We messed with the Bulls last night and we got the horns. Woe be to anyone who doubts Coach Thibs when things look like they are at their lowest. No Rose. No Butler. No Taj. Yet the Bulls still managed to fend off the visiting Wizards 97-92 to hand me just my third defeat since the Break. Mirotic picked up the offensive slack with 23 points and 8 boards, and yes, even Dougie McBuckets got some run – though he was scoreless in 15 rather benign minutes.
Meanwhile, I thought I was going to have to eat crow after dismissively crediting the Hawks with a win before the game even started against the Harden-less Rockets. However the Hawks stormed back with a 32-15 final quarter to avoid an unexpected loss. Yes, they still have a ten game lead on everyone in the East and virtually NO chance of forfeiting the top seed, but taking bad losses is still never a good sign before a likely postseason meeting with two of the Bulls/Raptors/Cavs cluster.
Let’s get back to our winning ways with tonight’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers -13.5
I like the Pacers and their heart and their toughness and their refusal to discard the season and simply fold. But making them more than a dozen favorite against anyone?? That feels a bit ambitious for a team that is nine games under .500 and is just 14-14 at home. They should win, as should anyone who hosts the Knicks, but banking on a blowout of this proportion feels like way too steep of a price.
The New York Knicks stink. We all know that. But they are 13-13-2 ATS on the road and are 8-5 ATS as a 11-point or greater underdog. They are 2-1 both straight up and against the spread in their last three games, all without Melo, and aren’t playing terrible basketball.
Indiana has only been favored by more than eight point twice this season, as there simply aren’t many chances for a .400 basketball team to lay that many points. They are playing very good basketball. They’ve won four of their last five games, including wins over Cleveland and Golden State, to get back into the mix for the final playoff spot, and IF Paul George can really come back and be anything CLOSE to the real Paul George, they become a really interesting playoff team. But in the interim, Vegas is asking you to lay 13.5 points on Rodney Stuckey, David West and George Hill.
I like the Pacers, but can’t lay down this huge number of points, even with the sorry Knicks coming to town…