Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Did you think that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge already had landed his white whale in Kyrie Irving? You would be wrong. It's not exactly a secret around the NBA that Ainge covets Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis. Last season, Pelicans GM Dell Demps spoke directly to Davis about Celtics rumors. "He told me that [Boston] was calling, but nothing was going to happen," Davis said. "At the same time, though, you see how organizations treat players. Isaiah Thomas. DeMarcus [Cousins] told me that the [Kings] told him that he wasn't going to get traded, but they traded him. Isaiah took his team to the Eastern Conference finals, and they traded him." The Pelicans have Davis locked up through 2021 and swear he's untouchable, but Davis could force his way out if the Pelicans stay mediocre and Cousins leaves in free agency this summer. If any team could offer the type of overwhelming talent that it would require, it would be Boston. Jayson Tatum surely isn't going anywhere, but the C's could start with a package of Jaylen Brown and Top 5 pick in this year's loaded draft if that's where the Lakers' pick ends up. Los Angeles will deliver its first-round pick to Boston if it lands between spots Nos. 2-5 in the 2018 draft. Expect plenty of "Come to Boston" chants Tuesday when the Pelicans make their lone visit of the season.
Timberwolves at Magic ( +7, 216.5)
Minnesota won a fifth in a row Sunday, 120-103 over Portland. Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and 11 rebounds for his NBA-leading 37th double-double of the season. It was the team's first 5-0 homestand since 2001. Orlando lost its seventh in a row Friday, 125-119 in Washington. The game was tied entering the fourth, but the Magic shot 6-for-22 in that quarter. Bismack Biyombo finished 8 of 9 from the field for a career-high 21 points. The Magic lost at the Wolves 124-118 on Nov. 22. Jimmy Butler had 26 points and Taj Gibson a season-high 24 for Minnesota. Aaron Gordon scored 26 points and added nine rebounds for the Magic, who were down 26 at one point. Orlando was outscored 41-18 in the third quarter. The Magic have won eight of the past nine at home in the series but did lose last season.
Key trends: The Wolves are 3-9 against the spread in their past 12 vs. the East. The Magic have failed to cover seven straight vs. the West. The "over/under" is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Magic and over.
Pelicans at Celtics (TBA)
The Pelicans won a second straight Sunday, 123-118 in overtime at the Knicks. Davis had a season-high 48 points to go with 17 rebounds as New Orleans rallied from a 19-point third-quarter deficit. DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals and five assists. The Celtics won their seventh straight Thursday in London against the 76ers, 114-103. Boston rallied from a 22-point deficit. Irving had 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds. New Orleans has won just one of their last six meetings with Boston. In two games against the Celtics last season, Davis averaged 30.5 points, 16.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks. Marcus Smart averaged 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals in the two vs. the Pels.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 2-6 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 8-3 in Boston's previous 11 on Tuesday.
Early lean: TBA because both Jayson Tatum and Al Horford missed practice over the weekend with knee troubles. Neither is thought to be serious.
Mavericks at Nuggets (-7, 212)
Dallas had a two-game winning streak snapped Saturday vs. the Lakers, 107-101 in overtime. The Mavs had won 14 straight in that series and had a double-digit fourth-quarter lead. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. had 23 points in the loss. Dirk Nowitzki moved to sixth all-time in made free throws with 7,163. Michael Jordan is next up at 7,327. Denver was crushed in San Antonio on Saturday, 112-80. The Nuggets were held to just 11 points in the fourth quarter. They are 10-19 this season when allowing 100-plus points. The Mavs snapped a three-game losing streak in this series with a 122-105 home win on Dec. 4. Dallas shot a season-high 57 percent from the field.
Key trends: The Mavs are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in Denver. The over is 5-2 in those.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Suns at Trail Blazers (TBA)
Phoenix dropped a second straight game Sunday, 120-97 at home to Indiana. Rookie Josh Jackson scored a career-best 21 points for Phoenix, which has lost four of five. Second-leading scorer T.J. Warren was a late scratch with lower-back soreness and Marquese Chriss missed his second in a row with a hip strain. Portland finished a four-game trip at 1-3 following a 17-point loss in Minnesota on Sunday. The Blazers had scored 110 points or more in seven straight games but were held to 10 in the second quarter. The Blazers are 2-0 vs. the Suns this season (the 48-point margin of victory in the season opener was the largest loss in team history and worst by any team in an opener) and have won five straight in the series. Damian Lillard has averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds in the two this year and has scored at least 25 points in six straight games against Phoenix.
Key trends: The Suns are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 in Portland. The over is 5-0 in the Blazers' past five.
Early lean: Wait on the two Suns.
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