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The NBA season has reached a state of normalcy roughly 10 games into this campaign: The Celtics and Lakers are the creme de la creme, the Knicks are a laughingstock, and Carmelo Anthony is siphoning off minutes while playing for a desperate title hopeful. What year is it?
Each week, we'll highlight the top betting angles and plays on the schedule. Here are some tips heading into this weekend's slate:
Note: Lines for Saturday and beyond are released later in the week.
Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves (-7, 239)
The highest totals have never been higher, and the over is hitting at a compelling rate. Take Friday's clash in Minnesota, with its total of 239 that looks like small potatoes given how well the Timberwolves' offense is playing and how poor Washington's defense has looked.
Minnesota has scored 120-plus points in four of its last five games and is 8-3 to the over this year. The team's offense has come alive recently behind the two-headed scoring attack of Karl-Anthony Towns and a resurgent Andrew Wiggins, who's averaging 29.1 points on better than 50% shooting in November.
The Wizards, meanwhile, are leaning on Bradley Beal offensively, but they have no answer on the other end, which led to allowing 140 points during Wednesday's loss to Boston. The T-Wolves can probably cover the spread here, but the over is juicier.
Boston Celtics (-8, 227) at Golden State Warriors
D'Angelo Russell has been on an absolute tear for the Warriors, averaging 34 points in four games since returning from a back injury. But all of those contests have been losses, and it likely won't get any easier for the Warriors against a Celtics team riding a nine-game win streak.
Golden State has recorded two wins this year - against the Pelicans and reeling Trail Blazers - and the club is 2-8 against the spread in its other 10 games, losing by an average of 15 points. The Warriors are 2-8 straight up and 4-6 ATS in games with Russell, who could help this contest go over in concert with Boston's offense, which ranks first on a per-possession basis.
The Celtics haven't skipped a beat offensively without Gordon Hayward, and they can feast on Golden State's 30th-ranked defense. Road favorites of -8 or higher are 1-3 ATS this year, but all four games went over. This feels like a barn burner.
Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs
The Blazers are approaching "real bad" territory following six losses in their last seven games, as fringe MVP candidate Damian Lillard can only do so much to lift a floundering frontcourt. Even if Melo doesn't play in this game, there is reason to fade the road team.
The Spurs are an NBA-worst 2-9 ATS this year, but some of that is schedule-related, with San Antonio 2-2 ATS when facing a team below .500 and 0-7 ATS against all other squads. Portland (4-8 SU) certainly qualifies as the former, so eye the Spurs if the line is short.
Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks
Thanks to stellar play from Pascal Siakam, who's averaging 30 points and 9.3 rebounds during Toronto's four-game ATS win streak, the Raptors have been cruising despite gaping holes in their starting lineup. Siakam has helped the team to an 8-3 ATS record overall, including 5-2 ATS away from Scotiabank Arena.
The Mavericks are 4-2 ATS on the road this year, but the club is 0-5 ATS at home with three outright losses. At full strength, the Raptors are better, and the defending champs are still worth a bet in Dallas even at half strength if they're getting points.
Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Lakers
The Hawks are fun, but they haven't been successful this campaign since Trae Young's scoring outburst to start the year. Atlanta has dropped six of its last eight games (and five of its last seven ATS) while allowing 117.8 points per game - the NBA's seventh-worst average - since inserting Jabari Parker into the lineup to replace the suspended John Collins.
The Lakers should dominate inside against the Hawks' defensively deficient lineup, even if Anthony Davis isn't at 100%. There's a little Dwight Howard revenge potential here too after how poorly his stay went in Atlanta.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.