I like to find the lesser-discovered story lines and the things that might be flying under the radar, especially things that can impact how you should perceive a game from a wagering and handicapping perspective. I feel like I was a little early to the ‘Russell Westbrook should get MVP votes’ story, though today it seems to be making the rounds. And obviously, James Harden will get a ton of love today after last night’s impressive triple double.
But a player worth noting is Andrew Wiggins. I am sure people got annoyed with my constant badgering of the trade that sent him to Minny, but it may just wind up being just as short-sighted as I anticipated. Andrew Wiggins is getting good. REALLY good. He had 30 and 6 last night against the Rockets (yes, he also ‘guarded’ Harden much of the night) but he is just 19 years old and the light is already coming on. The Timberpups have covered four of their last six games and are quietly becoming a semi-respectable team…
And lastly, a team that has always been respectable, even if they are occasionally overlooked from a ‘respect’ perspective nationally, the Grizzlies, bit me last night. Short rest? On the road? Playing a red-hot team? Who cares. The Grizzlies gutted out a gritty win last night to complete the Portland/Clippers road double. Impressive stuff.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Cleveland Cavaliers -6.5 at Detroit Pistons
The Cavaliers are on an amazing roll. They’ve won 16 of 18 to storm back into the national consciousness and they aren’t just winning, they are dismantling teams. Seven of their last eight wins have been by double digits with an average margin up over 17.
Detroit has been good lately, but with all the trades and shakeup I don’t think they’ll be ready for a jelling Cavs squad. LeBron looks healthy. Kyrie and Love are starting to settle into good roles and the infusion of energy and skill from JR Smith, Shumpert and Mozgov seems to have made the difference. They look like the best team in the East right now and a true title contender.
Detroit has some good interior play that could give Mozgov a little trouble tonight, but I think Cleveland will simply outscore them enough to cover the spread. They are 7-3 ATS over their last ten games and I like them to continue that trend tonight.
BONUS PICK – WITH A CAVEAT ***
Golden State Warriors -3 at Washington Wizards
I always get a little pang of caution when a line absolutely FLIES off the page as free money. But this line feels like free money. Obviously, there is no such thing or you’d see a lot more sports books going out of business (I’ve never seen one…). But to get the best team in the NBA playing one of the coldest teams in the league and only lay a tiny number of points feels like a nice opportunity.
Golden State has had some trouble against the line lately, but much of that is a product of needing double-digit wins to get over a massive number. Aside from Sunday’s loss at surging Indiana, they have been pretty solid, winning eight of nine, even if they didn’t always cover.
Meanwhile, Washington is imploding and I see no reason to stop fading them until their either pull out of the tailspin or until the lines adjust accordingly. Bradley Beal is still out and the Wiz are 1-4 ATS without him.
HOWEVER – BEFORE taking this pick, wait to confirm that Steph Curry will be playing. I like Golden State but can’t pull the trigger until I know Steph is suiting up.