Bulls vs. Lakers Pick NBA – Jan 29th

Last night Kyrie Irving went ridiculous – torching the visiting Blazers with a double-nickel, dropping 55 (on 39 shots!) en route to the Cavs eighth straight win. That was fun to watch. But what has me a little chapped today is the late scratch of LeBron James. In real-life, I usually avoid putting down NBA wagers real early in the morning for this very reason. Hopefully you too were patient and got the Cavs when the line dropped to a reasonable -2 (and a winner) rather than the inflated pre-LeBron scratch line of -5.5 or -6.

It’s getting a bit ridiculous this season and I can’t remember any year in my six years handicapping basketball games for a published column where so may stars have been scratched from lineups late in the day without any/much warning. It is getting to the point where I’d almost recommend treating NBA wagers like MLB Daily Fantasy games – don’t submit that lineup until you see some official lineup cards turned in to umpires. NBA stars used to play 82 games unless severely injured. Now, the two-day vacation seems like the bastion of savvy coaches managing minutes as much as it is for genuine “injury.”

OK, that was whinny, but I honestly think it is good advice. Check lineups and injury reports in late afternoons one last time to avoid some heartache.  I’ll continue to post early.  But know from time to time we could get blindsided like yesterday…

By the way, LeBron is rumored to also be held out Friday.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Chicago Bulls -8.5 at Los Angeles Lakers (Total: 196)

This has trap-game potential for sure, but I am much more impressed with the Lakers tank-tastic potential. No Kobe? NO problem, says Swaggy P, just give ME the rock. Of course, do NOT look at his 30% shooting percentage since Kobe’s injury. Please ignore the ugly man behind the curtain…

This team is a train wreck. And as entertaining as it is to poke fun at Mr. Iggy Azalia, if Swaggy P is one of your three or four best players, you ain’t going to the playoffs in the West. If he’s your number one option offensively? Well, that top-five protected draft pick might not be out of reach after all.

The Bulls played their best game of the year in what might have been THE best game of the year (though those Spurs triple-OT’ers right before Christmas were pretty great), as D-Rose buried a game-winner at the overtime buzzer in Golden State Tuesday. Fortunately, they have a night in between to refuel and gear up for a should-win game. Luckily, this one is on TNT, so perhaps Thibs will have an easier time getting his occasionally-disinterested troops ready to handle their business. The Golden State win is all but negated with a bad loss tonight – that has to be the repeated mantra.

The only thing that could derail the Bulls tonight is disinterest. I am going to wager they overcome that possibility and smack down the punchless Lakers. All the Lakers really have at this point is a flailing gunner named Swaggy and some serviceable post guys. Enter Jimmy Butler, Joakim and Gasol.

This one shouldn’t be particularly close, even at Staples.

Free Pick: Chicago Bulls -8.5

Chris Scheeren / Author