Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
If you happened to be watching Wednesday's Toronto at Indiana matchup, you probably thought exactly what I did when Pacers star Victor Oladipo went down without contact and his leg bent awkwardly: His season is over. Sadly, it is for the reigning Most Improved Player in the NBA and one of the best shooting guards in the East. Oladipo has been diagnosed with a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee.
Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis came over from Oklahoma City in the Paul George trade before last season, and Oladipo finally blossomed into the player (i.e. Dwyane Wade potential) many thought he would be as the No. 2 pick out of Indiana University by Orlando in the 2013 draft. The Pacers were winless in seven games without Oladipo last season. They are 7-4 without him this year as the addition of Tyreke Evans helps fill some of the void offensively (Oladipo is also spectacular on defense and led the league in steals in 2017-18), but this is nothing short of devastating even with Oladipo's numbers a bit down. Will the Pacers still make the playoffs? No question, because there's a huge gap between the East's Top 5 clubs and the rest, but they figure to finish no better than fifth in the conference now and are looking at a quick playoff exit.
Spurs at Pelicans (TBA)
A bit of an unusual 6 p.m. ET start time. San Antonio dropped its second in a row Wednesday, 122-120 in Philadelphia. Interestingly, Gregg Popovich had DeMar DeRozan on the bench for the Spurs' chance to tie or win at the end. Why? Pop said he was going for the win via three-pointer, and DeRozan isn't a good three-point shooter (17.5 percent) so Marco Belinelli was in for him. DeRozan didn't seem miffed about it. New Orleans dropped its second in a row Thursday, 122-116 at Oklahoma City. The Pels simply aren't good without the injured Anthony Davis and now will be without Nikola Mirotic (calf) for at least a week. Julius Randle (ankle) also sat vs. OKC. These teams have split two meetings and the Spurs have dropped their past three in the Big Easy.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-0 against the spread in the past four meetings. The "over/under" is 13-4-1 in the Spurs' past 18 on road.
Early lean: TBA as DeRozan ruled out and LaMarcus Aldridge questionable. Front end of a B2B so Pop at work.
Pacers at Grizzlies (+3.5, 204)
Memphis hosted Sacramento on Friday. There was some talk the Pacers might trade for Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, an Indianapolis native who is very available, but that's unlikely now as there's no reason to mortgage the future and go all-in without Oladipo. Save any assets for the offseason and the 2019-20 campaign. Indiana did win that Toronto game, 110-106, for its third straight victory, but the Raptors were without Kawhi Leonard. Thaddeus Young had 23 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Pacers. Expect Evans, who had 11 points, to slide into the starting lineup going forward. These teams opened the season against one another and Indiana rolled 111-83. It has won the past three in the series.
Key trends: The Grizz are 1-10 ATS in their past 11 in the second of a B2B. The under is 4-0 in Indiana's previous four.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Warriors at Celtics (+2, 229.5)
The ABC primetime game and very possibly the NBA Finals preview - only Raptors-Warriors has shorter exact Finals matchup odds at 5Dimes. These teams split last year, each winning by four points at home. Just think, if Boston's Kyrie Irving doesn't hit a clutch shot late in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals for Cleveland against Golden State, the Dubs are probably four-time champions. Golden State won its ninth in a row Thursday but failed to cover (as we predicted) in a 126-118 victory at Washington on Thursday. Steph Curry had 38 despite just two made three-pointers. DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points in 24 minutes. Boston won its fifth consecutive Wednesday, 123-103 vs. Cleveland. Irving got the game off due to an illness (quite sure it was just rest ahead of this one; Al Horford also sat for rest - he's playing here too) and Terry Rozier had 26 points. The Celtics are on a 10-game home winning streak.
Key trends: The Warriors are 1-5 ATS in their past six on Saturday. The over is 5-1 in Boston's past six vs. the West.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
76ers at Nuggets (-9, 225.5)
Denver hosted Phoenix on Friday and Nikola Jokic served a one-game suspension there. Hey, if a few things break right this could be a Finals preview - more likely, each of these clubs loses in the conference finals at best. Great matchup of very different All-Star big men and MVP candidates in Joel Embiid and Jokic. Philadelphia is off a 122-120 home win over the Spurs on Wednesday. Embiid had 33 points and 19 rebounds. Ben Simmons had 21 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler (sprained wrist) sat again. First meeting this season, with Philly sweeping in 2017-18. The Sixers won in Denver without Embiid.
Key trends: The Sixers are 5-12 ATS in their past 17 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 4-1 in the Nuggets' past five vs. the East.
Early lean: Wait on Butler.
Hawks at Trail Blazers (-10.5, 228.5)
Let's see if Damian Lillard wants to teach Hawks rookie Trae Young a little lesson here. Atlanta started a long road trip with a 121-101 upset win in Chicago on Wednesday. John Collins, who is becoming a fine player, had 35 points (14-for-16 shooting) and eight rebounds, and Young 12 assists but just five points on 1-for-12 shooting. Rookie guard Kevin Huerter missed his second straight game with a sore neck. Portland won in Phoenix on Thursday, 120-106. Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 44 points. First meeting of season, with these teams splitting a year ago.
Key trends: The Hawks are 1-6 ATS in their past seven following an ATS win. The over is 8-1-1 in Portland's past 10 vs. the East.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
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