Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, March 12, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
You ever notice how the foreign-born NBA stars never whine like little b*tches and demand a trade from the teams that drafted them a la Anthony Davis with the Pelicans? Maybe the guys from overseas simply appreciate playing in the best league in the world and didn't grow up entitled by high school and college coaches and those clowns on the AAU circuit. We mention this because the Bucks visit the Pelicans on Tuesday and it's a matchup of Top 5 talents in the league in Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo and New Orleans' Davis. The Greek Freak's reputation around the NBA and by fans couldn't be better - the guy is always smiling and seems to play with joy. He has made the small-market Bucks must-see TV and a true contender. Did Dirk Nowitzki ever demand to leave Dallas? Then you have Davis, whose reputation has taken a major hit. OK, it sucks for him that the Pelicans aren't close to a title, but aren't you good enough to stick around and make that happen? If you are wondering, the Freak's contract is up after the 2020-21 season, and of course the other 29 teams in the league are praying he gets to free agency. Here's hoping he stays a Buck for life. Not everyone wants to move to Los Angeles (hugely overrated town anyways).
Knicks at Pacers (-11.5, 212.5)
New York lost a sixth straight Sunday, 103-92 at Minnesota. Damyean Dotson led New York with 26 points. Mitchell Robinson had eight points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks. He's looking like a second-round steal. The Pacers lost their second in a row Sunday, 106-89 at Philadelphia. Tyreke Evans did not play because of an illness. Indiana is looking to sweep the regular-season series over the Knicks for the third time in the last five seasons. The Pacers have taken the past three at home in the series.
Key trends: The Knicks are 1-4 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" is 4-1 in those.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Cavaliers at 76ers (TBA)
Cleveland hosted Toronto on Monday. Philadelphia welcomed back Joel Embiid on Sunday - team went 4-4 without him - and thumped the Pacers, 106-89. Embiid had 33 points and 12 rebounds. That win was big as it gave Philly the season series, which could be a tiebreaker for the East's No. 3 seed. These teams have split two meetings, each winning on the road and back in 2018.
Key trends: The Cavs are 1-4 ATS in their past five in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 5-1 in Philly's past six at home.
Early lean: Guessing this is TBA because the Cavs play Monday and are likely to sit Kevin Love in one half of the B2B.
Lakers at Bulls (TBA)
The Lakers have shut down both Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball for the season - no surprise, it's tank time with the playoffs out of reach. Supposedly, LeBron James' minutes will be lessened, but I'm pretty sure he'll play however much he wants. L.A. lost its fifth straight Saturday, 120-107 to Boston. In 28 minutes, James had 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in his seventh triple-double for the Lakers. Kyle Kuzma sat with a sprained ankle. Chicago was swept in a home-and-home by Detroit over the weekend. Zach LaVine missed Sunday's with a right patellar tendon strain. LA won the first meeting with Chicago, 107-100 on Jan. 15. LeBron was out and Ball (19 points) still healthy. Jabari Parker came off the bench to lead Chicago with 18 points. He's long gone.
Key trends: The Lakers have failed to cover their past five on the road. The over is 8-2-1 in the Bulls' past 11 vs. the West.
Early lean: Wait on LaVine.
Bucks at Pelicans (+8.5, 237)
The Bucks were 121-114 losers at the Spurs on Sunday in the second of a back-to-back. They blew an early 15-point lead. Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 13 rebounds. The Pelicans lost their third straight Sunday, 128-116 in Atlanta. Frank Jackson and Julius Randle each scored 23 points for the Pelicans. Davis played just 21 minutes. Coach Alvin Gentry said guards Jrue Holiday (lower abdomen strain) and E'Twaun Moore (left quadriceps contusion) will miss "another eight or nine days." Milwaukee won the first meeting, 123-115 on Dec. 19. Antetokounmpo had 25 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Davis had 27 points and 11 rebounds despite tweaking an ankle in the first.
Key trends: The Bucks are 16-5 ATS in their past 21 after a loss. The over has hit in five straight meetings.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Spurs at Mavericks (TBA)
First of a TNT doubleheader. The Spurs won their fifth straight Sunday, 121-114 over Milwaukee. LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 15 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan added 28 points. Rudy Gay was out with an illness. Dallas lost its fifth in a row Sunday, 94-93 to Houston. Rookie Luka Doncic had 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for Dallas. Doncic left briefly after hearing a "pop" in his knee but did return. Obviously worth monitoring as the Mavs aren't going to risk anything with their young franchise player. San Antonio has won the first two meetings of this series, each by five points. Ten of the last 11 regular-season meetings between the Mavericks and Spurs have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The under has hit in five of the previous six in Dallas.
Early lean: Wait on Doncic.
Timberwolves at Nuggets (TBA)
Second TNT game. Minnesota won its second in a row Sunday, 103-92 over the Knicks. Taj Gibson scored a season-high 25 points, and Jeff Teague added 20 points and 10 assists. Karl-Anthony Towns missed the game with right knee inflammation, while Andrew Wiggins sat out with a thigh contusion. The Nuggets lost a big one Friday at Golden State, 122-105. Three Nuggets managed only single-digit points. Denver leads the season series 2-0, winning both on the road. Nine of the teams' past 11 meetings have been decided by six points or fewer.
Key trends: The Wolves have failed to cover four straight in the road. The under is 10-1 in the Nuggets' past 11 overall.
Early lean: Wait on Towns (less so Wiggins).
Trail Blazers at Clippers (+2.5, 232.5)
The Blazers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 127-120 victory over Phoenix on Saturday. CJ McCollum had 26 points, Seth Curry 22 and Damian Lillard 18 and nine assists. Rodney Hood left the game with right hip soreness. The Clippers hosted Boston on Monday looking to extend a four-game winning streak. Portland is 2-1 vs. the Clippers this season. Lillard has averaged 31.3 points in them.
Key trends: The Blazers are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-1 in those.
Early lean: Blazers and under.
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