Our modest three-game NBA winning streak was stopped last night in difficult fashion. The Pacers led by seven with seven seconds to go when Damian Lillard hit another off-balance deep three pointer to steal the cover. It looked like we were going to get a reprieve with a backdoor push when the Blazers fouled George Hill (why???) with two seconds to go, but the reliable foul shooter missed one of two, and the Pacers finished as five point winners and the narrowest of ATS losers.
The most surprising result of the night happened in Orlando, where a last second dunk pushed the Magic to a 103-102 stunner over the Thunder. It doesn’t matter a ton in the big scheme of things, but it is certainly a head-scratching result for the best team in the West.
Such is life sometimes in the wacky regular season NBA, but we will get up off the mat today and try to start a winning streak anew…
Today’s Free Picks:
Memphis Grizzlies at Atlanta Hawks -3 (Total: 198)
The Grizzlies were my gravy train for a few weeks, but things have changed abruptly. The reason why? The injury to star point guard Mike Conley. Just when they got Gasol back and things were rolling along, they lose another key component. To make matter worse, Tony Allen is unlikely to make his anticipated return tonight either. That leaves a pretty depleted backcourt tonight on the road against a Hawks team that have been good (16-7) at home.
Look for Jeff Teague to enjoy not having Conley to contend with tonight and to have a big game. Atlanta has lost two straight and is just 5-5 over their last ten, but has played a very difficult schedule along the way. Their losses are a tight road loss to New Orleans, a tight home loss to Indiana, a two-point road loss to OKC and losses to Brooklyn and San Antonio. They will be going on three days’ rest tonight and at home, which should be enough to carry them to a win over depleted Memphis.
The Grizzlies have dropped two straight since losing Conley and haven’t looked particularly good, dropping a 14-point loss at home to Dallas and mustering just 77 points on the road at Oklahoma City. I still think Memphis will be fine and make the Playoffs, but they need Conley back ASAP. They can’t afford to take too many losses in the tightly-contested Western Conference. Unfortunately for them, I think they’ll take their third straight tonight.