Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, April 3, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
With the NBA going dark Monday opposite the National Championship Game, it's a good time to check out futures odds for the last time before the playoffs begin in just over two weeks. The Golden State Warriors remain the -110 favorites to win the West again, although most statistical projections have Houston (+125) emerging from the West. The Rockets are a good fade candidate the rest of the regular season, though, since they have clinched the No. 1 overall seed and clearly have nothing to play for. You have to go way down to +1600 to find the next team in the West: Oklahoma City. It's a two-horse race. In the East, Cleveland is +150 with Toronto at +175. The Raptors can wrap up the East's top seed this week - or potentially cough it up to Boston (+375). Philadelphia is +1000; any betting on the Sixers to win the East presumes that Joel Embiid will get back healthy for the postseason from his orbital fracture. They could be mega-dangerous if he does. The Wizards aren't bad value at +3300 now that John Wall is back. Tuesday is unusually busy because of Monday's off day, and there are some excellent matchups.
Raptors at Cavaliers ( -2, 225.5)
Toronto suffered a potentially big loss in Boston on Saturday, 110-99, and is just 3-4 in the past seven games. The Raptors' franchise-record streak of hitting at least 10 3-pointers came to an end at 17 games in the defeat. The Cavs won their third in a row Sunday, 98-87 over Dallas. LeBron James looked a little bored in shooting 5-for-21 but did finish with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists for his 17th triple-double of the season. These teams have split two meetings, most recently facing off on March 21 in Cleveland, a 132-129 Cavs win behind 35 points and 17 assists from LeBron.
Key trends: The Raptors are 2-7 against the spread in their past nine in Cleveland. The "over/under" is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Cavaliers and over.
Nets at 76ers (TBA)
The Nets had a two-game winning streak snapped in a 108-96 home loss to the Pistons on Sunday. No Nets player had more than 15 points and they were just 12-for-43 from deep. The 76ers won their 10th in a row Sunday, 119-102 in Charlotte. Ben Simmons had 20 points and 15 assists as the Sixers set a franchise record with a ninth game in a row with at least 30 helpers. Dario Saric was out with an elbow injury. Last meeting of the season between the teams with Philadelphia leading 2-1.
Key trends: The road team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-2-1 in the previous eight in Philly.
Early lean: I suppose the TBA is for Saric.
Hawks at Heat (-10.5, 206.5)
The Hawks stopped a five-game losing streak with a 94-88 win over Orlando on Sunday. Tyler Dorsey had a career-high 19 points in just 22 minutes off the bench. DeAndre Bembry had four points in 14 minutes in his return after missing 16 consecutive games with an abdominal strain. The Heat's two-game winning streak ended in a 110-109 home OT upset vs. Brooklyn on Saturday. Dwyane Wade hurt his arm during the game and Hassan Whiteside went on an expletive-filled rant afterward unhappy with his playing time. He was fined an undisclosed amount. These teams have split two meetings, each winning at home. They play again Wednesday in Atlanta.
Key trends: The Hawks are 1-7-1 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 10-3 in the Hawks' past 13 on the road.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Magic at Knicks (TBA)
The Magic are on a three-game losing streak, but that's a great thing because they came to fellow tankers Brooklyn, Chicago and Atlanta. Jonathon Simmons has missed the past six with a right wrist contusion. What's the point of letting him play now? The Knicks lost their third in a row Saturday, 115-109 to Detroit. Michael Beasley scored 32 points and Trey Burke Jr. added 18 points and 15 assists. Enes Kanter (back, right wrist), Frank Ntilikina (illness) and Courtney Lee (left foot) were all out. Orlando is 2-1 against the Knicks this season.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 6-1 in the Magic's previous seven on the road.
Early lean: Wait on those Knicks - plus Michael Beasley is questionable now as well.
Hornets at Bulls (+5, 217.5)
The Hornets lost a third in a row Sunday, 119-102 to Philadelphia. Dwight Howard had 10 points and 10 rebounds for his 13th straight double-double. His 49 of them are fourth in the NBA this season. Cody Zeller was out again with a sore knee and his season looks over. The Bulls won their second straight, which hurts their draft status, Sunday by upsetting the Wizards 113-94. Lauri Markkanen had 23 points and the Bulls tied a season high with 18 made 3-pointers. Coach Fred Hoiberg missed the game with an upper-respiratory infection. Chicago leads the season series 2-1 and has won the past two at home in it.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over has hit in five straight.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Wizards at Rockets (TBA)
The Wizards welcomed Wall back in an easy home win over Charlotte on Saturday but rested him on Sunday and flatlined in a 19-point loss in Chicago. Otto Porter Jr. led the Wizards with 17 points. Markieff Morris started on Sunday after leaving Saturday's game with flu-like symptoms after nine minutes. Houston clearly didn't much care about Sunday's game in San Antonio, losing 100-83 in seeing its 11-game winning streak end. It was the fewest points scored this season by the Rockets. Chris Paul sat out with a minor hip injury. Houston lost in Washington on Dec. 29, 121-103. The Wizards haven't swept a season series vs. Houston since going 2-0 in 1988-89
Key trends: The Wizards have failed to cover their past five on the road. The under is 6-1 in Houston's previous seven at home.
