Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, April 17, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Well, dear readers, I guess I lied. Last week when Lakers team president Magic Johnson quit, I said that would be the last time I had to talk about the Lakers this season. Alas, Bovada has come up with a prop regarding that opening. Not sure I've ever seen a prop on who is some club's next president. Former Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who obviously knows LeBron James well, is the +175 favorite. Kobe Bryant is second at +200, and I can't imagine Jeanie Buss would be that silly. Jerry West is +350, but good luck getting the Clippers to let him go from his advisory role. Jeanie's former significant other, Phil Jackson is +1000. Don't see that happening. Pat Riley is +900 to leave Miami. Masai Ujiri is +1000 to leave Toronto. And, in a bit of humor, LaVar Ball is +100000. Here's a look at three Game 2s in the playoffs on Wednesday.
No. 5 Pacers at No. 4 Celtics (-7.5, 202.5)
A 7 p.m. ET tip from Beantown. Boston won Game 1 at home on Sunday, 84-74. The Pacers were atrocious in the third quarter, outscored 26-8 - fewest in any quarter in their playoff history. They weren't outscored in any other quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic was the lone Pacers starter in double figures with 12 points. Myles Turner took just six shots and finished with five points. Tyreke Evans seven. The Pacers shot 33.3 percent overall and 6-for-27 from deep. Shoot, they even missed nine of 21 free throws. Indiana's regular-season low in points was 89. It was the franchise's lowest point total in the playoffs since April 27, 2013, in Atlanta.
Boston didn't exactly light things up, either, hitting 36.4 percent from the field and turning it over 20 times. Over the past 35 years, teams that shot that poorly and committed that many turnovers had gone a combined 3-19 in playoff games prior to Sunday. Kyrie Irving was 6-for-17 for 20 points, while Marcus Morris added 20 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Al Horford posted a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double. Boston's 77.1 defensive rating was the second-best playoff defensive rating in franchise history.
Key trends: The Pacers are 4-13 against the spread in their past 17 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The Celtics are 10-2 ATS in their past 12 conference quarterfinal games. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of Indiana's previous 12 on the road.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
No. 8 Pistons at No. 1 Bucks (-15.5, 211)
We didn't think the Pistons would put up much of a fight in Game 1 in Milwaukee, and without an injured Blake Griffin (knee) they didn't in losing 121-86. It was over after one quarter with the Bucks up 20. Andre Drummond was ejected in the third quarter for pushing Giannis Antetokounmpo to the ground in a totally bush-league move. Probably won't result in a suspension, though. Drummond's 12 points tied for the most by any Pistons starter. It sounds as if Griffin could miss this entire series. It's going to be a sweep. Thon Maker, a former Buck, started in his place and was 2-for-10 for four points in 22 minutes.
The Freak did his thing in Game 1 with 24 points and 17 rebounds and only had to play 24 minutes - no Bucks starter played more than 25 because there was simply no need. Nikola Mirotic returned to action on Sunday from a fractured thumb and made 2-of-8 shots for four points. Coach Mike Budenholzer said he would use Mirotic off the bench instead of starting and he did. Budenholzer likes how Sterling Brown (11 points, seven assists) is playing in the first group. Tony Snell (ankle) missed the opener and probably won't play on Wednesday.
Key trends: The Pistons have covered five straight playing on two days of rest. The Bucks are 1-3-1 ATS in their past five after a win. The under is 6-2-1 in the previous nine meetings.
Early lean: I suppose Pistons can only lose by 12 or so. Take the points. Go under.
No. 5 Jazz at No. 4 Rockets (-6.5, 212.5)
Interesting technique by the Jazz in their Game 1 122-90 loss in Houston. They basically forced James Harden to his right on every possession; of course, Harden is a southpaw. Didn't really work as Harden had 29 points and 10 assists in the blowout. He was one of seven players to score in double figures. Clint Capela played through a respiratory issue and had 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Rockets shot 50.5 percent against one of the NBA's top defensive teams. It was Houston's 13th win this season by at least 20 points.
Utah simply isn't good enough offensively to win a track meet in this series. The Jazz hit just 39 percent overall (7-for-27 from deep) with 19 turnovers. Leading scorer Donovan Mitchell was hounded by Eric Gordon most of the night and was 7-for-18 shooting with five turnovers and no assists. Rudy Gobert had a nice line of 22 points and 12 boards but was minus-23. The bench was terrible, shooting less than 16 percent combined for only 18 points. Kyle Korver tried to play through an injury but didn't make a shot from the field in 10 minutes.
Key trends: The Rockets are 6-0-1 ATS in their past seven at home. The under is 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
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