Weather is wreaking havoc across the nation, and it is having an impact on the NBA and NCAA schedules respectively. Both New York teams games were postponed last night – so my apologies for giving you a bum game. At the time of writing, things were still proceeding as normal. I spend the winters down in Florida where we remain blissfully unaware of things like snow and “Nor’easters.” Last night’s pick was a no-action, so I’ll make sure to steer us to warmer locales this evening.
Meanwhile, the injury bug continues to ravish some of the league’s brightest and budding stars. Brandon Jennings may not be a “star” but he is an important cog for the Pistons and went out for the season last week. Now Kemba Walker is having surgery, further complicating the matter of who on Earth wants the eight seed in the East. Brooklyn looks awful and disinterested and now the Hornets and Pistons have major injuries to their point guards (Kemba’s is far more disastrous, as there is no DJ Augustine waiting in the wings in Charlotte – but there is Lance!). As absurd as it sounds, maybe it’ll be Brad Stevens’s Celtics who get offered up on Atlanta’s first round altar. Either way, it’s a shame to lose another key player in an already beleaguered conference.
Today’s Free Pick:
Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat -3.5
The Bucks burnt me last week with their stunning beatdown on the Pistons the same night that Jennings went down with a season-ending injury. But prior to that, things were flattening out and regressing to the mean a bit in Milwaukee. Tonight is an interesting matchup of two teams next to each other in the standings who feel very differently about being where they currently sit. For the Bucks, this season is way ahead of schedule, especially in light of the Jabari Parker injury, while the Heat, who have been to four straight Finals hoped to fare a little better even without LeBron.
And perhaps they still will now that Hassan Whiteside has been unearthed. His 2K rating isn’t the only thing on the rise. After his rare triple-dozen which included blocked shots – all in a ridiculous 25 minutes, his PER is top five in the NBA and placing him in ridiculous company. If Dwyane Wade and Bosh can stay healthy and Whiteside can be anywhere close to a Top 50 PER guy, this team can still make a climb up into the 6th spot in the East and be a tough out for Washington or Toronto.
I like the Heat at home with a pretty slim line tonight. They have covered three of their last four decisions (with a push in the fifth game) and seem to be healthier than they have been in a while, especially with the emergence of Whiteside as a defensive monster.
I’ll take the Heat at home over a young Bucks team still learning to beat good teams on the road.