Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
With the Dallas Mavericks in action on a short Tuesday schedule, it's as good as time as ever to talk about Mavs second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr. The former NC State star - who might get that school on probation eventually if all the allegations about payments to Smith are true - was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 draft. Had a pretty good rookie season, averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds. Part of the team's foundation, right? Except, the Mavericks were able to swing a deal for European teenage sensation Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft, and though Doncic is technically listed as a forward, he's a point guard just like Philly's Ben Simmons.
Doncic is clearly a generational talent who needs the ball in his hands, so Smith suddenly is very available on the trade block even though the Mavericks would not get near full value for him. Dallas has been more successful offensively with other point guards playing alongside Doncic (like rookie Jalen Brunson). Apparently, Smith and Coach Rick Carlisle often are at odds as well. Still, I don't get this. In the new NBA, you can play a 6-foot-3 point guard like Smith off the ball. It seems like a no-brainer that the Orlando Magic should deal for Smith as they seemingly have been looking for a point guard since Penny Hardaway. The trade deadline is Feb. 7, and it seems as if Smith Jr. will be the biggest name to go because there are so few sellers.
Kings at Raptors ( -11, 228.5)
Sacramento was in Brooklyn on Monday, but at least it was an afternoon MLK Day game and not a long trip to Toronto. The Kings are 3-6 in the second of a B2B this season. The Raptors won their second in a row Saturday, 119-90 over Memphis. Danny Green set a franchise record with seven three-pointers in the third quarter. The Raptors torched the Grizz in that quarter 45-14, the highest-scoring third quarter in team history. Kawhi Leonard missed his second straight game for rest. He could sit here with Toronto playing again Wednesday. The Raptors have won the past three in this series, including 114-105 in Sacramento on Nov. 7. Leonard scored a game-high 25 points to go with 11 rebounds.
Key trends: The Kings are 0-7 against the spread in their past seven in the second of a back-to-back. The "over/under" is 7-3 in the Raptors' past 10.
Early lean: Raptors and over.
Trail Blazers at Thunder (-5, 228.5)
NBA TV game. Oklahoma City had a 12:30 ET tip at the Knicks on Monday, and Portland was in Utah at night so big advantage Thunder - which beat the Knicks by 18 behind 31 points from Paul George. Neither of these teams generally rest guys in the second of a back-to-back. OKC took the first meeting vs. Portland on Jan. 4, 111-109. Damian Lillard missed a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left. He led the Blazers with 23 points. George had 37 and Russell Westbrook 31 points, nine boards and seven assists.
Key trends: The Blazers are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Thunder and under.
Clippers at Mavericks (TBA)
Dallas was in Milwaukee on Monday again without Smith. However, he will rejoin the team for this one as it sounds like the club will give it one more chance - or at least get him on the court to better showcase Smith for a trade. Carlisle acknowledged over the weekend that "business stuff" has kept Smith from the team, and Smith has made it clear he wants a fresh start elsewhere. He's not happy being overshadowed by Doncic. When those two share the court, the Mavs are scoring only 100.9 points per 100 possessions, which would rank last in the league. The Clippers ended a five-game skid with a 103-95 victory in San Antonio on Sunday. Tobias Harris had 27 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari were both out injured.
Key trends: The Clippers are 2-5-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 8-3 in the previous 11 in Dallas.
Early lean: Wait on Williams.
Timberwolves at Suns (TBA)
Three former No. 1 overall picks in this one in Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins (shouldn't have gone first in retrospect) and Karl-Anthony Towns (should have), and the Suns' Deandre Ayton (going to be good, but Doncic perhaps should have gone first). That's if Ayton plays. He didn't Sunday in a 116-114 loss at Minnesota, but it might have been simply because it was the second of a back-to-back. It was called an ankle injury, but Ayton was in the starting lineup on the team's game notes ahead of time so it's clearly not serious. Derrick Rose hit the winning shot with 0.6 seconds left and had 29 second-half points. With no Ayton in the middle, Towns dominated with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-1-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over has hit in eight straight Minnesota road games.
Early lean: Wait on Ayton.
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