Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Wednesday is a fairly important day in the NBA because it's the last day that teams can add players to where the new addition is eligible for the postseason. So, guys who aren't happy - Minnesota's Shabazz Muhammad comes to mind immediately - will no doubt have their agents negotiating buyouts in order to land with a contender (fairly big names such as Greg Monroe and Joe Johnson are among players who already got buyouts and signed with new teams). For example, once Ersan Ilyasova's buyout is completed with Atlanta, he's expected to sign a deal with Philadelphia. Is Ilyasova going to be the difference of the 76ers winning a playoff series or not? No, but he would help their bench and that's really what the March 1 deadline is all about - adding depth. The biggest name out there is former All-Star Chris Bosh, who hasn't played in the NBA since the 2015-16 season due to blood-clotting issues. Bosh does want to play this season, but he's facing long odds that any team's doctors would clear him. Bosh said he wants to join a "winning situation" and listed the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors as his top three destinations. I tend to doubt he lands anywhere this season, but that would be quite a story. Derrick Rose is another guy who is sitting out there waiting to be signed. Don't be surprised if he lands in Minnesota with his former coach Tom Thibodeau.
Bucks at Pistons ( -2.5, 210.5)
Milwaukee hosted Washington on Tuesday, meaning Jabari Parker will either sit that one out or this one. Detroit lost its third straight (all by double digits) on Monday, 123-94 in Toronto. Andre Drummond had 18 points and 18 rebounds but Blake Griffin only 12. The Bucks lead the Pistons 2-1 in the season series. Drummond is averaging 21.3 points and 17.0 rebounds vs. the Bucks, and Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 25.0 points against Detroit.
Key trends: The underdog is 11-5-1 against the spread in the past 17 meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in six of the past nine.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Raptors at Magic (+8, 220.5)
Toronto bounced back from a home upset loss to Milwaukee on Friday with a home rout of the Pistons on Monday. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry each scored 20 points. The Raptors were 22-for-23 from the free-throw line and improved to 36-10 this year when having at least 30 assists. Orlando dropped its sixth straight Monday, 112-105 in Oklahoma City. Evan Fournier and Jonathon Simmons each scored 19 points in the loss. First meeting between these teams. They split four last year, and despite that Toronto has taken 15 of the past 18 in the series.
Key trends: The Raptors are 2-6 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five in Orlando.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Pacers at Hawks (+5, 212)
The Pacers were upset Monday in Dallas, 109-103, to see a four-game winning streak stopped. Myles Turner led Indiana with 24 points, and Victor Oladipo scored 21 - Oladipo has now scored more points this season already than any other year in his career. The Hawks lost their fourth consecutive Monday, 123-104 to the Lakers. DeAndre Bembry (abdominal strain) and Malcolm Delaney (right knee strain) were held out, but Delaney is close. The Hawks are probably the most anonymous team in the NBA. Indiana leads the season series 2-0, both by double digits, and also has won its past two in Atlanta.
Key trends: The Pacers have covered four straight in the series. The under has hit in the past seven.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Hornets at Celtics (-7.5, 208.5)
Charlotte hosted Chicago on Tuesday. The Celtics have followed a three-game slide with three straight wins. They beat the visiting Grizzlies on Monday, 109-98. Kyrie Irving had 25 points and took the fourth quarter off. In his last four games Irving is averaging 26.8 points on 39 of 64 shooting, including 15 of 28 from the 3-point line. The Celtics improved to 28-3 this season when holding teams to less than 100 points. Boston has won the past six in this series, both this year in low-scoring games.
Key trends: The Hornets are 1-9-1 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Warriors at Wizards (+9, 229)
First ESPN game. Washington was in Milwaukee on Tuesday. The Warriors won a third straight Monday, 125-111 at the Knicks. Golden State took control by outscoring New York 39-18 in the third. Klay Thompson scored 26 points and Stephen Curry had 14 of his 21 in the period. Rookie Jordan Bell returned after missing 14 games with inflammation in his left ankle but didn't play much. Golden State beat the Wizards on Oct. 27, 120-117, but did lose last year in D.C.
Key trends: The Wizards have failed to cover their past four in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 9-3 in Golden State's past 12 vs. the East.
Early lean: Warriors and under.
Suns at Grizzlies (TBA)
This is a complete tank game, where the winner actually loses. The Suns lost their 10th straight Monday, 125-116 in New Orleans. Phoenix led by as many as 17 in the second quarter. Devin Booker had 40 points and 10 rebounds, his 18th game with at least 30 points this season. The Grizzlies also lost their 10th in a row Monday, 109-98 in Boston. Marc Gasol added 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the loss as Memphis remains the only NBA team without a road victory against the East. Tyreke Evans sat out his second straight game with a right rib injury. Phoenix leads the season series 2-1 but is 3-12 in its past 15 in Memphis.
Key trends: The home team has covered five straight in the series. The over is 4-1 in the Grizzlies' past five.
Early lean: Wait on Evans.
Thunder at Mavericks (+6, 213.5)
OKC was a bit flat Monday vs. Orlando after visiting the Warriors on Saturday, but the Thunder held on for a 112-105 victory over the Magic. Paul George had 26 points. Russell Westbrook had eight points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the Thunder, just his second time this season held to single-digit points. The Mavericks stopped a four-game slide with a 109-103 home win over Indiana on Monday. Harrison Barnes scored 21 points and J.J. Barea added 19 points and nine assists. Last meeting between the teams with Dallas leading 2-1.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 7-3 in the Mavs' past 10 at home.
Early lean: Mavericks (OKC usually plays down to bad competition) and under.
Pelicans at Spurs (-4, 217.5)
The Pelicans won their sixth in a row Monday, 125-116 over Phoenix, as Anthony Davis continued to play out of his mind with 53 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. He joined Bob McAdoo as the only players with 50 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks since blocks were first tracked in 1973-74. The Spurs concluded their annual Rodeo Road Trip with a 2-4 record following Sunday's 110-94 upset win in Cleveland. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points, and Danny Green added 22. Manu Ginobili was out with a bruised sternum. New Orleans won the first meeting of the season vs. San Antonio, 107-90 at home on Nov. 22. The Spurs are on a five-game winning streak at home in the series.
Key trends: The Pels are 10-3 ATS in the past 13 meetings. The under is 6-2-1 in the past nine.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
Rockets at Clippers (TBA)
Second ESPN game. Los Angeles was in Denver on Tuesday. The Rockets won their 13th straight on Monday, 96-85 in Utah. Luc Mbah a Moute scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and James Harden had 26 points. Ryan Anderson (groin), Eric Gordon and Clint Capela (illness for both) all sat out. As good as Houston has been this season, it's 0-2 vs. the Clippers with L.A. averaging 120.5 points per game.
Key trends: The Rockets are 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-2 in the Clippers' previous seven at home.
Early lean: Wait on those injured/ill Rockets.
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