Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
A total of 24 of the NBA's 30 teams are in action on Wednesday night before just four on Thursday and then the All-Star break. Being honest, Wednesday will be one of the toughest nights of the year to handicap games 24 hours or so ahead of time because I expect that many teams will rest any top players who have even the most minor of injuries or fatigue. Might as well give those guys a full week off rather than throw them out there when their mind might already be on vacation as it is. When players aren't focused, that's when they are more likely to get injured. However, after the break we should be treated to our best basketball of the season for the playoff push (those 10 or so that aren't tanking that is).
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Hawks at Pistons ( -9, 209.5)
Atlanta was in Milwaukee on Tuesday. The Pistons are course-correcting as they have lost three straight games they shouldn't have after a quick burst of success following the Blake Griffin trade. Detroit was upset 118-115 in Atlanta on Sunday and then lost 118-103 at home to New Orleans on Monday. Griffin had 22 vs. the Pelicans and Andre Drummond 21 rebounds. Last meeting between these teams with Detroit leading 2-1. Drummond is averaging 17.7 points and 18.0 rebounds against Atlanta this season.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-2 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The "over/under" is 5-1 in the previous six.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Hornets at Magic (+4.5, 211.5)
The Hornets lost a fourth straight Sunday, 123-103 vs. Toronto. Kemba Walker had 23 points and nine assists and Dwight Howard 17 points and 13 rebounds. The Hornets just don't have anyone else most nights. The Magic dropped their second in a row Monday, 105-101 in Chicago. They had rallied from an 18-point fourth-quarter hole to tie but ran out of gas. Mario Hezonja led Orlando with 24 points, while Aaron Gordon (strained left hip flexor) missed his seventh straight game and you won't see him until after the break. Charlotte is 2-0 vs. Orlando this season and has won nine in a row in the series.
Key trends: The Hornets have covered seven straight in the series. The over is 4-0 in the past four in Orlando.
Early lean: Hornets and over.
Heat at 76ers (-6.5, 203)
Miami was in Toronto on Tuesday with Kelly Olynyk out for that one and this one. The 76ers won their fourth in a row Monday, 108-92 over the Knicks. TJ McConnell had his first triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, and Dario Saric had 24 points. Philadelphia is on a 10-game winning streak at home. It's possible that new Sixer Marco Belinelli will debut here. He was recently bought out by the Hawks. Philadelphia won the first meeting with Miami, 103-97 on Feb. 2 at home.
Key trends: The home team has covered five in a row in the series. The under is 5-1 in Philly's past six at home.
Early lean: 76ers and under.
Pacers at Nets (+5, 216)
Indiana won its second in a row Sunday, 121-113 over the Knicks. Victor Oladipo had 30 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Thaddeus Young added 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. The Pacers had a season-high 54 rebounds. The Nets lost a sixth in a row Monday, 114-101 to the Clippers. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (right groin strain) and Caris LeVert (right knee sprain) sat out again and you won't see them until after the break. Last meeting between these teams with Indiana looking for the four-game sweep. Last happened for the Pacers in the 2013-14 season.
Key trends: The Pacers are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 4-0 in their past four after a win.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Wizards at Knicks (+4, 209)
Washington ended a two-game skid with a 101-90 win in Chicago on Saturday. Tomas Satoransky, starting at point guard in place of the injured John Wall, scored a career-high 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting. He did leave late after banging his head but seemed fine after. Tim Frazier suffered a nasal fracture in the first half and did not return, and Markieff Morris sat out with flu-like symptoms. I told you to fade the Knicks as soon as Kristaps Porzingis went down, and New York has dropped seven in a row. It was 108-92 in Philly on Monday. Emmanuel Mudiay had seven points in 19 minutes in his second game with the Knicks after being acquired from Denver. Washington won the first meeting at home vs. New York on Jan. 3, 121-103 and has taken seven in a row in the series.
Key trends: The Wizards are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Clippers at Celtics (-5.5, 212)
First of an ESPN doubleheader as Clippers coach Doc Rivers returns to Boston. His current team has won four of five following a 114-101 victory in Brooklyn on Monday. Lou Williams scored 20 points to lead seven Clippers in double figures as L.A. shot 56.5 percent from the field. Milos Teodosic returned after missing two games with a sore right foot and had seven points and four assists. It will be interesting to see how Boston responds to being routed at home by Cleveland on Sunday, 121-99. Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum combined for just 23 points. Boston won the first meeting in L.A., 113-102 on Jan. 24. The C's have taken the past two at home in the series as well.
