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Each week of the NBA season, we'll highlight some of the top betting angles and plays on the schedule. Here are some tips heading into this week's slate.
Note: Lines for Tuesday and beyond are released later in the week.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics (-13, 214)
If you thought the Browns were imploding, get a load of the Cavaliers. They've lost 12 of their last 13 games and are 3-10 against the spread during that run with eight double-digit losses - including the 47-point loss Saturday that prompted Kevin Love's epic "we suck" rant.
If you're scared off by the line for the Celtics, don't be. Favorites of at least 13 points are 9-5 ATS (69.2%) this year, while Cleveland is 3-12 ATS (20%) when getting at least 13 points since losing LeBron James before last season. Gordon Hayward's expected return Monday only makes this spot juicier for the home team.
Detroit Pistons at New Orleans Pelicans (-1.5, 226.5)
It might be time to show the Pistons some respect. They're 12th in net rating (3.1) since welcoming Blake Griffin back into the lineup Nov. 11, and since Nov. 22, when Griffin reached 30 minutes for the first time this year, they're 5-4 ATS with the fifth-best net rating in the NBA (8.7).
Over that same stretch, the Pelicans are 1-7 ATS with the league's third-worst net rating (minus-15.4) amid eight consecutive straight-up losses. They're also in a brutal spot: Home favorites of -1.5 or shorter are 1-13 ATS/SU this season. Expect the Pistons to keep that alive.
Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat
The Heat started the year on an ATS tear but have lost three straight against the number. Count me among those who see value, not cause for concern. The first was a tough spot in Boston with no rest, while Miami won its next two games and came within a combined 2.5 points of the spread.
The Heat have covered 12 of their last 13 games under coach Erik Spoelstra following a three-game ATS skid. The Hawks, troubled as they are, likely won't be the ones to break that run.
Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic
The Lakers were sneaky inconsistent ATS a few weeks ago but have reached a new level as of late, winning four straight by an average of 18.5 points. The Magic are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games and likely won't have the offense to stay within whatever number oddsmakers hang for this one. This could be a nice under play, too, considering how well L.A. is defending.
Charlotte Hornets at Brooklyn Nets
Are these Nets for real? They've won five straight ATS and are 9-3 ATS without Kyrie Irving, who still hasn't been cleared to play ahead of Wednesday's tilt against the floundering Hornets. Charlotte has dropped five of its last six on the road, getting outscored by 18 points per game in that stretch.
Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets
Remember when these two teams were a pick 'em in their respective season debuts? Their paths have diverged since, with the Nuggets holding the fifth seed and the Blazers swimming with the bottom-feeders. Portland's dropped four of five ATS overall and seven of its last 10 ATS on the road, and the team won't have any answers for Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap inside.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.