Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
With the Trail Blazers visiting the Clippers on Tuesday night, it's a good time to look at updated trade rumors involving L.A. center DeAndre Jordan, who can opt out of his contract this summer for free agency and absolutely will do so. Portland is reportedly looking into Jordan, which is interesting because the Blazers already have a good center in Jusuf Nurkic - although perhaps he would be a key piece going back; Nurkic, though, is a restricted free agent this summer. Portland can also offer $5.1 million in cash to a team in a trade. Neil Olshey, the Blazers' President of Basketball Operations, selected Jordan in the second round of the 2008 draft when he was the Clippers general manager. Portland is already way over the salary cap so it would be difficult as it is to re-sign Jordan. The Blazers are stuck in the worst kind of NBA purgatory: good team but no better than the sixth- or seventh-best in the West and completely restricted by the cap. Perhaps it's time to break up that offensively gifted but defensively terrible backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. I'm sure the Clippers would do Jordan for McCollum (I'm assuming Lillard is untouchable).
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Thunder at Wizards (TBA)
Oklahoma City won its season-high eighth straight game Sunday, 122-112 over Philadelphia, but the Thunder lost their best perimeter defender, guard Andre Roberson, to a season-ending ruptured patellar tendon suffered Saturday. The guy can't shoot a lick, but the Thunder had allowed 11.8 more points per 100 possessions this season with Roberson on the bench. Washington ended a two-game skid Saturday with a 129-104 win in Atlanta without All-Star guard John Wall, who sat out with a sore knee. He's listed as day-to-day. Backup Tim Frazier had a season-high 14 assists in the win. These teams just played Thursday in OKC and the Thunder won 121-112 behind a season-high 46 points from Russell Westbrook. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were a combined 10-for-30 from the field for 31 points. The Wiz got a combined 82 points from Bradley Beal, Wall and Markieff Morris but not much from anyone else.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-0 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" is 6-1 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Wait on Wall.
Nets at Knicks (TBA)
The Nets dropped their third straight Saturday, 111-97 in Minnesota. Jahlil Okafor suddenly got plenty of playing time and had easily his best game since a trade from Philadelphia with 21 points and six rebounds. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (right groin strain), Caris Levert (sore left groin) and D'Angelo Russell (reset) were out of the lineup for Brooklyn. The Knicks ended a three-game slide with a 107-85 win in Phoenix on Friday in the second of a back-to-back - a game I was completely wrong about. I thought New York would be on fumes in the end of a seven-game trip. The 85 points matched the fewest allowed by the Knicks this season and came after they gave up 130, 123 and 127 in their previous three games. New York has won all three meetings this season with Brooklyn.
Key trends: The Nets are 1-5 ATS in their past six at the Garden. The over is 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: Wait on all those Nets (Russell should at least play).
Timberwolves at Raptors (-6.5, 218)
Minnesota was in Atlanta on Monday. Will the team let Jimmy Butler play both ends of a back-to-back after he returned from a four-game absence due to a knee injury on Saturday? The Raptors beat the visiting Lakers on Sunday, 123-111. Backup point guard Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 25 points, and the win also locked in Toronto coach Dwane Casey to coach Team LeBron at the All-Star Game. Brad Stevens, whose Boston Celtics lead the Eastern Conference, is ineligible after coaching last year's game. On Jan. 20, Minnesota beat Toronto 115-109. The Wolves, who trailed by 11 in the second half, got 29 points from Andrew Wiggins and 22 from Karl-Anthony Towns, all of his after halftime. Butler missed that one. Kyle Lowry led Toronto with a season-high 40 points. Minnesota has lost 13 straight in Toronto, however.
