2016-NBA-Friday night-Preview of the most interesting games for tonight

Pistons at Hornets – 7:05 PM EST

The Southeast division race is tightening up as Charlotte (35-28 SU, 33-29-1 ATS) is riding a five-game winning streak. The Hornets pulled away from the Pelicans late in Wednesday’s 122-113 victory to improve to 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in the last 10 games at Time Warner Cable Arena. Since early February, Steve Clifford’s team has posted a terrific 9-3 ATS record, while scoring at least 108 points in each of the past five victories. The Hornets crushed the Pistons in their previous matchup at home on December 7, holding Detroit to 37% shooting from the floor in a 104-84 rout, but the Pistons did play with no rest.

Detroit (33-31 SU, 33-30-1 ATS) continues its four-game road trip after knocking off Dallas on Wednesday as two-point underdogs, 102-96. All five Pistons’ starters scored in double-figures, led by center Andre Drummond’s 25 points and 17 rebounds, the 17th consecutive game the All-Star center had pulled down double-digit rebounds. Detroit continues a solid run to the ‘under’ by cashing in nine of the past 12 games, including six straight ‘unders’ away from the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Rockets at Celtics – 7:35 PM EST

One of the most improved teams in the league continues to impress as Boston (39-26 SU, 36-28-1 ATS) looks to equal its win total from last season with a victory tonight. The Celtics have won 14 consecutive games at TD Garden, including Wednesday’s 116-96 rout of the short-handed Grizzlies to cash as 11 ½-point favorites. In all 14 of these home victories, Brad Stevens’ team has eclipsed the 100-point mark, but the ‘over’ has hit only seven times in this stretch. The Celtics go for the season sweep of the Rockets after dominating Houston at the Toyota Center, 111-95 in mid-November as 4 ½-point underdogs.

The Rockets (32-32 SU, 28-36 ATS) look to bust the .500 mark with a win as Houston is coming off a pair of road victories over Toronto and Philadelphia. In Wednesday’s 118-104 triumph over the 76ers, the Rockets outscored Philadelphia, 13-1 in the final four minutes to grab the cover as 9 ½-point favorites. Houston has put together a solid 6-3 ATS mark in its past nine games in the underdog role, including recent victories at Toronto and Portland. The Rockets have struggled against Eastern Conference squads on the road, posting a 4-6 SU/ATS record.

Heat at Bulls – 8:05 PM EST

It feels like a mystery at this point with Chicago (32-31 SU, 26-37 ATS) on who it will throw on the floor on a nightly basis. The Bulls continue to play without leading scorer Jimmy Butler, as they fell short at San Antonio last night, 109-101, but covered as 14 ½-point underdogs. The backcourt duo of Derrick Rose and E’Twaun Moore combined to score 41 points in Thursday’s loss, as the Bulls look for a better effort against Miami than its last contest against them 10 days ago. Chicago allowed Miami to shoot a scorching 67% from the floor in a 129-111 loss to the Heat as six-point ‘dogs, the second defeat to the Heat this season.

Miami (37-27 SU, 34-29-1 ATS) looks to stay atop the Southeast division with Charlotte and Atlanta lurking behind. The Heat’s five-game winning streak came to a halt in Wednesday’s 114-108 defeat at Milwaukee as 3 ½-point favorites, even though Miami shot 52% from the field. Erik Spoelstra’s squad begins a crucial back-to-back set with a visit to Toronto on Saturday, as the Heat have won eight of their last 11 games on the highway. Since rallying past Chicago at the United Center on January 25, Miami has covered in 14 of its past 20 contests.

Knicks at Clippers – 10:35 PM EST

New York (27-39 SU, 35-31 ATS) attempts to win back-to-back games for the first time since late January as the Knicks remain out West. On Wednesday, New York routed Phoenix for the second time this season, 128-97 as the Knicks drilled 16 three-pointers, including six treys fromSasha Vujacic. The Knicks finished ‘over’ the total for the first time in seven games, while scoring a season-high 128 points. New York looks to avenge a 116-88 home defeat to Los Angeles in January, as the Knicks have lost seven straight meetings with the Clippers.

Los Angeles (41-22 SU, 31-29-3 ATS) return home after getting chased at Oklahoma City on Wednesday, 120-108. The Clippers haven’t lost consecutive games since before Christmas, posting a 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS in the last nine contests off a defeat. Doc Rivers’ club has been uneven at Staples Center recently by going 4-4, which includes losses to the Wolves and Nuggets as double-digit favorites. The Clippers look to shape up their defense after Wednesday’s defeat to OKC as Los Angeles has finished ‘under’ the total in eight of the past 11 contests.

Blazers at Warriors – 10:35 PM EST

Portland (34-31 SU, 37-28 ATS) ended a three-game losing streak by rallying past Washington on Wednesday, 116-109 in overtime to cash as 5 ½-point favorites. The Blazers have lost three straight games away from the Moda Center, all against teams currently in the top eight of the Eastern Conference (Boston, Toronto, and Detroit). Portland shocked Golden State in the first game following the All-Star break as eight-point home underdogs, 137-105, as the Blazers dropped 42 points in the opening quarter. Point guard Damian Lillard lit up Golden State for 51 points, including knocking down nine shots from three-point range.

Two teams in the NBA still haven’t lost at home yet, as the Warriors (57-6 SU, 35-26-2 ATS) have won all 28 games played at Oracle Arena this season. Golden State cruised past Utah on Wednesday, 115-94 to cash as 14-point favorites following non-covers against the Magic and Lakers. The Warriors are in the midst of a six-game homestand, as Steve Kerr’s club owns a 2-3 ATS record in its past five games at Oracle. Six of the last seven matchups between the Warriors and Blazers have eclipsed the ‘over,’ but due to weird scheduling, this is only the second meeting in the last eight between these teams that takes place in Oakland.