Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, March 28, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
The 2018 NBA Draft isn't until June 21 in Brooklyn, but Bovada has released some potential draft props, and I'm here to tell you that this one is easy money: Arizona's DeAndre Ayton "over/under" a position of 1.5 with both options at -120. I don't care who wins the draft lottery in May, but Ayton's going to be the guy going No. 1 overall. He was both the Pac-12 Player and Freshman of the Year, averaging 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. The only other players to win both honors in the same season were Cal's Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1996 and UCLA's Kevin Love in 2008. You just don't see specimens like the 7-foot-1, 250-pounder from the Bahamas come around that often. Ayton has the size of a center but the athleticism of a small forward. Yes, he needs to work on his defense, but what college freshman doesn't? Do the Grizzlies need a center if they win the lottery? No, they have Marc Gasol, but it won't matter. Barring Ayton being arrested or flunking a drug test before mid-to-late June, this is a done deal.
Cavaliers at Hornets ( +3, 228.5)
NBA TV game. Cleveland was in Miami on Tuesday. Charlotte won its fourth straight game Monday, 137-128 in overtime against the Knicks - this winning streak really is only hurting the team's potential draft position. Kemba Walker had 11 of his 31 points in the OT; he should become the franchise's all-time leading scorer in this game. Dwight Howard had 23 points and 13 rebounds. It was his 46th double-double of the season, third-most in franchise history. Cleveland is 2-0 vs. Charlotte this season and has taken eight straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The Cavs are 6-1-1 against the spread in the past eight meetings. The "over/under" is 4-0 in the previous four in Charlotte.
Early lean: Cavs and over.
Nets at Magic (-3, 218)
The Nets lost a third in a row Sunday, 121-114 to Cleveland. Joe Harris had a career-high 30 on 11-for-14 shooting. Allen Crabbe was held to five points. Orlando stopped a three-game losing streak with a 105-99 home win over Phoenix on Saturday. The Magic had two guys just shy of their first career triple-double: Aaron Gordon (29 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) and D.J. Augustin (15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds). Jonathon Simmons and Jonathan Isaac both sat again due to injuries. Brooklyn is 2-1 vs. the Magic this year but lost the one in Orlando. The Magic have won 16 of the last 20 matchups there.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 5-1-1 in those.
Early lean: Magic and over.
Knicks at 76ers (-14, 221)
The Knicks lost a wild one in Charlotte on Monday, 137-128 in overtime despite a career-high 42 points from Trey Burke, who was in the G League earlier this season. Michael Beasley added 27 points for the Knicks. The Sixers won their seventh straight on Monday, 123-104 over Denver, and welcomed back rookie Markelle Fultz in a bit of a surprise. Fultz scored 10 points and had eight assists in his first game since October because of a shoulder injury/the yips. Maybe he can be a weapon off the bench in the postseason. Ben Simmons topped Allen Iverson to set the team rookie record for assists. Philadelphia goes for the four-game season sweep of New York, which the Sixers haven't done since 2008-09.
Key trends: The Knicks are 1-6 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-2 in those.
Early lean: Knicks and under.
Trail Blazers at Grizzlies (TBA)
Portland was in New Orleans on Tuesday. The Grizzlies snapped a four-game slide with a 101-93 upset in Minnesota on Monday. Wayne Selden scored 23 points as Memphis snapped its 17-game road losing streak. Marc Gasol added 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Tyreke Evans missed his second straight game for personal reasons. That win probably is going to cost Memphis a shot at the worst record in the NBA. These teams split two early-season meetings, each winning on the road.
Key trends: The Blazers are 7-3-1 ATS in the past 11 meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Wait on Evans (Blazers could rest a guy or two).
Hawks at Timberwolves (TBA)
The Hawks lost their third in a row Sunday, 118-99 in Houston. Taurean Prince scored 28 and Isaiah Taylor had 26 for the Hawks. The latter started because Dennis Schroder was out with a sprained ankle (i.e. tanking). If Minnesota misses the playoffs by a game, it will surely look to Monday's embarrassing 101-93 home loss to Memphis, which is simply pitiful and had dropped 17 straight on the road and 23 of 24 overall. The Wolves had just 11 fourth-quarter points on 3-for-17 shooting. Unacceptable. Atlanta ended a four-game losing streak in this series with a 105-100 victory on Jan. 29.
Key trends: The Wolves are 1-5 ATS in their past six. The under is 10-2 in the Hawks' previous 12 on the road.
Early lean: TBA presumably for Schroder.
Celtics at Jazz (-6.5, 195.5)
ESPN game. The Celtics won a fourth in a row Monday, 102-94 in Phoenix. Jayson Tatum had 23 points and Marcus Morris 20 before re-injuring a sprained ankle that kept him out Sunday. Thus, I'd imagine he sits at least this one out to close a West Coast trip. The Jazz won in Golden State on Sunday, 110-91, although obviously caught a break with the Dubs missing all four All-Stars. Rudy Gobert had 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Donovan Mitchell 21 points. Utah won in Boston on Dec. 15, 107-95. It was the Jazz's first victory there since December 2008.
Key trends: The Jazz are 6-1 ATS in their past seven vs. the East. The under is 4-1 in the Celtics' past five on the road.
Early lean: Love, love the under.
Clippers at Suns (TBA)
L.A. hosted Milwaukee on Tuesday. The Suns appear set for the most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery as they have lost 12 straight and it's hard to see another win on the schedule. Maybe next Tuesday vs. the Kings. Phoenix lost by eight at home to Boston on Monday. Rookie Josh Jackson, a rare bright spot this year, had 23 points. Devin Booker missed his fifth straight game with a hand injury. There's actually some talent on this team. L.A. goes for the four-game series sweep and has taken the past seven overall.
Key trends: The home team is 8-2 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 6-0 in the previous six in Phoenix.
Early lean: Wait on Booker.
Mavericks at Lakers (TBA)
Dallas was in Sacramento on Tuesday with a handful of guys questionable The Mavs are in tank mode so I'd expect a starter or two to sit here. The Lakers completed a four-game trip at 1-3 with a 112-106 loss in Detroit on Monday. Julius Randle had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, and Lonzo Ball finished with 15 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Isaiah Thomas (hip) and Brandon Ingram (groin) were sidelined by injuries again. L.A. leads the season series 2-1 after losing 14 straight to Dallas.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-2 in the Lakers' past seven overall.
Early lean: Wait on Ingram (Thomas isn't playing) and a few key Mavs (Dirk Nowitzki mainly).
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