The Denver Nuggets meet the Phoenix Suns in back-to-back games in Arizona on Friday and Saturday. The Suns are off to a strong start, whereas the Nuggets finally righted the ship after a dismal 1-4 start. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony and the Trail Blazers host his old team when the New York Knicks visit Portland on Sunday.

Devin Booker Phoenix Suns Denver Nuggets NBA Preview Knicks Melo Blazers
Devin Booker leading the Phoenix Suns in transition. The Suns host the Denver Nuggets with back-to-back games in Phoenix this weekend. (Image: Justin Ford/Getty)

The Knicks have the best defense (102.8 ppg) in the league, but they’re in the middle of a West Coast swing. They knocked off the Golden State Warriors last night, but face Sacramento on Friday night in a tough back-to-back spot on the road. On Sunday, the Knicks have a showdown with Melo.

  • Brooklyn Nets at Cleveland Cavs
  • Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
  • Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs
  • Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns
  • Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz
  • Denver Nuggets at Phoneix Suns
  • LA Lakers at Chicago Bulls
  • New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers
  • Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks

LeBron James and the LA Lakers are undefeated when they take the “Lake Show” on the road. The Lakers are only 4-4 at home at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. They’re a perfect 8-0 on the road this season, heading into an arduous seven-game road trip. They’ll face a tough assignment against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, who are one of the best ATS teams in the NBA.

If the Lakers can stay perfect on the road, they will tie the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors for most road wins to begins a season with 14.

Friday: Mavs/Spurs Texas Throwdown

Brooklyn Nets (9-7) at Cleveland Cavs (7-7)… Brooklyn’s Big 3 (Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving) are seeking their first win together as a unit. The Nets have a chance to exact revenge against the Cavs after a double-overtime loss the other night. Collin Sexton lit up Brooklyn for a career-high 42 points. The Cavs spoiled the debut of Brooklyn’s Big 3 and the return of Irving, who missed two weeks of the season due to personal reasons. The Nets are 7-9 ATS this season. UPDATE: KD will miss the game due to rest.

Boston Celtics (8-5) at Philadelphia 76ers (10-5)… The 76ers are the top team in the Eastern Conference for the moment. They’re also the first team from the east to win 10 games. Meanwhile, the Celtics dropped two in a row and trying to regain traction after missing multiple games due to COVID-10 cancellations. Just like last season, the Sixers are impossible to beat in Philly. Joel Embiid and the Sixers boast the best home record in the league with an 8-1 clip.

Dallas Mavericks (7-7) at San Antonio Spurs (8-7)… The Mavs recently ended a three-game skid thanks to a triple-double by Luka Doncic (13 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists). Kristaps Porzingis scored a season-high 27 points in the victory over the Indiana Pacers. The Unicorn scored 20-plus in three straight games since returning from knee surgery last week. Since San Antonio started the season 2-4, Pops and the Spurs are 6-3 over their last nine games. The Spurs are 9-6 ATS.

Saturday: Denver/Phoenix Repeat, Spida 7-Game Win Streak

Denver Nuggets (7-7) at Phoenix Suns (8-5)… Nikola Jokic is posting MVP-like numbers for Denver while averaging a triple-double with 25.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 10 assists per game. Devin Booker leads Phoenix in scoring with 22.2 ppg. He scored 20-plus in all but two games this season. His season high is only 33 points, but you have a feeling he’s ready for an offensive eruption. Betting wise, it’s been more profitable to fade Denver than to back them with a 5-9 ATS clip. On the flip side, Phoenix has one of the better against the spread records at 8-5. If you want to fade Denver on the road, the second game of the back-to-back tussle in Phoenix could be an ideal spot on Saturday.

LA Lakers (12-4) at Chicago Bulls (6-8)… The Lakers have the best record in the league, thanks to a perfect 8-0 streak on the road this season. LeBron, AD, and company meet the Bulls in game two of seven on the road, which means Frank Vogel will rely heavily on his bench. The Bulls have the best ATS record in the NBA this season with a 10-4 clip, while the Lakers hold their own at 7-5 ATS. The Lakers beat the Greek Freak and the Milwaukee Bucks on their home court on Thursday, and make a short trip to the Windy City.

Golden State Warriors (8-7) at Utah Jazz (11-4)… Utah has the second-best record in the NBA behind the Lakers, thanks to a seven-game winning streak. The Jazz is one of the best teams against the spread this season with a 10-5 ATS clip. We keep hyping Utah’s three-guard triumvirate because they’re fun to watch, with Donovan “Spida” Mitchell leading the way with 24.3 ppg. He’s fresh off a 36-point game against the Pelicans in which he went 6-for-8 from downtown.

Sunday: Trae Young vs Greek Freak, Melo vs Old Team

New York Knicks (8-8) at Portland Trail Blazers (8-6)… Portland is 6-8 ATS, while the up-and-coming Knicks are 8-8 ATS. Melo went 1-1 against the Knicks last season, averaging 21 ppg in those meetings. Melo started last season, but he’s coming off the bench this season as the Sixth Man, averaging 12.2 ppg. The Blazers won’t have leading scorer CJ McCollum for at least a month because of a fractured foot. It’s time for Damian Lillard to shine. Expect Rodney Hood to get some quality minutes filling in for CJ. Melo catches the road-weary Knicks in their third of four games on a West Coast swing. Julius Randle (22.4 ppg, 11.4 rebounds) leads the Knicks in scoring, and he’s on the shortlist to win the 2021 NBA Most Improved Player award.

Atlanta Hawks (7-7) at Milwaukee Bucks (9-6)… The Bucks are 6-9 ATS and ranked sixth-worst against the spread in the NBA. The Hawks are just a break-even team with a 7-7 ATS record. Despite that, the Hawks sit in first place in the Southeast Division. The Hawks started the season 3-0, but went 4-7 since then. They won two in a row and face a tough opponent on the road. Trae Young averages 24 points and nine assists per game (ranked #3 in the NBA). Young torched the Pistons for 38 points in an overtime win. He started the season on fire, scoring 29-plus in his first four games in December, including 37 on opening night. He cooled off in early January, but looks like he’s heating up again.

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