Free NBA Picks: Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Man, superstar NBA players sure seem to be an insecure bunch. They always have to insert themselves into the news. Of course, Monday brought the Woj bomb that Anthony Davis demanded a trade from New Orleans, probably with eyes for the Lakers. Davis and Kyrie Irving are good friends so the Celtics appeared to be a potential landing spot as well for Davis. However, now comes news that Irving might NOT re-sign with the Celtics this summer and could be interested in teaming up with Davis and former teammate LeBron James to form a super team with the Lakers. Bleach Report's Ric Bucher wrote that Irving wanting a potential reunion is "for real." Even though Irving was tired of James' shadow in Cleveland and demanded a trade? Seriously, this is daytime TV soap opera stuff. But, it's also why the NBA's popularity continues to grow as there's always something dramatic going on - and it usually revolves around LeBron.
Grizzlies at Hornets (-4.5, 206.5)
Both these teams' excellent point guards could be elsewhere next season as the Grizzlies have made Mike Conley - complete shame he hasn't been an All-Star - available in trade and Hornets All-Star Kemba Walker is set for free agency. Yep, I've heard him linked to Lakers too. Memphis' free-fall continued with a 99-97 OT loss at Minnesota on Wednesday; that was bad luck as it took a lucky shot at the regulation buzzer by the Wolves to send it to OT. Conley had 26 points and eight assists for Memphis, which lost for the 12th time in 13 road games. The Hornets were crushed in Boston on Wednesday. Tony Parker was out with a sore ankle. Charlotte has won past four in this series, including 118-107 in Memphis on Jan. 23. Walker had 22 points, Conley 31 and Marc Gasol a triple-double.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 2-10 against the spread in their past 12 vs. the East. The "over/under" has gone under in six of Charlotte's past eight at home.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Celtics at Knicks (TBA)
First ESPN game. Just a few months ago, there were rumors Irving might sign with the Knicks next summer since he's from New Jersey. I honestly can't keep up with all this nonsense. Irving missed his second straight game Wednesday (hip) but wasn't needed in a 126-94 rout of Charlotte. Terry Rozier had 17 points and tied a career high with 10 assists in place of Irving (C's 6-2 without him). Jaylen Brown had 24 points and 10 rebounds. It's 50/50 Irving plays here. The Knicks dropped their 11th in a row Wednesday, 114-90 vs. Dallas. Enes Kanter got some time after DNP-CD the past four. A stunner if he's not traded by Feb. 7. Last meeting of season, with Boston leading 2-1. It has won the past two at Madison Square Garden. (This article was written before the blockbuster trade on Thursday; more on that tomorrow).
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in past seven meetings. The under has hit in the Knicks' past five overall.
Early lean: Wait on Irving.
Thunder at Heat (TBA)
Oklahoma City won a sixth in a row Tuesday, 126-117 in Orlando. Paul George scored 37 points, and Russell Westbrook had his fourth straight triple-double with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. Steven Adams sat out with a sore ankle. The Heat laid a home egg Wednesday, getting trounced 105-89 by the lousy Bulls. Miami, which sat Dwyane Wade for rest, is now three games under .500 at home. First meeting of season between these teams. OKC swept last year and has taken five straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The Thunder have covered their past four vs. the East. The under has hit in Miami's past five.
Early lean: Honestly not sure why this is TBA; certainly not for Wade, and can't imagine it's for Adams, who did practice in full Thursday. Love the under here no matter the number.
Hawks at Jazz (-11.5, 227)
Atlanta was routed Wednesday in Sacramento. Trae Young had 23 points with eight assists and at least outplayed fellow young point guard De'Aaron Fox. Young is just four made three-pointers from tying the franchise rookie season record. Utah's three-game winning streak was snapped in a 27-point loss in Portland on Wednesday, easily the Jazz's worst game in weeks. It was essentially over after the first quarter. Donovan Mitchell had 22 points. First meeting of season between these teams, with the Hawks winning two low-scoring games in 2017-18.
Key trends: The Jazz have covered their past 12 after a loss. The over has hit in five straight Hawks games vs. West.
Early lean: Jazz and over.
Rockets at Nuggets (-4.5, 227)
Second ESPN game. Houston's three-game winning streak was snapped in a 121-116 home upset to the short-handed Pelicans on Tuesday. James Harden kept doing his thing with 37 points, his 11th in a row with at least 35. That's fifth-best in league history. The Beard only averaged 43.6 ppg in January. Gee, I wonder who the Western Conference Player of the Month will be? Harden become the first player to have 600 or more points in a month since Michael Jordan did it in March 1987. Denver is off to the best 50-game start (35-15) ever following Wednesday's six-point win at the Pelicans. Nikola Jokic finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his eighth triple-double this season. Houston has won nine straight in this series and four in a row in Denver - both are the second-longest streaks of their kind for Rockets in series.
Key trends: The Rockets are 1-6 ATS in their past seven overall. The over has hit in six straight Nuggets home games.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
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