Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, March 13, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
I had presumed that Golden State would eventually catch Houston for the best record in the West, but I'm not sure that Warriors now care all that much about landing the top seed. It's more important they get healthy and in sync before the postseason. The Dubs are on a rare two-game slide. Sunday in Minnesota, Steph Curry missed his second straight game because of an ankle injury. Andre Iguodala missed his third in a row because of a left wrist injury, David West a fourth consecutive because of an arm injury, and rookie Jordan Bell his third straight because of an ankle issue. The team is so thin right now that former G-League player Quinn Cook is playing nearly 30 minutes a night. He wasn't even that good at Duke. Under Steph Kerr, Golden State's longest losing streak is three, which happened last March. The Warriors average around 13 fewer points without Curry in the lineup this season. They are next in action Wednesday vs. the Lakers.
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Pacers at 76ers ( -5.5, 212.5)
The Pacers won in Boston on Sunday, 99-97. Victor Oladipo had 27 points. Myles Turner scored 19 points, including the game-winning basket with 21 seconds to play, and added 10 rebounds for Indiana. The Sixers won in Brooklyn on Sunday, 120-97, to close a four-game trip at 2-2. Joel Embiid had 21 points. These teams have split two meetings, each winning at home. Indiana has taken 13 of the past 16 overall in the series.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-0 against the spread in the past four meetings. The "over/under" has gone over in six straight meetings in Philadelphia.
Early lean: 76ers and over.
Timberwolves at Wizards (-4.5, 217.5)
First of an NBA TV doubleheader. The Timberwolves snapped a three-game skid with Sunday's 109-103 home victory over Golden State. Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 16 rebounds. Derrick Rose made his Minnesota debut and had two points in seven minutes. Amazing how far that guy has fallen. The Wizards were routed in Miami on Saturday night in the second of a back-to-back. Jodie Meeks scored 23 for the Wizards, whose five-game winning streak was snapped. Washington is now eight games through a stretch of 13 consecutive games against teams with winning records. The Wizards won in Minneapolis on Nov. 28, 92-89. Rather amazingly, these teams have alternated wins in their last 17 meetings.
Key trends: Minnesota has covered only two of its past 12 trips to D.C. The under is 4-1 in the Wizards' previous five at home.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Thunder at Hawks (TBA)
The Thunder won their second in a row Saturday, 104-94 over San Antonio. Russell Westbrook had his 19th triple-double of the season. Center Steven Adams came down hard on his left ankle in the third quarter and did not return. Terrance Ferguson sat with a concussion. The Hawks lost a third straight Sunday, 129-122 vs. Chicago. Dennis Schroder was out with an elbow injury and both Kent Bazemore and Jaylen Morris left with injuries. OKC beat Atlanta on Dec. 22, 120-117 on a Westbrook 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds to go.
Key trends: The Hawks are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 vs. the West. The over is 6-2 in OKC's previous eight vs. the East.
Early lean: Wait on all those injured guys.
Raptors at Nets (+9.5, 219)
The Raptors ended the Rockets' 17-game winning streak on Friday and avoided a letdown game Sunday in trouncing the Knicks at the Garden for an eighth straight victory even though DeMar DeRozan was just 4-for-16 for nine points. Seven other guys scored in double figures. The Nets were trounced at home by the 76ers on Sunday. D'Angelo Russell had 26 points for the Nets, who have lost 13 of their last 15 games. Toronto is 2-0 vs. Brooklyn this season and has won 10 in a row in the series.
Key trends: The Raptors are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 20-7 in the Nets' previous 27 at home.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Mavericks at Knicks (TBA)
The Mavs had a two-game winning streak snapped in a 105-82 home loss to Houston on Sunday. The starting Dallas backcourt of Yogi Ferrell and Dennis Smith Jr. was a combined 3-for-20 for six points. Wesley Matthews was scratched due to a leg injury. The Knicks lost their seventh in a row Sunday, 132-106 to Toronto. Enes Kanter and Lance Thomas were both out injured. New York won in Dallas on Jan. 7, 100-96. Dallas had taken six of the previous seven in the series.
