Philadelphia 76’ers at Toronto Raptors -2.5 (Total: 187)
So much for Mike Brown’s vote of confidence, eh? Just 24 hour after being unequivocally endorsed by Lakers brass, Brown finds himself the earliest season coaching casualty in 40 years. Now the rapant speculation begins on who will be the next to helm this volatile Laker ship. My money’s on Phil Jackson. No way the Lakers make this move yesterday if they truly haven’t already made overtures to their next coach and have something in place. Whether it is Jackson or Mike D’Antonio, I find it hard to believe the fired Mike Brown after five games without a solid and immediate plan in place.
Fortunately, our early season has gone much better than Mike Brown’s. After last night’s San Antonio easy cover, we’ve pushed our season record at thesportsgeek.com to 7-3-1 ATS. Let’s see if we can add another winner to that 70% winning ratio tonight with a free pick centering on tonight’s Philly v. Toronto matchup at the Air Canada Centre.
Philadelphia has played better than they’ve gotten credit for this season. At 3-2, their record isn’t anything attention-grabbing, but when you consider their only two losses came to the unbeaten New York Knicks, and that Philly has been playing without Bynum (after giving up their best player, Andre Iguodala, to obtain him) it starts to look a lot more positive. In their other three games they have beaten three decent opponents; Boston, Denver and New Orleans, by an average margin of 10 ppg.
Toronto on the other hand, has had some struggles but has played a pretty tough schedule. Their 1-4 record includes road losses to Dallas, Brooklyn and Oklahoma City. They hammered Minnesota at home last week. So they have shown some flashes, but overall, this is not a real good basketball team.
I am surprised they are laying points to Philadelphia tonight, even at home. Philly took last season’s series 2-1, with both of their wins coming in the blowout variety. Toronto does have a size edge with their two bigs against a Bynum-less Sixer team, but I like Philly’s smothering and tenacious team defense to make up the difference.
Everyone knew Philly would have to search for answers on the offensive end with the departures of Iguodala and Lou Williams. They have gotten a huge step-up contribution from their blossoming start point guard, Jrue Holliday. Through five games Holliday is averaging 18.6 points and 10.6 assists – All-Star caliber numbers. He has a favorable matchup tonight against Jose Calderon, though Kyle Lowry can help him on the defensive end if they need to swap.
I like Philly tonight. They are just a better team and the line is favorable. Home court matters in the NBA but I’ll take a good team getting points against a bad one any day of the week.
Free Pick: Philadelphia 76’ers +2.5