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Southeast Division Preview (Mar. 15)

All eyes will be on southeastern Wisconsin on Friday night as the Miami Heat looks to secure a 21st straight victory. The Milwaukee Bucks will be charged with halting the impressive streak.

Elsewhere, the remaining four representatives of the Southeast Division will all be in action, with Atlanta and Washington hosting a pair of Western Conference duds, while Orlando and Charlotte hit the road.

Read on for our preview of all five of Friday’s games in the Southeast Division.

Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks

Miami will look to secure a 21st straight victory on Friday night; the Bucks stand in the way.

Miami will look to secure a 21st straight victory on Friday night; the Bucks stand in the way.

At 20 games, the Heat’s winning streak is currently tied for the third longest in NBA history. If Miami is to extend its unbeaten run to challenge the 2007-08 Rockets (22 games) and 1971-72 Lakers (33) it will need to knock off the team the team it shares the winning streak with.

During the 1970-71 campaign, the Milwaukee Bucks won 20 straight games, passing the then-record of 18 games set by the 1969-70 New York Knicks. While the side would only hold on to the record for less than a season, you can bet this season’s Bucks team will be only too happy to stop the Heat dead in its tracks.

Miami (49-14, 19-11 road) enters the game with the best record in the league and playing the best basketball. Perhaps for the first time in the ‘Big 3’ era, Eric Spoelstra’s side is getting a rounded effort from everybody taking the court. That means LeBron James is the focus, but doesn’t have to be. The Heat’s good run of form also includes eight straight wins on the road, and 11 from the last 13.

Milwaukee (32-31, 16-15 home) might not be the deer in the headlights some expect though. The Bucks handed the Heat a 104-89 defeat in Wisconsin back on Dec. 29. The side also ran the Heat to the wire in South Beach, ultimately falling 113-106 in overtime on Nov. 21. This is not a Bucks side that will fall over for the Heat.

However, the Bucks have dropped two straight, including a 106-93 defeat in Washington on Wednesday night. The side has also dropped three from the last five at home.

The Bucks opened as the underdog with the spread at six points.

Milwaukee is 29-33-1 ATS this season, with a horrific 10-20-1 ATS record at home. The side has faird a little better, 16-14-0 ATS) when playing as the underdog.

All told, Miami is 33-30-0 ATS this season, with a 16-14-0 ATS record away from American Airlines Arena and a 30-30-0 ATS record as the favorite. Those numbers don’t bestow confidence in a bettor.

The total opened at 203. Both Milwaukee (33-30-0) and Miami (32-31-0) have marginally favored the over this season.

As a footnote, if Miami were to break the Lakers’ record of 33 games unbeaten, it would do so by defeating Milwaukee on Apr. 9.

Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks

Plagued by injuries, Atlanta (35-29, 20-11 home) is just looking to stay afloat at this time. A controversial win over the Lakers on Wednesday helped, putting the brakes on a three game skid. Fortunately for the Hawks, the Bulls, Nets and Knicks aren’t playing good basketball either, which means the side could still put a push together towards the higher playoff seeds.

The Hawks will get a good opportunity to do just that as Phoenix (22-43, 7-26 road) comes to town on Friday night. Rooted to the bottom of the Western Conference alongside New Orleans, the Suns have little to play for, something that’s wildly apparent when the side takes to the court.

Phoenix has dropped two straight games and four from the last five. The team has also lost six of the last eight on the road, entering Philips Arena with one of the worst road records in the league. Only Sacramento, Charlotte and Washington have struggled more on the road.

However, Phoenix did manage to hand Atlanta a 92-87 loss when the two sides met in the desert two weeks ago (Mar. 1). This one might not be a slam dunk just yet.

At time of publication, bookmakers had yet to assign a line to this game. With Josh Smith (knee), Jeff Teague (ankle) and Zaza Pachulia (Achilles) potentially missing from the Hawks’ lineup, Vegas is holding-off as long as possible.

Keep an eye on the BettingSports.com NBA odds page for up to the minute info.

For the record, Atlanta is 29-33-2 ATS this season with a 12-17-2 ATS record at home. Phoenix is 25-38-2 ATS overall this season, with a 14-17-2 ATS record on the road. Both sides have favored the total to go under.

