The Bulls handled their business after a sluggish (disinterested?) first half to bury the Sixers and easily cover the 13 point margin. The win was our 10th in 12 NBA plays and pulls me up to a nice tidy 57% for the season ATS. We will try to keep it rolling into the Holiday season and see if we can put a few extra presents in the stockings.
It was a pretty limited slate last night in the NBA, but as I wrote yesterday, when in doubt, fade the Sixers! Tonight, we have no such easy safe haven, so it looks like I am going to have to actually do some work… sigh. The good news is, despite only four games on the NBA slate, there are a few decent lines to choose from. So let’s dive in to tonight’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Cleveland Cavaliers -1 at Boston Celtics
What to make of the Boston Celtics? I have seen power polls this week that have them as high as fifth (huh?) and one that had them as low as 13th. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. This is a likely, but not definite, playoff team that is really well coached and continues to play slightly better than their talent level suggests they should. But are they ready enough for prime-time to beat the Cavaliers on National TV tonight?
Cleveland got a spark from Iman Shumpert’s return, absolutely hammering the Magic in Orlando 116-76. As this team nears full-strength and as the Warriors get some minor injuries, don’t be surprised if the narrative shifts a lot over the next few weeks and starts becoming an assumed Cavs vs Warriors/Spurs winner Finals. Cleveland looks primed to make that surge past the glut of teams hanging around within a few games of the top spot. It’s hard to see them, once healthy, lingering around with Charlotte, Miami, Indiana and Boston too much longer.
And I think the first salvo gets fired tonight.
Boston’s three-point shooting has been key over a recent 5-2 run. They are shooting over 45% from distance, but keep in mind, this same Cavaliers team (and Shumpert is a big defensive key) held them to 25% for the series in last year’s playoff meeting. Look for Cleveland to contest shots tonight and to be too much to handle on the other end of the floor.
Isaiah Thomas has been good, averaging nearly 20 ppg, but Cleveland’s star, LeBron, shoots 50% from the floor. Boston’s, Thomas, shoots 42%. Look for the slight efficiency difference to be the difference tonight. Give me Cleveland on the road to begin to assert their Eastern Conference dominance.