Free NBA Picks: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
You will pardon me for this macabre thought, but I was watching the old Seinfeld episode that involved Keith Hernandez, and George asks Keith something to the effect if he's surprised no entire team has ever been killed in a plane crash with all the travel. Well, that's not totally true here in the USA if you include NCAA teams, but it got me thinking about Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves. Last week, he was in a potentially serious car accident. Towns was a passenger in the team's assistant strength and conditioning coach's SUV en route to the airport to catch a team flight to New York City for a game. An accident on a Minneapolis highway forced the car to make an abrupt stop, but the semitruck behind them, cruising at what Towns estimated to be 35-45 mph, didn't brake in time and hit the car.
Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt even though Towns missed two games. "I would say I had a 5 percent chance of making it out alive," Towns told reporters. "I hit the 5 percent mark. And then, I'd say 4 percent was to be seriously injured, and 1 percent was to be minorly injured. And I came out in the 1 percent." We've been seriously lucky in a way that no NBA star has ever been killed in an every-day walk of life event like a car accident here in the States. The most notable death of an active NBA player was Boston's Reggie Lewis in 1993 when he collapsed at practice due to a heart attack. But the Nets' Drazen Petrovic was killed in a car accident in Germany in 1993 at age 28. He was coming off his best season.
Timberwolves at Pacers (-3.5, 221.5)
Minnesota was in Atlanta on Wednesday, but the Wolves won't be resting any healthy players here as they fight for a playoff spot. Not likely to make it as the Wolves have the second-strongest remaining schedule in the NBA. Towns has been putting up monster numbers ever since the Jimmy Butler trade (guarantee he's thrilled to be rid of the a**hole Butler). Indiana was in Dallas on Wednesday. Minnesota beat the Pacers 101-91 on Oct. 22 back when Butler was still around. The Wolves have also taken three of their past four in Indianapolis.
Key trends: The Pacers are 6-2 against the spread in the second of a B2B. The "over/under" is 9-2 in the Wolves' past 11 on road vs. teams with a winning home record.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Warriors at Magic (+8, 226.5)
Could see Steve Kerr rest a guy or two with the Warriors off a Wednesday visit to Miami. Orlando's thin playoff hopes weren't helped in a 108-103 loss at awful New York on Tuesday. Not sure I've ever heard of one team's bench outscoring another's 75-7, but that's what happened against Orlando. Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon each scored 26 points for the Magic, who led by 12 entering the fourth. The Magic have dropped the past 11 in this series, including 116-110 on Nov. 26. Kevin Durant poured in 49 points in leading the Dubs back from an 18-point deficit. Steph Curry, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins were all out. Vucevic had 30 points and 12 boards for the Magic.
Key trends: The Warriors have failed to cover six straight in the second of a B2B. The over is 7-3 in the Magic's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Magic and over.
Cavs at Knicks (-3.5, 213)
Tankfest! Rare chance where there might be tickets available to a Knicks home game. Cleveland looks for the three-game series sweep, taking the first two at home by a combined 10 points. The Cavs have won their past nine at the Garden because LeBron James used to get jacked up to play there. Cleveland had a two-game winning streak snapped Monday in a 123-110 home loss to Portland. Cedi Osman scored 27 points for the Cavaliers, who were attempting to win three straight for the first time this season. The Knicks won for the third time in four games Tuesday, 108-103 over the Magic. New York's reserves held a 75-7 edge in points. Emmanuel Mudiay finished with 19 points and rookie Mitchell Robinson added 17 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks, and three steals. Robinson joined Ralph Sampson (1984) and David Robinson (1989) as the only rookies to post those numbers in a game since blocks became an official stat in 1973-73. DeAndre Jordan sat a second in a row with a sprained ankle.
Key trends: The Knicks are 6-2 ATS in their past eight after a win. The over is 4-1 in the Cavs' past five.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Heat at Rockets (-10.5, 220.5)
Tough second of a back-to-back for Miami after hosting the Warriors on Wednesday. Houston was in Charlotte on Wednesday. It's the last time buddies Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul face off - assuming both play, that is. No sure thing in the second of a B2B, especially with Paul. Miami won the first meeting, 101-99 on Dec. 20. Paul left injured in the second. James Harden led Houston with 35 points. Houston has taken four of the past five at home in the series.
Key trends: The Heat are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 11-3 in Houston's past 14 on Thursday.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
76ers at Thunder (-5, 239.5)
First of a TNT doubleheader, and a freaking shame that Joel Embiid is out injured because he and Russell Westbrook have some history between them and definitely aren't best pals. In OKC's 117-115 win in Philly on Jan. 19, those two nearly went at it after a hard Embiid foul on Westbrook. The Thunder won on Paul George's four-point play with 5.1 seconds left. Jimmy Butler's driving layup had put Philadelphia in front with 6.9 seconds to go, but he fouled George on the next possession after PG made a 3-pointer. Again without Embiid, Philly won by a point in New Orleans on Monday behind 29 points from Tobias Harris. Boban Marjanovic had 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks starting in place of Embiid but hurt his leg and will miss at least 5-7 days. Oklahoma City lost its second in a row Tuesday, 121-112 in Denver. Westbrook finished an assist shy of a triple-double with 22 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
Key trends: The Sixers have failed to cover four straight in the series. The under is 5-2 in the Thunder's past seven overall.
Early lean: Thunder and under.
Jazz at Nuggets (-7, 224)
Second TNT game. Utah hosted the Clippers on Wednesday. Denver won its fifth in a row Tuesday, 121-112 over Oklahoma City, behind 36 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds from Nikola Jokic. Will Barton added 23 points and Jamal Murray 20 for Denver - which all but wrapped up the Northwest Division with that victory and winning the season series vs. OKC. These teams have split two meetings, and this wraps it up, although they could be first-round playoff foes. The Nuggets have won the past five at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 13-3 ATS in the past 16 meetings. The under is 14-3 in the previous 17 in Denver.
Early lean: Nuggets and under.
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