Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Count me among those who thought that new Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard got robbed by Oklahoma City counterpart Sam Presti this offseason when Presti sent "only" guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis to Indiana for Paul George. Now it looks like Pritchard did quite well as Oladipo has been one of the breakout stars in the league this year and Sabonis a good rotation player. George has been fine in OKC but not quite the superstar level we expected. In fact, the Pacers shockingly have a better record than Oklahoma City. I bring this up because the Thunder make their only trip of the season to Indiana on Wednesday night, and I'm quite sure that George won't get a warm welcome - assuming he plays. George has been dealing with a calf injury, but if there's any way he can be out there on Wednesday he will be. "Things could have been done a lot better," George admitted earlier this season on forcing a trade out of Indiana. The process, that whole ordeal could have been done a lot better. I'll share some of that responsibility."
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Thunder at Pacers ( Pick'em, 211.5)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. The Thunder did host the Pacers on Oct. 25 and won 114-96. George fouled out after scoring only 10 points. Russell Westbrook had 28 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. Oladipo had 35 points. OKC had another bad loss Monday, 116-103 at home to Charlotte. This experiment with Westbrook, George and Carmelo Anthony just isn't working yet. George did play after missing the previous two games with a right calf contusion and had 20 points. Indiana won a fourth in a row Sunday, 126-116 in OT over Denver. Oladipo had a career-high 47 points. The Pacers were down eight with under three minutes left. Darren Collison sat out with a sore knee.
Key trends: The Thunder are 0-9 against the spread in their past nine road games. The "over/under" is 7-1 in Indiana's past eight vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Clippers at Magic (TBA)
L.A. beat Toronto 96-91 on Monday to complete a three-game homestand. DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 17 rebounds for the Clippers, and their backups outscored Toronto's reserves 50-17. Milos Teodosic had 12 points after missing the past 22 games with a foot injury. Alas, Danilo Gallinari is hurt again. Orlando dropped a second straight Saturday, 117-110 at Atlanta. Aaron Gordon was out with a concussion and Evan Fournier was with a sprained ankle. The Clippers have won the past seven in this series, but the Magic lead all-time at home 17-11.
Key trends: The Clippers are 1-6 ATS in their past seven following an ATS win. The under is 7-2 in the past nine meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Gordon and Fournier.
Grizzlies at Wizards (TBA)
Washington was in Brooklyn on Tuesday. John Wall wasn't expected for that, but all signs point to his return from a knee injury here. The Wiz weren't about to let him play both ends of a back-to-back. Memphis dropped a fourth straight Monday, 107-82 vs. Miami. The Grizz had just 40 second-half points. They are now 1-14 since Mike Conley was shelved with a left Achilles problem. These teams split last year, each winning at home. Washington has won its past two at home in the series.
Key trends: The Grizz are 1-5 ATS in their past six in Washington. The under is 9-4 in Memphis' past 13.
Early lean: Wait on Wall.
Nuggets at Celtics (TBA)
Denver was in Detroit on Tuesday. Boston was surprisingly blown out at a bad Chicago team on Monday, 108-85. However, the Celtics sat Kyrie Irving with a bruised left quad. Marcus Morris also didn't play with a left knee injury. Denver swept Boston last year, winning each by at least 16 points.
Key trends: Denver is 4-11 ATS in its past 15 in Boston. The over is 9-4 in the Celtics' past 13 overall.
Early lean: Wait on Irving.
Trail Blazers at Heat (-2.5, 202)
The Blazers lost their fifth in a row Monday, 111-104 at Golden State in the teams' first meeting since last year's playoffs. Damian Lillard had a season-high 39 points, his 10th 30-point game of the season. Jusuf Nurkic missed his second straight with an ankle injury. Miami is back at .500 following a 107-82 win at Memphis on Monday. Goran Dragic led seven Heat players in double figures with 19 points. The Heat shot 65 percent in the second half in outscoring Memphis 62-40. Portland was 2-0 vs. Miami last year. Lillard averaged 34.0 points and 5.5 assists. Hassan Whiteside averaged 22.5 points, 13.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks for the Heat, but he has missed the past six this year with a knee injury.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 8-1 in Miami's past nine.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Jazz at Bulls (+3.5, 195.5)
The Jazz dropped their third in a row Saturday, 117-100 in Milwaukee. Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 20 points and nine rebounds. Alec Burks added 20 points. Rodney Hood sat his seventh straight with a sore left ankle. I wasn't sure the Bulls would win three games in any month this season, but they won a third straight Monday, 108-85 over Boston. Nikola Mirotic started in place of rookie Lauri Markkanen and had 24 points - it's likely not a coincidence that the Bulls are 3-0 since Mirotic returned from having his face bashed in by teammate Bobby Portis. Utah crushed Chicago 110-80 on Nov. 22. Derrick Favors scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Chicago has won the past two at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-1 in Utah's previous seven vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Bucks at Pelicans (TBA)
The Bucks won a third straight Saturday, 117-100 over Utah. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. The team moved five games over .500 for the first time since Feb. 28, 2015. Tony Snell missed a second straight game with left patella tendinitis. The Pelicans lost 130-123 in Houston on Monday despite 37 points from Jrue Holiday, 36 from E'Twaun Moore and a triple-double from Rajon Rondo. Anthony Davis sat again with his left abductor strain. Milwaukee and New Orleans split last year, each winning on the road. Davis averaged 32.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 3.5 blocks. Antetokounmpo averaged 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 blocks.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 9-4 ATS in the past 13 meetings. The over is 6-2 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Wait on Davis.
Raptors at Suns (+8, 218.5)
Phoenix was in Sacramento on Tuesday. The Raptors' six-game winning streak ended in a 96-91 loss at the Clippers on Monday. Jonas Valanciunas had 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Raptors, who led by 13 points in the first half. Toronto beat Phoenix 126-113 last week. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points apiece. For the first time in Raptors history, the team allowed zero offensive rebounds.
Key trends: The underdog have covered five straight in the series. The over is 9-4 in the Suns' past 13 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Suns and over.
Hornets at Rockets (-12.5, 219.5)
Second ESPN game. The Hornets stopped a three-game slide with a 116-103 upset in Oklahoma City on Monday. Dwight Howard scored 23 points in his team's first road win since Oct. 30. Nicolas Batum missed the game with a sore left elbow. Houston is on a 10-game winning streak following a 130-123 win over New Orleans on Monday. Clint Capela, who has really broken out this season, had 28 points and James Harden 26 and 17 assists. Houston beat Charlotte 109-93 on Oct. 27. Harden had 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. The Rockets have taken 13 of the past 14 in the series and scored at least 100 points in the past eight. Houston also has won 12 straight at home vs. the Hornets.
Key trends: The Hornets have covered just one of their previous nine in Houston. The under is 20-6 in the past 26 meetings.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
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