Lesson learned last night – be careful betting against the Black Mamba. Kobe and the short-handed Lakers went into Brooklyn last night and left with an impressive victory, their fourth in five games, and have now pulled to just 2 ½ games out of Playoff positioning. It sounds contrite, but seriously, would you want THOSE guys in the first round if you are San Antonio or the Clippers?? Even OKC, which certainly wouldn’t fear them, would still likely prefer an easier tune-up before digging deep into the Playoff battles.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on whether or not the Lakers can continue their climb back into the thick of things, or if this is just another tantalizing fleeting glimpse of greatness in a season so full of disappointments.
Los Angeles Clippers -6 at Orlando Magic (Total: 187)
The Clippers have given away much of the cushion they built up early in the season, going just 2-7 over their last nine games without injured point guard Chris Paul. Paul will still be unavailable tonight, but it is very possible Chauncey Billups will make his long-awaited return. Blake Griffin is also questionable tonight.
With all those injuries and uncertainties, how could anyone possible pick the Clippers?!?
Well, for starters, Orlando has lost 21 of 23 games and is easily the worst team in the NBA as currently constituted. Glenn Davis remains out, and without him, they have been lost. To make matters even worse tonight, the Magic have Aaron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson and JJ Reddick all listed as questionable tonight as well! In short, if you have a Magic jersey, wear it to the game tonight. You might just get to play!
I think the Clippers and their deep bench will still have enough to get past the battered and weary Magic. Besides, the Clippers have a hell of a lot more to play for, all other things equal.
Free Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -6
Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76’ers -2 .5 (Total: 182)
I got burned picking against the Pacers last night, but this is getting ridiculous. Tonight will be their third game in three nights, on the road nonetheless, against a team battling to stay in the playoff hunt. I am not sure who Indy pissed off in the league office, but three games in three nights is pretty uncommon, and given that they have played the most games in the league (four more than Miami, three more than the Knicks) I am not sure what the rush to get them on the court is.
Either way, it is only human for fatigue to show tonight; both physical and mental. It seems like an enormous advantage for the Sixers – one even they can’t screw up.
Free Pick: Philadelphia 76’ers -2.5