The Clippers win streak finally came to a halt last night, falling 90-78 at the Denver Nuggets. Things don’t get any easier for LA tonight, as they play the second night of a back-to-back at one of the hottest teams in the NBA, Golden State. It will be an interesting game to see how well they bounce back, and a nice glimpse into whether they really are the best team in the NBA, or if like the Houston Rockets of three or four years ago, they are simply a good team who caught fire for a brief moment in time…
Speaking of fire, we are 10-3-1 ATS with our last 14 NBA picks – so let’s dig right in with tonight’s free selection and start off 2013 the same way we finished up 2012; with a nice string of winners.
Memphis Grizzlies -4 at Boston Celtics (Total: 179.5)
Boston would have to rank among the league’s biggest disappointments thus far this season. Most expected them to show some more subtle signs of aging, and also assumed they’d miss Ray Allen a little, but nothing like what they’ve shown through the first third of the season. The Celtics enter tonight just 14-16 and looking a million miles away from the team that held a 3-2 lead over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. They’ve lost three in a row, four of their last five and seven of nine overall.
Now here’s the catch… six of those seven losses have been on the road. Not that it excuses losing ot teams like Sacramento and getting blown out by Brooklyn, but the other five are in pretty tough places to win (Golden State, Houston, Clippers, San Antonio and Chicago). So perhaps the Celtics aren’t quite as bad as their record indicates.
Memphis is also struggling. It is less noticeable, because of the lower expectations and comfy record they have amassed, but the Grizzlies are showing some signs they are a clear peg behind the Thunder, Spurs and Clippers out West. They have lost three of four, and the losses are to Philly, Indy and a blowout loss to Houston. That’s a pretty poor stretch for any team, let alone one that fancies themselves as a contender in the West.
I like Boston to play well tonight at home. They are 9-5 at home, while Memphis is just 6-6 on the road. Talent-wise, this isn’t a big mismatch, and I’d even give the edge to Rondo over Conley (though it is a great defensive PG matchup). Home teams play better than road teams in the NBA. It’s just a fact. And if I can get a pretty talented one at home AND four points? I’m going to take it every time.
Free Pick: Boston Celtics +4