Yesterday was a really weird day in the NBA. The Heat absolutely hammered the Cavaliers, who have been playing great basketball (even without Kevin Love in some extended stretches). The Pacers got blasted at home by the Raptors, who had been in a vicious slump and have been awful on the road, and the Mavericks ditched their customary woes against top teams by beating the Fighting Westbrooks, er, Thunder.
The biggest story from the Mavs win might have been the great play of Rajon Rondo down the stretch. When the deal was first made, more than a few experts thought the Mavs became legit contenders to win the West. Then things got contentious and ugly (as they often do with Rondo). If he and Coach Carlisle are truly reconciled and seeing eye to eye, it could mean yet another serious contender will be joining the crowded dance floor come April and May.
Today’s Free Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies -4.5 at Detroit Pistons
The Grizzlies are mired in their worst slump of the season, having dropped three of four before their recent two-game winning streak against Denver and Milwaukee. But what better way to get right than a trip to play the cratering Pistons? Remember when Detroit was a free ATM for a month after jettisoning Josh Smith? Yeah, those days are gone my friend. Instead they’ve become a different kind of ATM, much the way one can profit from shorting a stock.
The Pistons have dropped ten straight games and have the look of a team playing out the string and waiting for the offseason; rather LONGING for the offseason. They are just done. Reggie Jackson might just be careful what he wishes for in the future. He is out of OKC and the shadow of KD and Westbrook. Now he is in the even longer shadow of losing and irrelevancy. I’m not sure if he regrets it yet, but I imagine he will in April when the playoffs are only on television.
I’d bet against Detroit in just about any capacity right now, but especially against one of the top teams in the NBA with a deep, punishing defensive style and a huge frontcourt. The only cause for concern will be the potential for resting players since this will be the Grizzlies third game in four nights, but I would think the pursuit of Portland and others for the second seed would be enough to put their best foot forward and make sure to avoid a bad loss.
Look for Memphis to get some rest in the fourth quarter at least with a sizeable lead.
Free Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -4.5