Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
If it weren't for bad luck, the San Antonio Spurs would have no luck at all this season - at least when it comes to injuries. Of course, superstar Kawhi Leonard has yet to play because of some nebulous quad injury but claims he's "close." Your guess is as good as mine as to when he returns as Coach Gregg Popovich isn't exactly forthcoming with the media. Point guard Tony Parker just debuted a week or so ago from a ruptured quad suffered in last year's playoffs. One guy who has really played well perhaps under the radar this season has been third-year forward Kyle Anderson, averaging 8.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in around 27 minutes per night while starting in place of Leonard. However, Anderson left Sunday's loss to the Thunder with a sprained MCL and will miss 2-3 weeks. On a drive to the basket on which he was fouled, Anderson came down awkwardly and immediately grabbed at his knee. He's lucky nothing was torn as it looked bad.
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Kings at Cavaliers ( -13, 211)
Sacramento is off a 109-104 loss in Milwaukee on Saturday. The Kings got to the line just 21 times compared to 42 for the home side. Big man Willie Cauley-Stein sustained a lower back strain in the second quarter after falling awkwardly on a layup and didn't return. Cleveland won a 12 th straight Monday, 113-91 in Chicago. Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love each scored 24 points, and LeBron James had 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists. These teams split last year, with the Kings pulling a 116-112 overtime surprise in Cleveland despite a triple-double from LeBron.
Key trends: The Kings are 9-0 against the spread in their past nine playing on three or more days of rest. The "over/under" is 8-1 in Cleveland's past nine vs. the West.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Bulls at Pacers (-8, 210.5)
Chicago is the NBA's worst team and lost its ninth consecutive game Monday, 113-91 vs. Cleveland. Kris Dunn led the Bulls with 15 points. It's possible that Nikola Mirotic could make his season debut in this one after having his face caved in by teammate Bobby Portis during a practice in mid-October. Indiana beat the short-handed Knicks on Monday, 115-97. Thaddeus Young scored 20 points to lead seven Indiana players in double figures. The Pacers won at the Bulls on Nov. 10, 105-87. Victor Oladipo had 25 points, six assists and six rebounds. Chicago was held to 39.8 percent shooting. Rookie Lauri Markkanen had 12 points and 10 boards.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-7 ATS in their past eight at Indiana. The under is 7-1 in those eight meetings.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Hawks at Magic (-6, 217)
Atlanta is off a 110-90 home loss to Brooklyn on Monday in the second of a home-and-home. The Hawks missed 17 of their first 18 shots in the third as the Nets blew it open. Orlando lost in Charlotte on Monday, 104-94. The Magic had 20 turnovers that resulted in 29 points for the Hornets. Evan Fournier led Orlando with 18 points. The Hawks and Magic split last year and have split their past eight in Orlando.
Key trends: The Magic have covered their past seven on Wednesday. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings in Orlando.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Mavericks at Celtics (-10.5, 204)
Of course, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is a former Celtics player, although he didn't play much in his three years there. Dallas is on its second two-game winning streak of the year following a 122-105 home win over Denver on Monday. Harrison Barnes had 22 points to lead six Mavs in double figures as they led wire-to-wire. Boston won its third straight Monday, 111-100 over Milwaukee. Kyrie Irving had 32 points, and Al Horford 20 points, nine boards and eight assists. The Celtics have won the previous three in this series and took a 110-102 OT decision in Dallas on Nov. 20. Irving had a season-high 47 points. Boston was down 13 in the fourth. Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 25.5 points per game in 35 career games against the Celtics, his highest career scoring average against any team.
Key trends: The Mavs have covered seven of their past eight in Boston. The over is 5-1-1 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Mavericks and over.
