Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
How unique of a player is Philadelphia's Ben Simmons? Amazing talent, but you generally have to be able to shoot a jumper to play in the NBA. And in the modern NBA, you better be able to hit a three-pointer. Yet Simmons can't to save his life and doesn't even try to. In Sunday's win over the Lakers, Simmons attempted just his third three-pointer of the season! The first two came at the end of a quarter or shot clock. Shoot, Steph Curry attempts three from deep in about the span of a game minute at times. Simmons was 0-for-11 from deep last season in winning Rookie of the Year. If Simmons' All-Star 7-foot teammate Joel Embiid can hit from deep, there's no reason for Simmons not to at least try 1-2 per game. The team is pushing him to do so as just the threat would make the Sixers that much better. Defenses are going to pack it in the paint more in the postseason and Simmons won't find it as easy to get to the basket. Still think shaky perimeter shooting, even with the addition of Tobias Harris, might be Philly's downfall in the East playoffs.
Nets at Cavaliers (+5.5, 220.5)
The Nets lost for the fifth time in six games Monday, 127-125 in Toronto. That banged-up club needs the break badly. D'Angelo Russell scored 28 points and had a career-high 14 assists but missed the last shot of the game. DeMarre Carroll (left knee) was not available but should play here. The Cavs snapped a four-game skid by beating the even-worse Knicks on Monday, 107-104. Kevin Love had 14 points and nine rebounds in his second game since returning from foot surgery. He will play here but remain limited. These teams have split two meetings, each losing at home.
Key trends: The underdog is 7-1 against the spread in the past eight meetings. The over is 8-3 in the Nets' past 11 on the road.
Early lean: Cavs and over.
Bucks at Pacers (+5, 218.5)
Milwaukee was upset Saturday at home by the Magic without the Greek Freak, but he was back on Monday in a 112-99 win in Chicago, the Bucks' sixth straight road win. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and had 17 rebounds in his 39th double-double. Nikola Mirotic, acquired from New Orleans in a three-team trade last Thursday, sat out a second game with the Bucks as he recovers from a right calf strain. He surely won't play here. The Pacers lost their first four games following the Victor Oladipo injury but won their sixth straight Monday, 99-90 over Charlotte. Wesley Matthews made his Indiana debut and hit a key three-pointer in the fourth and had eight points and five rebounds in 30 minutes. These teams have split two meetings, each winning at home. Indiana has taken past four in Indianapolis.
Key trends: The Bucks have failed to cover four straight at Indiana. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Pistons at Celtics (TBA)
Boston was in Philadelphia on Tuesday with Kyrie Irving out - I'd imagine they just sit him here as well ahead of the All-Star break. Detroit won its fourth straight on Monday, 121-112 over Washington. Andrew Drummond had 32 points and 17 rebounds, and Blake Griffin had 31 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Wayne Ellington made his Pistons debut but wasn't a factor. Last meeting between these clubs with Boston leading 2-1. The Pistons have won at least one game in Boston each of the last five seasons.
Key trends: The Pistons has covered their past four in Boston. The over is 4-0 in those four.
Early lean: TBA surely for Irving.
76ers at Knicks (+10, 220)
Philadelphia hosted Boston on Tuesday; might Embiid get this one off? Philly doesn't need him to beat the atrocious Knicks, and Embiid is a bit banged up. New York lost its franchise-record 17th straight game on Monday, 107-104 in Cleveland. Luke Kornet missed a wide-open 3 with 21 seconds remaining that would have put the Knicks ahead. Kadeem Allen scored a career-high 25 points for the Knicks. I've honestly never heard of that guy. The 76ers look for the four-game sweep of the Knicks.
Key trends: The home team is covered the past six in the series. The under is 7-0 in the Knicks' past seven at home.
Early lean: Knicks and under.
Wizards at Raptors (-12, 233)
The Wizards had a two-game run snapped in a 121-112 loss in Detroit on Monday. Bradley Beal had 32 points and 10 assists for the Wizards. Starting point guard Tomas Satoransky was out for personal reasons. The Raptors won their fifth in a row Monday, 127-125 over Brooklyn as Kawhi Leonard hit the winning shot with under five seconds left. He finished with 30 points. Toronto reportedly is going to add former Hawks point guard Jeremy Lin through the buyout market, but not clear if all the paperwork, etc., will be ready for Lin to debut here. Toronto tries for the four-game sweep of Washington.