Key trends: The Knicks are 1-10 ATS in their past 11 at home. The over is 8-2 in the Mavs' past 10 after a loss.
Early lean: Wait on Kanter.
Clippers at Bulls (+6, 226)
The Clippers won a second straight Saturday to complete a long homestand, 113-105 over Orlando. Lou Williams scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. He leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring at 7.7 ppg. The Bulls won for the third time in five games Sunday, 129-122 over Atlanta. Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis each had 21 points. Chicago had just five turnovers. The Bulls have dropped the past four in this series, including 113-103 in L.A. on Feb. 3.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-11 ATS in their past 12 after scoring triple digits in their previous game. The over is 4-0 in the Clippers' past four on the road.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Hornets at Pelicans (-3.5, 228.5)
The Hornets snapped a five-game losing streak with a 122-115 win over Phoenix on Saturday. Dwight Howard had 30 points and 12 rebounds, and Nic Batum added 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Cody Zeller sat out with knee soreness. The Pelicans dropped their second in a row Sunday, 116-99 to Utah. On his 25th birthday, Anthony Davis had his first career triple-double (that's hard to believe) with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks. Charlotte has never won a season series vs. New Orleans and won't this year as the Pelicans took the first meeting on Jan. 24, 101-96.
Key trends: The Hornets have failed to cover their past eight vs. the West. The over is 8-2 in the Pelicans' past 10.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Magic at Spurs (TBA)
The Magic wrap up a five-game trip here and are 0-4 on it following an eight-point loss at the Clippers on Saturday. Aaron Gordon sat out for a second game with concussion symptoms. Rookie Jonathan Isaac got the start in his place and had nine points in 25 minutes. The Spurs were in Houston on Monday without LaMarcus Aldridge and Manu Ginobili looking to end a two-game slide. They are both healthy, just sitting out the first of a back-to-back. San Antonio lost in Orlando on Oct. 27, 114-87. The Spurs are 24-5 at home all-time in the series.
Key trends: The Spurs have failed to cover their past six at home. The under is 6-0 in the Magic's past six vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Wait on Gordon.
Pistons at Jazz (-7.5, 201)
The Pistons stopped a four-game slide with a 99-83 home win over Chicago on Friday. Detroit outscored the Bulls 70-44 in the last 2 1/2 quarters. Blake Griffin had 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Now the Pistons go on a six-game West Coast trip as they were forced from their building because Little Caesars Arena is hosting first-round NCAA Tournament games. Utah won its sixth in a row Sunday, 116-99 in New Orleans. Ricky Rubio had 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. The Jazz might not want to return home as they have taken 11 consecutive on the road. Utah has won three in a row in this series, including 98-95 in OT on Jan. 24.
Key trends: The Jazz have covered five straight vs. the East. The under is 9-4 in Detroit's previous 13 vs. the West.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Cavaliers at Suns (TBA)
The Cavs dropped their second straight game in L.A. on Sunday, this one 127-113 to the Lakers. LeBron James had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists against potentially his next team. The Suns lost a fifth straight Saturday, 122-115 in Charlotte. Devin Booker (strained triceps), Josh Jackson (knee) and T.J. Warren (back spasms) all were out. Phoenix was 18-for-32 from long range. It's the first meeting of the season between these teams. The Cavs have swept the past two seasons.
Key trends: The Cavs are 5-14 ATS in their past 19 road games. The over is 6-1 in the Suns' past seven at home.
Early lean: Wait on those Suns.
Nuggets at Lakers (+2, 232)
Second NBA TV game. The Nuggets won their second in a row Sunday, 130-104 over Sacramento. Nikola Jokic had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season and didn't even play the fourth quarter. Denver leads this season series 2-1 and just won at home on Friday, 125-116. Jamal Murray was really trash-talking at the end and it angered some Lakers. He also dribbled around Lonzo Ball in the waning seconds of a win in December. Why do I think Murray will be the subject of a flagrant foul here? The Lakers clubbed the visiting Cavs on Sunday behind the best game of Julius Randle's young career as he had had a career-high 36 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.
Key trends: The home team has covered the past five in the series. The over is 5-0-1 in the previous six meetings in L.A.
Early lean: Lakers and over.
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