Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, March 6, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Have we seen future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony play his last NBA game? Melo, a 10-time All-Star, last played on Nov. 8 for Houston in Oklahoma City. The Rockets then essentially banished him before trading Anthony to the Chicago Bulls in a salary dump. The Bulls never planned to play him and didn't, so Melo is out there for anyone to sign. It's just that no one wants a 34-year-old ball hog. The Lakers and Anthony's camp were talking and momentum was building for a deal for Anthony to join buddy LeBron James, but the Lakers apparently have backed off that with the team in a free-fall and unlikely to make the playoffs. I suppose if Anthony were willing to take the league minimum next season, James might push for the Lakers to add him, but that's far from a sure thing. Anthony of course led Syracuse to the NCAA title as a freshman but never came close to an NBA championship. He is a three-time Olympic gold medal winner.
Heat at Hornets (TBA)
Miami was a 114-113 home winner over Atlanta on Monday as Dwyane Wade scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. He also became the all-time shot-blocking leader for guards in league history when including playoff numbers, passing Michael Jordan. Hassan Whiteside (hip strain) returned after missing three games but came off the bench, and Goran Dragic (left calf strain) missed his second consecutive game. The Hornets were 118-108 home losers Sunday vs. Portland. Jeremy Lamb had 23 points and Kemba Walker had 18 points and a season-high 12 assists. Charlotte is 2-0 vs. Miami this season.
Key trends: The Heat are 1-9 against the spread in their past 10 vs. Southeast Division teams. The "over/under" is 6-1 in the Hornets' past seven at home.
Early lean: TBA presumably for Dragic (not sure he's worth that).
Timberwolves at Pistons (-3, 225.5)
Minnesota hosted Oklahoma City on Tuesday looking to end a three-game losing streak. The surging Pistons got to .500 with Sunday's 112-107 home OT win over Toronto. Blake Griffin had 27 points and Andre Drummond 15 points and 17 rebounds. Reserve Zaza Pachulia could be looking at suspension for this one after bumping an official during an argument and being ejected. Detroit has won seven straight in this series, including 129-123 in overtime on Dec. 19. Drummond sent it to OT on a putback with less than a second left.
Key trends: The Pistons have covered five straight at home. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Mavericks at Wizards (-6, 231.5)
The Mavs dropped their second in a row Monday, 127-88 in Brooklyn. Dwight Powell scored 20 points and Luka Doncic had 16 for the Mavericks, who lost for the seventh time in eight games. The Wizards beat the visiting Timberwolves on Sunday, 135-121, behind 26 points and 12 rebounds from trade acquisition Bobby Portis. Washington is 19-2 when leading after three quarters. Dallas has won five in a row in the series and 16 of the past 17. It was 119-100 on Nov. 6. The Mavericks' nine-game road win streak against the Wizards is their longest active road win streak against any team and tied for their longest ever road win streak against any franchise.
Key trends: The Mavs are 11-1 ATS in the past 12 meetings. The over is 14-3 in the Wizards' past 17 overall.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
Spurs at Hawks (TBA)
After a horrible Rodeo Road Trip, the Spurs have won three straight at home following a 104-103 victory over Denver on Monday - San Antonio nearly blew all of a 21-point lead. DeMar DeRozan had 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 22. San Antonio extended its streak of 25-plus wins at home to 20 seasons with Monday's victory. Atlanta lost by a point in Miami on Monday in the second of a back-to-back. Vince Carter scored 21 points, all on 3-pointers, for the Hawks. John Collins missed the game with flu-like symptoms. First meeting between these teams, with them splitting last year. Each won at home.
Key trends: The Spurs are 1-7 ATS in their past eight on the road. The over is 4-0 in the Hawks' past four.
Early lean: TBA for Collins.
Cavaliers at Nets (-10.5, 226.5)
The Cavs won for the fifth time in eight games Sunday, 107-93 over Orlando. They had 40 fourth-quarter points. Jordan Clarkson had 18 points off the bench and Kevin Love 16 points and 14 rebounds. The Nets trashed the Mavs on Monday, 127-88, to snap a three-game slide. The 39-point margin was their most lopsided victory at home -- and matched their biggest victory overall -- since moving from New Jersey in 2012. Brooklyn is 2-1 vs. Cleveland this season but lost the home matchup.
Key trends: The road team has covered six straight in the series. The over is 6-1 in the Nets' previous seven vs. the East.
Early lean: Cavs and over.
76ers at Bulls (TBA)
First of an ESPN doubleheader (rare the Bulls on national TV these days). Both playing a second game in 24 hours, with the Bulls in Indiana on Tuesday and Philadelphia again without Joel Embiid while hosting Orlando. Just the second of four meetings between the clubs - they played on Oct. 18 in Philadelphia and the Sixers won 127-108 behind a Ben Simmons triple-double (13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists). Embiid had 30 points and 12 boards. Young Bulls star Lauri Markkanen was out injured back then.
Key trends: The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four. The over has hit in seven straight meetings in Chicago.
Early lean: Wait on Embiid.
Jazz at Pelicans (+5, 230)
Teams just played Monday, and the Jazz's four-game winning streak was snapped in a 115-112 home upset. Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle each scored 30 points to lead New Orleans. Anthony Davis had 15 points and 11 rebounds in three quarters. Jae Crowder and Kyle Korver scored 20 points apiece off the bench to lead the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell missed the potential winning jumper. Utah has still won eight of the past 10 in the series.
Key trends: The Jazz have covered nine of their past 11 in New Orleans. The over is 10-1 in the previous 11 there.
Early lean: Jazz and over.
Knicks at Suns (-5.5, 224.5)
Nothing to see here (other than battling for the NBA's worst record)! Phoenix does come off a stunning 114-105 win over the NBA-best Bucks to sweep the season series. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 27 points and 13 rebounds, and the Suns rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. Deandre Ayton had 19 points and 12 rebounds. There's talent on this team, no question. The Knicks lost a third straight Monday, 115-108 in Sacramento. Alonzo Trier scored 29 points in 30 minutes off the bench for New York, which was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Suns won the first meeting this season 128-110 in N.Y. on Dec. 17, the Suns' largest road win of the year.
Key trends: The Suns are 4-1 ATS in their past five at home. The under is 7-3 in the Knicks' previous 10 on the road.
Early lean: Suns and under.
Celtics at Kings (-1, 228.5)
Feels like a potential letdown game for Boston after visiting the Warriors on Tuesday. Wouldn't surprise me if Kyrie Irving sat this one out. Sacramento snapped a three-game skid with a 115-108 win over the Knicks on Monday. Buddy Hield had 28 points and Harrison Barnes had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Still looks like the Kings will miss the playoffs again, though. It's the first meeting of the season, with Boston sweeping easily last year.
Key trends: The Celtics are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 5-1 in the Kings' past six at home.
Early lean: Kings and under.
Nuggets at Lakers (TBA)
The Lakers' playoff hopes may have officially died Monday in a 113-105 home loss to the Clippers to fall to 2-5 since the break. LeBron had 27 points and Rajon Rondo a triple-double, but Kyle Kuzma struggled and injured his ankle, meaning he's likely out here. Brandon Ingram sat with shoulder soreness. At what point do you either shut LeBron down or start limiting his minutes? Denver nearly rallied from down 21 in San Antonio on Monday but lost a third in a row, 104-103, missing three shots in the final seconds to potentially win. Gary Harris' shot at the buzzer wasn't a good one. These teams split two early-season meetings, each winning at home.
Key trends: The home team has covered eight straight in series. The over is 5-1-2 in the previous eight in Los Angeles.
Early lean: Wait on Kuzma and Ingram.
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