There were three messages sent in the NBA yesterday, one really loud, one pretty loud, and one more subtle but perhaps also important. The loudest was the thundering message the champs sent, waxing the Warriors and easily dismissing their twelve game winning streak in the process. But before we get all crazy, keep in mind the Warriors were on the back end of a road back-to-back and nearly EVERY NBA team loses in that spot. Also keep in mind only six teams in NBA history have finished a regular season with a +10 or more point differential. Assuming the Warriors don’t completely tank the last week on purpose, they will be the seventh. Five of the teams won and NBA title, and the sixth lost to the 72-73 Lakers who won 33 games in row. So the Warriors… deep breath… will be just fine.
The second was the 40-point MVP salvo that Harden fired yesterday in a road win over the Fightin’ Westbrooks (who also had a triple double). I think The Beard is going to narrowly eclipse Steph Curry, though it is hard to argue with either (or Westbrook & LeBron for that matter). The race will get even more crowded next year if Anthony Davis and KD are healthy. Man, we are in a Golden Age for the NBA, enjoy it.
And lastly, welcome back to Paul George. The Pacers best player scored 13 points in 15 minutes of action as the Pacers easily dispatched the Heat (and gave us our tenth ATS win in 12 games). The Pacers are going to need to finish strong (probably 4-1) to make the postseason, but tell me a Hawks v. Pacers opening round rematch with a now-healthy Paul George wouldn’t be great theatre!
The NBA is all but off tonight, out of deference to the college kids, and perhaps out of un-deference (sic) to eyeballs, they give us only Portland at Brooklyn. Ok, so not every night is the Golden Era…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Portland Trailblazers at Brooklyn Nets -7
No Kaman, Alderidge, Batum or Matthews; this Portland season is becoming a Greg Oden/Sam Bowie like catastrophe. The star-crossed Blazers again find themselves depleted and are a seven point dog to the lowly Nets as a result.
But I am going to put my faith in a ridiculous Video Game Dame effort tonight from Lillard to do no worse than keep things competitive. If Brooklyn has shown nothing else this season (and they haven’t) it is their ability to rise and fall effort wise with crazy unpredictability. Seeing a team dressing their walk-ons tonight could be just enough to lull them into a trap.
Seven points is a lot. There is no reason Brooklyn SHOULDN’T win this game. But I can’t trust the Nets with a wager. I’ll let the winning streak ride on the shoulders of Lillard and a big effort from the role players enjoying a little extra run tonight on the road (with the points).