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Cavaliers vs. Nets Pick NBA – Jan 20th

So maybe the concern over the Champs was a little overstated. It isn’t a surprise they won in Cleveland – it isn’t a stunner anytime Golden State beats anybody. But the margin has still left me slightly agape; both at the extra gear of basketball perfection that is still available to Golden State, and to the fact that 48 minutes made the last month of progress in Cleveland look like a mirage.

The Cavs have some real issues. It might be temptingly over-reactionary to decry their title chances on one single bad game, but the game was so glaring, it couldn’t help but sound the alarm that this team, as currently constructed, isn’t ready to win a title. I railed and railed (and felt like the only one) against the Kevin Love trade two summers ago, and I can’t help but feel vindicated. Tell me you wouldn’t rather have Andrew Wiggins, at 21 years old, right now over the “out-fitting” Kevin Love and his try-as-he-might nailed to the floor defense? Doesn’t a core of LeBron, Kyrie, Wiggins, Thompson and a fifth mobile, lengthy big feel more suited for the Golden State “lineup of death” than the current one? With Mozgov on the bench to match Bogut when he checks in as a Plan B?

Anyhow – the margin of that game Monday was a stunner and it once again makes the Western Conference Finals feel like THE Finals as we pass the halfway mark of the season.

I took a one-day breather to regroup and see if we can shake my worst run of an otherwise pleasant 2015-2016 season. So let’s start a new course with today’s free pick.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets +12.5

I’m not piling on the Cavs here. They should bounce back and I expect a good effort and a win. But this pick is more a defense of the subtle not-lousiness on the Brooklyn Nets, despite a perception firmly the opposite. Yes, their record is dreadful, and yes both their cap-management and their obsence willingness to jettison all their future draft picks for past-their-prime superstars has crippled the future of this franchise. And they have no hope of making the playoffs this year, or likely in the near future.

But they simply aren’t as bad as their record right now, and they have a nice track record of playing top teams especially tough. They’ve nearly knocked off the Warriors on the road – losing on a mind-boggling defense lapse late. They’ve toppled the Bulls, Rockets, Heat and Celtics. And they’ve been covering a lot of spreads. Giving them a baker’s dozen at home feels a little over-generous.

There is the fear factor of a massive Cavs anger-letting tonight, and that probably fuels the line; “no way that LeBron isn’t a madman after Monday’s humiliation.” But sheer anger isn’t enough to sway me away from that big of a home point laydown.

The Cavaliers are just 17-21-1 ATS on the season and the Nets are a surprising even-money wager. It’s probably because they get massive home cushions like this fairly often. I’ll take them to narrowly cover with a large amount of points.

Free Pick: Brooklyn Nets+12.5