Grizzlies at Knicks (TBA)
Memphis snapped an 11-game skid with a 95-92 home win over Minnesota on Monday. Marc Gasol scored 21 points, and Tyreke Evans added 16, including the two game-clinching free throws with 12.7 seconds left. It was the team's first win since firing Coach David Fizdale. New York lost by 18 in Indiana on Monday without leading scorers Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. Porzingis maybe returns from a sprained ankle here, but Hardaway is going to miss a while with a lower left leg injury. New York and Memphis split last year, each winning at home.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-0 in the Knicks' past five at home.
Early lean: Wait on Porzingis.
Warriors at Hornets (TBA)
First ESPN game, and this one always means something to Steph Curry, who grew up in Charlotte. His pops in an analyst on Hornets games. Unfortunately, Curry apparently isn't going to play as he left Monday's 125-115 win in New Orleans with a sprained ankle. Curry had 31 points in leading a rally from 21 down. X-rays were negative but was seen on crutches afterward. You may not see him for a little while. Charlotte ended a four-game slid with a 104-94 home win over Orlando on Monday. Kemba Walker returned from a two-game absence and had 29 points and seven assists. The Dubs have won the past six meetings, and both last season were by double digits.
Key trends: The Hornets are 5-1 ATS in their past six after a win. The over is 4-1 in Golden State's past five.
Early lean: TBA must be for official word on Curry. I like the Hornets if he's out as expected.
Pistons at Bucks (-3.5, 203)
Detroit lost a third straight Monday, 96-93 in San Antonio. Reggie Jackson had 27 points for Detroit, which led by as many as nine points. Tobias Harris' 3-point try at the buzzer was blocked. Milwaukee's three-game winning streak ended Monday in a 111-100 defeat in Boston. Giannis Antetokounmpo had his third 40-point game of the season in a losing effort. The Bucks and Pistons have split two meetings thus far, each winning at home. Detroit has dropped six of its past seven in Milwaukee.
Key trends: The underdog is 11-5 ATS in the past 16 meetings. The under is 6-2 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Nuggets at Pelicans (TBA)
Denver didn't bother showing up in a 122-105 loss in Dallas on Monday as the Nuggets never led. They are a totally different team away from home and without Nikola Jokic (sprained ankle). New Orleans blew a 21-point lead and lost at home to the Warriors on Monday, 125-115. Jrue Holiday had 34 points and DeMarcus Cousins 19 points and 11 boards but turned it over seven times and was ejected late after a second technical foul. Anthony Davis was out with a left adductor strain. The Nuggets won the first meeting with the Pels, 146-114. Those total points were an opponent record vs. New Orleans as were Denver's 82 first-half points. Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 31. Davis led New Orleans with 17 points before leaving the game due to injury.
Key trends: The road team is 8-3 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five in New Orleans.
Early lean: Wait on Davis.
Heat at Spurs (-5.5, 196.5)
Miami was routed 123-95 at home by Golden State on Sunday. The Heat were outscored by 26 in the second half, totaling just 35 points - they had 36 in leading after one quarter. Goran Dragic led Miami with 20 points. San Antonio beat Detroit on Monday, 96-93. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Rudy Gay, making his first start in place of Anderson, had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. The Spurs go for the season sweep thanks to a 117-100 home win over the Heat on Oct. 25. Aldridge had 31 points. Anderson has 12 and 10 rebounds. Hassan Whiteside was out for the Heat and he's out now, too, with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Key trends: The Heat are 1-9 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The under is 12-1 in San Antonio's past 13 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
Timberwolves at Clippers (+4.5, 216.5)
Second ESPN game. Minnesota lost 95-92 in Memphis on Monday. Jimmy Butler missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds. He led the team with 30 points. The Wolves have alternated a win and a loss over the last eight games. L.A. brings a three-game skid into this one. It lost in Minnesota on Sunday, 112-106. Butler scored 20 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter. Austin Rivers led the Clippers with 30 points. It's possible that the Clippers' Danilo Gallinari could play Wednesday for the first time since Nov. 5 (glue injury). But more likely it will be this weekend.
Key trends: The Wolves are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 at the Clippers. The over is 9-4 in the past 13 meetings.
Early lean: Minnesota and over.
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