Wednesday night in the NBA features 22 of the 30 teams in action. There are a number of storylines that are worth watching and a lot of potential playoff previews on tap, but there are also some teams that are facing major crossroads in their season.
We’ll start with the Orlando Magic, who appear to be in a heck of a lot of trouble. They have lost four games in a row and have averaged just 76.0 PPG in those games. Dwight Howard, who has publicly mentioned on a number of different occasions that he would like to be traded, has called out his teammates for a lack of heart and energy on the court. Head coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith have to be considered on a very hot seat as we head into February.
There is some good news for the Magic on Wednesday, though. Jameer Nelson has been battling concussion symptoms, while Jason Richardson sat out Monday’s game with a swollen knee. Both could be back in the fold for a Hump Day showdown with the Washington Wizards in a 7:00 (ET) tip.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers are back in action on their home court to continue a horrifying stretch of seven games against teams that are each almost certainly going to be in the postseason. The Sixers are still controlling the Atlantic Division, extending their lead to five games over the Boston Celtics with a win over the aforementioned Magic on Monday.
Philly puts its 10-3 ATS home mark on the line against the Chicago Bulls and their 9-4 ATS road record at 7:00 (ET) at the Wells Fargo Center.
The real showcase games Wednesday are on ESPN, though.
In the 8:00 (ET) start time, the Dallas Mavericks take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are still sporting the best record in basketball, but they are coming off of a brutal loss in Tinseltown to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
Dallas, meanwhile, comes into this rematch of the Western Conference Finals having won six out of seven SU (4-3 ATS), much of which has come despite of injuries to key players. Jason Kidd is still battling a strained calf muscle which will probably keep him out of this one, but the likes of Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki are back in the saddle, which should only help out the Mavs against the talented Thunder.
The nightcap features those pesky Clippers on the road at the Utah Jazz. Los Angeles is still the talk of the town right now with some of its flashy play. Blake Griffin threw down a dunk in Monday’s win over the Thunder that was the buzz of social media for hours. He continues to be one of the more dominating big men in the game, and the combination of Griffin plus guards Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups is just too much for some teams to stop.
However, the problem that the Clippers have this year is they haven’t been tested on the road all that much. They are only 2-4 SU and ATS on the road thus far in 2012, and the Jazz, who are 8-5 ATS and 10-3 SU at home this year, aren’t going to be the nicest hosts for sure. Utah won 108-79 just two weeks ago when these teams met at this venue.
Tip time from EnergySolutions Arena is set for 10:30 p.m. (ET).
The rest of the Wednesday night NBA rotation schedule is littered with fine games as well. The Boston Celtics look to keep their positive mojo going against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden at 7:30 (ET). The Detroit Pistons, who have just one road win on the road face the New Jersey Nets in the Garden State at 7:30 (ET) as well.
The other 8:00 (ET) tips feature the Indiana Pacers at the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Phoenix Suns taking on the New Orleans Hornets in the Bayou, and the Miami Heat looking for some revenge on the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs get it on in a Lone Star State showdown at 8:30 (ET), while the Portland Trail Blazers put their pristine 9-1 SU mark at the Rose Garden on the line against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats at 10:00 (ET).