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GameDay Predictions, Tues, Dec 17: NBA, NHL, NCAAB

The Oklahoma City Thunder are streaking and look for their seventh consecutive victory when they visit the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Oklahoma City has won 14 of its past 15 games and the 19-4 start ties for second-best in franchise history, topped only by the 1993-94 Seattle SuperSonics’ 20-3 run. Denver has won 10 of its last 13 games. Denver is five games above. 500 in the tough Western Conference but there are still a lot of people unsure how to measure the club. Here’s one way: Nuggets PG Ty Lawson had 29 points and eight assists in last month’s loss to Oklahoma City — and they still lost.

The Winnipeg Jets conclude a brief two-game road trip Tuesday against the lowly Buffalo Sabres. The Jets, who have won five of their last seven away from home, face a Sabres team that is 4-12-2 in its own building. Buffalo has just two wins in its last 12 games (2-8-2) but their goalie, Ryan Miller, has posted a .929 save percentage in his last five appearances and a .921 mark on the season but is just 6-17-0 as the team struggles to produce offense.

Like many schools, Louisville is adjusting to this season’s increased enforcement of hand-checking rules, resulting in more man and zone looks than the trapping and pressing that worked so well during last year’s championship run. The sixth-ranked Cardinals (9-1) overcame the absence of injured point guard Chris Jones (possible return tonight) with impressive contributions all around in beating Western Kentucky on Saturday. Louisville’s next step is continuing that teamwork against Missouri State, which returns nine lettermen and five starters. The Bears’ only loss came against Virginia (83-63).

NBA GameDay Predictions, Mon, Dec 16

A night after letting a big lead slip away against one of the league’s top teams, the Detroit Pistons will get another delivery of humility when they travel to Indiana to face the NBA-best Pacers on Monday. The Pacers showed their depth Friday by surviving an off-night from leading scorer Paul George, who was limited to a season-low 10 points in a 99-94 win over Charlotte. Unlike the Pistons, Indiana knows how to close out a game – it is 18-0 when leading after three quarters and 10-2 in games in which it has trailed at halftime — outscoring opponents by an average of 6.1 points in the third quarter.

The Los Angeles Clippers play at home tonight for the first time in 15 days – but the sight of the San Antonio Spurs isn’t exactly the best welcome-home gift. San Antonio swept the Clippers out of last season’s playoffs in the second round and has won four consecutive games as it enters this season’s first meeting between the clubs. Los Angeles went 4-3 on a seven-game road trip and has won eight of 10 at home. The Spurs have been one of the best teams in the NBA over the first quarter of the season and the Clippers are anxious to see where they rank and it’s going to feel a lot like last year.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will have an even better shot to beat Boston for the second time this season when they visit the Celtics on Monday. Minnesota cruised to a 106-88 home win over the Celtics on Nov. 16 and is looking to creep back above the .500 mark in the return engagement. Boston continues to lead the weak Atlantic Division despite being three games below the break-even mark but is just a few weeks away from possibly having point guard Rajon Rondo on the court.

Monday Night Football Predictions: Ravens at Lions

Two teams clawing to stay in their respective playoff races square off Monday night when the Detroit Lions host the Baltimore Ravens. Both are bordering on must-win situations, as the Lions enter the weekend tied with Chicago atop the NFC North and the Ravens are tied with Miami for the last AFC wild card. Chicago’s and Miami’s big wins Sunday also play into it.

The Lions do have some wiggle room by virtue of two head-to-head wins over the Bears, but their margin for error became slimmer when they lost 34-20 in blizzard-like conditions in Philadelphia last week. Bush sat out that game after aggravating a calf injury during warmups – a huge blow on a day when passing was nearly impossible – but is expected to be back on the field against Baltimore.

Flacco needs 262 passing yards to become the first Ravens quarterback with five consecutive seasons of 3,500 yards and while the Lions defense has been solid against the run, last week notwithstanding, it is susceptible to the pass.

MNF Predictions: Cowboys Freeze in Chicago

The margin for error is slim for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, who meet Monday night with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance. The host Bears can’t afford a third straight loss, as they trail Detroit by a game in the NFC North and lost both head-to-head meetings with the Lions.
The Cowboys have won two straight and are tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East. The Cowboys bolstered their playoff chances with a 31-24 win over Oakland on Thanksgiving, but they haven’t had much luck in December – a month when quarterback Tony Romo is 11-15 as a starter. The Bears won 34-18 last year in Dallas, intercepting Romo five times and taking two of them back for touchdowns. The Cowboys are going to run and the Bears are having trouble defending it but, it’s going to be cold and Dallas sucks in the cold.

Sports Predictions, Wed, Dec 4, NBA, NFL

After beating the NBA-best Indiana Pacers, the Portland Trail Blazers host another league powerhouse when the Oklahoma City Thunder visit Wednesday. Oklahoma City has won eight in a row, most recently edging the Kings in Sacramento on Tuesday night. NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 27 points and 11 boards. Portland’s 15-3 start is its best since 1998-99 but Oklahoma City is 10-2 over the last three seasons against the Blazers and has won seven in a row. Durant is so hot, not sure anything can slow him down.

The Houston Texans’ franchise-record losing streak is up to 10 games, and even Thursday’s trip to Jacksonville no longer seems like an easy win for the defending AFC South champions. The Texans let one slip away Sunday, falling 34-31 to visiting New England after leading by 10 at halftime and being up by three in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville rallied for a 32-28 win at Cleveland last week, its third win in the last four games after dropping eight straight to start the season. . Statistically, the Texans should be better than their 2-10 record – they rank 10th in total offense and third in total defense – but a minus-12 turnover margin contributes to their ranking 29th in scoring offense and 27th in scoring defense. Jacksonville has recorded eight takeaways in the last four games, matching the total from its first eight contests.

