Free NBA Picks: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Opening Night in the NBA is obviously awesome. Christmas is the league's signature regular-season event. However, the best day of the 2018-19 regular season might be Thursday. Not so much because of what is happening on the court but off it: The trade deadline is at 3 p.m. ET and at 7 p.m. ET before the TNT doubleheader, the All-Star Game draft will be televised (first time on TV). As the leading vote-getter, LeBron James will pick from the crop of starters first, and Giannis Antetokounmpo second as they alternate. The Freak already has said he probably will take Steph Curry with his top pick if James doesn't. The Freak also gets the first choice among the reserves. He basically added he would be taking teammate Khris Middleton among that group. Both Bovada and BetDSI have some interesting draft props. The favorite to be the top overall pick is James Harden at +180. The favorite to be taken last - not counting the special third round where Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade have been added as goodbye presents - is Magic center Nikola Vucevic at +400. Needless to say, any potential trades could hugely affect some of Thursday's lines. Thus, just one opened with an actual spread & total.
Clippers at Pacers (TBA)
The Clippers made a shocking move on Wednesday in dealing their best all-around player, Tobias Harris, to the Philadelphia 76ers. It basically was the Clippers largely punting on trying to make the playoffs this year but getting two first-round picks, solid rookie Landry Shamet and two potential max salary slots this summer. The Clips are off a 117-115 win in Charlotte on Tuesday in which Harris had 34 points. L.A. rallied from down 20 and was 18-for-24 from deep. Indiana won its third in a row Tuesday, trashing the Lakers 136-94. The Pacers tied a franchise record by making 19 three-pointers. They have won four games this season by 30 or more points, matching their highest single-season total since 1993-94. First meeting between these teams, with the Pacers taking the past four in the series by an average score of 105.5-95.
Key trends: The Pacers are 4-0 against the spread in the past four meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in the past four in Indianapolis.
Early lean: Guessing this is TBA regarding the Clips' Danilo Gallinari and if the new guys are cleared in time or if L.A. has a very short bench.
Timberwolves at Magic (TBA)
It's possible Orlando could trade Vucevic by the deadline with him a pending free agent. Minnesota figures to stand pat. The Wolves dropped their second in a row Tuesday, 108-106 in Memphis. Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 18 rebounds for Minnesota. Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague were out again. Orlando's two-game winning streak ended in a 10-point loss at the Thunder on Tuesday. The Magic committed 29 fouls and had two players foul out. Rookie center Mo Bamba is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left leg. The Wolves beat the Magic on Jan. 4, 120-103, behind 29 points and 15 rebounds from Towns. The Wolves have won four of past five overall in series after dropping the previous five.
Key trends: The underdog is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Bet against the Wolves nightly on road.
Raptors at Hawks (TBA)
Could Toronto trade for Anthony Davis? I would love to see he and Kawhi Leonard on the same team. Then the Warriors might have to worry in a potential NBA Finals matchup. Also some talk the Raptors are offering Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas (who may return from injury here) to Memphis for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The Hawks have made several players available other than Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins. The latter left Atlanta's 137-129 upset win at Washington on Monday with a cut on his face but isn't expected to miss any more time. The Raptors were impressive 119-107 winners in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Philly native Lowry had 20 points after missing the previous game. Toronto looks for the three-game series sweep and has taken six straight overall vs. the Hawks.
Key trends: The Raptors are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings and the under is 5-1 in those.
Early lean: Take Hawks (bit of a letdown game for Toronto) and all the points they will get.
Lakers at Celtics (TBA)
First TNT game. Frankly, the biggest story line here isn't the game - LeBron's first-ever Lakers-Celtics matchup - but whether the Lakers trade for Davis by the deadline or if New Orleans decides to wait until summer to get Boston involved. If the Lakers gut their team Thursday (Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc.) to get Davis, this line is going to massively change. Then there's the whole Kyrie Irving angle as Irving reportedly is open to leaving Boston this summer and going to join LeBron (and good buddy Davis) in Los Angeles. These teams split last season, each winning at home. Irving missed Tuesday's 103-96 win in Cleveland but no freaking way he sits out a chance to face James. That was just a rest day. Marcus Morris (sore knee) also sat but also will play Thursday. LeBron was back Tuesday after missing a game with soreness and suffered the worst loss of his career, 136-94 at the Pacers. His previous worst loss was by 36 points. I'm half-surprised Coach Luke Walton still has a job. James did become the fifth player in league history to top the 32,000-point mark.
Key trends: The Lakers have covered just four of their past 21 vs. the East. The over is 6-2 in the Celtics' previous eight vs. the West.
Early lean: Wait on Irving, possible Lakers deal.
Grizzlies at Thunder (TBA)
Memphis in theory could trade its two best players, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, by the deadline. Gasol has been linked to Charlotte, and it looks as if that will happen. OKC won't do anything major if at all. Memphis won its second in a row Tuesday, 108-106 over Minnesota. Conley had 25 points and nine assists. Gasol was a scratch, leading many to believe he will be gone. The Thunder were 10-point home winners over the Magic on Tuesday behind 16 points, 16 assists and 15 rebounds for Russell Westbrook in his seventh straight triple-double. That ties his longest career streak. First meeting of season between these clubs. Oklahoma City won six straight at home in series and past seven overall.
Key trends: The Grizz are 1-7 ATS in their past eight in OKC. The over has hit in past six meetings overall.
Early lean: If Grizz punt and deal Gasol (and/or Conley), bet against them for a while.
Spurs at Blazers (-5, 227.5)
Second TNT game. San Antonio was at Golden State on Wednesday, with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan sitting out, so they should play here. Not likely either club makes a major trade by Thursday; Blazers already made their move with Rodney Hood. Portland's three-game winning streak ended in a 118-108 home upset to Miami on Tuesday. CJ McCollum had 33, while Hood wasn't deemed ready to debut yet. Should here. These teams have split two meetings this season. Damian Lillard is averaging 33.0 points in them, while DeRozan 32.0 with 7.5 assists.
Key trends: The home team has covered past four in the series. The over is 6-0-1 in the Blazers' previous seven overall.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
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