Free NBA Picks: Thursday, March 14, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
That the Sacramento Kings apparently will continue the NBA's longest playoff drought will benefit the Boston Celtics, who host the Kings on Thursday. That's because the Celtics should get the Kings' first-round pick this summer via Philadelphia. The only way Boston wouldn't is if it lands at No. 1 overall, and it's almost unprecedented for a team like Sacramento to jump from the back of the lottery to first. Thus, the Celtics benefit every time the Kings lose, although obviously any spots the Kings might move up in the lottery would improve their odds of winning it. That could be one of four first-rounders that Boston has this summer. The C's get the Clippers' first-round pick if they make the playoffs because it's Top 14 protected. Looks like L.A. will be a postseason team. They get Memphis' first-round pick if it falls between Nos. 9-30. It's possible the Grizzlies' pick could slide back a few spots to at least No. 9. Finally, Boston has its own selection. Think the Pelicans might be interested in all those picks in a possible Anthony Davis trade this summer?
Thunder at Pacers (+1.5, 221)
Oklahoma hosted Brooklyn on Wednesday. Indiana snapped a two-game losing streak with a 103-98 victory over the Knicks on Tuesday. The Pacers nearly blew a 16-point lead with about seven minutes left, but Darren Collison had a few big plays at the end. Bogdan Bogdanovic led Indiana with 24 points, while Tyreke Evans was out again due to illness. First meeting between these clubs. The Thunder swept the regular season series over Indiana last year for the first time since 2010-11.
Key trends: The Pacers are 7-3 against the spread in their past 10 at home. The "over/under" has gone under in their past four overall.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Cavaliers at Magic (TBA)
Orlando was in Washington on Wednesday with Aaron Gordon questionable. Cleveland lost 106-99 in Philly on Tuesday in the second of a back-to-back. Because it was, Kevin Love sat. The Cavs are pretty competitive when he plays. Collin Sexton had 26 points for the Cavaliers, who led 97-96 with under three minutes left. Larry Nance Jr. (ribs) and Marquese Chriss (one-game suspension) were also out. Orlando lost for the third time in four games Sunday, 105-97 in Memphis. These teams have split two meetings. The Magic have lost nine of the last 11 matchups at home.
Key trends: The underdog has covered six straight in the series. The under has hit in the previous four.
Early lean: TBA presumably for Gordon.
Kings at Celtics (TBA)
Sacramento lost 121-115 in Washington on Monday despite twice rallying from double-digit deficits. De'Aaron Fox scored 23 points for the Kings, and Nemanja Bjelica added 15 points and 12 rebounds. Marvin Bagley III (left knee sprain) missed his fifth straight game and he might be done. Boston closed a West Coast trip at 3-1 with a 140-115 loss at the Clippers on Monday. It was the most points the Celtics have allowed in Brad Stevens' six seasons as coach and only the fourth time since 1990 they have allowed 140 or more in a regular-season game. Jayson Tatum was out with a shoulder injury. The Kings have lost 10 straight in Boston and lost at home to the Celtics, 111-109, on March 6 on a Gordon Hayward baseline floater with two seconds left. Kyrie Irving missed that one.
Key trends: The Kings are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in Beantown. The under is 6-2 in the Celtics' past eight overall.
Early lean: TBA for Tatum.
Lakers at Raptors (-10.5, 229)
First of a TNT doubleheader. Toronto's Serge Ibaka will miss this game and the next two because he threw a punch in a skirmish with the Cavs' Marquese Chriss during the Raptors' 124-101 upset loss Monday. The Raptors didn't rest anyone, either, but looked gassed in their third road game in four nights. The Lakers rallied from down 20 early in Chicago on Tuesday and won 123-107 to end a five-game skid. LeBron James had 36 points in 33 minutes and Kyle Kuzma 21 after missing the previous two. Toronto has won eight straight in this series, including 121-107 in L.A. on Nov. 4. Ibaka made his first 14 shots on the way to a career-high 34 points. Kyle Lowry added 21 points and 15 assists. LeBron had just 18 points.
Key trends: Toronto has covered five straight in the series. The over is 6-1 in L.A.'s previous seven vs. the East.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Timberwolves at Jazz (TBA)
Utah was in Phoenix on Wednesday. Minnesota's two-game winning streak ended in a 133-107 blowout in Denver on Tuesday. Karl-Anthony Towns was questionable but had 34 points and 10 rebounds. Derrick Rose (right elbow), Jeff Teague (left foot) and Andrew Wiggins (left quadriceps) all were out. Last meeting between these teams with Utah leading 2-1 and winning two straight in Salt Lake City.
Key trends: The Wolves are 4-1 ATS in their past five at the Jazz. The over is 4-1 in the previous five meetings overall.
Early lean: Wait on those Wolves.
Mavericks at Nuggets (TBA)
Dallas lost its sixth in a row Tuesday, 112-105 vs. the Spurs. Luka Doncic struggled in shooting 5-for-18 (1-for-9 from free throw line!) with nine turnovers and admits his knee isn't right. When does the team shut him down? Jalen Brunson had a career-high 34 points. Denver blew out the visiting Timberwolves on Tuesday, 133-107. Jamal Murray had 30 points for the Nuggets, who set a season high with 40 assists. Denver hasn't swept Dallas in a season series since 2008-09 but would with a win here. The first two were both decided by double digits.
Key trends: The Mavs are 3-9 ATS in their past 12 games. The under is 8-1 in the Nuggets' past nine.
Early lean: TBA likely for Doncic.
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