It was not a good day for positive streaks; both of our picks last night, two of the three hottest teams in the NBA, failed to cover (including Indiana’s surprising outright loss at home to Boston). Tonight we will try to bounce back with an overdue winner and get back to our winning ways.
Some nights, things just don’t go as anyone would expect. The Miami Heat, 15 point favorites hosting the hapless Orlando Magic, needed a last-second bucket from Lebron James to eek out a one-point win and run their winning streak to 16 games. Oddly, it was the first made field goal attempt in nine tries for Lebron in last second go-ahead winning attempts since joining the Miami Heat. Numbers and trends are great and certainly helpful, but sometimes in sports (which is part of what makes them great) the unpredictable happens…
Tonight the NBA features a pair of marquee matchups on TNT, showcasing a few of the league’s top teams. Let’s dig into the nightcap for today’s free pick.
Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets -4
This game is very interesting, given the overall perception of both teams by the general public (and casual betters). The Clippers are seen as a third team who could crash the Western Conference party; a rival to the Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets are seen as a star-less collection of good players toiling in relative anonymity. Sure, they are a playoff team, but no one really thinks twice about them.
Interestingly, the Nuggets only trails the Clippers by 3 ½ games for the third spot in the Western Conference playoffs, and enter tonight with the best home record in the NBA at 26-3. These two teams met in Denver earlier this season (before Chris Paul got hurt) and Denver won with ease, 92-78. They enter tonight with a six game winning streak that includes a win over Oklahoma City and wins at Portland and over the Lakers. Yet they are only four point favorites tonight.
On top of that, the Clippers are on the backend of a back-to-back. It sounds like a recipe for trouble to me – a second consecutive game on the road at the best home team in the NBA??
Denver’s home dominance hasn’t been a fluke. They are winning home games by an average point differential of nearly 10 points a game (9.8 ppg). That’s enough for me to be willing to lay a meager four tonight.
Free Pick: Denver Nuggets -4