It was a 1-1 night for us at thesportsgeek.com on NBA picks, but a bit tip of the cap is due to the team responsible for my last two ATS losses; the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers completed a rare NBA feat last night, winning three games in as many days – winning two of them on the road nonetheless, capping it off with a dominating defensive effort in a 86-69 win at Philadelphia.
The Pacers gave Miami quite a second round series last year in the Eastern Conference Semi’s, and with the emergence of Paul George as an All-Star and David West playing like one, perhaps they are even better equipped to make a Playoff run this season. It will be interesting to see how well and how quickly they can assimilate Danny Granger back into the offense, given the emergence of the two players listed above – particularly George who plays essentially the “Danny Granger role” in the offense.
Meanwhile, it is a light night of NBA action, but let’s drop in on the Pacers chief rival in the Central for tonight’s free pick.
Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets -6 (Total: 195.5)
The Bulls get hit with about as much bad news as any team I can recall, yet they always seem to just play (and mostly win) throughout it all. The questionable return of Derek Rose feels more ominously questionable with each report that comes out (or in some cases, doesn’t come out), and their emotional and defensive leader Joakim Noah has missed the last three games with plantar fasciitis. He is expected to return tonight, but will no doubt be battling some pain. Ditto for Carlos Boozer, who is also expected to play with a strained hamstring. The Bulls will likely have their starting frontcourt, but it remains to be seen how effective they will play.
Even a full-strength Chicago team would likely struggle in Denver. The Nuggets are a stellar 21-3 at home this season and are a nice tidy 29-20 ATS on the season. They enter tonight well rested and on a seven game winning streak. Over their last ten games at home (all wins), they have beaten Oklahoma City, Indiana, Portland and Houston. All playoff teams, several top-tier playoff teams.
I like Denver at home against a beaten-up Chicago squad. Denver averages a league best 107 points at home, and even Chicago’s usually excellent defense won’t be able to slow down Denver in the mountain air tonight. Give me the Nuggets laying the half dozen.
Free Pick: Denver Nuggets -6