Early lean: Wait on Paul.
Celtics at Bucks (-3.5, 206.5)
The Celtics won their sixth straight Saturday, 110-99 over Toronto - those two play a huge game north of the border on Wednesday. Marcus Morris had 25 points and nine rebounds before getting ejected in the closing seconds. Jayson Tatum added 24 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Bucks' two-game winning streak was stopped in a 128-125 OT loss in Denver on Sunday. Milwaukee led by eight in the final minute of regulation; Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds, fouled out on a charge with 3:43 left in regulation. Jabari Parker scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, both season highs. Boston leads this season series 2-1, but the clubs haven't played since early December.
Key trends: The Celtics are 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 6-2-1 in the previous nine meetings.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Warriors at Thunder (-2.5, 221)
First of a TNT doubleheader. The Warriors won their second in a row Sunday, 117-107 over ghastly Phoenix. Kevin Durant had 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Klay Thompson, in his second game back from injury, had 23 points. Now just Steph Curry is missing from the team's quartet of All-Stars. The Thunder stopped a three-game skid with a 109-104 win in New Orleans on Sunday. Russell Westbrook had 26 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. OKC won the first two meetings easily vs. the Warriors, but Golden State won the most recent one Feb. 24 by 32 points.
Key trends: The Warriors are 8-2 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The under is 4-0 in the previous four.
Early lean: Thunder and under.
Trail Blazers at Mavericks (+6.5, 208.5)
The Blazers won their second straight Sunday, 113-98 over Memphis, to clinch a playoff spot. Damian Lillard had 27 points and nine assists. Key reserve Ed Davis was out with an ankle injury and is likely to miss around two weeks. The Mavericks lost a third in a row Sunday, 98-87 in Cleveland. Harrison Barnes scored 30 points to lead Dallas, which has dropped eight of nine. Portland looks for the first season sweep of Dallas since the 1998-99 campaign.
Key trends: The Blazers are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in Dallas. The over is 9-3 in the previous 12 there.
Early lean: Mavericks and over.
Pacers at Nuggets (-4, 215)
The Pacers won a fifth consecutive game Sunday, 111-104 at the Clippers, rallying from 16 down. Victor Oladipo had 30 points and 12 assists. This concludes a four-game trip through the West. The Nuggets have won back-to-back games in overtime despite allowing 125 points in each. It was 128-125 over Milwaukee on Sunday. Denver was down eight in the last minute of regulation. Nikola Jokic had 35 points and 13 rebounds and Paul Millsap 26 points and 13 boards. Indiana looks for its first season sweep of Denver since 2003-04.
Key trends: The Pacers have failed to cover their past four in Denver. The over is 5-0 in the previous five there.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Lakers at Jazz (-11.5, 208.5)
The Lakers lost their second straight Sunday, 84-83 to the Kings. Julius Randle scored 19 points, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 16 for Los Angeles, which has lost seven of nine. Brandon Ingram was out after going into the NBA's concussion protocol on Saturday. So was Lonzo Ball with a left knee contusion. The Jazz have played three straight games where one team has scored 97 points. They won 121-97 in Minnesota on Sunday. Ricky Rubio had 23 points against his former club. Utah shot a season-high 60.5 percent. Somehow, these teams haven't played since Oct. 28. Utah has taken five straight overall in the series and the past five at home.
Key trends: The Lakers are 1-5 ATS in their past six on the road. The under is 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Kings at Suns (TBA)
This one definitely does not fall under the "excellent matchups" umbrella. The Kings snapped a four-game slide with an 84-83 upset at the Lakers on Sunday. Buddy Hield had a key steal and tiebreaking fast-break dunk with 37 seconds left. The Suns have lost a franchise record 15 in a row following a 117-107 defeat at Golden State on Sunday. Marquese Chriss and Josh Jackson scored 22 points apiece for the Suns, who last won on Feb. 28 and have dropped 25 of 26. Devin Booker (right hand sprain), Elfrid Payton (left knee tendinopathy), Alex Len (left ankle sprain) and T.J. Warren (left knee inflammation) all sat and Troy Daniels left with a sore ankle. Phoenix leads the season series 2-1.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-2 ATS in their past seven in Phoenix. The under is 6-1 in each team's past seven overall.
Early lean: Wait on all those Suns.
Spurs at Clippers (-1, 208)
Second TNT game. The Spurs knocked off the visiting Rockets on Sunday, 100-83, behind 23 points and 14 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge. Yet, news came down that Kawhi Leonard is away from the club again doing his own rehab thing. What an odd story that has become. He's clearly not coming back this season. The Clippers probably need to win out to have any shot at the playoffs, and that still might not be enough. They lost a second straight Sunday, 111-104 to Indiana. DeAndre Jordan was called for a flagrant-1 foul late in the fourth with the Clippers down by one, but he shouldn't be looking at a suspension. San Antonio leads the season series 2-0.
Key trends: The Spurs have covered six straight vs. the West. The under is 5-1 in the Clippers' past six.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
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