Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
When you are tanking, one loss/win can mean a huge difference in terms of percentage of winning the NBA Draft Lottery, and the 2018 draft class looks absolutely loaded at the top. There's a Tankapalooza game in Orlando on Tuesday between the Kings and Magic. I tip my cap to Kings management because they aren't even hiding their intentions the rest of the way. Last week, Coach Dave Joerger, no doubt on orders from management, announced he would be sitting two of his veterans every game the rest of the season on a rotating basis. That does two things: Helps the club lose more and gets the young guys some needed playing time. That's a great idea, I've just never heard a franchise come out and say that. Makes you wonder why the team even bothered signing guys like George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter this past offseason - although Randolph has been great. Each night, Joerger will pick from one of that trio or Kosta Koufos and Garrett Temple to sit the bench. Joerger said he will tell the veterans in advance which games they would play so they can be prepared. Unfortunately, that doesn't help bettors as it would matter when Randolph sits especially. Hill, Temple and Koufos are solid role players. Carter doesn't matter much these days.
Kings at Magic ( -6, 211)
Sacramento was in Charlotte on Monday; the Kings are 2-5 in the second of a back-to-back this season. The Magic pulled one of the bigger upsets of the season Sunday as they won in Boston, 103-95. Elfrid Payton had 22 points in helping his team end a 14-game losing streak in Beantown and 10-game road losing skid overall despite Orlando making just one of its first 16 shots in the fourth quarter. It's the first meeting between these teams. They split last year, each winning at home.
Key trends: The Kings are 0-9 against the spread in their past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The Magic are 0-8 ATS in that situation. Something's gotta give! The "over/under" has gone under in seven straight Orlando games vs. the West.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Nets at Thunder (-9.5, 213.5)
The Nets won a second straight Sunday, 101-100 in Detroit. Spencer Dinwiddie hit a jumper with 0.9 seconds left against his former team. Dinwiddie finished with 22 points. D'Angelo Russell played 14 minutes in his second game back from a knee injury, finishing with three points and one assist. Oklahoma City won its fourth straight Saturday, a very impressive 148-124 victory in Cleveland. Paul George scored 36 points, Russell Westbrook had 23 points and 20 assists, and Carmelo Anthony a season-high 29 points. The five Thunder starters combined for 121 points. Brooklyn upset the Thunder on Dec. 7, 100-95 in Mexico City. Westbrook had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but OKC was without George and key bench player Jerami Grant. The Thunder have taken the past two at home in the series.
Key trends: The Nets are 5-0 ATS in their past five on the road. The over is 5-2 in the Thunder's past seven vs. the East.
Early lean: Nets and over.
Cavaliers at Spurs (TBA)
First of a TNT doubleheader, which loses some luster with no Kawhi Leonard to guard LeBron James. However, LeBron should become the youngest player to reach 30,000 career points. He had 18 in Cleveland's embarrassing home loss to the Thunder on Saturday and is seven shy of that milestone. The others on that list are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,808). The 148 points allowed to OKC tied a franchise record in a regulation game for the Cavs. Kevin Love expects to play after being pulled Saturday due to illness. The Spurs lost their second in a row Sunday, 94-86 at home to Indiana with Manu Ginobili and Rudy Gay out again. It was only San Antonio's third home loss of the season. LaMarcus Aldridge was 5-for-14 for a season-low 10 points. First meeting between these former NBA Finals opponents. San Antonio swept Cleveland last year and has won the past two at home in the series.
Key trends: The Cavs are 1-10 ATS in their past 11 road games. The under is 6-0 in in the Spurs' past six.
Early lean: Wait on Spurs/Love.
Knicks at Warriors (-14.5, 225.5)
I'm frankly stunned this isn't nationally televised with the big-market Knicks and the most popular team in the NBA right now, but there is a limit as to how many games for the Warriors that can be shown nationally. New York was rocked at the Lakers on Sunday, 127-107 to fall to 2-2 on a seven-game trip. Enes Kanter had 12 points and 14 rebounds. Golden State's 14-game road winning streak was snapped Saturday night in a 116-108 loss in Houston. The Warriors also had won their past seven in Houston. Steph Curry had a rough night in shooting 6-for-20. It was just the sixth time in his career that he'd attempted 20 or more shots while making six or fewer. First meeting between these teams. The Warriors have won six straight against the Knicks.
Key trends: The Knicks are 10-1 ATS in their past 11 following a loss of at least 10 points. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Knicks and under.
Celtics at Lakers (+4.5, 209.5)
Second TNT game. We won't see a matchup of the No. 2 and No. 3 picks in this year's draft in Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum as Ball is out with a knee injury. I wonder if the Lakers would take Tatum now? He has been the better player, but the Lakers also have a similar player in another former Duke star, Brandon Ingram. L.A. won for the sixth time in eight games Sunday, 127-107 over the Knicks. Jordan Clarkson had 29 points and 10 assists, and Julius Randle added 27 points and 12 rebounds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his second straight game with a right heel injury. Boston lost its third straight Sunday, 103-95 at home to the Magic. Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game absence and had 40 points. The Celtics had been one of five teams not to lose three straight this season. Boston beat visiting L.A. on Nov. 8, 107-96. Aron Baynes matched his career high with 21 points. Al Horford sat out and Tatum left in the second quarter. Boston has won its past two trips to L.A.
Key trends: The Lakers are 5-0 ATS in their past five at home. The under is 5-2 in Boston's past seven.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
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