59 percent shooting percentage over his last twelve games. The Suns are 10-2 in those games and are 1-2 without Shaq during that span. The man in the middle has scored 20 or more points in seven of eleven games. The Suns are 8-1 when he reaches the 20-point mark.

Guard Leandro Barbossa is providing a strong scoring spark off the bench. Barbossa has scored in double figures for seven straight games and is shooting .62 percent from behind the arc over the last six games.

One recurring problem for the Suns has been the inability to close teams out. Tuesday night’s game against Atlanta is a case in point. The Suns led 31-16 at the end of the first quarter and were up by 19 points in the second. Nevertheless, they let the Hawks back in the game and actually gave up the lead at one point. The fact that the Suns pulled out the 107-102 win offered little consolation for those who gave the 7.5 points.

Melo on the shelf

The Nuggets are adjusting to life without Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to be out for at least another two weeks. The team is 2-1 since losing their star forward on January 5. In Melo’s absence it appears that guard Chauncey Billups will be picking up the offensive slack. Billups has averaged 24.7 points and 16 field goal attempts a game over the last three.

Coach George Karl hopes that J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza can begin to contribute as well. Both have been in horrible shooting slumps since Anthony went down. Kleiza is 1-for-12 from the field and Smith 4-for-27 over the last two games.

By the numbers

Cavs are 14-3 ATS in their last seventeen against teams with losing SU records.

Bulls are 2-6 ATS in last eight, 1-5 ATS in last five at home.

Suns are 3-7 ATS in their last ten road games.

Home team is 13-3 ATS in last sixteen matchups between Suns and Nuggets.

The Suns have lost their last three in Denver by an average of 14.4 points.

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