Free NBA Picks: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Before the TNT doubleheader on Thursday, the captains and starters for the 2019 All-Star Game will be announced. In the latest voting results made public, the leading vote-getters in the league were the Lakers' LeBron James and Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo. Fans account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10 starters (five players from each conference), and all current NBA players and a media panel each account for 25 percent of the vote. The voting has ended. Remember, though, the ASG is no longer East vs. West. Instead, the two captains (i.e. the leading vote-getters) hold a draft - they just have to pick from among the pool of starters first. That draft will take place on Feb. 7 and be televised this year unlike last. The reserves will be announced next Thursday. A total of 12 players from each conference will be selected to the All-Star pool. James was a captain last year, too, and picked Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Kyrie Irving as his starters. There certainly will be draft props at the various sportsbooks.
Warriors at Wizards (+9, 234.5)
First TNT game. Washington has gotten better since John Wall was lost for the season and comes off a 101-87 win over Detroit, the fewest points the Wiz have allowed this year. Trevor Ariza had his best game since being acquired from Phoenix with 20 points and 12 assists. Washington has won seven of its past 10. Golden State is clicking on all cylinders right now, winning its eighth in a row Monday, 130-111 at the Lakers. Klay Thompson tied an NBA record by making his first 10 three-pointers and finished with 44 points. It was also the Dubs' seventh consecutive road win, longest streak in the NBA this season. Golden State has won the past four in this series, including 144-122 on Jan. 24 behind 51 points and 11 made three-pointers from Steph Curry.
Key trends: The Wizards are 7-2 against the spread in their past nine at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The "over/under" is 13-3 in Golden State's past 16 following a double-digit win.
Early lean: Like Wizards here - potential trap game for Warriors with long trip and ahead of big one in Boston on Saturday. Go over.
Pelicans at Thunder (-11, 237)
New Orleans remains without Anthony Davis (finger) and hosted Detroit on Wednesday. Oklahoma City won its third in a row on Tuesday, 123-114 over Portland. Paul George, a lock All-Star and should-be starter, had 36 points, while Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. Russ is still putting up triple-doubles (14 of them), but George has been clearly the Thunder's best player this season. These teams have split two high-scoring games, each winning at home. Davis averaged 32.0 points and 13.0 rebounds. Jrue Holiday has averaged 21.0 points and 12.0 assists. George is putting up 24.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the two.
Key trends: The Pels are 1-4 ATS in their past five at OKC. The over is 7-1 in the Thunder's past eight overall.
Early lean: Thunder and over.
Trail Blazers at Suns (TBA)
The Blazers had a three-game winning streak end in a nine-point loss at the Thunder on Tuesday. Damian Lillard had 34 points and eight assists, and C.J. McCollum scored 31 for Portland, which committed 19 turnovers - 16 of which were steals. That's nuts. Phoenix dropped its fifth in a row Tuesday, 118-91 to Minnesota. Deandre Ayton (ankle) didn't play, T.J. Warren (ankle) sat the second half, and Devin Booker was ejected after an altercation with Gorgui Dieng. Probably 50/50 on whether Booker gets a suspension as the two also brought things into the tunnel. Portland has taken past eight in series, including 108-86 at home on Dec. 6. The Blazers outscored the Suns 34-9 in the opening quarter, with the point differential Portland's largest in a first quarter since 2015.
Key trends: The Blazers are 5-0 ATS in their past five after an ATS loss. The under is 6-1 in the previous seven meetings in Phoenix.
Early lean: Wait on all those Suns.
Timberwolves at Lakers (+1.5, 229)
Second TNT game, and LeBron is expected to sit again but appears to be getting closer. The good news is that Rajon Rondo is expected to play for the first time since Christmas himself. With no James or Lonzo Ball, the Lakers need Rondo to handle the ball. L.A. lost its second straight on Monday, 130-111 vs. the Warriors. Could have been a 50-point loss if Warriors wanted. That's 5-9 without LeBron. Josh Hart had six points, one assist and four fouls starting in place of Ball. Minnesota completed a home-and-home sweep of the Suns with a blowout in the desert on Tuesday. Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists. Jeff Teague missed the game with left foot soreness. Last meeting between these teams. Minnesota leads 2-1, winning both at home.
Key trends: The Wolves have covered the past four meetings. The over is 8-1 in their past nine on the road.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
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