Free NBA Picks: Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Could Friday be the Utah Jazz's final game without Nikola Mirotic? Wait, you are probably asking: Doesn't Mirotic play for the Chicago Bulls? Indeed he does, but the tanking Bulls want to deal Mirotic, frankly, so they can get worse and also get a first-round pick for a guy who doesn't really fit into their plans. He can officially be traded at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday. The Jazz are deep into discussions with the Bulls as Utah badly needs a stretch-4. They aren't a great 3-point shooting team and Mirotic is shooting a career high from deep. He has a no-trade clause but is willing to waive it to play for Quin Snyder. Utah is reportedly offering Derrick Favors, a solid but injury-prone power forward who doesn't really fit next to Rudy Gobert (when Gobert is healthy). The Bulls aren't going to do any deal for just Favors and his expiring contract, though. They want a 2018 first-rounder, so another team might have to get involved. The Pistons and Blazers also have inquired about Mirotic but, again, he can determine where he goes.
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Jazz at Hornets (TBA)
The Jazz's Favors (ankle) missed Wednesday's 107-104 upset win in Washington that ended a three-game losing streak. Ricky Rubio scored 21 points, and rookie Donovan Mitchell had 16. Favors is day-to-day - they might be sitting him to avoid major injury in case of a pending trade. The Hornets returned home from a West Coast trip and saw a two-game winning streak end in a 115-111 loss to Dallas on Wednesday. Kemba Walker had 41 points on 16 of 28 shooting for the Hornets. Dwight Howard was a laughable 5-for-18 from the free-throw line. Seriously, I could shoot with my eyes closed and make 6-for-18. Utah and Charlotte split last year, with the losing team scoring 98 points in each. Utah has lost its past three in North Carolina.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-1-1 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight Jazz games after a win.
Early lean: Wait on Favors.
Cavaliers at Pacers ( +4, 223.5)
Cleveland was in Toronto on Thursday, so at a minimum Isaiah Thomas will sit one leg out. Indiana had a two-game winning streak end in a 114-106 home loss to Miami on Wednesday. Victor Oladipo had 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Myles Turner sat it out with an elbow injury and already has been ruled out here. On Nov. 1, Indiana ended a seven-game road losing streak at Cleveland with a 124-107 victory. Each of Indiana's five starters scored in double figures and combined for 106 points.
Key trends: The road team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 5-2 in those.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Magic at Wizards (-10.5, 220)
The Magic lost their sixth in a row Wednesday, 110-103 in Milwaukee. Aaron Gordon was just 4-for-18 from the floor and missed 12 straight at one point. He was averaging 24.8 points over his previous five games. Washington was surprised for a second straight game at home, losing 107-104 to Utah on Wednesday. John Wall had 35 points and 11 assists but committed eight of the Wizards' season-high-matching 23 turnovers. Bradley Beal coughed the ball up before he could attempt a tying 3-pointer. Orlando has dropped 11 of its past 12 in D.C., including 130-103 on Dec. 23. That was the game the Magic lost starting center Nikola Vucevic to a broken hand in the first quarter.
Key trends: The Magic are 2-6 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five in Washington.
Early lean: Magic (Wizards play down to competition) and over.
Nets at Hawks (TBA)
Brooklyn had played five straight very close games but was blown out 114-80 at home by the Pistons on Wednesday. Allen Crabbe scored 20 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 15 points for the Nets, who have lost three in a row. DeMarre Carroll (right knee sprain) sat again. D'Angelo Russell is getting close to his return from knee surgery. Atlanta should have been out of gas Wednesday in the finale of a five-game Western Conference road trip but won in Denver, 110-97, to end a 10-game road losing streak. Dennis Schroder had 19 points and 10 assists. Last meeting of the season between these teams. Brooklyn leads 2-1 and won by 20 in Atlanta on Dec. 4.
Key trends: The Nets are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-0 in the previous five in Atlanta.
