theSpread.com NBA Picks and Predictions 1/29

theSpread.com NBA Picks and Predictions 1/29

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their NBA picks and predictions for Thursday, January 29.

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Cleveland Cavilers at Orlando Magic, 8:05PM ET

In their most recent game, the Orlando Magic made a convincing case that there's a lot more to their team than just Dwight Howard.

Considering LeBron James' triple-double wasn't even the biggest achievement during his team's latest win, the Cleveland Cavaliers could present the same argument.

Two of the NBA's elite will square off for the first time this season on Thursday night at Amway Arena, where the Cavaliers will look to build off Mo Williams' career night as they face a Magic team that had eight players score in double-figures their last time out.

Howard and James are two of the league's biggest stars, and the former No. 1 overall draft picks have already received their fair share of accolades.

They shared an Olympic gold-medal podium last summer in Beijing, but since coming back have an NBA title in mind, and they're on the right track. The Cavaliers (35-8) have the league's best overall record and the Magic (34-10) are the NBA's top road team at 17-6.

The superstars came through in typical fashion on Tuesday - Howard with his league-leading 34th double-double, and James had 23 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists for his 20th career triple-double.

Seven of James' assists went to Williams, who torched Sacramento for a career-high 43 points while nearly compiling his own triple-double. Williams, who James feels should be one of seven Eastern All-Star reserves that will be announced Thursday night, added 11 assists and eight rebounds in Cleveland's 117-110 victory.

NBA Free Pick: Cleveland – Best Line: +4.5 Sports Interaction

San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns, 10:35PM ET

The San Antonio Spurs have dealt the Phoenix Suns some tough losses in recent years, eliminating them from the playoffs three of the last four seasons.

The Suns hoped their acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal midway through last season would be the solution, and while it didn't work last spring, the rejuvenated star is playing some of his best basketball in years as the Suns and Spurs head into Thursday night's meeting in Phoenix.

San Antonio ousted Phoenix from the playoffs in the conference finals in 2005 and the conference semifinals in 2007.

The Suns traded for O'Neal at last season's deadline to help prevent another early exit from the postseason with a new commitment to defense. But the fast-paced team struggled to adjust to the 7-foot-1, 325-pounder's presence in the middle and won just once in their best-of-seven, first-round series against the Spurs.

O'Neal, though, appears to have settled into his current role with the Suns (25-18) under first-year coach Terry Porter. After averaging 12.9 points with the team last season, he's scoring 18.2 per game in 2008-09, including 22.1 over his last 18 games.

O'Neal had 29 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots while going 10-for-14 from the field in a 103-87 win over Washington on Monday night.

The Suns outscored the Wizards by 25 points when O'Neal was in the game to finish their road trip with back-to-back wins after dropping five of their previous six overall.

NBA Free Pick: San Antonio – Best Line: +1 Sports Interaction

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