Free NBA Picks: Friday, March 29, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
If anyone has any idea what to make of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 Western Conference playoffs, please drop me a line here at Doc's because I sure don't. Currently, OKC is +2000 to win the West. Do I think anyone can beat the Warriors in the West regardless? Not really (maybe Houston), but I promise you the Dubs don't want to face OKC in the first round. Oklahoma City has been very inconsistent the past month or so, mostly on the negative side. Then again, the Thunder also have wins in Portland, Utah and Toronto in that stretch. When Paul George and Russell Westbrook are on, this team can beat anyone. Alas, Westbrook is having a lousy shooting season overall, and that's where the Thunder struggle: the perimeter. They could finish anywhere from third to eighth in the West standings.
Pacers at Celtics (-8.5, 211)
NBA TV game and looking more and more like the 4-5 first-round Eastern Conference matchup, although which finishes fourth is up for grabs. Indiana lost its ninth straight road game Wednesday, 107-99 in Oklahoma City. The Pacers led by nine at the half but missed 14 straight shots at one point. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points, and Domantas Sabonis added 18 points and 10 rebounds. He has the most double-doubles off the bench in the league. Boston was without a resting Kyrie Irving but ended a four-game losing streak with a 116-106 victory in Cleveland on Tuesday - no question Irving plays here. Jayson Tatum was back after sitting a game and had 21 points. These teams have split two meetings. Boston handed Indiana its largest road loss this season, 135-108 in the last matchup on Jan. 9.
Key trends: The Pacers are 4-1 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in five of the previous seven in Boston.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Trail Blazers at Hawks (+3.5, 229.5)
The short-handed Blazers won their fifth in a row Wednesday, 118-98 at tanking Chicago. Damian Lillard had a season-low 11 points but Seth Curry a season-high 20. The Hawks won their third in a row Tuesday, 130-120 in New Orleans. Trae Young, who has been the NBA's best rookie for a couple of months, had 33 points and 12 assists. The Hawks have led the NBA in scoring since the All-Star break (120.5) and have gone 8-9. Portland beat Atlanta on Jan. 26, 120-111. CJ McCollum had his first career triple-double but is out now along with Jusuf Nurkic. Lillard missed that one.
Key trends: The Hawks are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 vs. the West. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
Warriors at Timberwolves (+9, 230.5)
The Warriors won their second in a row Wednesday, 118-103 in Memphis. Kevin Durant was 12-for-13 for 28 points - his best shooting game as a pro. Steph Curry added 28. Draymond Green got another technical and is two from a suspension. Minnesota lost by 11 at home to the Clippers on Tuesday despite 24 points and 13 rebounds from Karl-Anthony Towns. Taj Gibson missed his third straight game with a calf injury. Golden State goes for the four-game sweep and has taken 15 of the past 18 in the Twin Cities.
Key trends: The Warriors are 1-4 ATS in their past five at Minnesota. The under is 13-3 in Golden State's past 16 overall.
Early lean: Wolves and under.
Nuggets at Thunder (TBA)
Could be a first-round playoff preview. Denver was in Houston on Thursday. The Thunder beat the Pacers 107-99 on Wednesday thanks to a 24-0 second-half run to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit. It was the longest run without a point allowed in the NBA this season. George had 31 points against his former team, Steven Adams had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Westbrook added 17 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his 29th triple-double of the season. The Nuggets try for the four-game season sweep of OKC.
Key trends: Denver has covered eight straight in the series. The under is 7-2 in the previous nine.
Early lean: Not sure why this is TBA - although Nuggets coach Mike Malone just said he's considering resting some guys down the stretch.
Wizards at Jazz (-11.5, 226)
Washington's five-game losing streak ended in a 124-121 victory in Phoenix on Wednesday. Thomas Bryant's three-point play with 2.8 seconds left put the Wiz ahead for good. He had 18 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Trevor Ariza sat out against his former team with a strained left groin. The Jazz won a third straight Wednesday, 115-100 over the Lakers. Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Ingles was a rebound shy of his first triple-double but it seemed no one knew that as he was taken out with plenty of time left. You have to give the Aussie a few chances a rebound. Utah won its sixth straight in the series on March 18, 116-95. The Jazz have won those six by an average of 18.1 points.
Key trends: The Wiz have failed to cover six straight in the series. The under is 7-3 in Utah's previous 10 overall.
Jazz and under.
Hornets at Lakers (TBA)
Don't rule out Kemba Walker in a Lakers uniform next season if he chooses not to re-sign with Charlotte. The Hornets are saving their season on a four-game winning streak. It was 125-116 in OT over San Antonio on Tuesday. Walker had 11 of his 38 points in OT and finished a rebound shy of his third career triple-double. In the second of a back-to-back on Wednesday, LeBron James sat in a 15-point loss in Utah. Supposedly he has a swollen knee and sore groin. Josh Hart, Mike Muscala and Tyson Chandler missed the game, and Hart's season is now over. The Hornets lost by 20 at home to the Lakers on Dec. 15 but have won their past three at L.A.
Key trends: The Lakers are 0-6 ATS in their past six on Friday. The over is 6-1 in the Hornets' past seven after a win.
Early lean: Wait on LeBron.
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