Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
If you are visiting Doc's, then you probably are a big fan of Major League Baseball and the NHL. As am I. However, you won't really find me watching a regular-season game in those sports that either don't involve the club I am a fan of or bet on/against. The NBA is different that way. It's the most star-driven league we have in the USA, and it's why a game like Milwaukee at Houston is must-see TV on Wednesday even though I don't care about either. Of course, it features the two MVP favorites for this season in the Bucks' physically ridiculous Giannis Antetokounmpo and reigning MVP James Harden of the Rockets. The Greek Freak had been the MVP favorite for most of the season but is now the +200 second-favorite behind Harden (+175), who has gone totally bonkers since Chris Paul injured his hamstring. Barring a trip to the Finals (Bucks may get there but doubt Rockets can), Wednesday will be one of just three times they will share a court this season: The All-Star Game and March 26 in Milwaukee the others.
Pacers at Celtics ( -6.5, 212.5)
Indiana was in Cleveland on Tuesday. Boston, which is in the front end of a B2B, won a third straight Monday, 116-95 over Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving returned after missing two games with an eye injury and scored 17 points to lead eight players in double figures. Boston had a whopping 37 assists. The Pacers beat the visiting Celtics 102-101 on Nov. 3 for their third straight victory in the series. Last year, the teams split, with each winning both on the road (first two obviously in Indiana).
Key trends: The Pacers are 4-0 against the spread in the past four meetings. The "over/under" is 7-2 in Boston's past nine.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
76ers at Wizards (+2.5, 226)
These clubs played Tuesday in Philly - with Jimmy Butler set to return from illness but Ben Simmons questionable with the same -- and this already wraps up the season series. Washington has won eight in a row at home vs. Philadelphia and this is the only one in D.C. this season. That's the longest active home winning streak against an opponent for the Wizards.
Key trends: The Sixers are 2-5 ATS in their past seven in D.C. The over is 9-2 in Philly's past 11 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait to see whom Philly might sit here.
Hawks at Nets (-8.5, 227)
Atlanta was in Toronto on Tuesday. Brooklyn's three-game winning streak ended in a 116-95 loss in Boston on Monday. Rodions Kurucs led the Nets with 24 points. They had a season-high 25 turnovers in the second of a back-to-back. Brooklyn won first meeting with Atlanta, 144-127 on Dec. 16, and has taken three straight overall in the series.
Key trends: The Hawks are 1-7 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 5-2 in Brooklyn's past seven at home.
Early lean: Nets and over.
Bucks at Rockets (-1, 225.5)
First ESPN game. The Bucks concluded a five-game homestand at 4-1 with a 114-102 comeback win over Utah on Monday. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 30 points but did foul out. Thon Maker had a season-high 15 points off the bench. With D.J. Wilson out, Maker got some rare playing time. Milwaukee also had a 19-2 edge in fast-break points. The Rockets won for the 12 th time in 14 games Monday, 125-113 over Denver. Harden was constantly double-teamed and had "only" 32 points. Clint Capela had a career-high 31. Eric Gordon sat again (like Chris Paul) and won't play this week. Houston swept Milwaukee last year, with Harden averaging 28.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists and the Freak 29.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals. The Bucks haven't won a season series since taking the only meeting in 2011-12.
Key trends: The Rockets are 7-1 ATS in their past eight. The over is 10-4 in the Bucks' past 14 vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Spurs at Grizzlies (+3, 204)
San Antonio won its fifth in a row Monday, 119-107 in Detroit. DeMar DeRozan had 26 points and LaMarcus Aldridge 25. Rudy Gay sat with a wrist injury. It was the 1,221st win for Gregg Popovich, tying him with Jerry Sloan for third place, trailing only Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens. The Grizzlies lost their fifth consecutive Monday, 114-95 in New Orleans. Mike Conley had 22 points and 10 assists, but Marc Gasol just seven points. These teams have split two meetings this season in San Antonio. They just played Saturday and the Spurs rolled 108-88.
Key trends: The road team is 5-1-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 8-3 in the Grizzlies' past 11.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
Cavaliers at Pelicans (-13.5, 221.5)
Cleveland hosted Indiana on Tuesday. The Pelicans won for the third time in four games Monday, 114-95 vs. Memphis. Anthony Davis had 36 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. Frank Jackson had a career-high 17. Nikola Mirotic missed his 12th straight game because of a right ankle injury, but he's reportedly close. New Orleans has won eight in a row at home vs. the Cavs, including 133-98 last Saturday. The 35-point win marked the fifth-largest victory in franchise history, including the second-largest road victory.
Key trends: The home team is 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over has hit the past seven in New Orleans.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
Suns at Mavericks (TBA)
Phoenix hosted the Kings Tuesday with Devin Booker probably out. Dallas dropped its third in a row Monday, 107-97 vs. the Lakers. The Mavs had 67 points at the half and obviously only 30 after. It was the team's worst scoring half of the season. In an odd stat, J.J. Barea played his 800th game, becoming just the 11th undrafted player from a U.S. high school or college to play 800 games since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. The Suns have won seven straight and eight of the last nine regular-season meetings with the Mavericks. They won both this season by double digits at home.
Key trends: The Suns have covered seven in a row vs. Dallas. The under is 5-1 in the previous six in Big D.
Early lean: Like Mavs whether Booker plays or not - and he probably won't.
Magic at Jazz (-8.5, 206)
Orlando dropped a third in a row Monday, 115-95 in Sacramento as the team is clearly dragging on a long road trip that concludes here. The Magic shot just 36.8 percent and were outscored by 40 in the paint. The Jazz concluded a four-game trip at 2-2 with a 114-102 loss in Milwaukee on Monday. Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points and Rudy Gobert had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz. Ricky Rubio left in the first with a hamstring injury, so he probably misses some time. Orlando beat Utah in Mexico City in mid-December, 96-89. Jazz have won seven of the past 10 meetings in Salt Lake City.
Key trends: The Magic are 0-5 ATS in their past five vs. the West. The under is 9-3-1 in the Jazz's past 13.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Bulls at Trail Blazers (-9.5, 205.5)
Chicago lost its fourth in a row Sunday, 117-100 vs. Brooklyn. Zach LaVine had 27 points for Chicago and Bobby Portis scored 17 in 20 minutes off the bench after missing seven games with a sprained right ankle. Wayne Selden made his team debut after coming over from Memphis in the Justin Holiday trade, but Selden is just an end of bench guy. Portland beat the Knicks on Monday, 111-101, failing to cover at -11. Jusuf Nurkic had 20 points for his fourth straight game with 20 or more. Mo Harkless left with knee soreness, which has bothered him all season. Wouldn't be shocked if he's shut down. First meeting between these teams. Portland is on a three-game winning streak vs. Chicago.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-0 in Portland's past seven following a win.
Early lean: Blazers and under.
Pistons at Lakers (-1.5, 217.5)
Second ESPN game. Detroit lost 119-107 at home to the Spurs on Monday as it continues to sink. Blake Griffin had 34 points and Andre Drummond 19 and 14 boards. This is Griffin's first game back in Los Angeles since being dealt last January by the Clippers. The Lakers snapped a three-game skid with a 107-97 win in Dallas on Monday. Brandon Ingram had 29 points and Lonzo Ball 21. L.A. finished 3-0 vs. Dallas this season. These teams split last year. L.A. has won seven of the past eight at home.
Key trends: The Pistons are 1-7 ATS in their past eight at the Lakers. The under is 14-4-1 in L.A. previous 19 at home.
Early lean: Lakers and under.
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