Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Look, you should be fading the Atlanta Hawks most nights. They are terrible and planned to be. This is a tanking season. They also made a mistake trading Luka Doncic for Trae Young on draft night, but that's a story for another day. You really should be fading the Hawks for the next three weeks or so because probably their best all-around player, Taurean Prince, is going to miss at least that long with an ankle injury. Guy's not a star but averages 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and plays solid defense. And very few guys on that team play defense. So, yeah, keep hammering the over too on Atlanta games. Kent Bazemore, a big-time trade candidate, will start in his spot.
Rockets at Mavericks ( +4, 219)
Doncic, if you haven't watched him, is the Rookie of the Year right now and should have gone first overall. The Mavericks stole him in that trade with Atlanta, even losing a 2019 first-round pick. Will Dennis Smith Jr. play? Sounds like not. He missed Wednesday's loss to New Orleans - the second of a back-to-back - with a right wrist sprain. Houston is 0-2 on its three-game trip following a 118-91 destruction in Utah on Thursday. The Rockets are simply broken. James Harden had a season-low 15 points. Dallas has dropped the past four at home in this series but ended an eight-game losing streak overall to Houston with a 128-108 road win on Nov. 28. Seven Mavericks scored in double figures, with Doncic and Devin Harris leading the way with 20. Dallas' bench outscored Houston's bench, 61-25. The Rockets were without Chris Paul.
Key trends: The Mavs are 8-0 against the spread in their past eight at home. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Mavs and under.
Kings at Pacers (-6, 220)
Second of a back-to-back for both. Indiana was in Orlando on Friday and Sacramento in Cleveland. The Pacers have been without star Victor Oladipo for a few weeks, and he's almost surely not returning before mid-next week at the earliest. Domantas Sabonis was questionable Friday with an illness. Kings rookie Marvin Bagley is questionable for the weekend with a back injury but was trending toward playing Friday. Would the team risk playing him in both games, though? Back injuries you don't mess with. Sacramento beat visiting Indiana 111-110 on Dec. 1, a game with 25 lead changes. The Kings forced a season-high 25 turnovers. Indiana has won the past two at home in the series.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-2 ATS in their past seven. The over is 8-1 in their previous nine.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Nuggets at Hawks (+8, 220)
Denver was in Charlotte on Friday night without Gary Harris (hip strain). Atlanta fell to 0-3 without Prince this season and lost its fourth straight Wednesday, 131-117 vs. Washington. Young was 4-for-13 for 14 points with six turnovers - he's a turnover machine. Jeremy Lin left with a lower back strain and didn't return after playing four minutes. Denver blasted the Hawks on Nov. 15, 138-93. The Nuggets outshot the Hawks 56.4 percent to 34.8 percent. It was over after Denver led 13-0.
Key trends: The Hawks are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 on Saturday. The over is 6-1 in Atlanta's previous seven at home.
Early lean: Hawks (only with Nuggets in second of B2B) and over.
Wizards at Cavaliers (TBA)
Washington is 2-0 on a four-game trip following a 131-117 win in Atlanta on Wednesday without John Wall, who missed due to personal reasons and is questionable here. Bradley Beal was the clear focal point of the offense with Wall out and had a season-high 36 points. The Wiz also had a season-high 35 assists. Hmm. Cleveland hosted Sacramento on Friday. Washington blew out the Cavs on Nov. 14, 119-95. The Wiz never trailed. Cleveland was 4-for-21 from deep.
Key trends: The Cavs are 7-1 in their past eight in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 10-3 in Washington's previous 13 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Wait on Wall.
Nets at Knicks (-3.5, 219)
Brooklyn hosted Toronto on Friday night almost surely losing its ninth straight game. The Knicks dropped their second in a row Thursday, 128-100 in Boston. Enes Kanter had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double in the past nine. New York needs to trade him as Kanter could help a contender. These teams have split two meetings this season, each winning at home. The Knicks have taken the past three in the Garden vs. Brooklyn.
Key trends: The Nets are 0-6 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 5-2 in the Knicks' past seven vs. the East.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Celtics at Bulls (TBA)
Chicago hosted Oklahoma City on Friday looking for its first win since firing Coach Fred Hoiberg. Boston has tied its season-high winning streak at four with Thursday's 28-point win over the Knicks. Kyrie Irving had 22 points and eight assists but left with a shoulder issue with about four minutes left, so obviously monitor that. I could see him sitting here against a terrible opponent. The Celtics won their fourth straight in this series on Nov. 14, 111-82. Six Celtics scored in double figures, led by Jaylen Brown's 18 points. Scrub Shaquille Harrison, who shouldn't be in the NBA, had 16 to lead Chicago.
Key trends: The Celtics are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 5-0 in Boston's previous five.
Early lean: Celtics cruise, Irving or not.
Lakers at Grizzlies (-1.5, 210.5)
LA was in San Antonio on Friday without Brandon Ingram, and he won't play here. He left Wednesday's win over the Spurs with a sprained ankle. Memphis was in New Orleans on Friday. This will be the Grizzlies' first look at the LeBron James-led Lakers, so you know it will be a sellout in Memphis, which isn't all that common. These teams split four meetings last season.
Key trends: The Grizz are 11-3 ATS in their past 14 at home. The under is 4-0-2 in the Lakers' past six in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Timberwolves at Trail Blazers (TBA)
NBA TV game. Minnesota got over .500 for the first time this season on Wednesday with a 121-104 home win over Charlotte. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 35 points, and Andrew Wiggins added a season-high 26 points. Those two are so happy Jimmy Butler is gone. The Wolves play 10 of their next 13 games on the road. Portland ended a three-game skid with a 108-86 win over awful Phoenix on Thursday. CJ McCollum sat with a sprained ankle, but that might have just been because it was the Suns. These teams have split two blowout results this season and the home team has won nine straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The favorite has covered the previous five meetings. The under is 9-1-1 in the past 11 in Portland.
Early lean: Wait on McCollum.
Heat at Clippers (TBA)
Miami was in Phoenix on Friday to start a six-game trip through the Western Conference. The Heat were looking good to get back Goran Dragic on Friday, but Wayne Ellington (personal) and Hassan Whiteside (personal) could each miss both ends. The Clippers completed a four-game trip at 2-2 on Wednesday with a 96-86 loss in Memphis. It was a season low in points for L.A., which shot just 34 percent. Boban Marjanovic led the Clippers with a season-high 19 points, which pretty much tells the story. Last year, Miami swept two close games against the Clippers.
Key trends: The Clippers are 8-1 ATS in their past nine at home. The over is 11-1 in the Heat's previous 12 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Clippers regardless.
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