Grizzlies vs. Clippers Pick NBA – Feb 23rd

We stayed hot yesterday with a fifth straight NBA winner (four straight if you don’t want to count the All Star ‘Game’ as a real ‘pick’ – I’m fine with that) and will try to keep it going into a new week. But first a couple of observations from yesterday.

First, the Thunder will miss Kevin Durant who will miss some more time having a screw repaired in his foot. But they will survive, because Russell Westbrook should be inching his way into the MVP conversation. NO longer just the “does he shoot too much” sidekick for KD, Westbrook is showing he is ready to lead a team to victory. He assimilated newcomer Enis Kanter and veteran Serge Ibaka flawlessly yesterday as each scored 20 points as he dished out 17 assists. Can they win a title without KD? No. But with Anthony Davis set to miss some time and whatever the hell the Suns did at the trade deadline, it doesn’t look like there is any danger of the Thunder being in the Lottery.

Meanwhile, what is going on in Washington? The Wizards, whom many considered contenders in the East a month ago, have lost eight of ten games with the only wins coming at home against Orlando and Brooklyn. Even more troubling is the 0-2 post-All Star Break start with losses to Cleveland and Detroit by an average of 22.5 ppg.

Let’s start the week as we finished the last; stacking up winners.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers -3

It feels like the Clippers should be struggling, right? No Blake Griffin. All the whining and consternation that has surrounded this team for so long. But the truth is, they’re playing better than they ever have. They’ve won four straight games including wins over San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. They are 4-1 without Blake and 4-1 ATS.

On paper, I hate this matchup for the Blake-less Clippers. They face the best frontcourt in the NBA without their best frontcourt player. But paper doesn’t win basketball games (ask the Heat and Nets). Los Angeles is bridging the gap with huge step-up efforts from DeAndre Jordan and a cobbled-together platoon of Glen Davis, Spencer Hawks, Hedo Tukoglu, and even Austin Rivers (no, not at the four, but as a scoring option fill-in). It is working and working far better than anyone could have imagined.

Meanwhile, Memphis is fantastic. Their comeback win last night in Portland was just another reminder this team, despite the lack of flash, has to at least be considered the co-favorite in the West. However, winning back to back road games against playoff caliber opponents in the span of 24 hours is a rarity in the NBA.

The Grizz are probably the better team in a seven game series and have gone 8-1 ATS in their last nine games against LAC, but on the road and on short rest against a team that had last night off? I’ll take the Clippers to be better tonight.

Free Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -3

Chris Scheeren / Author