Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
There have been two coaches who have been fired thus far this season: the Suns' Earl Watson and Grizzlies' David Fizdale. Phoenix has been a bit better under interim coach Jay Triano, while Memphis has been worse under interim J.B. Bickerstaff, although that's partly due to Mike Conley's injury. Long story shot: neither guy is likely to get the full-time job. My prediction for the next coach fired? Orlando's Frank Vogel. He did a pretty good job at Indiana from 2010-16, but the Magic are going backward in his second season (and there's some talent on that roster!). It's also important to note that Vogel was hired by former GM Rob Hennigan, who was fired after last season. New boss John Hammond likely will want to hire his own coach. Vogel has said his relationship with new management is good but that the season has been more about the front office's desire to evaluate the pieces the team had. Orlando could be a good job next season if it lands a high draft pick to go along with guys like Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, Jonathan Isaac, etc. Plus, no state income tax in Florida.
Warriors at Clippers (TBA)
A 3:30 p.m. ET matinee from Staples Center. Golden State won a third straight - scoring at least 124 points in each - on Thursday in Houston, 124-114. Steph Curry had 29 points, Klay Thompson 28 and Draymond Green 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to become the franchise career leader in triple-doubles. Kevin Durant was scratched with a strained right calf. Pretty sure he would have played if James Harden had been healthy. The Clippers had their four-game winning streak snapped in a 127-117 home loss to Oklahoma City on Thursday. DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers with a season-high 26 points and 17 rebounds. Austin Rivers sat out again and now will miss at least two weeks. Milos Teodosic aggravated his plantar fascia injury and probably will be out a while again.
Key trends: The Warriors are 5-1 against the spread in their past six at the Clippers. The "over/under" is 4-0 in the previous four meetings.
Early lean: TBA for Durant; I like Clippers regardless as they'll be getting plenty of points and I'll almost always take them in these 12:30 local starts.
Celtics at Nets (+4.5, 210.5)
Boston hosted Minnesota on Friday, and I doubt has much left in the tank here following that and the Cavs game on Wednesday. Brooklyn has won back-to-back games a couple of times this year but not three straight. It goes for that here following a 98-97 home upset of Minnesota on Wednesday. Spencer Dinwiddie made the go-ahead jumper with 10.1 seconds left and tied his career high with 26 points. Brooklyn played without Caris LeVert, who had been the only Nets player to appear in all 37 games, because of a groin strain. It's not thought to be serious. Boston has won two close games vs. Brooklyn this season and seven straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The road team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven in Brooklyn.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Rockets at Pistons (TBA)
Detroit was in Philadelphia on Friday with Andre Drummond a game-time call (rib contusion) and Stanley Johnson (hip) doubtful. Houston's two-game winning streak ended in a 10-point home loss to the Warriors on Thursday. If you are in a fantasy NBA league, go get Gerald Green now. He has become a huge offensive weapon in the two games James Harden has missed and had 29 vs. the Dubs. Eric Gordon had 30 starting for Harden again. Houston has won five of its past eight trips to Detroit after losing seven straight before that.
Key trends: The Rockets are 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 16-6 in Detroit's previous 22 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait on Drummond.
Bulls at Pacers (TBA)
Chicago was in Dallas on Friday. Indiana has been off since losing its fifth straight game Wednesday, 122-101 in Milwaukee to fall to .500. Leading scorer Victor Oladipo sat out again with a sore left knee but practiced without restrictions on Thursday and is looking good for a return on Saturday. He will have to make it through practice Friday in good contention to play. This is the final meeting of the season between these division rivals. Indiana won the first two but lost in Chicago, 119-107 on Dec. 29 without Oladipo. He's averaging 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his two games vs. the Bulls. The Pacers have won three straight and nine of their last 11 regular season home games over Chicago.
Key trends: The Bulls are 2-7 ATS in their past nine at Indiana. The under is 8-1 in those.
Early lean: Pacers win easily if Oladipo returns.
Cavaliers at Magic (TBA)
Cleveland started a five-game road trip with a 102-88 loss in Boston on Wednesday - that was a season low in points scored. LeBron James had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists as his tired team shot only 34.8 percent. Kevin Love was limited to 21 minutes and two points as he left after spraining his ankle, so monitor his status. Isaiah Thomas will be back in the lineup after sitting out Wednesday. Orlando has three wins since the end of November and is on a three-game skid following a 116-98 home loss to Houston on Wednesday. I thought Orlando had a shot to win that game as it was the Rockets' first game without James Harden. But the Magic missed 16 of their first 18 shots and fell behind by 15 points before the end of the first quarter and the game was basically over. Orlando ended a 17-game losing streak to the Cavs in the first meeting this season with a 114-93 victory in Cleveland. The Magic led by 21 in the first quarter and never trailed.
Key trends: The Cavs are 8-1 ATS in their past nine in Orlando. The over is 7-2 in those.
Early lean: TBA for Love.
Bucks at Wizards (-5, 216)
Milwaukee hosted Toronto on Friday and Washington was in Memphis. Washington won in Milwaukee on Nov. 20, 99-88. The Wizards outscored the Bucks 13-4 to start the fourth, building an 86-70 advantage and didn't look back. Bradley Beal led Washington with 23 points. Otto Porter Jr. had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 23 points but was 8 for 21 from the field. The Wizards won both at home in this series last season.
Key trends: The Bucks are 1-5 ATS in their past six in D.C. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven meetings.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Pelicans at Timberwolves (-2, 216)
Minnesota was in Boston on Friday. New Orleans ended a two-game slide with a 108-98 victory in Utah on Wednesday. Anthony Davis had 29 points and 15 rebounds, while DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points and 11 rebounds. Cousins did turn his ankle in the first half, but he did return. New Orleans is 0-2 this year vs. Minnesota. This is the first time since 2004-05 that the Wolves won twice in New Orleans. Cousins has averaged 26.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 3.5 steals and 2.0 blocks, while Davis has averaged 20.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals.
Key trends: The home team is 13-6 ATS in the past 19 meetings. The over is 8-1 in the previous nine.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Nuggets at Kings (+4, 206.5)
Denver hosted Utah on Friday. Sacramento has lost its past three, all by double digits. It was 131-111 at home vs. Charlotte on Tuesday. Zach Randolph had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Sacramento. Skal Labissiere added 17 points and a career-best 15 rebounds for the Kings. De'Aaron Fox scored 17 points in his return after missing eight games with a right quadriceps tear. Denver won the final two meetings vs. Sacramento last year and the first two this season, both blowouts.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 9-3 ATS in their past 12 in Sac-Town. The under is 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: Kings and under.
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