Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, March 13, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Yet more proof that some of the best teams in the NBA are sleepwalking through the rest of the regular season and simply trying to get to the playoffs. Sunday night, the Warriors had all their starters healthy and were 17-point home favorites over the Phoenix Suns. So, naturally, the Suns pulled off the 115-111 upset. In the past 20 seasons, an NBA team that was at least a 17-point favorite, including playoffs, had been 85-1. That lone loss was, ironically, the Lakers upsetting the Warriors as a 17.5-point underdog on March 6, 2016. There's something making the social media rounds from that game, where it appears that Steve Kerr says late: "I'm so f*ucking tired of Draymond," referring of course to problem child Draymond Green. Kerr of course has denied saying that, but, again, I think this is all one big nothing. The Warriors know how to flip the switch when it matters. I do believe, though, this is the last year of their dynasty. Cracks are showing.
Magic at Wizards (TBA)
The Magic were 105-97 losers in Memphis on Sunday. Evan Fournier was ejected with two quick technicals in the third quarter, and Coach Steve Clifford got two techs late in the fourth, clearly trying to send a message to his team. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 26 points and 10 rebounds. The Wizards snapped a two-game slide with a 121-115 win over the Kings. Bradley Beal had 27 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Washington leads the season series 2-1 and has won 13 of the past 14 at home vs. Orlando.
Key trends: The Magic are 4-10-1 against the spread in their past 15 at Washington. The "over/under" is 5-0 in the previous five there.
Early lean: TBA for Aaron Gordon, who is questionable with sore ribs.
Nets at Thunder (TBA)
First ESPN game. The Nets won their fourth in a row Monday, crushing Detroit 103-75, ahead of a seven-game road trip. Spencer Dinwiddie scored 19 points to lead Brooklyn. The Thunder won in Utah on Monday, 98-89, although that's being overshadowed by Russell Westbrook's issues with a fan that's surely going to get him a huge fine (although now that fan's social media background is being dissected, and it's not hard to believe Westbrook's side of things in the wake of what's out there). Westbrook had 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. OKC won a wild one in Brooklyn on Dec. 5, 114-112, rallying from down 23 behind 47 points from Paul George. The Thunder have taken the past three at home as well.
Key trends: The Nets are 8-1 ATS in their past nine vs. the West. The under is 7-2 in the Thunder's past seven.
Early lean: Not sure why this is TBA, as I doubt what Westbrook did is suspension-worthy. But that's probably why.
Grizzlies at Hawks (-3, 224)
The Grizzlies' tanking job is failing right now on a three-game winning streak, all at home. They knocked off Orlando on Monday, 105-97. Mike Conley had 26 points, 14 in the fourth quarter, and Avery Bradley 21. It's the first time Memphis has won three in a row since mid-November. Atlanta snapped a three-game skid with a 128-116 win over New Orleans on Sunday. Rookie Kevin Huerter had 27 points. Trae Young was an ugly 2-for-14 for 10. Memphis beat Atlanta, 131-117, way back on Oct. 19. Garrett Temple had 30 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. 24. The Grizz set a franchise record for points in a home opener.
Key trends: The Hawks are 8-2 ATS in their past 10. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
Pistons at Heat (-2.5, 210)
Detroit's five-game winning streak came to a crashing halt Monday, 103-75 in Brooklyn. The Pistons shot 27.8 percent (27 of 97) from the field, the lowest by any team in the league since Memphis shot 27.1 percent at Golden State on Nov. 11, 2015. Blake Griffin finished with 10 points, but only shot 1 of 10 from the field. Andre Drummond's 19th straight double-double tied him with Bob Lanier (1974-75) for the longest streak in Pistons' team history. Miami's four-game winning streak also ended in a thud, 125-104 vs. Toronto on Sunday. It was the Heat's 14th straight home loss when trailing by double digits at halftime. Miami leads the season series 2-1 - these teams have split the last three season series.
Key trends: The Heat have failed to cover four straight following a double-digit home loss. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings in Miami.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Warriors at Rockets (TBA)
Second ESPN game. Perhaps the Warriors don't lose that Suns game if Kevin Durant makes it all the way through. He tweaked an ankle in the fourth and didn't return, but it's not thought to be serious. Klay Thompson is two 3-pointers made away from 200 for the season. He would Stephen Curry as the only players in NBA history to record seven-straight seasons with at least 200 3-point field goals made. The Rockets won a season-high ninth straight Monday, 118-106 over Charlotte. James Harden had 28 points and Kenneth Faried returned from a five-game absence with 16 points and nine rebounds. Houston goes for the stunning four-game season sweep, trying to become the first team to win four games against the Warriors in a single season since 2014-15. Since then, only Utah (last season, 3-1) has won three regular-season games in a single season against Golden State.
Key trends: The Warriors are 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 7-1 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Wait on Durant.
Jazz at Suns (TBA)
Phoenix was always more talented than its record showed and it has now won four of five following Sunday's stunner that ended an 18-game losing streak to the Warriors. Devin Booker had 37 points, including 13 straight in the fourth quarter. It was also the Suns' first road win against a Western Conference team this season. Utah dropped its second straight Monday, 98-89 vs. Oklahoma City. Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points for Utah, which shot just 36 percent from the field. Backup point guard Dante Exum returned to action after missing 25 games with a left ankle sprain. The Jazz have won four straight in this series, including 116-88 at home on Feb. 6. Booker was out injured. It was close late in the third quarter.
Key trends: The favorite is 9-4-1 ATS in the past 14 meetings. The under is 4-1 in the previous five.
Early lean: TBA likely for Ricky Rubio, who was out Monday. Not sure he's deserving of a TBA.
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