Our NBA win streak was snapped at five games last night – and I’ll cop to completely misreading the Nets intentions about last night’s game. I expected the Nets to go full-force to try and wrap up the fifth seed and a likely matchup with Indiana should they survive to the second round. However, Pierce and Garnett barely played, the Nets seemed content to NOT win the game, and the theory bandied around now is that they are amenable to falling to the 6th seed in the thought that Toronto at #3 would be an easier draw than Chicago in the #4/#5.
All this odd jockeying for slots can be a little confusing. But the good news is: IT ENDS TONIGHT.
Tonight is the final night of the regular season before the league takes a few days off to gear up for the marathon playoff season. Not a moment too soon. It’ll be nice to stop playing the “who is going to try tonight” game when trying to handicap games.
Alas, let’s get back on track and wrap up the regular season with a win.
Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Bobcats -1 (Total: 181.5)
This game, despite the obvious playoff assurances for both teams, actually has a lot more meaning that it may seem on the surface. Eastern Conference teams like the Heat and Nets seem to be playing games in an attempt to get themselves slotted in a “desirable” playoff matchup, yet this game tonight involves more moving pieces than I feel like typing out. To put it succinctly, the Bulls can be the #3 or #4, and the Bobcats could actually move all the way up to #6 with a win tonight and a few other chips falling their way.
The funny thing to me is that all this jockeying seems to be predicated around the notion that everyone would rather play the Raptors than anyone else, despite the fact that they’ve been far more consistent than the Bulls and Nets and are a better blend of youth and athleticism. I’m not saying the Raptors are a better team, but I’m not sold they are a TON worse than either Brooklyn or Chicago.
That said, I don’t think the Bulls would mind being the #4 seed as much as they’d prefer to avoid Miami in Round Two. Yes, they’d open with the Nets as opposed to Charlotte or Washington, but I think they’d rather see Indiana than Miami in Round Two.
The Bulls have won seven straight games in this matchup, but I think tonight is the night the Bobcats finally get it done. This game means way more to them, they are at home in front of appreciative fans that will finally see season NOT end with the regular season finale for the first time in Bobcats franchise history. Look for Al Jefferson to continue his dominant play in one of the more underrated seasons in the NBA this year and for the Bobcats to finish the regular season with a bang.