Free NBA Picks: Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
By the time you read this, the two NBA All-Star teams will be completed as the captain's picks by LeBron James and Steph Curry were to be unveiled on Thursday night. For once, I think that the fans/media/coaches got the 10 starters exactly right. There are a few guys who were obvious snubs among the reserves. The biggest one might be Clippers sixth man Lou Williams, who is having a career year and a huge reason why L.A. is in the playoff hunt despite both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan missing time with injuries. One could argue former Clipper Chris Paul deserved a spot, but he also missed 17 games. Russell Westbrook is ticked that teammate Paul George wasn't named a reserve, but whom do you take off for George (how ironic that Victor Oladipo will play in the ASG and George won't)? In the East, guys like Detroit's Andre Drummond and Charlotte's Kemba Walker both had cases to be named reserves. The 2018 All-Star Game is Feb. 18 from Los Angeles.
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Hawks at Hornets ( -8, 210)
The Hawks concluded a six-game homestand at a solid 3-3 following a 108-93 loss to Toronto on Wednesday. Dennis Schroder led Atlanta with 20 points. Rookie John Collins added 13 points and career-high 16 rebounds. The Hornets lost at home to the Pelicans on Wednesday, 101-96. Dwight Howard had 22 points and 16 rebounds in his 1,000th career game. Charlotte won the first meeting at home vs. Atlanta way back on Oct. 20, 109-91. Howard posted 20 points and 15 rebounds against his former team. The Hornets have won four straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Hawks are 0-6-1 against the spread in their past seven in Charlotte. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight there.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Pacers at Cavaliers (TBA)
The Pacers won their second straight Wednesday, 116-101 over Phoenix. First-time All-Star Victor Oladipo had 21 points and nine assists, and his team led by as many as 38. Point guard Darren Collison was out for personal reasons but is expected to play here. Myles Turner might return after missing the past eight. The Pacers shot 56.2 percent from the field and are 16-0 when topping 50 percent this season. The Cavs' free-fall continued in a 114-102 loss at short-handed San Antonio on Tuesday. LeBron James became the youngest player ever with 30,000 career points, but that was the extent of the good news. Tyronn Lue says changes are coming. Indiana looks for the surprising four-game season sweep of Cleveland. The Pacers haven't done that since 2012-13.
Key trends: The Pacers are 4-0 ATS in their past four in Cleveland. The over is 4-0 in those.
Early lean: TBA likely for Turner.
Jazz at Raptors (TBA)
The Jazz haven't won back-to-back games since early December but try for that here off a 98-95 overtime win in Detroit on Wednesday. Joe Ingles tied it late in regulation - his team was down nine with about three minutes left -- on a layup and had two 3-pointers in OT. Ricky Rubio had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Rodney Hood sat again with a leg issue. The Raptors won in Atlanta on Wednesday, 108-93. Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Toronto had 12 blocks and 10 steals. Utah lost at home to Toronto on Nov. 3, 109-100. DeMar DeRozan had 37 points. The Raptors also have taken four in a row at home in the series.
Key trends: The Raptors have covered nine straight meetings. The under is 7-3 in Toronto's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Raptors win a low-scoring game.
Lakers at Bulls (-4.5, 218)
The Lakers won their third straight, all at home, in a 108-107 upset of Boston on Tuesday. Rookie Kyle Kuzma had 28 points, 17 in the fourth quarter. Kuzma has 15 20-point games this season, the most by a Lakers rookie since Eddie Jones in 1995. Jordan Clarkson continues to put up big numbers in Lonzo Ball's absence as Clarkson had 22 points. Ball won't be playing for a little while longer at least. The Bulls dropped their second straight Wednesday, 115-101 at Philadelphia. Kris Dunn missed his third in a row with a concussion but is getting close. Chicago lost at the Lakers on Nov. 21, 103-94. The Bulls also lost at home last year in the series.
Key trends: The Lakers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven after a win. The over is 6-1 in the Bulls' past seven at home.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Clippers at Grizzlies (TBA)
The Clippers lost their third consecutive on Wednesday, 113-102 vs. Boston, to fall back below .500. Jordan returned after missing five games with a left ankle sprain and had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Assuming he plays here, he will break a tie with Randy Smith (who?) for most played in a Clipper uniform. The Grizzlies lost at home to the Spurs on Wednesday, 108-95. Memphis led 2-0 and then not again. It was 2-for-18 from long range and without Tyreke Evans and JaMychal Green. Final meeting of the season between these teams. The Grizzlies won the first two and the Clippers the most recent on Jan. 2 at home.
