What a cool night in the NBA. LeBron James becomes the youngest person to score 25,000 points in the NBA at just 30 years of age; the perfect celebration of precocious brilliance, something that has always intrigued and fascinated. Meanwhile, Tim Duncan established a new mark for the most wins by any player with a single team; a true testament to longevity, loyalty and sustained excellence, qualities we have always revered and respected. Both end of the sports dichotomy, and both remarkable achievements. Simply put, a really cool night in sports.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t cap it off with a winner. James Harden had the bounce back night I half-expected but under-feared and the Slim Reaper and Westbrook weren’t able to muster quite enough offense (Durant’s shot to tie with ten seconds was one of the worst shots I’ve seen him launch in his NBA career – no exaggeration) and the Rockets and Thunder ended their ‘perfect’ records with the opposite result.
Meanwhile, holycrapdidyouseetheWarriors??? They were up 42 on the Grizzlies early in the third quarter before sending all their starters to the bench – again – en route to a casual 50-point win over a team that won a playoff series last year and is healthy and has their core intact. Through four games, Steph Curry has scored 148 points on 84 shots in just 127 minutes. That’s a point every 47 seconds. Another fun number – IF Steph Curry were to go 0 for 88 from behind the arc in his next game (which seems a tad over-zealous…) he would STILL be shooting a high percentage from behind the arc than James Harden. That’s good for a PER of 50.5. The highest PER in NBA history is Wilt Chamberlain’s 31.8 1962-63 season…
While your mind swims on those stats, let’s get rid of this win/loss/win/loss trend that has befallen my first NBA week of picks.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies -5 at Sacramento Kings (Total: 198)
I’m not fading the Grizzlies off the loss last night to Golden State. Right now the Warriors are the Aliens and everyone else is pre-MJ Space Jam. The game is simply not fair. But I am fading a veteran team on the road on the back-end of a back-to-back against an undervalued team that plays well at home. Yes, DeMarcus Cousins is out of the lineup, but for just one game, I think they rally around the players they do have, enjoy the defensive springiness of Willey Cauley-Stein and play just well enough to cover against a sluggish team.
Memphis’s one saving grace is that the game was SO BAD last night that they were able to raise the white flag early and get their starters some early rest. I like their veteran core to execute better in the final two minutes and to pull out a close a game, but I like Sacramento to enjoy some nice spurts in the second and third quarters to establish a lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Teams on back to backs fare poorly. We all know this. The absence of DeMarcus Cousins is HUGE, obviously, but I’ll still take the fatigue factor for one team while the other is fresh as a decisive factor (as it so often is during the regular season, far more than ‘matchups’ or any other factor)
I like the Grizz to win close with a Kings cover, but the nest play tonight is the UNDER 198. Neither team is an offensive dynamo and with the Grizz tired and no Boogie for the Kings to focus their scoring around, things could stagnate a bit tonight in the Cow Palace. The last six meetings between these two teams have stayed UNDER the total has stayed under in five of the last six road games.