Key trends: The Wizards have failed to cover five in a row in Toronto. The under is 5-1 in the Raptors' past six at home.
Early lean: Raptors and under.
Grizzlies at Bulls (-2.5, 205)
The most "tanktastic" game of Wednesday. Memphis hosted San Antonio on Tuesday. Chicago lost its second in a row Monday, 112-99 to the Bucks. Zach LaVine finished with 27 points and Lauri Markkanen had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Markkanen has really been putting up numbers of late and at least gives some hope for the future. It's the first meeting between these clubs with the Bulls sweeping in 2017-18.
Key trends: The Grizz are 2-10 ATS in their past 12 in the second of a B2B. The over is 7-2 in the Bulls' past nine vs. the West.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Rockets at Timberwolves (TBA)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. Houston was a 16-point home winner over Dallas on Monday. James Harden's 30-point streak almost ended, but he got a three-pointer late to reach 31 and extend the streak to 30 straight games. He's now just one game from tying Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak of 30-point games in NBA history. The Wolves snapped a four-game slide with a 130-120 home win over the Clippers on Monday. Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which was without Andrew Wiggins (illness). Minnesota ended a six-game losing streak in series with 103-91 victory in the Twin Cities on Dec. 3.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 5-1 in the previous six in Minnesota.
Early lean: Opened as TBA because Harden has a minor shoulder injury, but he never sits and Coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't expect him to. I do like the Wolves regardless (don't care if Wiggins sits).
Heat at Mavericks (pick'em, 206)
The Heat nearly won at Golden State on Sunday but were routed Monday in Denver. Miami did look gassed in scoring 38 second-half points and shooting 36 percent from the field. No player had more than 15 points. Dallas was a 16-point loser in Houston in the second of a B2B on Monday. Luka Doncic had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but no one else had more than 13 points. First meeting between teams. Miami, the only team Dallas has yet to face, swept last year.
Key trends: The Heat are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 7-1 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Mavs and under.
Kings at Nuggets (-9.5, 228.5)
The Kings finished a six-game homestand at 5-1 with a 117-104 win over Phoenix on Sunday. Marvin Bagley III had a career-high 32 points. It's the fastest the Kings have reached 30 wins since 2004-05. The Nuggets snapped a three-game slide with an easy home win over Miami on Monday. Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, which improved to 18-1 when holding opponents under 100 points. Denver is 2-0 vs. Sacramento this season, both high scoring.
Key trends: The Kings are 1-7 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Warriors at Trail Blazers (+5.5, 235)
Second ESPN game, with Golden State having hosted Utah on Tuesday. Wouldn't shock me to see Steve Kerr rest a key guy or two here. Portland lost its second in a row on Monday, 120-111 in Oklahoma City. Damian Lillard scored 31 points, but CJ McCollum had just 13 on 5-for-20 shooting. Last meeting, with Warriors leading 2-1.
Key trends: The Warriors have failed to cover five straight in the second of a B2B. The over is 7-0-1 in the Blazers' past eight at home.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Suns at Clippers (TBA)
The Suns lost their 14th in a row Sunday, 117-104 in Sacramento. Devin Booker had 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists in his return from a two-game injury absence for Phoenix. The Clippers were 10-point losers in Minnesota on Monday to conclude a six-game trip at 3-3. Lou Williams scored a season-high 45 points off the bench for L.A. The Clippers reserves accounted for an incredible 89 points, the most in the NBA since the Kansas City Kings scored 90 against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 1, 1982. L.A. is on an 11-game winning streak in this series, the longest in franchise history vs. Phoenix. Clips also have taken the past 10 at home.
Key trends: The Suns have failed to cover their past six at Clippers. The under is 4-0 in the previous four there.
Early lean: Guessing this is TBA for Booker, who did leave for a bit Monday grabbing his knee but returned. That guy is made out of paper.
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