Key trends: The Wolves are 1-6 ATS in their past seven on the road. The over is 6-0 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Cavaliers at Pistons (TBA)
First TNT game - it's a shame the network can't boot this one off and use Wolves-Raptors, which is a much better matchup. But LeBron James is a TV draw. The Cavs won a second straight Sunday, 121-104 over these Pistons in the first of a home-and-home. LeBron was two rebounds shy of a triple-double. The Pistons' eight-game skid is the NBA's longest. Coach Stan Van Gundy tweaked his lineup to no avail. Cleveland beat Detroit in the first meeting, 116-88 in Motown on Nov. 20. The Cavaliers hit 16 3-pointers and shot 52.5% from the field overall. Kevin Love had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Key trends: The home team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five in Detroit.
Early lean: I'm presuming this is TBA because the Cavs play again Wednesday so guys like Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wad could be on sit-down alert here.
Magic at Rockets ( -13, 223.5)
The Magic lost their second in a row Saturday, 114-112 at Indiana. Orlando led by 10 in the fourth quarter. Aaron Gordon had 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Rockets beat the Suns on Sunday, 113-102. James Harden had 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Trevor Ariza left with a hamstring injury and was to be re-evaluated on Monday. Houston won in Orlando on Jan. 3, 116-98 with Harden out. Gerald Green scored a season-high 27 points - he rarely plays these days. The Rockets have won five straight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Magic are 1-8 ATS in their past nine vs. the West. The under has hit in eight straight Rockets games.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Kings at Pelicans (TBA)
Devastating news over the weekend for New Orleans as it lost All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending torn Achilles' tendon - it's not easy to come back from those, and Cousins is set to become a free agent. It actually might increase the Pelicans' chances of keeping him. He wasn't even touched on the play in which he was hurt against Houston. This season, Cousins was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Over the past 50 seasons, only four players averaged those numbers for an entire season -- and all four were named MVP. Oklahoma City's Paul George has replaced Cousins on the Western Conference All-Star team. Of course, Cousins was traded from the Kings during last season's All-Star break. Sacramento and New Orleans have split two meetings this season.
Key trends: The underdog is 10-4 in the past 14 meetings. The over is 12-3 in New Orleans' past 15 at home.
Early lean: TBA for iffy Kings such as Skal Labissiere (left shoulder strain) and Willie Cauley-Stein (knee, foot).
Nuggets at Spurs (-6.5, 202)
Denver brought a three-game winning streak into Monday's home game vs. Boston. The Spurs beat the Kings on Sunday, 113-98. Bryn Forbes scored a season-high 23 points. Dejounte Murray had 14 points and 10 assists, and Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Manu Ginobili returned after a six-game absence due to a bruised right thigh. San Antonio beat Denver on Jan. 13, 112-80 and has won four straight in the series and 10 in a row at home.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 8-1 in Denver's past nine overall.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
Warriors at Jazz (TBA)
Could be a bit of a letdown game for the Warriors off Saturday's 109-105 home win over Boston in a potential Finals preview. Steph Curry was amazing, scoring 49 points with 13 of those over the final 1:42. Curry has made at least five 3-pointers in five straight games, one off the NBA record. Draymond Green had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. The Jazz won their second straight on Friday, 97-93 in Toronto. Ricky Rubio hit the game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds left. Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Rodney Hood (left leg) missed his fourth straight game. Utah lost 126-101 at Golden State on Dec. 27 and has also dropped three in a row at home in the series.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-2 in Utah's past seven at home.
Early lean: Jazz should get a nice amount of points, and I'll be taking them.
Trail Blazers at Clippers (-2.5, 219)
Second TNT game. The Blazers won a second in a row Friday, 107-93 in Dallas. Damian Lillard had 29 points and Ed Davis had 15 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. Evan Turner was out for personal reasons. The Clippers won a second in a row Sunday, 112-103 at shell-shocked New Orleans. Blake Griffin had 27 points and 12 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 19 rebounds as L.A. erased a 19-point first-half deficit. Blake Griffin made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Clippers a 104-101 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland on Oct. 26 in the first meeting of the season. He had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Lillard led Portland with 25 points.
Key trends: The Blazers are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-2 in the previous eight in L.A.
Early lean: Clippers and under.
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