Celtics vs. Sixers Pick NBA – March 20th

I took a few days away from the NBA beat with all the demands of March Madness taking center stage, and I must admit, I’m kind of glad I stayed away from last night’s Warriors at Spurs marquee matchup. The Spurs were laying four and a half to five depending upon the venue, and if FORCED to make a pick, I might have leaned Dubs. The simplest logic was that, I didn’t trust Coach Pop to CARE about sending a message.

Perhaps I was wrong. San Antonio reminded everyone that the West, and therefore the NBA Championship, is FAR from a predetermined matter. San Antonio held the Dubs to a season-low, shocking, 79 points. The Warriors didn’t just look mortal, they looked lfallible.  As if those shots that always looked ill-advised except for the fact that they kept going IN, look just, ill-advised. Curry was 4 of 17 from the floor and just 1 of 12 from distance – and perhaps just maybe we got a sneak preview of the Kawhi Effect in May?

Look, just as it was unwise to crown the Warriors the champs after their easy home win over San Antonio a month ago, it would be unwise to remove them from favorite status after last night. Remember, these teams are toting the first and tied-for-second longest home winning streaks in the HISTORY of the NBA… and both are STILL GOING. But we did get a reminder, this thing is FAR from over, and as NBA fans, we couldn’t be luckier…

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Today’s Free Pick:

Boston Celtics -11 at Philadelphia 76’ers

The Celtics have hit a pretty dramatic skid lately, dropping five of their last six games including a 14-point loss at Toronto last night and a 21 point home loss to the Thunder. However, objectively, their losses on this slide are to Toronto, OKC, Cleveland, Houston and Indiana. All five are playoff teams and three are among the six best teams in the NBA.

It’s not a GOOD sign for a team that was beginning to fancy themselves as an Eastern Confernce Finals contender, but it isn’t the end of the world either. They just need something to break their way to get back on track…

Enter the Philadelphia Lottery Balls.

The Sixers are once again the worst team in the NBA and an interesting case for an English Premier League-like relegation system in American sports. They are aiming for the #1 pick in the draft for a fourth straight season and one has to wonder WHERE the progress is. They have nine wins and are all but assured of the worst record in the NBA as they trail the Lakers by five games in the loss column. They have dropped nine of their last ten and only two were by double digits. They have lost 17 of 18 overall, though many of those earlier losses were competitive. It SEEMED like things were beginning to blossom a bit after Christmas, but the losses have resumed in full force.

All that said, they have actually been BETTER ATS than the Celtics have over their last ten games, at five wins to four. In fact, Boston is just 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games. Is playing Philly a good way to “get right”? Absolutely. But is playing a back to back on the road a good recipe for NBA blowout wins? Not very often.

I’d be surprised if Philly actually wins, but I think they take advantage of a tired Boston team and muster a quality home performance. Remember, as BAD as Philly has been, they haven’t been a disaster against the spread. Probably because of occasions like today where they are getting double digits at home against a team on the back end of a back-to-back.

Free Pick: Philadelphia 76’ers +11