Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
The NBA's trade deadline is Thursday, and one semi-big name seemingly a near sure thing to be dealt is Utah's Joe Johnson. "Big Shot Joe" has officially requested a trade and the team is trying to oblige him. At age 36, Johnson isn't going to be the difference in some contender winning a title or not, but as that name implies he has been very big in the clutch in his career and would be a great bench piece. The Jazz really have no use for Johnson any longer as they are not likely to make the playoffs and are moving forward with a rebuild around center Rudy Gobert and rookie Donovan Mitchell, who plays Johnson's same shooting guard position. Mitchell, incidentally, has replaced Orlando's injured Aaron Gordon in the Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star weekend. Utah could be rather busy this week or on Thursday as the Jazz also are shopping swingman Rodney Hood and forward/center Derrick Favors.
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Nets at Pistons (TBA)
Brooklyn hosted Houston on Tuesday night with a couple of guys questionable and has made a trade, albeit not a big one: Tyler Zeller was dealt to Milwaukee for Rashad Vaughn. That's more dumping Zeller to open up the center position so Jarrett Allen and Jahlil Okafor can get more time. The Pistons are 4-0 since the Blake Griffin trade following a 111-91 home blowout of Portland on Monday. Griffin had 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and Andre Drummond 17 points and 17 rebounds. These teams have split two meetings this season and Drummond is averaging 14.5 points and 16.5 rebounds in them. Detroit has won four of its past five at home in the series.
Key trends: The Nets are 4-1 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in the past four.
Early lean: This won't be close in Detroit's favor and will be low scoring.
Rockets at Heat ( +6, 211)
Houston was in Brooklyn on Tuesday with Eric Gordon expected to play after missing the previous two games with a back problem. The Heat lost their fourth in a row Monday, and it was the worst of the four: 111-109 at home to Orlando. Miami's Tyler Johnson hit what appeared to be the tying bucket on a goaltending call with 2.8 seconds left, but a video review overturned it. Kelly Olynyk left with a left shoulder strain midway through the first quarter and didn't return. The Heat have now started their last two homestands with losses against the last-place teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Rockets beat the Heat on Jan. 22, 99-90. That remains Houston's only win this year when scoring less than 100 points. All-Star guard Goran Dragic was out for Miami. The Heat have taken the past two at home in the series.
Key trends: The Rockets are 1-7 ATS in their past eight in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 6-2 in the Heat's past eight.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Timberwolves at Cavaliers (TBA)
One of the marquee matchups of the week and the first of an ESPN doubleheader. Few guys can give LeBron James a hard time defensively, but Minnesota All-Star Jimmy Butler did a nice job on him during Butler's days with the Bulls. Cleveland was in Orlando on Tuesday night. The Wolves won a second in a row Saturday, 118-107 over New Orleans. Butler had 30 points and Karl-Anthony Towns 22 points and 16 rebounds. Minnesota routed Cleveland on Jan. 8, 127-99. Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points and Butler added 21 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Cleveland had won the previous six in the series and has taken the past four at home.
Key trends: The Wolves are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 10-1 in Cleveland's previous 11 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait and see which Cavs sit out the second of a B2B.
Jazz at Grizzlies (+6, 203)
Memphis was in Atlanta on Tuesday. Maybe Utah should reconsider a possible selloff? It won a sixth straight game Monday, 133-109 in New Orleans. Hood had 30 points on 12-for-14 shooting. Ricky Rubio had 20 points and 11 assists - he actually has been scoring well of late. Mitchell was questionable with an illness and played only 19 minutes. The Grizzlies are the only opponent the Jazz have not yet faced this season. Memphis has won four of the last five meetings.
Key trends: The Jazz are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Pacers at Pelicans (TBA)
The Pacers were knocked off Monday at home by Washington, 111-102. All-Star guard Victor Oladipo was out with an illness and point guard Darren Collison will miss 2-3 weeks with a bad left knee. Bojan Bogdanovic scored a season-high 29 points for the Pacers. The Pels laid an egg Monday night in losing by 24 at home to Utah. Jrue Holiday scored 28 points, and Anthony Davis had 15 points and 11 rebounds. In the first meeting of the season between these teams, New Orleans erased a 14-point halftime deficit to win 117-112 on Nov. 7. Davis had 37 points and 14 rebounds, while now-injured DeMarcus Cousins added 32 points and 13 rebounds to go with six assists. Indiana has still won 12 of the past 15 overall in the series.
Key trends: The Pelicans have failed to cover eight straight at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The under is 5-1-1 in the Pacers' past seven on the road.
Early lean: Wait on Oladipo, who is questionable.
Spurs at Suns (TBA)
Second ESPN game. Phoenix was at the Lakers on Tuesday with leading scorer Devin Booker questionable. San Antonio is on a two-game losing streak, both at home, as it begins the annual Rodeo Road Trip here, which is six games this year. The Spurs lost 120-111 to Utah on Saturday. LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points, his 10th game with 30 points this season after doing so just five times in his previous two seasons with the team. San Antonio doesn't play at home again until Feb. 28 but does have the All-Star break to, well, break, that trip up.
Key trends: The home team has covered five straight in the series. The under is 10-4 in the previous 14.
Early lean: Wait on Booker and which Spurs sit the second of a B2B.
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