Key trends: The Celtics are 6-1 ATS in their past seven after allowing at least 100 points in their previous game. The under has hit in eight straight Clippers games.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Raptors at Bulls (+7.5, 217)
Toronto hosted Miami on Tuesday. Chicago won for the second time in three games Monday, 105-101 over Orlando. The Bulls blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead but Zach LaVine got a late steal and dunk for the go-ahead bucket. He finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, and rookie Lauri Markkanen had 21 points. Kris Dunn missed his 11th consecutive game and surely isn't playing here, although he still wants to in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday at All-Star weekend. The Raptors look for the four-game season sweep of the Bulls.
Key trends: The Raptors are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in Chicago. The over is 6-1 in the previous seven there.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Kings at Rockets (-15.5, 218)
Houston in a possible letdown game as it visited Minnesota on Tuesday - however, I don't think the Rockets would rest James Harden or Chris Paul simply as they are trying so hard to get the West's top seed. Then again, they might think they could beat the sorry Kings without one or both those guys, and they probably would be correct. Sacramento also played Tuesday as it was in Denver. First meeting between these teams since way back on Oct. 18. Houston has won the past six in the series and seven straight at home vs. the Kings.
Key trends: The Kings are 0-4 ATS in their past four in Houston. The under is 11-4 in the Rockets' past 15.
Early lean: Kings and under.
Thunder at Grizzlies (TBA)
Oklahoma City hosted Cleveland on Tuesday with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in question. If they don't play there, I see zero chance they do here. The Grizzlies are on a six-game losing streak after falling 110-92 in Oklahoma City on Sunday. Tyreke Evans returned from a five-game absence - the team thought it would trade him by last Thursday's deadline but inexplicably didn't - and had 12 points. OKC leads the season series 2-0 and was without Westbrook and Anthony on Sunday.
Key trends: OKC is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over has hit in the past four.
Early lean: Wait on the Thunder guys.
Lakers at Pelicans (-4, 226)
The Lakers' four-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday, 130-123 in Dallas. Isaiah Thomas had 22 points in his Los Angeles debut. Julius Randle had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. The Pelicans have won back-to-back games for the first time since losing DeMarcus Cousins for the season. They were 118-103 upset winners in Detroit on Monday. Anthony Davis had 38 points and 10 rebounds. Jrue Holiday had 21 points and 12 assists. New Orleans won the first meeting with L.A. on Oct. 22, 119-112.
Key trends: The favorite has covered four straight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the Lakers' past five.
Early lean: Pelicans and under.
Suns at Jazz (TBA)
The Suns have dropped six in a row, and just one was by single digits; they were 129-83 losers at Golden State on Monday. Elfrid Payton scored 29 points in his second game since being acquired at the trade deadline from Orlando. Devin Booker (hip pointer) missed his fourth straight game, and Tyler Ulis (back) sat for the second straight game. Doubt they play here. Utah is on one of the more unlikely 10-game winning streaks in recent memory following a 101-99 victory over the Spurs on Monday. Rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points, including a go-ahead jumper with 39.2 seconds left. That moved Utah back above .500. Ricky Rubio (left hip soreness) missed his second consecutive game. These teams have split two meetings in Phoenix; Utah looks for a seventh straight home win in the series.
Key trends: The Suns have covered one of their past six in Utah. The over is 8-1 in the Jazz's past nine vs. the West.
Early lean: Presuming TBA still for Booker.
Warriors at Trail Blazers (-7, 225.5)
Second ESPN game. The Warriors won their third straight in blowout fashion on Monday, 129-83 over Phoenix. To wake up his bored team, Steve Kerr let his players do most of the coaching all day and during the game. Steph Curry had 22 points. Draymond Green sat out. The Blazers had a two-game winning streak end in a 115-96 home loss to Utah on Sunday. Damian Lillard had 39 for Portland, which had won nine straight at home. Center Jusuf Nurkic went to the locker room in the third quarter with back/hip pain. Golden State won its seventh in a row in the series on Dec. 11, 111-104 in Oakland. Lillard loves playing the Warriors because he's from Oakland. Lillard is averaging 31.9 ppg in his past eight vs. the Dubs. Curry has made at least four three-pointers in nine consecutive games against Portland.
Key trends: The Warriors are 4-1 ATS in their past five in Portland. The over is 8-1 in the previous nine meetings there.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
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