Content provided by Associated Press. Picks by Covers.com staff.
Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors (-5, 187.5)
Winners of four of their last six, the Heat return to the scene of their worst performance of a terrible 2007-08 when they visit the Raptors on Sunday afternoon.
During an injury-riddled 15-win 2007-2008 season, Miami lost all four of its meetings with the Raptors, scoring 83 points or fewer in each of those games. The lowlight was a horrific 96-54 loss at Toronto on March 19, when the Heat shot a franchise-worst 25.6 percent (20-for-78) from the field while producing the third-lowest scoring output in the NBA since the advent of the shot clock in 1954.
The Miami team that took the floor in that game was a shell of its optimal self, as starters Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem were all sidelined with injuries. All three are now healthy.
Marion had missed two games due to a strained groin, but returned Friday night and had 12 points and 12 rebounds as the Heat (5-4) cruised to a 97-77 home victory over Washington. Haslem also had a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards for Miami, which outrebounded the Wizards 52-33 and held them scoreless for a 9-minute stretch during the second half.
Defensively, the century mark has been key for the Heat. Miami is 5-0 when holding opponents below 100 points and has lost all four of its games when allowing 100 or more.
That could be a good sign against a Toronto club which has failed to reach 100 points in regulation this season. The Raptors (4-4) beat Golden State 112-108 on Oct. 31, but scored their final 16 points of that game in overtime.
Toronto has dropped two straight and four of five since opening the season 3-0. Chris Bosh had 30 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday night as the Raptors lost 106-96 at home to Philadelphia.
Toronto's task could be made tougher if point guard Jose Calderon can't play Sunday. Calderon is questionable for this contest after he strained his right hamstring in Wednesday's loss.
Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns (2.5, 199)
Allen Iverson and the Pistons, coming off a win over what had been the league's last unbeaten team, can complete a perfect four-game road trip Sunday if they knock off a Phoenix Suns squad getting Steve Nash back in its lineup.
Iverson's season-high 30 points lifted the Pistons to a win at Sacramento on Tuesday in the opener of this road trip, and they followed with victories on back-to-back nights. After beating Golden State, Detroit handed the Los Angeles Lakers their first loss of the season on Friday, 106-95.
This game could see Iverson guarded by former Philadelphia 76ers backcourt mate Raja Bell, part of the NBA's All-Defensive second team last season, but there may be times he could take advantage of the defensively limited Nash.
The two-time MVP had to serve a one-game suspension Friday for his role in an altercation two nights earlier against Houston, but Phoenix (7-3) overcame his absence and that of two other key players to beat Sacramento 97-95 in overtime.
Amare Stoudemire hit the game-winning basket with 4.5 seconds left, and Shaquille O'Neal had one of his best games in a Suns uniform with 29 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
Phoenix also was missing two other double-figure scorers, Matt Barnes and Leandro Barbosa. Barnes will sit out again Sunday to complete his two-game suspension for inciting the fracas with Houston's Rafer Alston, and Barbosa remains in his native Brazil following the death of his mother.
The Suns have lost three straight and eight of 10 versus the Pistons. Detroit has won three in a row in Phoenix - by an average of 19.7 points - and is 7-1 there this decade.