Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, March 26, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
The marquee matchup of Tuesday night is clearly Rockets at Bucks as the two MVP betting favorites in Houston's James Harden and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo face off for the final time this season (not impossible they meet in the NBA Finals). Well, that's if both play. Harden never sits out unless he's injured, but the Bucks have been resting the Freak occasional games of late. I'd presume he'd demand to be out there for this one. Barring Harden going berserk for the next few weeks, it appears he will come up short of a second straight MVP as he's currently priced at +140 with the Freak at -200 (odds vary slightly by book). The Bucks have had three NBA MVP winners in their history, and they were all Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (one while named Lew Alcindor). Doubtful this will be the last one Antetokounmpo wins.
Spurs at Hornets (+3.5, 220)
The Spurs snapped a two-game slide with a 115-96 upset in Boston on Sunday. LaMarcus Aldridge had 48 points and 13 rebounds. It was Aldridge's seventh career 40-point game. The Hornets won a third straight Sunday, 115-114 in Toronto on Jeremy Lin's half-court bank-shot buzzer-beater. It was the second-longest game-winning buzzer-beater in the NBA in the past 20 seasons. Tony Parker was out for personal reasons. Cody Zeller (left knee) missed his seventh straight game, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist his third in a row and Nicolas Batum (illness) his second straight. San Antonio was upset by the Hornets in Parker's return to San Antonio on Jan. 14, 108-93. The Spurs have won their past two in Charlotte, though.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of the past 10.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Celtics at Cavaliers (TBA)
The puzzling Celtics lost a fourth in a row Sunday, 115-96 at home to the Spurs. The team had yet another players-only meeting after. Jayson Tatum (back contusion) and Al Horford (left knee soreness) were both out, but Gordon Hayward returned from a concussion. Cleveland dropped its second in a row Sunday, 127-105 in Milwaukee. Kevin Love had 20 points. Boston looks for the four-game season sweep, winning each of the first three by at least seven.
Key trends: The Celtics are 1-6 ATS in their past seven games. The over is 10-3 in the Cavs' past 11 on one day of rest.
Early lean: Wait on Celtics duo.
Magic at Heat (-5.5, 206)
Orlando hosted Philadelphia on Monday. The Heat were 113-108 winners in Washington on Saturday. Dwyane Wade had 20 points in his final game in D.C. Bam Adebayo had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Rodney McGruder (knee) sat out his third straight game, and Justise Winslow (thigh) missed his fourth. Orlando leads the season series 2-1 and has taken five of the past nine in Miami.
Key trends: The Magic are 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 9-4 in the previous 13.
Early lean: Heat and over.
Bulls at Raptors (-13.5, 222.5)
The Bulls have shut down both their 2018 first-round picks officially for the season, and reportedly are pondering doing the same with Otto Porter. Chicago had a two-game winning streak snapped in a 114-83 home blowout to Utah on Saturday. Porter missed that one with a strained rotator cuff as did leading scorer Zach LaVine (bruised thigh). Wouldn't shock anyone if LaVine is done too, but we also thought that last week and he played a few times. Toronto lost its second straight Sunday, 115-114 to Charlotte on the Hornets' miracle at the buzzer. The Raptors did finally have everyone healthy and available for the first time since trading for Marc Gasol. Toronto has won seven straight games vs. Chicago.
Key trends: The road team has covered five straight in the series. The over is 6-1 in the previous seven in Toronto.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Rockets at Bucks (-3.5, 227)
First of a TNT doubleheader. The Rockets won a second straight Sunday, 113-90 over New Orleans. Harden had 28 points in less than 30 minutes. Monitor the status of Eric Gordon as he left with an apparent ankle problem but did return. Milwaukee blew out Cleveland on Sunday and inched that much closer to clinching the NBA's best overall record. Antetokounmpo is dealing with a bit of an ankle but had 26 points and 10 rebounds. The Bucks were 116-109 winners in Houston on Jan. 9 behind 27 points and 21 rebounds from the Freak. Harden had 42 points and 11 rebounds, but Chris Paul was out. The Bucks haven't won a season series since taking the only meeting in 2011-12.
Key trends: The Bucks have covered six straight on Tuesday. The under is 10-1 in the Rockets' past 11 on one day of rest.
Early lean: Bucks (if Freak plays) and under.
Clippers at Timberwolves (+2, 231.5)
The Clippers won their fifth in a row Sunday, 124-113 at the Knicks. Danilo Gallinari had 26 points, his career-best ninth straight game with at least 20. Landry Shamet limped off early in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. The Wolves snapped a five-game slide with a 112-99 victory in Memphis on Saturday. Karl-Anthony Towns had 33 points and 23 rebounds. These teams have split two meetings, with Minnesota winning four straight at home.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five in Minnesota.
Early lean: Wolves and over.
Hawks at Pelicans (-1, 240)
The Hawks won their second in a row Saturday, upsetting the 76ers 129-127. Trae Young had 32 points, including the last-second winner. He added 11 assists. That's five games this season with at least 30 points and 10 assists. Young is tied with Stephen Curry and Michael Jordan for the second-highest total of those games among rookies. The Pelicans lost for the eighth time in nine games Sunday, 113-90 to Houston. Anthony Davis had 12 points and 10 rebounds in just less than 21 minutes. Atlanta was a 128-116 winner over New Orleans on March 10.
Key trends: The Pels are 1-8 ATS in their past nine. The over is 5-0 in Atlanta's past five after a win.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Kings at Mavericks (TBA)
The Kings had a two-game winning streak snapped in a 111-106 defeat at the Lakers on Sunday. Marvin Bagley III had 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Kings, who are just about eliminated from playoff contention. Harry Giles III missed his second straight game because of a thigh contusion but might play here. The Mavs were surprise 126-91 winners at Golden State on Saturday. Dirk Nowitzki had a season-high 21 points and Luka Doncic another triple-double. Sacramento looks for the three-game season sweep of Dallas. The Kings have won their past three in Big D.
Key trends: The Kings are 10-3 ATS in the past 13 meetings. The under is 6-2 in the Mavs' past eight vs. the West.
Early lean: TBA because Doncic is questionable with a sore knee. Take Kings if he's out.
Pistons at Nuggets (-7, 211.5)
The Pistons complete a five-game trip here, on which they are 1-3 following a 121-114 loss at Golden State on Sunday. Blake Griffin had 24 points and eight assists to lead Detroit. No other starter had more than 12 points. The Nuggets' six-game winning streak ended in a 124-88 blowout at Indiana on Sunday to complete a four-game trip. Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Detroit beat the Nuggets on Feb. 4 by 26 but has dropped eight of its past nine in Denver.
Key trends: The underdog has covered four straight in the series. The under is 6-1 in the Nuggets' past seven at home.
Early lean: Nuggets and under.
Wizards at Lakers (-1.5, 232.5)
Second TNT game. The Wizards lost their fourth in a row Saturday, 113-108 to Miami. Jeff Green led the Wiz with 25 points. Trevor Ariza (groin) missed a second straight game. The Lakers really tried to get him before the Suns traded Ariza to Washington early this season. L.A. snapped a five-game skid with a 111-106 win over the Kings on Sunday. LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his eighth triple-double of the season and Kyle Kuzma had 29 points. Washington routed the Lakers on Dec. 16 behind a big game from John Wall (out for season).
Key trends: The Lakers are 2-10 ATS in their past 12. The over is 10-2 in Washington's past 12 road games.
Early lean: Lakers (as long as LeBron plays) and over.
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