Free NBA Picks: Thursday, March 21, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
With the NCAA Tournament starting in force Thursday, it's probably easy to guess which conferences/schools have the most players currently in the NBA. These numbers are from back when the season started, so there might have been minor changes with guys called up or sent to the G-League, etc., but it gives you an idea. The ACC is pretty clearly the best overall basketball conference in the nation, and there were 82 players on opening night rosters from the ACC, by far the most. The Pac-12 was second with 69, which might seem laughable right now with how bad that conference was that season. The Big Ten, which sent an NCAA-high eight schools to the Big Dance, had just 39 NBA players. Among individual schools, Kentucky led with 30, followed by Duke with 25 and UCLA with 17. The Kings opened the season with four UK players of their own. Certainly, the ranks of Kentucky and Duke players will grow this summer, with two Duke guys (Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett) potentially going 1-2.
Timberwolves at Hornets (TBA)
Minnesota dropped its fourth in a row Tuesday, 117-107 to the Warriors. Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 21 rebounds. Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose both sat again - may as well shut the veterans down at this point. Charlotte was a 118-114 home loser to Philadelphia on Tuesday. Jeremy Lamb led the Hornets with 26 points and 11 rebounds but missed a floater that would have sent the game into overtime. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left the game late in the third quarter with a head injury, and Tony Parker was rested. The Hornets have won seven of the past 10 overall in this series but lost at Minnesota on Dec. 5, 121-104. Towns had 35 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high six blocks.
Key trends: The Wolves are 0-7 against the spread in their past seven road games. The "over/under" is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Guess TBA for Teague & Rose? Like Hornets regardless.
Nuggets at Wizards (+4.5, 232)
Washington was in Chicago on Wednesday. Denver won its fourth straight Monday, 114-105 in Boston. Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 13 rebounds as the team clinched its first playoff berth since 2012-13. They celebrated after in the locker room like an MLB team winning its division. This screams letdown game now. First meeting between the teams, and they split last year, each winning on the road.
Key trends: The Wizards are a stellar 7-1 ATS in their past eight in the second of a back-to-back. The under has hit in six straight Nuggets road games.
Early lean: Wizards and under.
Jazz at Hawks (+8, 225)
Utah was in New York on Wednesday. Atlanta dropped its third in a row Tuesday, 121-105 vs. Houston. Trae Young had 21 points and 12 assists and John Collins 20 points 10 rebounds. They are at least a good start for the Hawks. The Jazz were 128-112 home winners over the Hawks on Feb. 1 behind 25 points and 13 rebounds from Rudy Gobert.
Key trends: The Hawks are 7-2 ATS in their past nine vs. the West. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven meetings in Atlanta.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Pistons at Suns (+5.5, 218)
A must-win game for the playoff hopeful Pistons. They were 126-119 losers on Monday in Cleveland. Blake Griffin sat out in the second of a back-to-back. Andre Drummond had 21 points and 21 rebounds. He has 33 games of at least 15 points and 15 rebounds this season, breaking the franchise record set by Bob Lanier. The Suns were 116-101 home losers to the Bulls on Monday despite 25 points and 12 boards from Deandre Ayton. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tyler Johnson were both out injured. First meeting between these teams. Detroit swept Phoenix last year, but the all-time series is amazingly 67-67.
Key trends: The home team has covered five of the past six in the series. The under is 5-0 in the Suns' past five at home.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Mavericks at Kings (-8.5, 226)
Dallas was in Portland on Wednesday. Sacramento wasn't going to make the playoffs regardless, but that officially was euthanized on Tuesday in a stunning 123-121 home loss to the Nets in which the Kings blew a 25-point fourth-quarter lead. They were outscored 45-18 in that quarter. Teams trailing by 25 or more points entering the fourth quarter were 3-3,028 in the shot-clock era entering Tuesday. Marvin Bagley III had 29 points. The Kings won the first meeting vs. the Mavs, 120-113 on Dec. 16 but have dropped the past two at home in the series.
Key trends: The Mavs are 3-9 ATS in the past 12 meetings. The under is 6-2 in the previous eight in Sacramento.
Early lean: Kings and under.
Pacers at Warriors (-12, 222.5)
The Warriors bounced back from a loss in San Antonio on Monday with a 117-107 win in Minnesota on Tuesday to complete a four-game trip. Steph Curry had 36 points and Klay Thompson 28. The Warriors had 39 assists on 44 made field goals. Curry also gave the NBA two players with 300-plus 3-pointers made for the first time in the same season, joining James Harden. The Pacers dropped their third in a row Tuesday (all on the road), 115-109 at the Clippers. Tyreke Evans and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 19 points each for the Pacers, whose road skid extended to seven games. Golden State is looking to sweep the regular-season series over Indiana for the third time in the last four seasons. It was a 132-100 rout on Jan. 28.
Key trends: The Warriors are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 after a win. The under is 7-1 in the Pacers' past eight.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
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