Free NBA Picks: Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Earlier this week, I mentioned that second-year Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was trending as potentially the biggest name dealt ahead of the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline. However, now comes news that Grizzlies ownership is ready to pull the plug on the Marc Gasol and Mike Conley era, trade one or both guys for the right package of young players/draft picks and build around good-looking rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. The Grizzlies were never going to win a title around those two and are surely going to miss the playoffs again. They play a horribly boring "grit-and-grind" style, and the home fans aren't showing up. Both Gasol and Conley are very good players - they have started more games together than any active duo -- if perhaps a bit past their primes. The 33-year-old Gasol has a player option for next season at about $25.5 million before hitting free agency. Conley, 31, makes $32.5 million next year, has a player option for $34.5 million in 2020-21 (he'll be exercising that) and then hits free agency. Most contenders have a good point guard and with the contracts the way they are, Gasol would be in more demand and bring back more in a deal. He would be a great fit with the Lakers, for example.
Wizards at Magic (-4, 217)
Possible letdown game of the season if the Wizards somehow upset the visiting Warriors on Thursday night. The Magic lost by four in Brooklyn on Wednesday, their fourth defeat in the past five. A potentially tying late basket by Nikola Vucevic was waived off after a replay review. He had 21 points and 14 rebounds. Washington and Orlando have split two meetings, each winning by a similar score at home. The Magic have still lost eight of the last 11 matchups at home.
Key trends: The Magic are 7-3 against the spread in their past 10 at home vs. teams with losing road records. The "over/under" is 6-2 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Bet big on Magic if Wizards even stay close on Thursday.
Knicks at Nets (-9, 222)
Who would have thought the Nets would be a playoff team again before the Knicks? Last meeting between these teams with Brooklyn leading 2-1. New York dropped its seventh in a row Wednesday, 114-110 to Houston. Rookie Allonzo Trier scored a season-high 31 points for the Knicks. New York has ruled out center Luke Kornet for at least a couple of weeks with a sprained left ankle. Brooklyn won its fifth in a row Wednesday, 114-110 over Orlando. D'Angelo Russell had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. He might need to be an All-Star. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson strained his left shoulder while battling for a rebound late in the third quarter and didn't return.
Key trends: The Knicks are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under has hit in four straight.
Early lean: Nets and under.
Heat at Cavaliers (+9, 211.5)
The Heat fell for the fourth time in five games Wednesday, 111-99 vs. the Clippers. Miami had just 26 points in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Hassan Whiteside finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds and ended his streak of 14 straight missed free throws. Cleveland lost its fifth in a row Wednesday, 123-103 - not covering an 18-point number (which I took). Cedi Osman led the Cavaliers with a career-high 25 points and eight rebounds. Larry Nance Jr. (sprained right knee), Tristan Thompson (left foot soreness) were not with the team. Miami has won the past three in this series, both this year by blowout.
Key trends: The Cavs have failed to cover eight in a row on Friday. The under is 4-1 in the Heat's past five on road.
Early lean: Cavs (Heat aren't that good to be this big of a road favorite) and under.
Clippers at Bulls (TBA)
The Clippers were 111-99 upset winners in Miami on Wednesday in the second of a back-to-back. Tobias Harris had 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists. The Clips outscored the Heat 21-9 in second-chance points - which was the final point differential. Danilo Gallinari (back) missed his third consecutive game. The Bulls were rare favorites on Wednesday but lost 121-101 at home vs. Atlanta. Zach LaVine scored 23 points, and Lauri Markkanen had 22. First meeting of season. The Clippers have won the past five.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-5 ATS in their past six at home. The under has hit in six consecutive Clippers road games.
Early lean: Not really sure why this is TBA - Gallinari not really worth that. Clips regardless.
