Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
With just three games on a short Tuesday NBA schedule and the Knicks hosting one of them, let’s talk about New York and its future. To be clear: The team is full-out tanking this season (5Dimes’ latest win total was 19, with the under a heavy favorite), but as we’ve said previously, it doesn’t matter if a club finishes with the worst, second-worst or third-worst record – each has a 14 percent chance of winning the draft lottery now. There is a scenario where the Knicks get relevant as soon as next season. For one, owner James Dolan sells the team, and reports are he’s taking bids for the league’s most valuable franchise. Second, the Knicks win the lottery and take the electric Zion Williamson. Could the Knicks package Williamson in a deal for Anthony Davis? Possible, but not sure I’d even want the injury-prone Davis at gazillions of dollars over Williamson on a rookie contract. Third, they land both Kyrie Irving (a New Jersey native) and Kevin Durant in free agency. I personally didn’t like living in Manhattan, but I can see how it would be attractive to millionaire athletes
Then, you are looking at a starting five of something like Irving, Dennis Smith Jr. (although he might become redundant with Irving), Williamson, Kevin Knox and Durant. Maybe DeAndre Jordan re-signs because he’s buddies with Durant. Rookie center Mitchell Robinson also has shown promise. Hey, I’m not saying all or even any of this happens, but for once it seems like there’s an actual vision. Dolan just needs to get out of the way. He has been the primary owner and runner of the Knicks since 1999, and the franchise has largely gone downhill sense other than a 54-win 2012-13 season.
Magic at Knicks (+5.5, 218)
New York hasn’t won back-to-back game since taking three in a row from Nov. 21-25 but looks to here after ending an 18-game home losing streak on Sunday in a 130-118 upset of San Antonio despite Jordan sitting out with a sprained left ankle. Damyean Dotson scored 27 points, and Robinson had 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Alas, Knicks super-fan Spike Lee didn’t get to see it as he was at the Oscars, where he won the award for best adapted screenplay for "BlacKkKlansman." Samuel L. Jackson actually announced on stage to Lee that his Knicks finally won at home. The Magic were 113-98 upset winners in Toronto on Sunday, catching a break with Kawhi Leonard sitting out for rest. Terrence Ross had 28 points vs. his former club. The Magic are 13-3 when holding their opponent to fewer than 100 points. Orlando leads the season series 2-0, winning both easily a week apart in November.
Key trends: The Magic are 5-1 against the spread in the past six meetings. The “over/under” has gone under in five of the previous six in New York.
Early lean: Magic and under.
Celtics at Raptors (-5, 228)
First of a TNT doubleheader. I actually don’t think Boston has a chance of catching Toronto in the East standings, but on the off chance it’s possible this could be important for a potential tiebreaker. The Celtics lead the season series 2-1 but did lose in Toronto early in the season, 113-101. Boston is on a two-game slide, being upset 126-116 in Chicago on Saturday despite 37 points and 10 assists from Kyrie Irving. With Kawhi Leonard getting the game off to rest, Toronto’s seven-game winning streak was snapped Sunday, 113-98 vs. Orlando. Kyle Lowry had 19 points and 10 assists and Pascal Siakam had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors, who are 13-4 without Leonard. He’ll play Tuesday.
Key trends: Boston has failed to cover seven straight in Toronto. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings overall.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Thunder at Nuggets (-4.5, 235)
Second TNT game. If these clubs finish second and third in the West, which I believe will happen (in whatever order), then they would face off in the conference semifinals assuming chalk in the first round. Denver would clinch the season series and potential tiebreaker with a win as it leads 2-0, holding OKC to 98 points in each. The play again March 29 in Oklahoma City. The Thunder were upset at home by the Kings on Saturday, 119-116. Paul George had a rough night in hitting just 4-for-19 and missed a 3-poniter at the buzzer. Russell Westbrook had 41 points and 10 rebounds in his third straight game with at least 40 points. Denver won a fourth straight Sunday, 123-96 over the Clippers. Nikola Jokic had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Paul Millsap had 21 points and 16 boards.
Key trends: The Thunder are 0-7 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 6-1 in those.
Early lean: Nuggets and under.
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