GameDay Predictions: Tues, Dec 3, NBA, NCAAB

Duke hosts Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night with hopes of continuing one streak that goes back 13 years while avoiding another that extends even longer. A win by the No. 22 Wolverines would snap the 10th-ranked Blue Devils’ much-hyped streak of 106 consecutive home wins against non-conference opponents that began in November 2000. It would also give Duke consecutive non-conference losses for the first time since November 1999. And you have to go back to ’08 for the last time the Wolverines beat Duke, so tonight is NOT the night… or is it?

After sweeping a six-game homestand, the Oklahoma City Thunder hit the road looking for their eighth straight win in Sacramento against the Kings. Oklahoma City rode Kevin Durant’s first triple-double of the season to its latest win, knocking off Minnesota on Sunday to improve to 9-0 at home. The Kings have developed a penchant for falling way behind in games before battling back to make things interesting but continue to come up short. That won’t be good enough against Kevin Durant. Durant is the first player since Michael Jordan in 1998 to finish with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, four steals and four blocks in a game.

MNF Predictions, Saint-Seahawks, Dec 2, 2013

If the Seattle Seahawks can extend their franchise-record home winning streak Monday against the New Orleans Saints, they’ll likely assure the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle. Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the less-notable quarterback in the matchup, but he is 13-0 at home with 26 touchdowns against six interceptions. The Seahawks also boast the league’s No. 3 rushing game with Marshawn Lynch (925 yards, 9 TDs) leading the way. The Seahawks have the second-ranked pass defense, but they will be short-handed in the secondary.

New Orleans has won three straight, but it’s had to squeak out the last two by a combined seven points. Their offense has been less-than-stellar the past two weeks, but the Saints still rank third in the NFL in total yards per game and second in passing yards. The defense, often a weakness for New Orleans, has been rejuvenated under coordinator Rob Ryan and has allowed more than 400 total yards only once all season.

Sports Prediction Game: Fri, Nov 29, NBA, NFL, NCAAF

Sacramento has shot less than 50 percent from the field in every game this season so it’s surprising that in their last meeting the Clippers required a rally from five points down over the final 3:18 and a Chris Paul free throw with 2.5 seconds to earn the win. The Kings will be playing their first game in five days when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and I don’t expect it to be that close this time around.

The Chicago Blackhawks look to extend their winning streak to five games as they continue their seven-game road trip against the Dallas Stars on Friday. Chicago started its lengthy trek with a loss at Colorado but has reeled off four straight victories, including a 3-2 comeback triumph at Calgary on Wednesday. Dallas is looking to avenge a 5-2 home loss to Chicago on Nov. 9.

Business-as-usual denials aside, No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn are preparing for perhaps the biggest game ever in this rabid in-state rivalry Saturday. The teams that have hoarded the last four national titles have only met once before when both were ranked in the top five in 1971. Both teams are contenders going into this one but Alabama has won 18 straight away from home, the longest active streak in the FBS and one shy of the longest such streak in school history. I think that streak is going to end.

Gameday Predictions: Wed, Nov 27, NBA, NFL, NCAAF

With the Los Angeles Lakers still a few weeks away from having superstar guard Kobe Bryant back in the lineup, they’ll need to find a way in the meantime to win away from the Staples Center. They’ll get their second chance in as many nights Wednesday as they tangle with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Lakers have beaten the Nets 10 straight times but are 1-5 on the road, with its five losses coming by an average of 15.6 points. Plus, no Kobe but still — rare loss at home. Nets have tons of injuries and look flat

Turkey Day Pro Football
The Baltimore Ravens appeared to be losing a battle to a Super Bowl hangover while the Pittsburgh Steelers merely appeared punch drunk, but the fierce rivals have each turned around their seasons to move into playoff contention. Pittsburgh goes for its fourth straight victory when it visits Baltimore on Thursday night in an AFC North clash that could have major postseasons ramifications. Baltimore is faltering…

UPSET OF THE WEEK!: The Dallas Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East and can keep pressure on the competition with a win over the visiting Oakland Raiders on Thursday. The Cowboys go into their traditional Thanksgiving contest tied with Philadelphia for the division lead. The Raiders gave up a late touchdown in a 23-19 loss to Tennessee to fall one game behind a group of six teams tied for the final AFC wild card. Dallas is going to let one slide here…

GameDay Predictions: Tues, Nov 26, NBA, NCAAB

The Golden State Warriors are dealing with a three-game losing streak and questions about the depth of their roster with Andre Iguodala out of the lineup. The Warriors will look to get back to their high-scoring ways when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. The Pelicans had a three-game winning streak come to a screeching halt in San Antonio on Monday, shooting 38.1 percent in a 112-93 setback.

College basketball in a Cancun casino?? (True: Watch it on ESPN tonight). Now I have heard everything. With its offense clicking on all cylinders, #10 Wisconsin is on the verge of its best start in 20 seasons though they could be in for a stiff test against defensive-minded and also unbeaten Saint Louis at the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday night.

Wichita State hasn’t been troubled very much this season. That may change against BYU when the No. 12 Shockers overcome the high-scoring Cougars in the championship game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City on Tuesday night. Wichita State (6-0) is beating opponents by an average of 22.0 points, while limiting them to 39.9 percent shooting — 27.7 from beyond the arc. BYU (5-1) on the other hand averages 93.2 points while shooting 48.0 percent — 38.2 from behind the arc. The Cougars hit 10 of 12 from 3-point range in the second half alone, in their last contest.