Our resident US Sports tipster Mark Kirwan has taken a look at tonight's games in the NBA and come up with a trio of selections for you to consider...
"Malik Monk is impressing off the bench early in the season, and Dwight Howard looks motivated. Expect the Hornets to break the Magic's spell."
San Antonio Spurs @ Indiana Pacers
Until Friday's loss to the Magic, the Spurs had, as they so often do, been defying the naysayers keen to write them off as past it. Kawhi Leonard's injury, and the uncertainty over his likely return, will have amplified doubts about their prospects for the season, but the team is not following that script, their 4-0 start having matched their previous best season openings under Coach Pop. LaMarcus Aldridge has shown signs that he's ready to step up after two anaemic seasons, and Rudy Gay has fitted into the line-up seamlessly.
After the offseason shocks, the Pacers are suggesting they may buck the gloomier predictions about their future as well. Victor Oladipo is clearly enjoying the opportunity to step out from Russell Westbrook's shadow and lead a team. He scored 35 points against his former team this week, and he will be the focal point of a franchise looking for something positive after a traumatic summer. Still, the Spurs should have too much, and would hope to get back on track after the Magic loss.
Spurs -7 at [1.96] on the Handicap market
Orlando Magic @ Charlotte Hornets
One genuinely surprising team visits a preseason dark horse in the East, when the Magic take on the Hornets. Orlando delivered San Antonio's first defeat of the season in comprehensive fashion on Friday, moving to 4-1 through five games with the 114-87 routing of the Spurs. This was their first home win over the Spurs since 2010. Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon have led their early season surge, averaging over 20 points per game each, and helping the Magic to an unlikely ranking of third in the league for average points scored.
Their win over the Spurs should be cause for optimism going into Charlotte, whose stingy defence. The Hornets lead the league in defensive rebounding so far, and are giving up the fewest free throws per game in the league. By contrast, Orlando are consistently fouling, and this will likely cost them in the long-run. Kemba Walker led Charlotte in scoring in Friday's loss to the Rockets with 26 points, rookie Malik Monk is impressing off the bench early in the season, and Dwight Howard looks motivated. Expect the Hornets to break the Magic's spell.
Under 212.5 at [1.9] on the Total Points market
Washington Wizards @ Sacramento Kings
The Wizards aren't enjoying their first west coast trip of the season. While the Lakers win over Washington was foreseen by some - take a bow Lavar Ball - they'll be hoping not to repeat that performance too often this season. They only have themselves to blame for allowing the Lakers steal that game in overtime, giving up a 10 point fourth quarter lead. Those who doubt the Wizards credentials as title challengers will have taken note.
They followed it up with a more impressive display in a close loss to the Warriors. Again, however, they led by double digits going into the fourth before losing the game. They'll round off this West coast swing against one of the conference's lesser lights, the Kings, and will be hoping to grind out a win to move to 4-2. The Kings are solidly in the lower half of the league through the opening games of the season, the upheaval of the offseason taking time to settle down. John Wall and company will not want to leave California at .500.
Wizards -5.5 points at [1.89] on the Handicap