I touched on a couple of developing trends on Saturday, and with the Grizzlies and Warriors both playing tonight, it might be worth another look.

On tonight’s nine-game slate, there are potential withdrawals due to injury scattered throughout. With rumors Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverley were ready to return, I was preparing to jump on the Clippers at -1.5. Then the bad news came through:

It should be a consistent habit for everybody anyway, but keeping an eye on the injury updates is a must for a lot of these games tonight. Our guys at SportsInsights.com also have an NBA Player Values to the Spread piece that puts every player into a tier based on how many points they are worth. It’s a must-read when evaluating line moves based on player injuries.

Lakers (5-8) @ Suns (5-9)

Phoenix opened as +1 home dogs but moved to -2 24 hours before tipoff.

Even without the line movement now giving the Lakers a couple of points, I like them to win this one straight up.

They played well on Saturday in their 98-90 loss to the Bucks. Lonzo Ball became the youngest ever player to register a triple-double, Kyle Kuzma went for 21 and 11, and Julius Randle was brilliant again off the bench. Where the Lakers lost that one was at the charity stripe.

The Lakers only made 22 of their 37 free throw attempts, which was the difference between winning and losing that game.

The Suns did manage a nice win over the Timberwolves on Saturday, but as a streaky shooting team, they will pinch the odd W here and there.

The Lakers are the better team and they’re playing well despite the results, so I’m picking them to win this one despite the recent results.

Pick: Lakers +1

Cavaliers (6-7) @ Knicks (7-5)

The over/under is set at 221 and I like it for two reasons.

1 – Who on the Cavaliers roster is capable of stopping Kristaps Porzingis?

2 – Who on the Knicks roster is capable of stopping LeBron James?

They aren’t stopping each other from scoring. The size and length of Porzingis is too much even for James, while the strength and speed of The King will get buckets no matter who is in front of him.

After an awful start to the season by his supporting cast, Porzingis is starting to get some help. Tim Hardaway Jr. is beginning to justify his contract, while Enes Kanter has always been a willing and able scorer.

For the Cavs, James is averaging his 28.5 points per game and receiving some reliable production from his No. 2, Kevin Love. Jeff Green and J.R. Smith take turns as the third or fourth scorer, while the offense in general looks a lot better with Derrick Rose on the sideline.

With one unstoppable scorer each – and a pair of defenses both in the bottom 10 in defensive rating – we’ve got a shootout.

It’s going to be best to wait until the lineups are announced given Porzingis and his elbow injury, but if he suits up, I like the over in this one.

Lean: Over 221 points

Timberwolves (7-5) @ Jazz (6-3)

I’m expecting a lot of square money directed toward the hype surrounding the Timberwolves tonight. Coupled with the announcement of Rudy Gobert’s injury, the Jazz line could blow out by the time tipoff rolls around.

After opening as +3.5 home dogs, I’m already prepared to jump on it.

Gobert is a huge loss; there’s not a player on Utah’s roster they could afford to lose more than the Frenchman. But – and it’s a big but – the Jazz could actually be better off without him, if only for a handful of games.

We saw on Saturday what Derrick Favors can do with a little more space when he dropped 24 points and 12 rebounds on the Nets. Without Gobert clogging the lane, Favors was able to go to work. Daniel West at SLCDunk.com had a few good points and looked at why Favors might be able to shoulder the load in the short term:

“Derrick and Rudy both like to play in the paint, on pick and rolls opposing teams can sag off of Rudy and double Favs down low, or vice versa. Hard to roll to the basket when there are three big men there guarding it. One reason Favs scored so much last night was because Sefolosha took his defender outside, forcing Derrick’s man to play up, leaving the paint more open than it’s been all season.”

Tonight against the Timberwolves might be one of the more ideal matchups for the Gobert-less Jazz.

Karl Anthony-Towns is an awful defender of the pick and roll, something Ricky Rubio and Favors dominated on Saturday. His frontcourt partner, Taj Gibson, isn’t a massive offensive threat, which will allow the Jazz to stay small but give them the option of switching out professional superstar-stopper Thabo Sefolosha onto either Andrew Wiggins or Jimmy Butler.

It’s a good matchup for the Jazz, they’re at home where they are 6-3 against the spread, and it’s their last game before a four-game road trip. This one will be circled as a must-win in the contingency plan drawn up after Gobert’s injury.

Pick: Jazz +3.5

Remaining Games:

Kings (3-9) @ Wizards (7-5)

Grizzlies (7-5) @ Bucks (6-6)

Hawks (2-11) @ Pelicans (7-6)

Nuggets (8-5) @ Trail Blazers (6-6)

Magic (8-5) @ Warriors (10-3)

76ers (6-6) @ Clippers (5-7)

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