Free NBA Picks: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
I've seen players in the major American sports listed as DNP (did not play) for a multitude of reasons over the years. What I am really hoping for, although sure to be disappointed, is that the Knicks list big man Enes Kanter as DNP-Assassination for a rare Thursday matinee as the Knicks and Wizards face off from London. Kanter has been a very outspoken critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Kanter's Turkish passport was revoked in 2017 and an international warrant for his arrest was issued by the country. Kanter isn't accompanying the team to London because he thinks he could be assassinated. Apparently, even in the USA Kanter tries to have people around him at all times. He does go to Toronto when the Knicks play there. This could affect your betting decision vs. Washington, which is technically the home side, as Kanter is a double-double machine but also one of the worst defensive players in the NBA.
Knicks "at" Wizards ( -6, 228)
NBA TV has the 3 p.m. ET start. Both teams have been off a while and will be after with the travel. New York lost its fourth in a row Sunday, 108-105 to the 76ers. Emmanuel Mudiay missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. Rookie Kevin Knox had career-high 31 points for the Knicks, who have lost 19 of 22. Tim Hardaway Jr. was sidelined by a left hamstring injury, and Kanter sat with the flu. Washington lost a double-OT home thriller to Toronto on Sunday. Bradley Beal hit jumpers to force both OTs and finished with 43 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. Beal joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with multiple games of 40 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a season. Washington is 2-0 vs. New York this season.
Key trends: The favorite is 9-2 against the spread in the past 11 meetings. The "over/under" is 7-3 in Washington's past 10 following a loss.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Kings at Hornets (-3.5, 230.5)
Sacramento won its third in a row Monday, 115-107 over Portland. Two nights prior, the Kings beat these Hornets 104-97 behind 22 points from Bogdan Bogdanovic and 12 points and 12 rebounds from Willie Cauley-Stein. Kemba Walker had 31 points despite going 3-for-12 on 3-pointers. Charlotte concluded its six-game Western Conference trip Monday with a 108-93 upset in San Antonio. Walker had 33 points and Tony Parker eight points in his return to the city. Charlotte had lost 11 in a row there. The Hornets won close at home vs. the Kings last year.
Key trends: The Kings are 0-4 ATS in their past four on the road. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Hornets and over.
76ers at Pacers (-2.5, 223.5)
First of a TNT doubleheader. These teams have split two meetings, both winning on the road. Philly's win ended an eight-game losing streak in Indianapolis. Both come off easy home wins Tuesday. Philly blasted Minnesota 149-107, setting a scoring mark in the 22-year history of the Wells Fargo Center and setting a franchise record with 21 three-pointers. This one starts a stretch of 12 straight against teams with winning records. Indiana destroyed Phoenix 131-97 even though Victor Oladipo wasn't one of seven players with double-figure points. Myles Turner returned from a four-game absence and had 18 points.
Key trends: The Sixers are 2-5 ATS in their past seven at Indiana. The under has hit in four straight meetings.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Suns at Raptors (TBA)
Be aware that Toronto had a big one in Boston on Wednesday, so I could see Kawhi Leonard and/or Kyle Lowry sitting this one out (Leonard hasn't played both ends of a B2B yet, I don't believe). The Raptors remain without center Jonas Valanciunas, and young swingman OG Anunoby missed Wednesday's game for personal reasons. Phoenix lost by 38 at Indiana on Tuesday. Devin Booker was back after missing the previous three but held to just eight points. Toronto has won three in a row in this series, including 107-98 in the desert on Nov. 2. The Raptors outscored the Suns 26-11 in fast-break points and shot 50.6 percent from the field. Leonard had 19 points, while Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Suns.
Key trends: The Raptors are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 4-0 in Phoenix's past four vs. the East.
Early lean: Wait on Leonard.
Bulls at Nuggets (-12.5, 216.5)
Chicago is 0-4 on a Western Conference trip and lost an eighth straight overall Tuesday, 107-100 at the Lakers. Jabari Parker got some rare playing time (trade audition) and led with 18 points off the bench. The Nuggets were put in their place Tuesday by the Warriors as Denver's 12-game home winning streak ended in a 142-111 thud. Foul trouble limited Nikola Jokic to 23 minutes. Gary Harris missed a fifth straight game with tightness in his left hamstring. Denver has won the past six in this series, including 108-107 in OT on Halloween on Paul Millsap's put-back with 0.1 seconds remaining in overtime. Chicago has lost its past 11 trips to the Mile High City.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-5 ATS in their past six in Denver. The over is 5-1 in the previous six meetings.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Lakers at Thunder (-10, 223.5)
Second TNT game. L.A. is 4-7 without LeBron James - who will miss at least the next two more - following a seven-point home win over the sorry Bulls on Tuesday. Embattled coach Luke Walton made a few lineup changes, including starting Kentavoius Caldwell-Pope over Jason Hart. KCP had 17 points and Lonzo Ball 19. Oklahoma City clearly wasn't interested in a one-game trip to Atlanta on Tuesday as the Thunder barely showed in a 142-126 loss. OKC won in L.A. on Jan. 2, 107-100, behind 37 from Paul George with LeBron out. The Lakers were 1-1 in Oklahoma City last season and are just 5-12 there vs. the Thunder all-time in the regular season.
Key trends: The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under has hit in the previous six in OKC.
Early lean: Thunder and under.
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