Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
A disastrous season for the Chicago Bulls franchise just got worse as rookie first-round pick Wendell Carter Jr. had thumb surgery and will miss 8-12 weeks - so, essentially the rest of the season. There's simply no reason for the Bulls to rush the former Duke star back. Carter probably won't be a star in the league but looks like he will be a good player as he averaged 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 25.2 minutes per game. He was about the only competent defensive player the team had - so consider starting to hammer the over in all Bulls games. This could be a benefit in the long run as the Bulls are better off losing as much as possible and landing either the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft and a chance at two other Duke one-and-dones: Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett. Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez will soak up most of Carter's minutes, although Lopez is going to be either traded or bought out here within the next few weeks.
Raptors at Pacers (TBA)
Toronto hosted Sacramento on Tuesday, so I'd venture to guess Kawhi Leonard and/our Kyle Lowry sit this out if they played in that one. Sounds like Kawhi wasn't playing Tuesday. Indiana won its second in a row on Sunday, 120-95 over Charlotte. Victor Oladipo had been slumping a bit but had 21 points. The Pacers are 16 games above .500 for the first time since the end of 2013-14. Last meeting of season between these teams, with Toronto winning both at home. Indiana has lost five straight and 14 of the last 17 regular-season games against the Raptors.
Key trends: The Raptors are 1-4 against the spread in their past five at Indiana. The "over/under" has gone under in past eight there.
Early lean: Wait on Kawhi.
Cavaliers at Celtics (-18, 217)
Cleveland lost its fourth straight, all by double digits, on Monday vs. nearly-as-bad Chicago, 104-88. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 18 points but somehow managed as many assists as I had. Tristan Thompson missed his third straight game because of a sore left foot. The Celtics won their fourth in a row Monday, 107-99 over Miami. Kyrie Irving had 26 points, 10 assists and a stunning eight steals, the first Celtic with at least those numbers since Larry Legend. The C's have won nine straight at home. Boston beat the visiting Cavs 128-95 in the first meeting on Nov. 30. Irving had 29 points against his former team.
Key trends: The home team has covered seven of past eight in the series. The under is 4-1 in the previous five in Boston.
Early lean: I'll always take that many points.
Magic at Nets (TBA)
The Magic were 122-103 winners in Atlanta on Monday to snap a three-game skid. Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic each had 29 points. Aaron Gordon (sore lower back) missed his second straight game but says he plans to play here. The Nets continue to surprise and won their fourth consecutive Monday, 123-94 over the Kings. D'Angelo Russell, who is really breaking out, had 31 points and eight assists. The Nets have won a season-best six straight at home. These teams just met Friday for first time and Nets won 117-115 in Orlando. Russell scored 40 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 27.1 seconds left, as Brooklyn overcame a 21-point deficit.
Key trends: The Magic have failed to cover the past five in the series. The over is 6-2-1 in the previous nine.
Early lean: Wait on Gordon.
Clippers at Heat (TBA)
Los Angeles was in Dallas on Tuesday with Lou Williams probable after missing the past two. The Heat slipped back under .400 with Monday's eight-point loss in Boston in a game that wasn't that close. Derrick Jones Jr. and Dion Waiters led the Heat with 18 points apiece. It was Coach Erik Spoelstra's 849th game, tying him with Pat Riley for most in franchise history. Miami won in L.A. on Dec. 8, 121-98. The Heat are on a three-game winning streak in series.
Key trends: The Heat are 9-3 ATS in their past 12 vs. the West. The under has hit in eight straight between these clubs.
Early lean: Wait on Williams.
Rockets at Knicks (+6.5, 226)
The Rockets were blasted in Philly on Monday by 28 as James Harden got no help; he had 37 points and the rest of the starters a laughable 14. Houston signed Kenneth Faried before the game after he was waived by the Nets on Saturday and also finally traded Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks lost a sixth straight Monday, 127-109 to the Thunder. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 23 points. New York's last home win was Dec. 1. Houston has won 24 of the past 26 meetings vs. New York, including eight straight at the Garden.
Key trends: The Rockets are 0-5 ATS in their past five road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The over is 10-4 in the Knicks' past 14 vs. the West.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Spurs at 76ers (TBA)
First ESPN game. The Spurs had a two-game run stopped in an eight-point home loss to the Clippers on Sunday. LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and 14 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan had just eight points and hasn't hit 20 in his past six. Philly blew out the visiting Rockets on Monday behind 32 points and 14 rebounds from Joel Embiid, who was questionable Jimmy Butler sat out with a sore wrist. San Antonio beat Philadelphia 123-96 on Dec. 17. The Spurs outscored the 76ers 31-17 in the second quarter as they began to pull away.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 10-3 in Philly's previous 13 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Wait on Butler.
Hawks at Bulls (-4, 220.5)
Atlanta was a 19-point home loser to Orlando on Monday. Dewayne Dedmon led Atlanta with 24 points. Good-looking rookie Kevin Huerter (sore neck) sat out. The Bulls, who have acquired Carmelo Anthony but will never suit him up, snapped a 10-game skid Monday with a 16-point victory in Cleveland. Zach LaVine had 25 points as the Bulls never trailed. More than 25 percent of their season wins are vs. the Cavs. Chicago has won past five in this series, including 97-85 on Oct. 27.
Key trends: The Hawks are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings. The over is 7-2 in Chicago's past nine overall.
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Hornets at Grizzlies (-3, 210)
Charlotte's three-game winning streak ended in a 25-point loss at Indiana on Sunday. Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 23 points. Cody Zeller sat again with an injured hand. Memphis lost its sixth in a row Monday, 105-85 vs. New Orleans. Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 22 points after sitting out the previous game. First meeting of season, with Hornets having won past three overall and past three in Memphis.
Key trends: The Grizz are 1-8 ATS in their past nine at home. The under is 4-1-1 in the Hornets' past six.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Pistons at Pelicans (TBA)
The Pelicans aren't usually very good without Anthony Davis, but there were 20-point winners without him Monday in Memphis. Davis is expected to miss a week or two with a left index finger sprain. Jahlil Okafor had one of the best games of his career in starting for Davis with 20 points and 10 rebounds. I really thought that guy would be a good pro. It was Okafor's first double-double since Feb. 25, 2017. Detroit was a 14-point loser in D.C. on Monday without Andre Drummond as he's in the concussion protocol and unlikely here. New Orleans has won 12 of past 13 in series, including nine straight in the Big Easy. The Pels prevailed 116-108 in Detroit on Dec. 9.
Key trends: The Pistons are 3-10 ATS in the past 13 meetings. The under is 6-2 in the Pels' past eight at home.
Early lean: Wait on Drummond.
Nuggets at Jazz (-3, 215)
Second ESPN game. The Nuggets won their second in a row by blowout, 124-102 vs. Cleveland on Saturday. Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in his sixth triple-double this season. Juancho Hernangomez missed the game with an abdominal strain. Utah's six-game winning streak was snapped in a 109-104 home upset loss to Portland. Donovan Mitchell had 36 but got little help. Ricky Rubio returned from injury but was limited to 14 minutes off the bench. Utah lost big in Denver on Nov. 3 but has won past seven at home in series.
Key trends: The home team has covered nine straight in series. The under is 7-1 in the previous eight in Utah.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please on any of our top NBA handicappers. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . Also, for a limited time only get three top NBA handicappers for the price of one! Click Here . Get free NBA picks today at Doc's Sports basketball predictions page.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's NBA Picks
Get all of Today's Guaranteed Expert NBA Picks