Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, March 19, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
If there's ever going to be a female head coach in the NBA, and there surely will be, most thought it would be Becky Hammon with San Antonio. In 2014, she was hired as an assistant coach for the Spurs, becoming the second female coach in NBA history. Hammon also became the first-ever head coach in the Summer League in 2015. She has interviewed for at least one head coaching gig in the NBA, and some thought that when Gregg Popovich retires, he would hand it over to Hammon. However, the Minnesota Timberwolves might beat Popovich (not likely to retire after this season) in making history. The Wolves fired Tom Thibodeau earlier this season and replaced him on an interim basis with Ryan Saunders. The team has basically run in place under Saunders, son of former Wolves coach Flip Saunders, so it's hard to know if he gets the full-time gig. There's some scuttlebutt that team owner Glen Taylor is ready to make a splash - not by hiring a big-name guy but instead Cheryl Reeve, who has won four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx and has admitted she would listen to NBA offers. Keep an eye on that this offseason.
76ers at Hornets (-1, 224.5)
Philly won easily one of the most entertaining games of the season on Sunday, 130-125 in Milwaukee, the Sixers' fourth straight victory. Joel Embiid had 40 points and 15 rebounds. It was the fifth time this season Embiid scored 40 or more points. Jimmy Butler added 27 points. Charlotte was blown out in Miami on Sunday, 93-75. Kemba Walker had just 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting. Three other starters managed just two points each. Cody Zeller (left knee soreness) did not play. Philly goes for the four-game season sweep - first three all very close -- of Charlotte and has won nine straight in the series.
Key trends: The road team is 4-0 against the spread in the past four meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Philly's past 10 on the road.
Early lean: Sixers and under.
Rockets at Hawks (+7.5, 232)
Old school point guard (Chris Paul) vs. new school (Trae Young). Completely different players. Houston goes for the season sweep as it beat the Hawks 119-111 on Feb. 25. That was the night Harden's 32-game streak of at least 30 points ended as he had 28 and was 0-for-10 from deep. Young was great with 36 points and eight assists. Houston enters on a two-game winning streak, taking out Minnesota on Sunday, 117-102. Paul had 25 points and tied a career high with six three-pointers. Harden had 20 points and 10 assists. Atlanta dropped its second in a row Sunday, 101-91 in Orlando. Young led the Hawks with 20 points. John Collins was in foul trouble and would foul out.
Key trends: The Hawks are 7-1 ATS in their past eight vs. the West. The under is 7-1 in the Rockets' past eight.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
Lakers at Bucks (-13, 236)
The Bucks were upset at home by Philadelphia on Sunday, 130-125, despite a career-high 52 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who also had 16 rebounds and seven assists and may have clinched hist first MVP Award. Nikola Mirotic started for Malcolm Brogdon, who is out 6-8 weeks with a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot. LeBron James might have hit rock bottom on Sunday in a 124-123 loss at the Knicks. The Lakers blew an 11-point lead with just under four minutes left, and James had his potential winning shot in the final seconds blocked by scrub Mario Hezonja. Milwaukee won in L.A. on March 1, 131-120 - that loss basically started the Lakers' descent into playoff irrelevancy. The Greek Freak had 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Eric Bledsoe had 31 points. LeBron and Brandon Ingram (now done for season) each had 31 points.
Key trends: The Lakers are 1-8 ATS in their past nine on the road. The over is 7-1 in the Bucks' previous eight vs. the West.
Early lean: Lakers and over.
Warriors at Timberwolves (TBA)
The Warriors were in San Antonio on Monday. Kevin Durant was expected to return after missing two games with a sprained ankle. DeMarcus Cousins (right ankle) was questionable, and he's scheduled for an MRI. It's not though to be anything serious. The Wolves dropped their third in a row Sunday, 117-102 in Houston. Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose both missed their third straight game with an injury. Golden State has won six straight vs. Minnesota, including both this season (scoring exactly 116 points in each).
Key trends: The Warriors have failed to cover their past four at Minnesota. The over is 13-5 in the Wolves' past 18 overall.
Early lean: Wait on Durant, Cousins.
Nets at Kings (-3.5, 231.5)
Two of the NBA's most improved teams. The Nets look for the sweep as they beat the Kings 123-94 on Jan. 21 behind 31 points and eight assists from D'Angelo Russell. Brooklyn outscored Sacramento 30-9 in the fourth. The Nets enter on a three-game losing streak to open this seven-game trip. It was 119-116 at the Clippers on Sunday on a buzzer-beater. That the Nets nearly forced OT was almost a miracle as they were down 10 with 1:02 left. D'Angelo Russell led the Nets with 32 points and 10 assists. The Kings snapped a three-game skid with a 129-102 win over Chicago on Sunday. Marvin Bagley III had 21 points and nine rebounds.
Key trends: The Kings are 12-3-1 ATS in their past 16 at home. The under is 7-1 in the Nets' previous eight.
Early lean: Kings and under.
Pacers at Clippers (-5, 219)
Indiana visited Portland on Monday. L.A. was a 119-116 winner over the Nets on Sunday despite blowing a 10-point lead in the final minute. Lou Williams hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. He had 25 points. The victory was Doc Rivers' 300th as Clippers coach, making him the seventh coach in NBA history with 300 or more regular-season wins with two or more teams (also Celtics). The Pacers are looking to sweep the regular-season series over the Clippers for the third straight year. They were 116-92 winners over on Feb. 7. Bojan Bogdanovic had 29 points and seven rebounds. The Pacers scored 13 straight during a 17-2 run late in the second quarter to pull away.
Key trends: The Pacers have covered six straight at the Clippers. The over is 8-2-1 in L.A.'s previous 11 at home.
Early lean: Clippers and over.
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