New Orleans Hornets at Washington Wizards

The Wizards may be missing Bradley Beal for a sixth straight game as they host the Hornets.

The Wizards may be missing Bradley Beal for a sixth straight game as they host the Hornets.

With five wins from their last seven home games, the Wizards are looking like a solid team. Of course, their road record would suggest otherwise. Regardless, Washington (21-42, 16-17 home) will get to make it six from eight with the visit of New Orleans (22-43, 10-23 road) on Friday night.

The Hornets lost the first of a three-game road trip on Tuesday, falling 108-98 in Brooklyn. That loss made it nine from 11 for the team from the Big Easy. Getting a win in Washington isn’t likely to be any easier; the Wizards defeated the Hornets 77-70 in a scrappy game on Dec. 11, and that was before John Wall took to the court this season.

With exceptional rookie guard Bradley Beal (ankle) questionable after missing five straight, the bookmakers are holding off on releasing a line for this game. Again, keep an eye on the BettingSports.com NBA odds for more info on this one.

To keep you in the loop beforehand: Washington (37-25-1 ATS) is excellent against the spread, although recent results have seen the Wizards lose their title as best in the league, with Memphis and Oklahoma City moving upwards. The Wizards are 20-13-0 ATS at home.

New Orleans is another side that has fared well against the spread despite a miserable straight up record. The Hornets are 33-32-0 ATS this season with a 19-14-0 ATS record on the road.

New Orleans (36-29-0) has favored the total to go over; Washington (23-39-1) has favored the under.

Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder

Having lost 11 of the last 13 games on the road, Orlando (18-47, 8-22 road) is unlikely to be savoring a trip to the Midwest to take on the Thunder. The side however may be glad to get out of Orlando, the scene of Tuesday’s ‘Hack-a-Howard’ shambles.

Behind Miami and Denver, Oklahoma City (48-17, 29-4 home) has the third best home record in the league, a trend that has seen Scott Brooks’ side win six straight and 13 of the last 14 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. That doesn’t bode well for a Magic team that has strung together just eight road wins all season.

Understandably, Orlando will enter the game as the underdog, with the spread opening at a whopping 15.5 points.

Orlando is 29-36-0 ATS this season, with an 18-12-0 ATS record on the road and a 27-25-0 ATS record as the underdog. Bettors may like the side to cover on Friday night.

But then again, Oklahoma City is 38-24-3 ATS this season, with a league best 23-9-1 ATS record at home. The side is 37-22-0 ATS when playing as the favorite.

The total opened at 205.5. Both sides have favored the over this season, the Thunder (32-31-2) marginally and the Magic (35-29-1) a little more consistently.

Charlotte Bobcats at Toronto Raptors

Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Bobcats will look to win a second straight game for the first time since November.

Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Bobcats will look to win a second straight game for the first time since November.

The Bobcats an unwanted milestone on Saturday, becoming this season’s first 50-loss team. Mike Dunlap’s side celebrated by handing Boston an unlikely 100-74 loss in North Carolina on Tuesday night. Charlotte (14-50, 6-26 road) will now try to win two games in a row for the first time since November, when the side took down Milwaukee followed by Friday night’s opponent, Toronto.

Toronto (25-40, 16-16 home) unwittingly suffered the fallout of the Bobcats’ win over Boston. The Celtics handed the Raptors a 112-88 loss in Bean Town on Wednesday night. Dwayne Casey’s side has now lost seven of the last nine.

The Bobcats’ win over Boston was a rare high point on the calendar of late. The side has lost 21 of the last 24 games, and 15 of the last 17 on the road. Bar two wins in Orlando, the side hasn’t won on the road since a Jan. 6 visit to Detroit. Only Sacramento has a worse road record.

The Bobcats defeated the Raptors 98-97 when the two sides met in Charlotte on Nov. 17. They’ll meet again this Wednesday (Mar. 20).

Toronto (-12.5) is a heavy favorite ahead of tip-off.

Charlotte is 21-43-0 ATS this season, last in the league. The side has compiled a 11-21-0 ATS record on the road and a 20-38-0 record as the underdog.

Toronto is 32-32-0 ATS this season, including records of 16-16-0 ATS at home and 8-10-0 ATS as the favorite.

The total opened at 192. Both Charlotte (28-35-1) and Toronto (32-33-0) have favored the under this season.

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