All good things must come to an end, and thus our massive NBA winning streak hit a stall yesterday as the Raptors got handled with relative ease on their home floor by the Sacramento Kings. It was just the Kings third road victory of the entire season, so a little bit surprising, but alas we will get back to the grind today and see if we can start a new week with a new winning streak and fatten up the stockings a bit more before Christmas Day’s NBA bonanza.
Meanwhile, welcome back to Kyrie Irving. It may take him a few games to get rounded back in shape, but it certainly makes the Christmas Day showdown at Golden State even more interesting. If the Cavaliers can spring the road upset, expect the “see what WOULD have happened in the Finals” talk to reach volume eleven. I’m not sure a single game in December tells us much about the eventual destination of the Larry O’Brein trophy, but it will make for fantastically interesting talk…
Let’s get back to business and see if we can notch a winner today.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Portland Trailblazers at Atlanta Hawks -7
I’ve been fading Portland most of the season with pretty regular success after a few early season stumbles. They’ve regressed to the mean and, to steal a phrase from Denny Green, are who we thought they were – a below-average basketball team. They are just 5012 on the road this season, and despite some uneven play from the reigning top-seed in the East, I expect they are in for a rough night this evening in Atlanta.
The Hawks have been pretty average this season after raising the bar of expectations following last season’s 60-win campaign and top seed in the East. They are just 9-6 at home this season, which is especially troubling (and odd, considering they are one of five NBA teams with a winning road record this season).
However, recent momentum really favors the Hawks. They are on a three game winning streak and during it their trademark ball-movement and offensive efficiency has been on full display. They averaged 113 points per game on 52.5% shooting from the floor. Kyle Korver has dialed in, shooting 75% from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Portland is on a three-game losing streak and has struggled mightily defensively. They just allowed Miami 63 second half points on 63% shooting to officially fall to last place in the Northwest Division.
Portland is unlikely to solve their defensive woes tonight against a good and balanced Atlanta team that can knock down open shots all night long. Look for Atlanta to hit triple-digits with ease and roll to a big home victory tonight. Portland is on the back-end of a road back-to-back; never a good recipe for competing with a team that is already far superior.