Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Now that the NBA's trade deadline is in the rearview mirror, the last important date of this regular season is March 1. Guys who haven't been dealt but are in the last year of their contracts and of no use to their current teams - i.e. non-contenders and clubs trying to tank - will be bought out if they haven't already. Buyouts can happen at any point of a season, but teams almost always wait until after the trade deadline to see if they can at least get a bag of basketballs for a guy. In order for any player to be eligible for the postseason roster, he must sign with a team by March 1. This is when the NBA's "buddy system" takes over and it matters where a team is located. The Bucks, for example, are legit contenders. But would you rather finish the season in wintry Milwaukee or, say, warm-weather and state tax-free Houston? The 76ers have zero depth and will be hugely active in the buyout market as they were last season when they hit home runs on Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Sometimes, teams will buy a player out simply as a favor to said player's agent if that agent has a better player coming up for free agency. "You scratch my back, maybe I'll scratch yours" type of thing.
Lakers at Hawks (+6.5, 237)
L.A. was a surprise winner in Boston on Thursday but then embarrassed on national TV Sunday in Philadelphia, 143-120. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 39 points while LeBron James had 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Reggie Bullock (two points) and Mike Muscala (eight points) made their Lakers debuts. Atlanta dropped its third in a row Sunday, 124-108 to Orlando. Trae Young had 13 points and was minus-25. The Lakers beat the visiting Hawks on Nov. 11, 107-106. LeBron dunked for the winning basket with 15 seconds to go and Tyson Chandler blocked a Young layup attempt on the other end. L.A. has won the past five in this series.
Key trends: The Hawks are 5-2 against the spread in their past seven following a double-digit loss. The "over/under" is 6-1 in the Lakers' previous seven road games.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Celtics at 76ers (TBA)
First of TNT doubleheader. Boston somehow blew a 28-point home lead to the Clippers on Saturday in a 123-112 defeat and also lost Kyrie Irving to a knee sprain. He left in the second quarter and is considered day-to-day. Boston hadn't blown that big of a margin in 15 years. The 76ers showed their potential with the addition of Tobias Harris by spanking the visiting Lakers by 23 on Sunday. Harris had 22 points and Joel Embiid 37 points and 14 rebounds. Boston leads the season series 2-0, winning both at home back in 2018.
Key trends: The favorite has covered four straight in the series. The under is 5-1 in Philly's past six overall.
Early lean: TBA for Irving, who reportedly isn't playing.
Spurs at Grizzlies (TBA)
San Antonio dropped its fourth in a row Saturday, 125-105 in Utah. Rudy Gay missed the game with an ankle sprain. The Spurs were dominated on the boards. The Grizzlies were nine-point home winners over New Orleans on Saturday. Joakim Noah looked like the former MVP candidate he once was with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Avery Bradley and CJ Miles each made their Grizzlies debuts. Last meeting of season with Spurs leading 2-1 but having lost in Memphis.
Key trends: The Spurs have failed to cover their past seven overall. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings in Memphis.
Early lean: Guessing this is TBA because Memphis plays again Wednesday and might rest Mike Conley in one of the two since the team is tanking.
Magic at Pelicans (-5, 225.5)
Orlando won its third in a row Sunday, 124-108 in Atlanta. Nikola Vucevic scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Orlando also won the night before in Milwaukee, marking its first back-to-back road sweep since 2014. New Orleans had a two-game winning streak end Saturday in a 99-90 loss in Memphis. Anthony Davis had 14 points and 16 rebounds. First meeting this season between these teams.
Key trends: The Pels have covered their past five on Tuesday. The over is 5-2 in the Magic's past seven on road.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Jazz at Warriors (-10, 226.5)
Second TNT game. Utah won its second in a row Saturday, 125-105 over San Antonio. Donovan Mitchell had 23 points and All-Star snub Rudy Gobert 21 points and 13 rebounds. Golden State won for the 15th time in 16 games Sunday, 120-118 over Miami. DeMarcus Cousins hit the winning free throws with just over five seconds left as the Dubs rallied from a 19-point hole. Kevin Durant had 39 points and hit the tying 3-pointer but clearly double-dribbled on the play. Andre Iguodala got the night off. Last meeting of season between teams, although could easily be a playoff preview - Utah always seems to give the Warriors trouble in the regular season. They have split two games in 2018-19, both close in Salt Lake City.
Key trends: The Jazz have covered the past five meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
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