Free NBA Picks: Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Didn't really have the time to check which of the other 29 teams in the NBA had finished their regular-season series with the Golden State Warriors to this point, but I do know that Eastern Conference contenders Toronto and Milwaukee have. Any teams that are finished catch a break because the Dubs are about to get that much better with the expected team and season debut of four-time All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins on Friday. "Boogie" was having a monster 2017-18 season before tearing his ACL late last January with New Orleans. That's a very serious injury - even more so for such a big guy. That's partially why Cousins took a below-market one-year deal with the Dubs to potentially win a title while getting healthy. If all goes well, Cousins will get his mega-contract on the free-agent market next summer. Coach Steve Kerr has said that he plans to start Cousins from the get-go, although surely his minutes will be limited. So that's five All-Stars the Warriors can roll out each night. Good luck, rest of NBA.
Grizzlies at Celtics ( -10, 207.5)
Memphis lost its third in a row Wednesday, 111-101 vs. Milwaukee. The game wasn't near that close. The Grizz are now 7-20 in their past 27 games amid rumors they are ready to start trading guys. A return home solved all the Celtics' problems as they stopped a three-game slide with a potentially huge 117-108 win over Toronto on Wednesday. Kyrie Irving was great with 27 points and a career-high 18 assists. The C's ended the game on a 17-4 run. Boston has won the past six in this series, including 112-103 on Dec. 29. The C's were down 19 in the second half. However, the Grizzlies shot just 30.8 percent after intermission.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 0-7 against the spread after scoring at least 100 points in the previous game. The "over/under" is 14-3 in Boston's past 17 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Heat at Pistons (-1, 206.5)
Miami was slaughtered in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and coach Erik Spoelstra deservedly ripped his team a new one after. Hassan Whiteside returned after missing a game due to illness. That started a stretch of 12 of 16 on the road for the Heat. The Pistons were 120-115 OT winners over the visiting Magic on Wednesday. Blake Griffin had 30 points and Andre Drummond a "Moses Malone triple-double." What's that? Double-digit points and double-digit rebounds both offensively and defensively. Drummond had 14 points and 11 boards on both ends of the court. Miami won the first meeting of the season 120-115 in overtime in Detroit on Nov. 5.
Key trends: The Heat have covered four straight in series. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Nets at Magic (-1.5, 214.5)
The Nets got to .500 with Wednesday's wild 145-142 OT win in Houston. Spencer Dinwiddie had 25 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter/OT. Brooklyn was down eight late in regulation and seven in OT. Jarrett Allen had 21 points and a career-high 24 rebounds. The Nets are really fun to watch. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned after sitting out the past seven games with a right adductor strain. Orlando lost in OT in Detroit on Wednesday. Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross each scored 24 points. First meeting this season between these teams, with Brooklyn winning three of four in 2017-18.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2-1 ATS in past eight meetings. The over is the same.
Early lean: Magic and over.
Spurs at Timberwolves (-2.5, 226)
First ESPN game. San Antonio ended a two-game slide with a 105-101 win in Dallas on Wednesday, rallying from down 19. Davis Bertans hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:41 left. Rudy Gay returned after missing five games and had 14 points to reach 15,000 career. Minnesota didn't bother showing up Tuesday in a 42-point loss in Philadelphia. About the only bright spot was no key guy played heavy minutes. Last meeting of season, with the Spurs leading 2-1 but having dropped their past two in the Twin Cities.
Key trends: The home team has covered six in a row in series. The over is 4-0 in the previous four.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
Cavaliers at Jazz (-15, 213.5)
After an upset in L.A. on Sunday, the Cavs got back to their losing ways with a 17-point defeat in Portland on Wednesday. Cleveland managed to get blown out despite just three turnovers. Larry Nance Jr. missed his fourth game with a right knee sprain. The Jazz won their fifth in a row Wednesday, 129-109 at the Clippers. It's the longest winning streak of the season for Utah, which was led by Donovan Mitchell's 28. Utah won in Cleveland on Jan. 4, 117-91, and has taken the past four at home in the series.
Key trends: The Cavs have failed to cover seven in a row on Friday. The under is 9-2 in the Jazz's past 11 at home.
Early lean: Cavs and under.
Warriors at Clippers (+6.5, 243.5)
Second ESPN game. Golden State won its sixth straight Wednesday, 147-140 over New Orleans. Steph Curry had 41 points and nine three-pointers to become the first player in league history with at least eight made in three straight games. The Pelicans and Warriors combined for an NBA-record 43 three-pointers made. The Clippers lost their fourth in a row Wednesday, 129-109 vs. Utah. Lou Williams led L.A. with 23 points. The Clips haven't lost five straight yet in 2018-19. Dubs have won 14 of past 16 in series but did lose in L.A. on Nov. 12 in overtime without Steph Curry.
Key trends: The Warriors are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The over has hit in nine straight.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
Pelicans at Trail Blazers (-4.5, 234.5)
Welcome to the modern NBA: New Orleans scored 140 points Wednesday in Oakland - and lost by seven to the Warriors. Anthony Davis had 30 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. Monitor his status here because he went down hard at one point and left briefly but did return. Davis is awesome, but he seemingly can't go more than a week without potentially missing a game. Portland snapped a two-game skid with a 129-112 home win over Cleveland on Wednesday. Jusuf Nurkic got his first career first triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Portland won first meeting 132-119 at home on Nov. 1 - Davis was out -- after being shockingly swept in the first round of last year's playoffs by New Orleans.
Key trends: The favorite is 13-5 ATS in past 18 meetings. The over is 5-2 in the Pels' past seven on road.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
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