I don't generally write a Monday Opening Line Report story here at Doc's because, hey, we all need one day off. That said, arguably the second-most anticipated game remaining in the regular season -- I would argue No. 1 is Golden State at Oklahoma City on Feb. 11 in Kevin Durant's first game back in OKC -- is Monday night when Cleveland visits Golden State. So I feel obligated to remind you. That will be the last time those two play until, as most expect, they square off in a third straight NBA Finals, which no two teams have ever done against one another. In Cleveland's last visit to Oakland, LeBron James had perhaps the most important defensive play in NBA history in stunningly blocking a late Andre Iguodala layup attempt (he makes that, the Warriors likely win) from behind that led to the Cavs' Game 7 upset. Including the Finals, the Cavs are on a four-game winning streak against the Dubs following a 109-108 thriller on Christmas. Expect both teams to go into a mini-funk after Monday's game. They both will be amped up for that and then go flat for a few games. Frankly, a lot of teams will go into a funk around this time of year as they slog through the dog days until the All-Star break.
Free $60 in Member NBA Picks No Obligation Click Here
Lakers at Clippers ( -10.5, 215)
An unusual 3:30 p.m. ET tipoff. The Lakers were embarrassed on Thursday night in San Antonio, 134-94. It was L.A.'s second-worst loss of the season. Julius Randle had 22 points but was the only Laker starter in double digits. I almost wish Kobe Bryant was still around because he would have gone ballistic on his guys after that. The Clippers won a fifth straight Wednesday, 105-96 over Orlando. J.J. Redick had 22 points and DeAndre Jordan 20 rebounds. Austin Rivers returned after missing a game with an illness. The Clippers lost "at" the Lakers 111-102 on Christmas in the first meeting as the Clips were without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. It ended the Lakers' 11-game losing streak in the series. It was the Clippers' longest active winning streak against any opponent. But the Clips have won the past eight as the "home" team.
Key trends: The Lakers are 5-1 against the spread in the past six meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of the past eight.
Early lean: Clippers and under.
Pelicans at Bulls (TBA)
Another weird tip time of 5 p.m. ET. New Orleans won a second straight Thursday, 104-95 in Brooklyn. Anthony Davis was out with a hip bruise. Tyreke Evans had a season-high 29 points and Terrence Jones 24 points and 12 rebounds. Rookie Buddy Hield is the only New Orleans player to see action in all 40 games this season. Chicago lost a third consecutive Thursday, 104-89 at the Knicks. Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine all were out due to illness. The Bulls think Butler can play Saturday. First meeting of the season between New Orleans and Chicago -- it's a homecoming for Davis, if he plays. Chicago has won the past four meetings; both were close last season.
Key trends: The Pelicans have covered six straight in Chicago. The under is 4-1 in the Bulls' past five.
Early lean: Wait on Davis and Butler.
Spurs vs. Suns (+11.5, 214.5)
Second game in a row in Mexico City for the Suns, who gave up two home games to do so. It's the first time one team has played two regular-season games south of the border. Trivia tidbit: The Suns also were the first organization to have a Mexican-born player play for them when center Horacio Llamas signed in 1998. Phoenix lost in the Mexico City altitude on Thursday, 113-108 vs. Dallas despite 29 fourth-quarter points from Devin Booker (39 overall). San Antonio bounced back from an upset loss to the Bucks on Tuesday with a 40-point destruction of the Lakers on Thursday. Kawhi Leonard had 31 points as the Spurs shot a season-high 61 percent. San Antonio has scored 100-plus points in 16 consecutive games, its longest streak since hitting the century mark in 22 straight in 1995. San Antonio has won both meetings with Phoenix easily this season and taken nine straight in the series.
Key trends: The Spurs are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 7-3 in the previous 10.
Early lean: Suns (they are used to the unusual gym, altitude, etc. by now) and under.
76ers at Wizards (TBA)
Philadelphia hosted Charlotte on Friday so wait and see what the Sixers do with Joel Embiid here. He hasn't been playing both ends of a back-to-back but maybe has reached the point where the team takes the training wheels off. Washington's three-game winning streak ended in a 117-108 defeat in Boston on Wednesday. Bradley Beal had 35 points but John Wall had just nine. Philadelphia beat visiting Washington in the first meeting 109-102 on Nov. 16. Embiid didn't play. Neither did Beal.
Key trends: The Wizards are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 at home. The over is 7-2 in Philly's past nine in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait on Embiid.
Magic at Jazz (TBA)
Orlando was in Portland on Friday with Serge Ibaka questionable. Utah hosted Detroit. The Magic swept the series last year, holding the Jazz to 93 and 92 points in the two games. Utah has lost the past two in the series at home. It was another low-scoring affair on Nov. 11 in Orlando as the Jazz won 87-74 in one of the ugliest games of the season. Gordon Hayward had 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Evan Fournier had 20 for the Magic, who shot just 33.3 percent from the field.
Key trends: The Magic have covered their past four in Utah. The under is 4-1 in Utah's past five vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Go under no matter the number. This might end 75-70 in favor of the Jazz.
How about $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free? No obligation, no sales people, no credit card. You can use you $60 credit on any of our top NBA handicappers. Get your free daily NBA predictions today!
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NBA Handicapping Articles
- Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Home and Road Differences
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Utah Jazz Off to Rough Start
- NBA Betting and Handicapping: Studs and Duds Against the Spread
- 2019 NBA Championship Odds and Expert Predictions
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Betting Teams Out of Playoff Chase Already
- NBA Betting Advice: Handicapping the Golden State Warriors Drama
- NBA Betting and Handicapping: Los Angeles Clippers for Real After Hot Start?
- Expert NBA Handicapping: The Cavaliers Post-LeBron
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Toronto Raptors True Contender in East