Early lean: I'm presuming this is TBA on the off chance Russell returns.
Warriors at Bucks (TBA)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. The Warriors were shocked at home by the Clippers on Wednesday, 125-106, to end a five-game winning streak. Steph Curry re-sprained his right ankle in the morning shootaround and sat out - he's surely not playing here. Klay Thompson simply rested. Kevin Durant returned from a three-game absence and was 14-for-18 for 40 points, becoming the 44th player in NBA history to hit the 20,000-point mark. KD is the second-youngest to reach it after LeBron James. The Bucks beat the visiting Magic on Wednesday, 110-103. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points, and Khris Middleton added 22. Golden State swept Milwaukee last year, although it was very close in Beer Town.
Key trends: The Bucks are 8-2-1 ATS in their past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The over has hit in six straight Warriors games.
Early lean: Wait on Curry.
Knicks at Timberwolves (-9, 206.5)
The Knicks lost in double overtime at home to the Bulls on Wednesday, 122-119. Michael Beasley had 26 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for the Knicks. Kristaps Porzingis finished with 24 points, including a dunk at the first OT buzzer to force a second. Jarrett Jack had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists but also a crucial late turnover. Minnesota won a third straight Wednesday, 104-88 over the Thunder. Jimmy Butler had 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Jeff Teague returned after missing seven games with a sprained MCL in his left knee and had eight points. New York is 9-3 in the teams' past 12 meetings and swept last year. It has won the past two in the Twin Cities.
Key trends: The Wolves have covered four straight at home. The under is 7-1 in their previous eight.
Early lean: Wolves and under.
Trail Blazers at Pelicans (TBA)
The Blazers' three-game winning streak was snapped in Houston on Wednesday, 121-112. Damian Lillard played after missing the previous two and had 29 points and eight assists. The Pelicans lost in Memphis on Wednesday, 105-102, with Anthony Davis sitting due to a sprained ankle. DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and eight rebounds. These teams have split two meetings in Portland this year. Davis played just five total minutes in those. Cousins has averaged 38.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two.
Key trends: The home team is 8-3 ATS in the past 11. The over is 9-1 in the Pelicans' past 10 at home.
Early lean: Wait on Davis.
Grizzlies at Nuggets (-9.5, 207)
The Grizzlies ended a two-game slide with a 105-102 home win over the Pelicans on Wednesday. Tyreke Evans hit two free throws with 5.9 seconds left after a New Orleans turnover for the final points. He scored 28 points, while Marc Gasol finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Denver lost its third straight Wednesday, 110-97 at home - where the Nugs otherwise have been very good this year. Nikola Jokic had nine points, 12 rebounds and seven assists but was 4-for-21 shooting and missed all eight 3-pointers. The team was 9-for-37 from 3-point range. Denver won the first meeting of the season vs. Memphis at home, 104-92. Jokic scored 28 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter when the Nuggets outscored the Grizzlies by 10.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 14-6 in the previous 20 meetings.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Rockets at Suns (+7.5, 226)
Second ESPN game. The Rockets won a second in a row Wednesday, 121-112 over Portland. Chris Paul had a season-high 37 points and tied his career high in shot attempts (in regulation) with 29. His point total was the highest by a Rocket besides James Harden since Jeremy Lin had 38 against San Antonio on Dec. 10, 2012. Phoenix has been off since upsetting the Thunder 114-100 on Sunday. Second-year player Dragan Bender scored 17 of his career-high 20 points in the second half, while rookie Josh Jackson had 17 points and 10 rebounds in his first double-double. Marquese Chriss left the game with a right hip strain in the second quarter and did not return. He's day-to-day. Houston has won the past five meetings. The first this season was 142-116, scoring a Suns opponent record 90 first-half points. That tied for the second most in the first half of a game in NBA history. Harden had 48 points.
Key trends: The Rockets are 6-2 ATS in their past eight in Phoenix. The over is 4-0 in the previous four there.
Early lean: Suns and over.
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