We notched an easy winner last night as the Clippers buried the Mavs in the early third quarter and cruised to a comfortable blowout win and cover. Some of the DeAndre Jordan hullabaloo was pretty overblown and once the ball was thrown up it was simply a much better team at home smacking around an injured team playing on the road on the back end of a back-to-back (hence the easy win, even laying 11 points).
Tonight’s schedule is absolutely loaded with interesting games; James Harden gets his first crack at reigning MVP Steph Curry ad his first opportunity to stake his claim for the trophy he felt was rightfully his. It’s going to be a blast to see how Curry follows up his 40-points in the three quarters opener. We also get the Heat at the Cavaliers on ESPN in a must-watch game. I can’t wait to see if Justice Winslow matches up with LeBron at any point in the game – THEN we will get to see how ready-for-primetime the rookie really is…
But the game I’m really tuning in for, and my free pick is…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Bulls -2.5 at Detroit Pistons
Both teams enter 2-0 and both teams have looked pretty good in getting to that point. The Bulls followed up a season-starting block of LeBron at the rim with a blowout win at Brooklyn. The Pistons blew out Atlanta IN Atlanta on opening night and then backed it up with a win over the improving Jazz. Both will be looking to remain perfect tonight.
I completely dismissed Chicago in my season preview. I may live to regret it. Granted, it is only two games, but I really like the way this team looks with Nicola Mirotic in the starting lineup. He gives them another legitimate scoring option, and while he isn’t a stellar defender, the rest of the team is still stout enough (see how well Gasol is moving??) to make this one of the best starting fives in the NBA when healthy. And isn’t “when healthy” always the disclaimer with these Bulls? Health may eventually tear another piece off the patchworked body of Derrick Rose and ail the aging feet of Pao and knees of Joakim. But for now – for the glorious NOW – this team looks fantastic.
As far as the Pistons, it is tough to get a handle on this team until the sample size expands. My guess is that theye are somewhere between the team that lost game after game after game last year when Brandon Jennings was injured and the team that won game after game when they jettisoned Josh Smith and brought in Reggie Jackson. Perhaps they can resign Josh Smith just to re-cut him again? It seems to be a panacea for all that ailed them… In the meantime, this current 2015-2016 version looks like a good ballclub. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has posted two good games early and is averaging 18.5 ppg. Reggie Jackson is a solid NBA point guard and Andre Drummond is a talented big man. But if THAT is your Big Three, are you really a playoff threat?
Here’s the biggest differential for me, and it has been the Pistons problem area for years: shot selection. Yes, they are 2-0, but they have done it on 39.5% shooting. That isn’t sustainable, especially against a good offensive team like the new-look Chicago Bulls (who are shooting 47.5% as a team and averaging over 106 points).
I think today both teams, who should be fresh after a night off, play to their appropriate talent level. If that is the case, the edge goes to the Bulls.