Free NBA Picks: Thursday, April 19, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Now that the NBA draft lottery order has been set, at least pre-lottery, 5Dimes has unveiled some odds for the lottery, which will be held on May 15. Remember, this is the last year of the lottery as we know it with some changes coming next season that include the teams with the three-worst records all having the same chance of winning the lottery. As it stands now, the Phoenix Suns have a 25 percent shot as the 2017-18 worst team and they are +285 at the site to win the first pick with any other club at -315. That Phoenix gets the No. 2 pick is +346 and field at -386. The lowest the Suns can slide is fourth, yet that's the favorite for where they pick at +172. Phoenix has a 64.2 percent chance at picking somewhere in the Top 3. Here's a look at Thursday's Game 3s around the NBA.
76ers at Heat ( +2, 216)
A 7 p.m. ET tip on TNT. I fully expected the Heat to play miles better in Game 2 after laying a 130-103 egg in the opener - these teams, after all, played four close games this regular season. Thus, I'm not surprised that Miami won 113-103 to end Philadelphia's franchise-record 17-game winning streak. I was surprised, though, how it happened. Dwyane Wade, at 36 years old, found the fountain of youth for one night as he was clearly the difference with 28 points and seven rebounds while shooting 11-for-16 from the field in 26 minutes. The Heat outscored Philly by 16 with Wade on the floor, by far the best of any player. Hassan Whiteside was again largely a non-factor in limited to 15 minutes due to foul trouble … and the fact that Erik Spoelstra clearly doesn't like the guy.
Ben Simmons led Philadelphia with 24 points to go with nine rebounds and eight assists, while Dario Saric had 23 points and nine rebounds. However, every starter was outscored by at least seven points while on the floor. It was the first time in a while that Philly clearly missed Joel Embiid, who took to Instagram after Game 2 and said he's tired of "being babied" by the franchise. You can understand his side of things, but the 76ers have to protect their franchise player from himself. Embiid is out of the concussion protocol but yet to be cleared for contact. Brett Brown says that Embiid is progressing toward that goal. It sounds more like Embiid will return in Game 4, but Thursday is a possibility. Needless to say, that would affect the line.
Key trends: The 76ers are 3-10 against the spread in their past 13 Thursday games. The Heat are 1-5 ATS in their past six after a win. The "over/under" is 9-3-1 in Miami's previous 12 following a win.
Early lean: Heat (and over) presuming Embiid doesn't play.
Trail Blazers at Pelicans (-3, 216)
This one starts at 9 p.m. ET on NBA TV. While both the other two series listed here had their Game 2 on Monday, the Pelicans and Blazers played Tuesday. The old adage about the NBA playoffs is that you should bet on the team with the best player. I went against Anthony Davis and his Pelicans in Game 1, and they won a close on in Portland. Fool me once … so I backed Davis & Co. strangely getting six points in Game 2, and New Orleans won 111-102 to take a commanding 2-0 lead back to the Big Easy. Davis was very good again with 22 points and 13 rebounds, but once again it was the Pelicans' backcourt outplaying its more celebrated counterpart. Jrue Holiday had 33 points and nine assists, and Rajon Rondo 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
Since its 13-game winning streak ended on March 20, Portland has been very inconsistent so maybe we should have seen this coming. Damian Lillard struggled again, shooting 7-for-18 for 17 points, and so did CJ McCollum, who was 9-for-21 for 22 points and minus-16. The Blazers just don't have enough other to win when those two are struggling. The team's third-best player, Jusuf Nurkic, played just 15 minutes in Game 2 due to a left leg contusion. One bright spot was the return from injury of Moe Harkless, who had 11 points in 27 minutes off the bench - the Portland bench as a whole was one positive.
Key trends: The Blazers are 1-4 ATS in their past five road games. The Pels are 7-0 ATS in their past seven overall. The under is 6-0 in Portland's previous six vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Pelicans and under.
Warriors at Spurs (+3, 205.5)
Second game of TNT doubleheader at 9:30 p.m. ET or so. I'll be stunned if this series isn't a sweep. The Spurs are the most professional franchise in American sports and have a ton of collective pride, but they just don't have the talent to match up with the Warriors - even when Golden State is without Steph Curry. The Dubs followed an easy Game 1 with a slightly more challenging 116-101 win on Monday. Kevin Durant had 32 points, six rebounds and six assists. He's basically not guardable regardless, but without Kawhi Leonard the Spurs have no shot. Klay Thompson added 31 points. The Warriors were down six at the half but outscored San Antonio 33-22 in the third. No team is better coming out of halftime than Golden State.
LaMarcus Aldridge did what he could for the Spurs with 34 points and 12 rebounds despite constant double teams. Gregg Popovich benched an ineffective Kyle Anderson (he was again with one points in 10 minutes) and started Rudy Gay. He managed 12 points in 37 minutes. Danny Green had as many points as you and I combined (zero) and was an embarrassing minus-26 in 25 minutes. San Antonio was 4-for-28 from deep. San Antonio's 14.3 percent accuracy was the franchise's second-worst percentage from 3-point range in a postseason game (minimum 20 attempts) since 1997-98, Popovich's first full season as head coach. On uncontested 3-point attempts, San Antonio finished 0-for-7.
Key trends: The Warriors are 2-11 ATS in their past 13 following a win. The Spurs are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 at home. The under is 8-3 in the previous 11 meetings in San Antonio.
Early lean: Warriors and under.
Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please on any of our top NBA handicappers. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . Also, for a limited time only get three top NBA handicappers for the price of one! Click Here . Get free NBA picks today at Doc's Sports basketball predictions page.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NBA Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/20/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/15/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/13/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/8/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 1/6/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 1/1/2021 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 12/30/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Friday 12/25/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free NBA Picks Wednesday 12/23/2020 and Opening Line Report
- 2021 NBA Championship Odds and Expert Predictions