Don’t look now, but the Atlantic Division might just be the best division in the NBA right now. Granted, they might lack the dominant title contender that a few of the other division possess, but with four of the top six teams in the East, and three of them being the most likely and legitimate challengers to the Heat (New York, Brooklyn and Boston), there is once again being played some good hoops out East.
The interesting thing about the Atlantic is that two of the four teams are missing a significant contributor due to injury. New York is still awaiting the return of Amar’e (though to hear some pundits and Knicks fans explain it, “waiting” might not be the accurate word) and Philadelphia is still awaiting the debut of center Andrew Bynum. If both these teams were to get healthy and gel, it could make for a deeper and much more interesting Eastern Conference playoffs than in recent memory.
Let’s move on to tonight’s free pick:
Milwaukee Bucks -4.5 at New Orleans Hornets (Total: 188.5)
If the Bucks were in the Atlantic instead of the Central, they’d be in 5th place and battling for the final playoff position. However, life in the Central, particularly with the injuries to Derek Rose and Danny Granger is much more forgiving. The Bucks currently sit in first place at 8-7.
New Orleans meanwhile is struggling mightily. They “accidentally” won at the Clippers last week, but other than that they have been perfectly miserable. The Hornets have lost nine of ten overall including four consecutive home losses. They have played a few good teams in that spurt, but have also lost five of those games by more than 15 points.
I don’t think Milwaukee is a dominant team to be feared by any stretch, but they have been playing solid basketball. Their recent losses have been to mostly good teams, and they own some impressive wins over the past three weeks, including wins against Boston, and road wins at Philadelphia and Chicago. It doesn’t seem like a win at New Orleans is very far-fetched.
During their losing stretch, the Bucks have allowed a staggering 105.1 points per game. They are still without defensive stalwart and number one overall pick Anthony Davis, and his absence is noticeable. This wasn’t a terrible team the first two weeks of the season. It has been recently.
Give me the Bucks on the road laying the four and a half to help the Hornets continue their losing ways.
Free Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -4.5