A half dozen games finished within a possession of the Vegas line last night, and we fell victim to one of them with the Hornets winning in Brooklyn but not quite covering. Perhaps I overestimated the absence of Jeremy Lin on the Nets, but in my defense, it isn’t like anyone really stepped up and played the point role. The Nets simply made up for it in other areas like incredible balance. Whitehead and Kilpatrick combined for just five assists to go with an equal five turnovers – that should spell disaster, but five players scored double figures and they defended with energy and offset a low-assist, 40% shooting night to cover the spread.
The story of the night though happened in Los Angeles, where for the third year in a row, the Lakers stunned the Warriors. This one felt a little different though. Los Angeles has young energy, is sharing the ball, appears to be building some good chemistry and controlled this game confidently from start to finish. Even wilder, Steph failed to hit a single three pointer, snapping an NBA record streak of 157 games. There is a little “anomaly factor” at play her tonight; Steph was 0 for 10, and he Klay and Draymond went a combined 2 for 23 from deep. The Warriors committed 20 turnovers and allowed 16 offensive rebounds, so… YEAH. It was about as ugly as it gets, and it is hard to blame that one all on the back end of a back-to-back. It is perfectly fair to say the new-look Dubs still LOOK like a work in progress…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers -3
We are seeing “schedule losses” all over the league all ready and we haven’t even gotten to the “who’s playing, who isn’t” part of the season (aside from Pop already resting Parker on a back to back, but hey, that is the Godfather of DNP-Coach’s Decisions). Tonight has “schedule loss” written all over it, plus a few other non-schedule factors that favor Indiana.
First off, the obvious: Chicago played, and lost, last night at home to the Knicks. The Pacers had the day off and are at home tonight. That is already a MAJOR advantage. The second edge, Indiana LOST badly to Chicago in the United Center last week. It’s tough to beat a team twice in a row in a short period of time when the two teams are relatively even.
And lastly, these teams aren’t THAT close to even. Chicago has shown better in the early season, but most people still think Indiana is the better team long term, me included. Chicago’s hot start has been predicated on above-average shooting and upon getting a LOT out of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They still have some defensive issues; they are 23rd in the NBA in defensive efficiency, and while it has been offset by the #3 ranking offensively, it is unlikely they can sustain that high a rating for long.
Meanwhile, Indiana has struggled early at time, but they are rested and coming home, and perhaps most importantly, new addition Jeff Teague appeared to finally settle in to his role running the Pacers last game. He had been poor in the first four games and it was really hurting the Pacers. If he can settle in to the borderline All Star he has been the past four years, this is a really tough and talented team without a lot of major holes. They currently rank LAST in defensive efficiency, much of that stemming from the newness of their roster. I imagine they will settle into middle of the pack territory, as they have good defensive personnel, they just aren’t communicating and rotating well in the early going.
I think tonight is the night Indy begins to turn the corner and Chicago’s regression back to the mean continues. They are a decent ball club, but they are SUPPOSED to lose road games against better teams, especially on the back end of a back to back.