Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
OK, here's hoping this is the last time I bring up LeBron James - who has been shut down for the year -- and the Lakers this season, and there's a good chance it will be with Los Angeles playing out the string. However, because it's the team's final game vs. the Thunder on Tuesday, we have to address free agency this summer. I find it funny that the Lakers seem to think that guys are going to flock there simply because L.A. is a great town for a young, rich athlete to live in. The presumption this last offseason was that the Lakers were going to sign hometown boy Paul George to join LeBron, but George didn't even meet with Lakers brass before re-upping with OKC. A couple of years ago, many wondered if L.A. native Russell Westbrook would play out his current contract to leave boring Oklahoma City for the City of Angels, but of course Westbrook re-upped. The Lakers will get some good free agent this summer, but it's also not a birthright.
Lakers at Thunder (TBA)
The Lakers come off a 130-102 win in New Orleans, their first game since announcing James has been shut down. Alex Caruso had a career-high 23 points, while JaVale McGee had 23 points and 16 rebounds. Kyle Kuzma sat with a foot injury and I'm not sure why the Lakers would bother playing him any longer. The Thunder are imploding, losing 106-103 at home to Dallas on Sunday. Westbrook had 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his 30th triple-double of the season and George had 27 points and 11 rebounds, for OKC - which is 7-13 since the All-Star break. One more technical foul and Westbrook serves another one-game suspension. These teams have split two meetings, each winning on the road in January. LeBron missed both.
Key trends: The Lakers are 1-7 against the spread in their past eight vs. teams with a winning record. The Thunder have failed to cover their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" has gone under in four of the past five meetings.
Early lean: TBA for Kuzma I suppose.
Hawks at Spurs (-9.5, 229)
The Hawks have been quite competitive in the second half of the season and upset the visiting Bucks on Sunday, 136-135 in overtime on rookie Trae Young's last-second short jumper. He finished with 12 points and 16 assists. Justin Anderson set season highs with 24 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta. The Spurs were upset at home by the Kings on Sunday, 113-106. LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 18 rebounds as San Antonio lost for the fourth time in six games. San Antonio beat Atlanta on March 6, 111-104, behind 32 points from Aldridge. Young led the Hawks with 24 points but made only eight of 24 shots.
Key trends: The Hawks are 7-1 ATS in their past eight on the road. The under is 12-4 in the Spurs' past 16.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
Rockets at Kings (+5.5, 227.5)
Houston looks for the four-game season sweep as the Rockets beat the visiting Kings on Saturday, 119-108. James Harden had his fifth career 50-point triple-double with 50 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Harden also made seven 3-pointers to become the ninth player in NBA history to reach 2,000 career 3s. Kenneth Faried and Gerald Green were out injured again. Rookie Harry Giles was for the Kings, and he's probably done. Houston has won 17 of the past 19 in the series, although both losses were in Sacramento.
Key trends: The home team is 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 5-1 in the previous six.
Early lean: Kings and under.
Nuggets at Warriors (-7.5, 220.5)
Clearly the game of the night and the week as the top seed in the West could be decided in this one. Golden State leads the season series 2-1 and thus would clinch a head-to-head tiebreaker with a victory. The Warriors' remaining schedule is also much easier than the Nuggets'. At least Denver will avoid the Dubs until potentially the conference finals. The Nuggets maybe were looking ahead to this game Sunday as they were upset at home by Washington, 95-90. Denver scored just 28 points in the second half. Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 14 rebounds but was ejected with a little under four minutes to go (nothing suspension worthy). Jamal Murray left the game in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle and didn't return. The Warriors didn't get caught in a trap game Sunday, trashing the Hornets 137-90 to clinch the Pacific Division title again. Steph Curry has now made five or more 3s in a career-best eight straight games.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 5-1-1 ATS in their past seven at the Warriors. The under is 12-3 in Golden State's previous 15 overall.
Early lean: Warriors and under.
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