Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
OK, here we go: Tanking teams are starting to rule out starters due to convenient season-ending injuries. I'm not saying guys aren't hurt, but if their clubs were in the playoff chase I'm guessing things would be different. Atlanta and Dallas are both 100 percent in the tanking category, and the Hawks have said Kent Bazemore is done with a knee injury, while the Mavs are saying likely the same for Wesley Matthews with a leg issue. Bazemore is a useful player whom the Hawks tried to deal at the deadline and probably will again this offseason. His absence should open up playing time for second-round rookie Tyler Dorsey. The Mavs are going to be stuck with Matthews next season because he's surely going to exercise his player option worth more than $18 million (wouldn't you?). Get used to this. Commissioner Adam Silver can't say anything to clubs if guys are placed on the injured list; he just doesn't want them sitting for nothing. Right now, ESPN projects the Suns to finish with the most ping-pong balls in the lottery, followed by the Grizzlies and Hawks. Regarding Wednesday, we have a first! It usually happens once or twice a year and usually late - not a single opening line on a game because of injury/motivation.
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Bucks at Magic (TBA)
Orlando was in San Antonio on Tuesday again without Aaron Gordon. There was some hope that Gordon would be cleared to play after he went through the contact-practice phase of the NBA concussion protocol on Monday, but apparently not. (Why don't the Magic just shut him down?) The Bucks won their second in a row Monday, 121-103 in Memphis. Brandon Jennings, who just signed a 10-day deal with the club, blew up with 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds - tells you how bad Memphis is. Milwaukee leads the season series with Orlando 2-0, winning both by almost identical scores (110-103 & 111-104).
Key trends: The road team is 4-1 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in 14 of the Magic's past 20 at home.
Early lean: Wait on Gordon.
Wizards at Celtics (TBA)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. The Celtics are really thin right now. Kyrie Irving thinks he will need to miss a while to get his knee 100 percent, Jaylen Brown is out with a concussion, Al Horford is battling an illness that cost him Sunday's game, Marcus Smart has a thumb injury that's going to knock him out for an unspecified amount of time and reserve big man Daniel Theis is done for the year with a torn meniscus. This is all great news for the Toronto Raptors as they pull away for the East's top seed. The Celtics were upset at home by Indiana on Sunday without Horford and Brown out and with Irving leaving. Washington hosted Minnesota on Tuesday. John Wall (knee) participated in a 5-on-0 workout with the starters on Monday but won't be ready to return yet. He's getting close, though.
Key trends: The Wizards are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 in Boston. The over is 5-1 in the previous six meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Irving (not likely) and Horford.
Heat at Kings ( TBA)
The Heat lost in Portland on Monday to start a West Coast trip, 115-99. Both Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane Wade sat out injured, and it doesn't sound too likely they will go here. Justise Winslow continued his fine play with 15 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. The Kings lost their second straight Monday, 106-101 in Oklahoma City. That team can't decide what to do with Buddy Hield - he played only 15 minutes off the bench and had three points. On Jan. 25, the Kings won in Miami, 89-88, to end the Heat's 15-game home winning streak in the series. Miami has won seven of the past eight in Sacramento.
Key trends: The Kings are 4-0 ATS in their past four after a loss. The over is 6-0 in the Heat's previous six on the road.
Early lean: Wait on Whiteside and Wade.
Lakers at Warriors (TBA)
Second ESPN game. Los Angeles hosted Denver on Tuesday. Golden State dropped its second in a row Sunday, 109-103 in Minnesota again without Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala. Kevin Durant had 39 points and 12 rebounds for the Dubs, who led by 12 in the third quarter. It's the last meeting of the season between these teams. Golden State goes for the season sweep, although all three were close. The Warriors have won the past 10 meetings in Oakland.
Key trends: The home team is 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over is 7-0-1 in the Lakers' previous eight on the road.
Early lean: Wait on Curry.
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