Free NBA Picks Friday 2/21/2020 and Opening Line Report
We've got our first Friday night basketball slate for the second half of the NBA regular season. During the all-star break, we had a coaching change but also a fantastic all-star weekend that ended with Team LeBron winning the All-Star game by an Anthony Davis free throw. Can Anthony Davis win a championship for Team LeBron with a free throw in the NBA Finals? Too soon? Anyway, here are the early leans for Friday, February 21.
Cavaliers vs. Wizards 2/21/20 (-4.5, 224)
The Cavs have a new head coach, JB Bickerstaff. Usually a new coach sets a new tone and the team responds quickly before falling back down again. We saw it with the Knicks, for example. That's just how it goes. The Cavs finished the first half 2-8 in their last 10 games but won their final matchup against the Hawks at home. The Wizards won three of their last four games before the break and have been really good at home as of late against the spread. The play for this game will be over, but if you have to take a team against the spread, I will take the underdog and road team. In this head to head matchup, both the road team and underdog have been profitable. The road team is 9-4 against the spread while the underdog is 9-2 against the spread.
Key trends: Underdog is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings in this head-to-head match-up.
Early lean: Cavaliers, Over
Mavericks vs. Magic 2/21/20 (+2.5, 216.5)
Are the Mavericks actually healthy? The line suggests that this game will be a one possession game at the end. I have a hard time believing that. The Magic have only defeated bad teams as of late, like the Hawks and Pistons (in overtime). They've lost to Milwaukee and Boston in their last five games. The Magic score only 103.9 points per game, while the Mavericks score 116.4 points per game. Everything points to a double-digit blowout. This line scares me. Am I missing something? Take the Mavericks. The favorite is 12-3 in this head-to-head matchup in their last 15 meetings, too.
Key trends: ORL are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
Early lean: Magic, Under
Suns vs. Raptors 2/21/20 (-7.5, 225.5)
Historically, the Suns have destroyed the Raptors in this matchup. But the Raptors are a little different lately. They only won a championship last season… Plus, Toronto is 40-15 on the year this season. The Suns are 22-33. At home, the Raptors are 21-7 against the spread. Toronto is also 9-1 in their last 10 games after a loss to the Nets, 101-91, before the break. That game was on the road. With a full week of rest, look for the Raptors to take it to the Suns.
Key trends: PHO are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
Early lean: Raptors, Under
Pacers vs. Knicks 2/21/20 (-6.5, 211)
We're all just waiting for the Pacers to go on a multi-game winning streak and get back into the top of the East. After a long losing streak and odd stretch, the Pacers finished the first half of the season with a win over Milwaukee, 118-111. That game was on the road, but you'd be surprised to know that the Pacers have been fairly good on the road against the spread, especially recently. The Knicks struggled to score over 100 points against a fast-paced Wizards team in their last meeting. I like the Pacers in this one.
Key trends: IND are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 road games.
Early lean: Pacers, Over
Nuggets vs. Thunder 2/21/20 (-1.5, 216.5)
This will be the matchup of the night in the NBA. The Nuggets and Thunder have both won seven of their last 10 games on the season. The Nuggets lost to the Lakers before the all-star break in overtime while the Thunder defeated the Pelicans on the road. This game is extremely even. Both teams score near 110 points per game and allow around 107 points per game. The Thunder shoot a little better from the field and at home, the Thunder should be able to squeeze by with a tight victory.
Key trends: OKC are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 Fri. games.
Early lean: Thunder, Under
Celtics vs. Timberwolves 2/21/20 (-5.5, 227)
The Celtics have been really good in their last 10, winning eight games. Now they'll take on a Timberwolves team that has been brutal all season. Minnesota got worse news that Karl Anthony Towns would be out with a wrist injury. Boston should be able to defend Minnesota very well in this game and hold them below their game average in points. The Celtics also shoot way better from the field and should escape with this one pretty easily on the road.
Key trends: MIN are 6-21-1 ATS in their last 28 home games.
Early lean: Celtics, Under
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Spurs vs. Jazz 2/21/20 (-7.5, 221.5)
The Spurs will be with DeMar Derozan who said he'll play in this matchup even with a back injury. Who knows how healthy DeRozan actually is? The Spurs haven't been great this season, with a 23-31 record on the year. The Spurs finished the first half strong with a win over the Thunder on the road, but the Jazz finished the first half with four straight wins. The Jazz will be home against the Spurs with San Antonio's best player injured. I like Jazz in this scenario.
Key trends: SA are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 vs. NBA Northwest.
Early lean: Jazz, Over
Pelicans vs. Trailblazers 2/21/20 (-1.5, 234.5)
These two teams met on February 11, just over a week ago. This game was in New Orleans and the Pelicans won, 138-117. In that matchup, Zion Williamson dropped 31 points and was dominant in the second half of the game. The Blazers came out to an early lead. And if they're able to come out to an early lead in this one, at home, they're not going to blow it. I like Portland to get the job done at home as home underdogs.
Key trends: POR are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
Early lean: Trail Blazers, Over
Grizzlies vs. Lakers 2/21/20 (-11.5, 226)
While the Lakers have been fantastic scoring wise, their defense hasn't been near the level that Memphis has played. The Lakers have allowed 120 and 116 points in two of their last three wins. The Lakers won't score in the 120s against the Grizzlies, who have won their previous two games allowing an average of 102.5 points per game. Take the points as the Grizzlies defense suffocates the Lakers for some time.
Key trends: MEM are 20-8-1 ATS in their last 29 games overall.
Early lean: Grizzlies, Under
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