Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Lakers -7.5 (Total: 191)
So far in this young NBA season, parity has reigned far more than in most NBA seasons. With the exception of San Antonio, who was pushed to the final seconds against New Orleans, every team has had their flashes of greatness (or at least semi-competence). The Golden State Warriors, led by the solid backcourt performance of Steph Curry, Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack, knocked of the Clippers in Los Angeles. The New Orleans Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats already have wins – both over teams that were in the playoffs last year. The Sacramento Kings pushed the Pacers to double overtime on the road, and the Washington Wizards and the Denver Nuggets forced Ray Allen and the Heat to beat them in the closing seconds.
Yes, nearly every team has shown at least flashes of excellent basketball…. Except for the two squaring off tonight in Los Angeles. The Lakers and Pistons won’t exactly be reenacting the “Bad Boys” and “Showtime” rivalry of 25 years ago tonight. In fact, the two teams are a combined 0-5 and have been outscored by 40 points (for an average of 8ppg). So something has to give tonight, and I have a pretty strong feeling on what it will be…
So let’s dig into tonight’s free pick with some analysis of Pistons v. Lakers.
Detroit is 0-2, but in truth, it’s about where they are supposed to be. Cleveland is a little better with a healthy Kyrie Irving. Toronto is a bit better with a healthy Bargnani, and New Jersey is a lot better with their numerous additions. Detroit is about the only non-playoff team from 2011-2012 in the East who it is hard to argue is worse. In my opinion, they have the worst starting lineup in the NBA, with only Greg Monroe ranking in the top half of the league at his position, and two of their starters, Jason Maxiell and an aging Tyshaun prince ranking in the bottom five.
Contrast that to the sky-is-falling Lakers. People are bemoaning the fact that the Lakers are going to be without injured Steve Nash… they were without him all last season and were JUST FINE! In fact, even without Nash, this team is better than last year’s squad on paper, having swapped Bynum for Dwight Howard. They’ve been ugly through three games, but tonight is the first chance to play a poor opponent. Factor in that they are at home and coming of a day of rest, and I like the Lakers to take out some latent early season frustration on the hapless Pistons.
Kobe Bryant has been fantastic this season, hurt foot and all. He has averaged 30.7 ppg on a staggering 61.4% shooting from the floor. So say what you want about Kobe’s shot volume, but at 60+% he can shoot as many times as he’d like. The Lakers problem has been defense. Team defense in the NBA comes down to two things; effort and communication. I think both will be significantly better tonight in a home game they should, HAVE, to win.
Free Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -7.5