Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, April 23, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
The Indiana Pacers were swept out of the postseason by the Boston Celtics on Sunday. So what does the offseason bring for Indiana? Obviously, it's a very different team when Victor Oladipo is healthy, and he should be 100 percent from his ruptured quad tendon by camp. The Pacers were 32-15 with him and 16-21 without, including playoffs. The front office has some decisions to make as four of the five players in the starting lineup for Game 4 vs. Boston - Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Wesley Matthews and Thad Young - will be free agents. So will Tyreke Evans. Bogdanovic has earned a major raise and probably will be priority No. 1 in re-signing. Indiana will pick 18th in this year's draft. Here's a look at the Game 5s in the playoffs Tuesday.
Magic at Raptors (-11.5, 206)
A 7 p.m. ET tip on NBA TV. Toronto can finish off Orlando with a victory and advance to the second round for a fourth straight season. Believe it or not, the Raptors have never owned a 3-1 playoff series lead before. Not sure how that's even possible. It's the only franchise in the league to never lead 3-1. Toronto is 5-6 overall when it has a chance to win a playoff series. The Raptors blew out the Magic on Sunday, 107-85. Kawhi Leonard was terrific again with 34 points and six rebounds. Leonard's teams dating to his Spurs days are 8-1 when he records 30+ points in the postseason. Toronto shot 53 percent in Game 4, a franchise playoff record on the road.
Aaron Gordon led Orlando with 25 points in the loss. Nik Vucevic had just 11 on 5-for-14 shooting. He's costing himself a bit of money in this postseason after a career year. Not sure the Magic even try to re-sign him now with rookie Mo Bamba (out injured) waiting in the wings. No bench player had more than five points on Sunday. The Magic are 7-6 all-time in Game 5s during (7-1 at home, 0-5 on the road).
Key trends: The Magic are 5-0 against the spread in their past five after an ATS loss. The "over/under" has gone under in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Magic (only to cover) and under.
Nets at 76ers (-8, 229.5)
An 8 p.m. ET start on TNT. The winner of this series faces most likely Toronto in the conference semifinals. Philadelphia also gets there with a victory. The Sixers were 112-108 road winners on Saturday. I was a bit surprised that Joel Embiid played after sitting Game 3 with knee soreness. Perhaps the thinking was to end this series ASAP and then let him rest. Embiid dominated with 31 points and 16 rebounds. Ben Simmons had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Tobias Harris had 24 points. Jimmy Butler was ejected early in the third quarter but won't be suspended.
Neither will the Nets' Jared Dudley be suspended. He also was ejected following a shoving match with Butler. Coach Kenny Atkinson moved Dudley into the starting lineup because of his defense and the fact he's a pest. Dudley did have a team-best rating of plus-12 in his 20 minutes. Caris LeVert led Brooklyn with 25 points. The Nets will be without their general manager for this one (how many points is that worth!?). Sean Marks has been fined and suspended one game for entering the referee's locker room after the Game 4 loss.
Key trends: The Nets are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Nets (only to cover) and over.
Spurs at Nuggets (-5.5, 211.5)
NBA TV game following Magic-Raptors. This series is tied 2-2. The Nuggets were 117-103 road winners on Saturday to steal back home-court advantage. After a horrible Game 3, Jamal Murray bounced back with 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Nikola Jokic added 29 points and 12 rebounds. I projected that Coach Mike Malone would move a struggling Will Barton to a reserve role, and he did. Barton had 12 points in 15 minutes. Thought it would be Malik Beasley taking Barton's spot, but it was Torrey Craig. He delivered, hitting 6-for-9 from the field for 18 points and eight rebounds in 37 minutes. Clearly he will stay in that role.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 24 points. DeMar DeRozan had 19 but was ejected late in the fourth quarter. He heaved the ball into the crowd after being called for an offensive foul. Derrick White, so good in Game 3, had just eight points and was a team-worst minus-19 in 28 minutes.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 4-10 ATS in their past 14 after a win. The under is 8-3 in the Spurs' past 11 on the road.
Early lean: Spurs (only to cover) and under.
Thunder at Trail Blazers (-3, 218.5)
TNT game after Magic-Raptors. A disappointing season for the Thunder looks like it will come to a close on Tuesday night with the Blazers up 3-1 and Damian Lillard absolutely outplaying Russell Westbrook. Portland was a 111-98 winner in Game 4. Lillard had 24 points and eight assists, and CJ McCollum 27 points. Moe Harkless 15 points and 10 rebounds. Every Blazers starter was at least plus-16.
Westbrook frankly was a disaster in Game 4. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, which sounds nice, but he hit just 5-for-21 from the field. In the second half, he missed all seven of his field-goal attempts and scored one point, which came with 1:55 left and the game already decided. It was the worst shooting half of Westbrook's playoff career. Westbrook has made just 29 of 80 shots in the series (36.3 percent). He also left the Thunder bench with around 15 seconds left. Not classy at all.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven. The under is 5-1 in the previous six meetings in Portland.
Early lean: Blazers and under.
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