Free NBA Picks: Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
As an NBA handicapper , no team aggravates me more than the San Antonio Spurs. You almost never see an early line on their games because you never know what Gregg Popovich will do in regards to playing time - whether a guy is really hurt or not. Well, look for a lot more TBAs on Spurs games for a while as the team has ruled out superstar Kawhi Leonard indefinitely as he continues to rehab his right quadricep tendinopathy. I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night and don't really know what that third word means, but Leonard didn't debut this season because of it until Dec. 12 and has been in and out of the lineup (just nine games played) since because of that or rest. The Spurs weren't going to finish in the Top 2 of the West regardless, so I'm not sure this is a huge deal. I don't see them slipping past fourth even if Leonard misses a couple of months. Then again, these are the Spurs, so Kawhi could be back this weekend. Kyle Anderson has moved back into the starting lineup and played very well in Leonard's spot earlier before suffering his own injury.
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Spurs at Raptors (-5.5, 208.5)
I'd say potential NBA Finals preview but we all know that's not likely true - how about matchup of potential conference runners-up? I actually think Toronto has a shot at winning the East with the Cavs' problems. The Spurs won in Brooklyn on Wednesday, 100-95. LaMarcus Aldridge led with 34 points - he will be fantasy beast now with Leonard out as the offense will completely revolve around Aldridge. Manu Ginobili sat with a bruised thigh and won't play here. Toronto stopped a two-game skid with a 96-91 home win over Detroit on Wednesday. Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 16 rebounds as the Dinos avoided their first three-game skid of the season. Toronto lost its ninth straight game in San Antonio on Oct. 23, 101-97. With Tony Parker out then, Dejounte Murray blew up with 16 points and 14 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 28 points for Toronto, which lost at home to the Spurs last season.
Key trends: The home team is 6-2 against the spread in the past eight meetings. The "over/under" is 7-2 in the Raptors' past nine overall.
Early lean: Hey, a Spurs spread! Raptors and over.
Heat at Nets (+3.5, 205.5)
Miami won in Milwaukee on Wednesday, 106-101. Hassan Whiteside dominated with a season-high 27 points along with 13 rebounds and six blocks. The Heat used a late 7-0 to take control. They were without starting guard Tyler Johnson (ankle), and he's not likely here. The Nets dropped a third straight Wednesday, 100-95 to the Spurs. Spencer Dinwiddie's slump continued as he was just 3-for-13 from the field. Brooklyn has dropped its past five at home. These teams have split this year, each winning on the road - Brooklyn has dropped seven straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Heat are 10-2-1 ATS in the past 13 meetings. The under has hit in six straight.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Wizards at Pistons (+1, 207.5)
First ESPN game. The schizophrenic Wizards had their bad side show up again Wednesday as they were inexcusably bombed at Charlotte on Wednesday, 133-109. Washington allowed 77 first-half points, a Hornets franchise record. It was the 16th straight game the Wiz allowed at least 100 points. The Pistons dropped their third in a row Wednesday, 96-91 in Toronto. Andre Drummond had 25 points and 17 rebounds as his team lost for the seventh time in the past eight road games. Stanley Johnson (strained right hip flexor) missed his third straight game. Avery Bradley played but is questionable her. Detroit has lost nine of the last 12 games against the Wizards, including both this season.
Key trends: The Wizards are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-1 in Detroit's previous seven on Friday.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Kings at Grizzlies (TBA)
The Kings lost a sixth straight Wednesday, 120-105 at home vs. Utah. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 25 points and Willie Cauley-Stein had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who are pretty clearly the NBA's worst team at the moment. Skal Labissiere (left shoulder strain) sat out. The Grizzlies won for the third time in four games Wednesday, 105-99 over the Knicks. Tyreke finished with 23 points and 10 assists, and JaMychal Green added 18 points and 13 rebounds. Marc Gasol sat due to illness. Memphis won the first meeting in Sacramento, 114-93 on New Year's Eve. Former King Evans had 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in just 26 minutes.
Key trends: The Kings are 2-7 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five in Memphis.
Early lean: Wait on Gasol.
Suns at Nuggets (-9, 218)
The Suns lost their third in a row Tuesday, 118-111 in Portland to begin a four-game trip. Devin Booker had 43 points. Marquese Chriss missed his third straight game because of a right hip strain. The Nuggets lost at the Clippers on Wednesday, 109-104. Denver turned it over 21 times, including crucial ones late by Will Barton and Wilson Chandler. The Nuggets fell to 2-7 in the second game of a back-to-back. Denver beat visiting Phoenix in the first meeting 134-111 earlier this month and has won seven straight in the series -- the Nuggets' longest in series history.
Key trends: The Suns have failed to cover seven straight in the series. The over is 5-0 in the previous five.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Knicks at Jazz (-4, 204)
Second ESPN game. The Knicks are 1-1 on their season-high seven-game trip following a 105-99 victory in Memphis on Wednesday. With 17.8 seconds left and it still a one possession game, Courtney Lee was called for a technical for something he said to the referee while waiting for the ref to release a jump ball. The ensuing Grizzlies free throws clinched the game. Kristaps Porzingis led the Knicks with 21 points. Lee did hit his 45th straight free throw, setting a franchise record. The Jazz stopped a two-game losing streak with a 120-105 win in Sacramento on Wednesday. Rookie Donovan Mitchell had 34 points. It was his fifth game of at least 30 this year as he continues to close ground on Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year. Utah lost at the Garden on Nov. 15, 106-101. Tim Hardaway Jr. paced New York with a team-high 26 points. The Jazz have taken the past three at home in the series.
Key trends: The Jazz are 3-8 ATS in their past 11 on Friday. The under is 4-1 in the previous five meetings in Utah.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Pacers at Lakers (TBA)
The story line here is that Paul George wanted Indiana to trade him to his hometown Lakers this past summer, but L.A. never really made a major offer because it figured George would just sign there next offseason. Indiana was in Portland on Thursday - Pacers are the only team in the second of a back-to-back on Friday. L.A. was blown out in OKC on Wednesday, 114-90. Lonzo Ball missed his second in a row with knee swelling and the Lakers are 0-8 without him. Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma left with a finger joint sprain and did not return, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope left with a right Achilles tendon strain and did not return. First meeting of the season between these teams. They split as very different team last year, each winning at home.
Key trends: The Pacers are 0-4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 4-1 in L.A.'s previous five overall.
Early lean: Wait on those Lakers.
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