Things are starting to get real interesting in the NBA’s two largest media markets. In New York, the Knicks stormed back for an impressive 100-97 comeback win in the Barclays Center against newly-arrived city rival, Brooklyn. Led by Carmelo Anthony’s 45 points, the Knicks surged to 16-5, and if the season ended today they would be the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile things have gone from puzzling to downright scary for the team many of us prematurely anointed the new #1 seed out West, the Los Angeles Lakers. They lost their third straight game to fall to 9-13; well out of the Playoff picture as of today, and this loss was nearly as inexplicable as the recent home loss to the Orlando Magic.
Steve Nash or no Steve Nash, injured Pau Gasol or no injured Pau Gasol, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers just shouldn’t happen to a team this talented. Neither should allowing 100 points to a team that might struggle to score much more in an empty gym. Things are bad in Tinseltown, and my personal slant is to stay away from wagering on them as much as possible. There is just such a wide gap between what they CAN do and what they ACTUALLY do on a basketball court it scares me away.
Let’s get to a game that doesn’t scare me at all, in fact I love it…
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers -8 (Total: 188.5)
A young team gets a rare win. Even more exciting, they knock off the highest profile team in the league in a game they are double digit underdogs in! The next night, they go on the road for the back-end of a home/road back-to-back. I think we all know how this story usually ends.
That is why I am willing to lay a few extra points tonight on the home team Indiana Pacers when the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town tonight. Cleveland owns a 14-game division losing streak (and the NBA Central ain’t exactly baseball’s American League East…). To make matters worse, this is a terrible road team anyway, just 2-11 so far this season.
Yes, Kyrie Irving is back, and he looked fantastic last night against the point guard-less Lakers, tallying 29 points and 11 assists, but that still doesn’t persuade me that the Cavs have any chance tonight in Indy. The line is a tad high at -8, but some of the emotional letdown and fatigue factors make the price worth it. I think Indy wins this game with room to spare, and I like it enough to abandon my “bet against the Bobcats” (and the line for the LAC at CHAR game is LA -9, that’s a lot for an inconsistent road team) strategy for one night and make Indiana my official pick.
Free Pick: Indiana Pacers -8