NBA All Star rosters were announced last night, and with a few exceptions, the coaches did a pretty good job. You can quibble with Paul Milsap over Joel Embiid, and I’ll admit I cast my unofficial support with the Sixers ebullient big man in last week’s column, but any true outrage over this decision is driven more by emotion than facts. Milsap is a plenty deserving candidate.
In the West, it is hard to get too upset either. I personally would have gone Rudy Gobert over DeAndre Jordan, but Jordan’s defense and rebounding certainly make him a worthy consideration. The Clippers center was First Team All NBA last year, so I can understand the coaches giving him the slight edge in a close decision. I would have liked for Mike Conley to have found his way onto the roster, but that addition means a subtraction, and I can’t say I really have a valid one. Maybe Conley over Marc Gasol? That’s a pretty minor quibble…
Meanwhile, the biggest news of the night involves a punch. But not one at a person. Enes Kanter broke his forearm last night punching a chair in frustration – obviously silly – but also REALLY damaging to the Thunder’s ambitions of contending for the fourth playoff spot in the West. Bad night, and a really bad move for the Thunder big.
Today’s Free Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trailblazers -1
Mike Conley was likely the last man out for an All Star nod for the umpteenth time in his career. Such is life in the West with Steph, Westbrook, and Lillard (and Chris Paul and formerly Nash) lurking around. But don’t let that fool you into thinking Conley isn’t an elite point guard and a darn good player. He missed a little time this year with injury, but when he is healthy, he has the Grizz in real contention for home court in the first round of the Playoffs.
The Blazers will also have to contend with Marc Gasol who is fresh off a career-high 42 points in Wednesday win over Toronto 101-99. The veteran big man IS an All Star, and a worthy selection though one could quibble over he/Conley. If the roster had 15 slots, both are surely included.
Meanwhile, the Blazers have stopped their free fall with two straight wins over the Lakers and Celtics, but it has still be a rough month in Portland. Aside from an odd win over Cleveland, the Blazers have only beaten two playoff teams in the last six weeks. Their few wins have been over the Lakers twice, Detroit, Sacramento and Minnesota as they have gone 6-14 in their last 20 games.
Neither team has been great ATS lately, but I’ll go with the better team in the near pick em.