The Monday following the conclusion of the NFL season has been dubbed “Black Monday” because of the inevitable carnage of coaching casualties the morning after the season’s conclusion. Perhaps yesterday should have been called “Black Friday” in the NBA. It was an absolutely brutal barrage of landscape-changing injuries last night, starting with the team I JUST called the ebst in the NBA twenty four hours prior, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder had been looking fantastic since the healthy return of Russell Westbrook. However, after news of a third surgery in eight months being scheduled for Westbrook, the Thunder will once again have to find a way to cope and adjust in his absence. In the loaded Western Conference, it will be difficult to maintain a top two seed if Westbrook misses a substantial period of time, which seems likely.
Two other NBA stars or budding stars went down last night as well; the Hawks losing Al Horford and the Wizards losing promising second –year guard Bradley Beal. It made for a bummer of a night in the Association, but also a situation savvy bettors need to keep an eye on as each team adjusts to a large absence. And not to put Lebron’s “injury” in the same CATEGORY, but he is currently listed as questionable tonight in Portland – I’d make sure of his status before playing the game, unless you like Portland even WITH ‘Bron, in which case, if you move quickly you might pick up a few extra points (most books have the game OFF, but I’ve seen a few leak out at -5.5)
Today’s Free Picks:
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics -3.5
The Cavaliers have played some fantastically entertaining games this season, last time out’s double-overtime thriller against the Hawks no exception. Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, that excitement hasn’t translated into much success. The Cavaliers enter at just 10-18 and a pathetic 2-10 on the road. Meanwhile, the Celtics, despite a limited roster and Rajon Rondo, continue to overachieve and play respectable basketball. They are nearly .500 at home, which isn’t a bad place to start in the mediocre Eastern Conference.
The Celtics have had nearly a week off to stew over their current three game losing streak. They should be well rested (hopefully not rusty) tonight. Kyrie Irving will be tough for them to corral, but I’m not sure any of the Cavs other options scare you too much. Boston generally handles their business against inferior opponents. They are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games against teams with a winning percentage under .400. Meanwhile, Cleveland is 0-4 ATS in their last four road games against teams with a losing record. Both those stats are overwhelmingly in Boston’s favor.