Key trends: The underdog is 4-1-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 6-0 in the previous six.
Early lean: Wait on those Grizzlies.
Nets at Bucks (TBA)
It's the former team Jason Kidd coached … against the former team Jason Kidd coached. The Nets had a two-game winning run snapped in a 109-108 loss at Oklahoma City on Tuesday on a last-second Russell Westbrook layup. Brooklyn had just taken the lead on a layup of its own on Spencer Dinwiddie, but he missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Bucks fired Kidd early Monday and then went out and beat the visiting Suns, 109-105. Khris Middleton scored 35 points, and Malcolm Brogdon added a career-high 32. Giannis Antetokounmpo missed a second straight with a sore knee but expects to return here. First meeting of the season between these teams. Milwaukee has won the past eight.
Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-2 in the Bucks' past nine.
Early lean: Wait on the Freak.
Rockets at Pelicans (+4.5, 231.5)
Lone ESPN game of the night. The Rockets won their fourth in a row Wednesday, 104-97 in Dallas. James Harden had 25 points and 13 assists. Houston jacked up 51 3-pointers (not even a season high, which is ridiculous) and made 21 of them. I was flat-out wrong on the Pelicans on Wednesday as I thought they would be totally gassed following a double-overtime win over Chicago on Monday, but New Orleans won in Charlotte, 101-96. Anthony Davis scored 19 points, and DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points and 13 rebounds off a historic game Monday. Houston won the first meeting at home vs. New Orleans, 130-123 on Dec. 11 behind 28 points from Clint Capela and 26 from Harden. Davis was out. The Rockets are 3-4 over their past seven trips to New Orleans, however.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 1-5 ATS in their past six at home. The under is 6-0 in Houston's previous six.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
Trail Blazers at Mavericks (Pick'em, 208.5)
The Blazers beat the visiting Timberwolves on Wednesday, 123-114. Damian Lillard had 31 points and CJ McCollum 28. Portland hit 17 3-pointers. Jusuf Nurkic sustained a left elbow contusion but returned to the game. The Mavericks lost to the Rockets on Wednesday, 104-97, their sixth straight defeat in the series. Wesley Matthews matched a season high with 29 points. Portland has taken the past two in the series, including 117-108 at home on Jan. 20. The Blazers tied their season high with 18 made 3-pointers. Lillard led Portland with 31 points and nine assists.
Key trends: The Blazers are 2-7 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over is 9-2 in Dallas' previous 11 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Mavericks and over.
76ers at Spurs (-5, 205.5)
The 76ers beat the Bulls on Wednesday, 115-101 behind a triple-double of 19 points, 17 rebounds and 14 assists from rookie Ben Simmons - he had hit double digits in all three categories in just 22 minutes. Guards T.J. McConnell (personal) and Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) were out. The Spurs won their second straight Wednesday, 108-85 in Memphis. Pau Gasol had 14 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. LaMarcus Aldridge sat in the second of a back-to-back. Philadelphia beat San Antonio on Jan. 3, 112-106, to end a 12-game losing streak in the series. Pretty much every Spurs player you have heard of other than Aldridge sat that out.
Key trends: The Sixers are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 overall. The under is 6-2 in the Spurs' past eight.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
Knicks at Suns (TBA)
I'm betting the farm on the Suns here as New York is coming off a Friday visit to Denver and finishing likely the most daunting road trip of any team this season as this is Game No. 7. Kristaps Porzingis was questionable Thursday after sitting Tuesday. If he's having knee problems, I find it tough to believe the team would let him play both ends of a back-to-back. The Suns concluded a four-game trip at 1-3 with a 116-101 loss at Indiana on Wednesday. They were down 38 at one point in half the situation the Knicks will be in here. New York beat Phoenix on Nov. 3, 120-97. Porzingis had 37 points.
Key trends: The Knicks are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The under is 4-0 in the Suns' past four at home.
Early lean: Suns!
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