Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, April 17, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
I haven't seen one of the Doc's affiliated sportsbooks with a prop on whom the next coach of the Knicks will be yet, but I presume at least one will have it considering it's a marquee job. The Knicks of course fired Jeff Hornacek last Thursday. The team already has received permission to talk with former Knicks coach and current Clippers assistant Mike Woodson. He was fired after two seasons with New York in 2014. How unoriginal would that hiring be? The team is also planning to talk to former Cavs coach David Blatt as well as David Fizdale, Mark Jackson and Jerry Stackhouse. Jackson would be easily the most popular hire as a former Knicks player. Here's a look at Tuesday's Game 2s in the NBA playoffs.
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Wizards at Raptors ( -6.5, 215)
With Cleveland getting pummeled at home by Indiana on Sunday, one would have to call the Raptors now the favorites to come out of the East. They stopped a streak of 10 straight Game 1 losses (a dubious NBA record) with a 114-106 victory over Washington on Saturday. The Raptors have one of the NBA's best backcourts in All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but they have had their issues in the postseason previously. My one concern if I'm a Raptors backer is that they didn't exactly shine in Game 1 as DeRozan was 6-for-17 for 17 points and Lowry was held to 11. What makes this team so good is its bench, maybe the NBA's best. That unit was terrific in the opener as Delon Wright had 18 points and CJ Miles 12. Another key reserve, guard Fred VanVleet, missed the opener with a shoulder injury and is day-to-day. That would again mean more minutes for Wright if VanVleet sits.
Washington's All-Star backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal is probably better than Toronto's. Wall had 23 points and 15 assists but was 6-for-20 from the field. Beal had 19 points. Washington's bench is a major weakness, and only Mike Scott did much from that group with 14 points. He had been in question with a concussion. Kelly Oubre Jr. had just three points. The Wizards are without reserve guard Jodie Meeks, who was suspended 25 games for violating the NBA's drug policy. Naturally, he has no idea how it got into his system. Meeks played 77 games for the Wizards this season, averaging 14.5 minutes and 6.3 points a game.
Key trends: The Wizards are 1-8 against the spread in their past nine games. They are 3-7 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of the past 10.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Bucks at Celtics (-3, 197.5)
I liked the Bucks to win this series considering how injury-ravaged Boston is. I still like Milwaukee to do so, just not quite as strongly after it lost Game 1 on Sunday in Beantown, 113-107 in overtime. Khris Middleton hit a long 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer to send it to extra basketball. The Celtics led 99-96 with 0.5 seconds left when Middleton took an inbounds pass on the far right wing and hit a contested 35-footer. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 35 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out in overtime. It was a rather ticky-tack foul. Middleton had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The other three Bucks started totaled just 18 points. Eric Bledsoe (4-for-12, five turnovers, also fouled out) in particular disappointed.
Al Horford led Boston with 24 points in 44 minutes, adding 12 rebounds and four assists. Terry Rozier, starting with Kyrie Irving out, had 23 points, Marcus Morris 21 off the bench and Jaylen Brown 20. It was the first time four Celtics players had 20 in a playoff game since April 28, 1991 when Reggie Lewis, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Brian Shaw all finished with 20. The Celtics have now won their past six home playoff games that went to overtime.
Key trends: The Bucks are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 8-2-1 in the previous 11.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Pelicans at Trail Blazers (-6, 214)
The biggest Game 1 surprise Saturday was New Orleans as a 5.5-point dog going to Portland and winning 97-95. Anthony Davis was magnificent as usual with 35 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the first playoff win of his young career. Jrue Holiday chipped in 21 points, Nikola Mirotic 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo six points, eight rebounds and 17 assists. Holiday and Rondo outplayed their more celebrated counterparts Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Holiday also blocked Pat Connaughton's layup attempt with 6.3 seconds to go. About the only negative was New Orleans blowing nearly all of a 19-point lead.
Lillard was held to 18 points on 6-for-23 shooting and McCollum finished 7-for-18 for 19 points. McCollum has been slumping all month, shooting 36 percent overall and 24.2 from deep. Not sure why Jusuf Nurkic only got seven shots. Key reserve/occasional starter Moe Harkless didn't play due to arthroscopic knee surgery but does appear to be getting closer. Harkless was given a three-week timetable on March 27. Ed Davis returned after missing four games but was scoreless in 15 minutes.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 6-0 ATS in their past six. They are 5-2 ATS in the past seven in this series. The under is 5-0 in Portland's past five vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Pelicans and under.
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