Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
The worst trade in modern NBA history and probably one of the three worst ever was Boston sending that Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce package to Brooklyn in July 2013 for basically every Nets first-round pick the rest of the decade. Actually, the last one conveys in 2018 (now to Cleveland), but that deal is what will make Boston an Eastern powerhouse for the next five years at least. Perhaps the second worst trade this decade happened in July 2015 when the Sacramento Kings sent a bunch of garbage, led by former lottery pick bust Nik Stauskas, to Philadelphia in a salary dump that landed the 76ers a future first-round pick. That became an unprotected 2019 first-rounder.
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With that pick in its war chest, the 76ers were able to move up to No. 1 in this year's draft to select Washington's Markelle Fultz. The Celtics got Philly's No. 3 overall pick this year and either a semi-protected Lakers pick in 2018 or that Kings pick to move down. Yeah, Fultz has done nothing so far, but without that Kings pick the Sixers probably don't move up. Boston is sitting even prettier as it already has won that trade by moving down two spots and getting the better player in Jayson Tatum. I only mention all this because the Kings make their lone visit to Philly on Tuesday. Sacramento is thus partially responsible for creating two future Eastern Conference monsters as I think Fultz will be a good player eventually and Boston is more likely to get that 2019 Kings pick, which should be very high.
Kings at 76ers (-10.5, 209)
Philadelphia was in Chicago on Monday night with Joel Embiid sitting out for rest and Trevor Booker out due to an ankle injury. Embiid should thus play here, but Booker could miss at least a week. Sacramento lost a second straight Sunday, 108-93 in Toronto. The Kings scored just 30 second-half points. Their 13 road losses are tied for the most in the league. Zach Randolph (rest) and guard De'Aaron Fox (thigh) both sat out. Philadelphia, which traded Stauskas recently as a throw-in to Brooklyn in the Jahlil Okafor/Booker deal, lost in Sac-Town on Nov. 9, 109-108. Fox hit the go-ahead jumper with 13.4 seconds left as the Kings closed on a 7-0 run. The rookie Fox had 11 points and seven assists. Embiid missed a jumper from the free throw line as time expired. He had 22 points and 15 rebounds but was just 7-for-20. Ben Simmons had 18 points and six assists.
Key trends: The Kings are 3-10-2 ATS in their past 15 vs. the East. The "over/under" is 5-2 in Philly's past seven in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: 76ers (as long as Embiid does play) and over.
Pelicans at Wizards (TBA)
The Pelicans are off an overtime loss in Denver on Friday, so a nice little break. DeMarcus Cousins led New Orleans with 29 points and Anthony Davis had 28 points and 12 rebounds. Davis appeared to sprain his ankle late in the fourth, so monitor that. Guy just can't stay healthy. The Wizards lost 106-99 at home to Cleveland on Sunday. Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points, and John Wall had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Otto Porter Jr. sat out with an injured right hip. Both Wall and Cousins, the former Kentucky stars, have talked about teaming up on the same NBA club. Cousins is a free agent after this season and the Wizards would be scary with him, but they'd have to dump salary this offseason. Washington swept New Orleans last year, but Cousins hadn't joined the Pels yet. Wall averaged 21.0 points, 16.0 assists and 3.5 steals. Davis averaged 30.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks. In one game against Washington last season as a member of the Kings, Cousins recorded 36 points, 20 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
Key trends: The Pels are 0-5 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 10-1 in Washington's past 11 following an ATS loss.
Early lean: Wait on Davis and to a lesser extent Porter.
Cavaliers at Bucks ( Pick'em, 217)
NBA TV game and always fun to see LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo duel. The Bucks lost a third straight Saturday, 115-111 in Houston. Antetokounmpo had 28 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals. The Cavs won a fifth in a row Sunday, 106-99 in Washington. James finished with 20 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds for a fourth triple-double in the past five games. Dwyane Wade sat out the second of a back-to-back. Milwaukee is 0-2 vs. Cleveland this year, with the Cavs averaging 120 points per game. James is averaging 27.0 points, 8.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds. The Freak has put up 37.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. The Bucks' bench will be a bit short-handed for a while as forward Mirza Teletovic has pulmonary emboli in both lungs and will remain out indefinitely. He had previously been sidelined with a knee injury and averaged 7.1 points and 2.3 rebounds this year.
Key trends: The Bucks have covered just one of their past seven at home. The under is 6-2 in the Cavs' past eight.
Early lean: Cavs and over.
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