Raptors at Rockets (+3, 228)
Lone ESPN game and first meeting of season. Toronto played its fourth in a row without Kawhi Leonard on Wednesday and had a three-game winning streak end in a 110-106 loss at Indiana. Serge Ibaka led with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Leonard is expected to play Friday and it will be fascinating to see the NBA's best on-ball defender guard James Harden. The Beard is just stupid as he set a career high with 61 points in Wednesday's four-point win at the Knicks - that ties the most ever by a visitor at MSG. Harden also became the first player in league history with 20 three-point and 20 free-throw attempts in a game. I could list about 20 statistics regarding Harden right now, but what he's doing is simply insane. Apparently, Chris Paul is getting close to a return, but it's not going to be here by all accounts. The Raptors swept last year and have won past two trips to Houston.
Key trends: The Rockets are 0-5 ATS in their past five after a win. The under is 4-0 in Toronto's past four.
Early lean: Raptors (as long as Leonard plays) and under.
Kings at Grizzlies (TBA)
I assume Conley and/or Gasol will still be Grizzlies on Friday. Free-falling Memphis lost for the 13th time in 14 games on Wednesday, 118-107 vs. Charlotte. Gasol had a triple-double of 22 points, 17 boards and 10 assists, and Conley had 31 points. The Grizz have nothing else other then Jackson, who is still an inconsistent rookie. Sacramento dropped its second in row Tuesday, 120-105 in Toronto. Rookie Marvin Bagley scored a career-high 22 points and added 11 rebounds in his first career start. Three other Kings starters sat, led by De'Aaron Fox (sore toe). It was the second of a B2B. Last meeting between these teams with the Kings leading 2-1 - winning both at home.
Key trends: The home team has covered the previous four in the series. The under is 5-1 in the past six in Memphis.
Early lean: Wait on Fox (why TBA).
Pistons at Mavericks (TBA)
Detroit snapped a two-game slide with a four-point win at short-handed New Orleans on Wednesday. Blake Griffin had 37 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Andre Drummond missed a third in a row due to concussion but did go through shootaround so could return here. The Mavs snapped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday with an eight-point win over the Clippers as Dennis Smith Jr. returned to the club and had 17 points and eight rebounds. Not sure that quiets the trade rumors. First meeting between these clubs. The home team has taken the last three meetings after the road team won the previous six.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-0 ATS in the past four. The total has gone under in Dallas' previous seven vs. the East.
Early lean: TBA for Drummond.
Hornets at Bucks (-10.5, 227)
The Hornets won for the fourth time in five games Wednesday, 118-107 in Memphis. Kemba Walker had 22 points and seven helpers. The Bugs shot 53 percent. Milwaukee won its fifth in a row Monday, 116-106 over Dallas. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 15 rebounds and Eric Bledsoe 21 points. These clubs have split two games in Charlotte. Bucks have taken past three at home.
Key trends: The home team is 6-0-1 ATS in the past seven meetings and over 4-1 in past five.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Suns at Nuggets (TBA)
Phoenix hosted Portland on Thursday with three of its best players in question. Denver was a six-point loser in Utah on Wednesday, a place the Nuggets almost never win. Nikola Jokic scored 28 points and had 21 rebounds and six assists. Will Barton added 22 points and a season-high nine rebounds. Denver is 2-1 vs. Phoenix this season so this closes it out.
Key trends: The Suns are 1-5 ATS in their past six in Denver. The over is 5-0 in the Nugs' previous five.
Early lean: Wait on the Suns guys (why TBA), although this should be a total blowout.
Timberwolves at Jazz (-9, 221.5)
Minnesota was at the Lakers on Thursday. Utah was a six-point home winner vs. the Nuggets on Wednesday. Donovan Mitchell had 35 points and Rudy Gobert 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Jazz's 13 three-pointers made before halftime were a franchise record for any half. They finished with 19. The Jazz were the first Northwestern Division opponent to beat the Nuggets this season. Derrick Favors was ejected in the first but it shouldn't be suspension-worthy. The Wolves beat the Jazz in the first meeting, 128-125 in the Twin Cities behind a career-high 50 points from Derrick Rose. These clubs play again Sunday back in Minnesota.
Key trends: The Wolves are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 at Utah. The under is 11-3 in the Jazz's previous 14 at home.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
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