I don’t like dropping games, especially consecutive ones, but the bigger take away from last night’s Atlanta Hawks win over New Orleans is that Anthony Davis is really, really, really good. And it still may not matter. The most troubling aspect of last night’s game from a Pelicans perspective is that they lost at home despite a 41 point, 10 rebound monstrosity from The Brow. If they can’t win at home with AD going 40/10 it seems really hard to imagine them making the playoffs. Their perimeter defense is suspect at best, and YES, they have played probably the toughest schedule in the NBA, but ask last year’s Thunder team what happens when you dig yourself a hole in the Western Conference. You get some ping pong balls.
In my defense, my pick was predicated on the early report that Kyle Korver was likely to sit out. Of course he did not sit out, and instead hurled a “perfect game” shooting a flawless 8 for 8 from the field and 2 of 2 from the line (4 of 4 from behind the arc for good measure). But, as we all know, excuses are like (insert your smelly orifice here). So, no excuses. But had I known Korver was going to play (I write about 10-12 hours before tipoff, which can occasionally be troublesome in today’s NBA with the fact that even healthy players only dress 70-75 times) I would have gone Pacers over Heat (and sweated mightily, but at least notched a win).
Alas, let’s get ourselves a few W’s tonight. There are two games I really like on tonight’s docket. Let’s win ’em both and get back to even on the young season.
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Today’s Free Picks:
Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks -5.5 (Total: 194)
Milwaukee at home against the worst team in the NBA on the backend of a back-to-back? Yes, please. Aside from the fact that Milwaukee looks really good in their last three games, including a comeback win at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn has looked especially bad. They just lost to the Lakers to add to the winless perfection collection. Their schedule has been challenging; Chicago, @San Antonio, @Memphis, @ Atlanta – so perhaps they aren’t really the WORST team in the NBA (let’s not let the lakers off the hook that easy despite the head-to-head home win), but they certainly don’t look like a team that can win on the backend of a road back-to-back.
Michael Carter-Williams may miss a third straight game tonight, but I like Milwaukee either way. Bayless and Ennis have been capable filling in and with Jabari Parker starting to work his way into game shape, this Milwaukee team is loaded with talent; young, athletic, tough-defending talent. Look for the Bucks to stifle a Brooklyn offense that is 29th in the NBA in points per game at 91.2.
Memphis Grizzlies at Utah Jazz -1 (Total: 179)
Don’t look now but the Utah Jazz are the new-look Memphis Grizzlies. Remember that stifling defensive unit Memphis has trotted out for half a decade? They are currently 27th in the NBA in defensive efficiency after getting embarrassed by the Blazers Thursday night. I’d be willing to excuse the low ranking due to the small sample size including the 50-point drubbing by the Dubs, but Portland? Not good. Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz are 1st in the NBA in defensive efficiency and are 3-2 despite some uneven offensive play.
A good sign for the Jazz is that Gordon Hayward, probably their most reliable offensive threat, broke out of an early season slump scoring an efficient 20 points Thursday night at Denver. Four of the Jazz first five games have been on the road, so I expect them to get a little bump playing at home tonight. And the Grizz just don’t look right. Is it just a slow start or is age finally catching up with this team?
Either way, give me the tough defending Jazz at home tonight laying just a single point.