Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
The last pro football action of the season for a Saturday concluded last week. Thus, it made all the sense in the world for ABC to debut its showcase game of the week this Saturday - although we get a doubleheader to tip things off. The Saturday night games will always feature marquee matchups, and neither team playing in it will be competing in the front or back end of a back-to-back to avoid stars sitting out (sadly, that doesn't help with injuries - which dilutes this week's prime-time matchup). These prime-time games are available to stream on the ESPN app (Disney owns both ABC and ESPN) and will also feature some unique production elements like super slow motion cameras and some players being mic'd up. The prime-time schedule runs through March 16, and these games should be the most-wagered each week.
Thunder at 76ers ( -3, 233.5)
First ABC game at 3:30 p.m. ET - this is just a one-off matinee. OKC is broken right now, especially on defense, in losing five of six. It was on the wrong end of a 138-128 OT home loss to the Lakers on Thursday. The Thunder lost despite making a franchise-record 21 3-pointers and leading by 17 in the first half. Philadelphia was very impressive Thursday in a 24-point rout at Indiana. Joel Embiid had 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, and Jimmy Butler maybe his best game as a Sixer with 27 points and eight helpers. First meeting of season. The Thunder are an astounding 18-1 vs. Philly in the Oklahoma City era. That loss came in 2008.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 against the spread in the past six meetings. The "over/under" is 5-1 in Philly's past six at home.
Early lean: Sixers and over.
Suns at Hornets (-8, 224.5)
Phoenix lost by two in Toronto on Thursday, which sounds competitive, but the Raptors rested their best player in the second of a back-to-back. Devin Booker scored 30 points, and Deandre Ayton had 15 points and 17 rebounds. That's 4-18 on the road for the Suns. Charlotte beat the Kings on Thursday, 114-95, just a few days after losing by seven in Sacramento. Kemba Walker had 23 points. Charlotte won 119-116 in the desert on Jan. 6 and has taken four straight vs. the Suns, tying its longest winning streak in series history.
Key trends: The Suns have covered seven in a row vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 11-1 in the Hornets' past 12 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Suns and over.
Kings at Pistons (TBA)
Detroit hosted Miami on Friday. Sacramento had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 114-95 loss in Charlotte on Thursday to start a long road trip. The Kings led by 13 early but were crushed in the second quarter and didn't threaten again. Buddy Hield led the Kings with 24 points. The Kings led wire-to-wire vs. the Pistons on Jan. 10, up by as many as 23 and winning 112-102.
Key trends: The Kings have failed to cover their past five on the road. The under is 6-0 in their previous six overall.
Early lean: Not really sure why TBA -- Pistons have a few guys questionable Friday and they have rested Blake Griffin in the second of a B2B.
Mavericks at Pacers (-6, 214)
The Mavs dropped their second in a row Wednesday, 105-101 at home to the Spurs - blowing a 19-point lead. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 25 points, adding eight rebounds and eight assists. He also became the first rookie since Stephen Curry in 2010 to score 25 or more points in five straight games. Dennis Smith Jr. missed his fourth consecutive game under mysterious circumstances. We'll discuss that Tuesday. Indiana is a great team at home but now 0-2 vs. Philly there after losing by 24 on Thursday. Victor Oladipo's slump continued with 15 points on 6-for-20 shooting. First meeting of season. Dallas has won the past three, although both were close a season ago.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven. The over is 9-1 in the Pacers' previous 10.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Bucks at Magic (+7, 219.5)
Orlando hosted Brooklyn on Friday. The Bucks won their third straight Wednesday, 111-101 in Memphis in the second of a back-to-back. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 27 points and 11 rebounds. That's 23 double-digit wins on the season for Milwaukee. Orlando lost in Milwaukee on Oct. 27, 113-91. Antetokounmpo led six Bucks in double figures with 21 points. Orlando has won 21 of the past 24 at home in the series.
Key trends: The Bucks are 10-2 ATS in their past 12. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings in Orlando.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Celtics at Hawks (+8, 225.5)
Boston hosted Memphis on Friday. You could see Kyrie Irving get this one off. Atlanta upset the visiting Thunder by 16 on Tuesday and scored a season-high 142 points. Trae Young had 24 points and 11 assists, and the Hawks were 18-for-37 from deep. Kent Bazemore (right ankle sprain) and Dewayne Dedmon (left ankle sprain) did not play. Bazemore has been out a while, but Dedmon might return here. Boston has beaten Atlanta twice this season by at least 18 points.
Key trends: The Celts are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 6-0-1 in Atlanta's previous seven vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Grizzlies at Raptors (TBA)
Memphis was in Boston on Friday. In the second of a back-to-back on Thursday, the Raptors planned to rest Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. They did Leonard, but Lowry talked his way into the lineup in a 111-109 win over Phoenix. Pascal Siakam hit the winning basket as time expired. Lowry had 16 points and nine rebounds in his team's eighth straight home victory. Toronto won in Memphis on Nov. 27, 122-114, and has won the past five at home in the series.
Key trends: The Grizz are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 in the second of a B2B. The under is 11-5 in Toronto's previous 16 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Under regardless.
Heat at Bulls (TBA)
Miami was in Detroit on Friday with Josh Richardson (illness) questionable. A few Miami guys have a bug, so this could be a good game to fade the team. Then again, the Bulls suck and lost their ninth in a row Thursday in Denver, 135-105 to close a five-game trip. Lauri Markkanen had 27 points and 10 boards, but rookie Wendell Carter was out with a thumb injury and may miss more time. The Heat won in the Windy City on Nov. 23, 103-96, behind 27 points from Richardson. This should be Dwyane Wade's last NBA game in his hometown.
Key trends: The Heat are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings and the under is 4-1 in those.
Early lean: Wait on the Miami sick guys.
Lakers at Rockets (-8, 227.5)
ABC prime-time game. Nothing the schedule-makers can do in preparing for injury, and we won't get to see LeBron James vs. James Harden with LeBron out until at least early next week with his groin injury. Freaking shame with how crazy Harden has been going of late. Like to see LeBron check him at times. The Lakers were 138-128 OT winners in OKC on Thursday behind a career game from Ivica Zubac, who had 26 points and 12 rebounds. That's 5-7 without LeBron. Houston is off a 145-142 OT home loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday in which Harden had 58 points. Combined with the 57 he scored on Monday, Harden has scored 115 points in his past two games. That's tied for third-most in a two-game span in the past 30 years. Harden and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players in NBA history to record back-to-back 55-point games. The Rockets are 2-0 vs. the Lakers this season. Houston had Chris Paul and Clint Capela in both, but the Lakers had LeBron in both.
Key trends: The Lakers are 5-14 ATS in the past 19 meetings. The over is 9-2 in the previous 11.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Cavaliers at Nuggets (-17, 215.5)
Cleveland was in Utah on Friday and without Tristan Thompson (foot) - about the roughest back-to-back possible with both games at altitude. This one could be ugly. Denver rebounded from an ugly home loss to Golden State by crushing the Bulls on Thursday. Jamal Murray had 25 points, and Nikola Jokic two boards shy of a triple-double. Will Barton sat (personal). The Nuggets won 110-91 in Cleveland on Nov. 1 in the second of a back-to-back. Jokic had just four points in 22 minutes as he might have been a bit gassed.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. the East. The over is 9-3 in their previous 11 overall.
Early lean: Cavs (a few too many points) and over.
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