Memphis pulled out the win in the final minute against the Hawks is what could very well have been an NBA Finals preview. If it was, we are in for a treat. They may not be star-laden teams but they are both full of great balance and team efficiency on both ends of the floor, and I imagine by Game Three, casual basketball fans will grow to know and love both teams and their lesser-known rosters.
Meanwhile, it is interesting what a difference Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin make in Minnesota. The Timberwolves won last night in Detroit to capture their third straight win including a home win over the aforementioned Grizzlies. Andrew Wiggins is quietly running away with NBA Rookie of the Year and suddenly, this is a competitive team (as if the West needed to get any better). The Timberpups are starting to grow into Wolves, and they are worth watching this week to see how the lines respond to their recent excellent play. We could be looking at a budding ‘Detroit after trading Josh Smith before Jennings got hurt’ run of beating the slow-to-adjust point spreads (though I am not touching them tonight at home against Atlanta)…
Let’s put last week’s misery in the rear view mirror and get back to our winning ways, right??
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Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks -8
I think the bottom is about to fall out on Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Blake Griffin’s injury news shocked the NBA world and throws a HUGE wrench in the Clippers title dreams. The league’s most petulant team might have even more to whine about on the court over the next two months without the All-Star power forward. They will have to plug the gap with creative lineups; smaller with Glen Davis, bigger with Spencer Hawes, maybe even a more guard heavy lineup at times and try to out-quick teams and spread the floor. But no matter what they do, it won’t be nearly as good as having Griffin on the court.
Meanwhile, Dallas should be feeling good after their stunning comeback overtime win against Portland this weekend. The Mavs remain in that middle pack of Western Conference teams that hasn’t emerged or sunk in the standings, but still lingers as a dangerous title contender. Dallas was 2-11 against other Western Conference playoff teams before their breakthrough win over the Blazers. However, I am not sure tonight’s Clippers team will LOOK like a playoff team without Blake. Their offense is going to need big contributions from guys who are not used to scoring in order to offset Blake, and I’m not sure they can do it.
I like Dallas to pounce tonight and take advantage of the opportunity to push towards the Top Four seeding position. The absence of Blake leaves them with a real matchup issue for Dirk. I expect him to play big tonight, taking advantage of Spencer Hawes/Glen Davis who are too slow/small to give him any issues.