Two teams vying for some national attention and respect made major statements last night. The first one clipped me; the Jazz winning at home over LeBron and the Cavs. It’s a huge win for Utah who finally beats a big name opponent, bucking their three week trend of “lose to good team, beat the bad ones” that had emerged pretty solidly. The other statement was even MORE impressive.
The Milwaukee Bucks not only WON against the Spurs last night, but they did it IN San Antonio, a pretty remarkable achievement for a team that has flitted over and under .500 most of the season. The Bucks won, but not in the fashion that is starting to become more and more routine; with Giannis playing like a Top Ten (at worst) player in the NBA and Jabari Parker playing like an All Star. In fact, The Greek Freak has ZERO points in NINE MINUTES because of illness. Instead, the Bucks erased a five point late deficit and won on the road in San Antonio behind MICHAEL BEASLEY.
Just let that last sentence wash over the coolness of your body… Michael Beasley led the win. Not in China. But right here in the good ole U-S- of A over Kawhi and Coach Pop.
Sports, man. Sports.
Let’s see if we can get on the plus side of a winning play tonight.
Today’s Free Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder -4.5
Even on paper, this is a pretty even matchup. The Grizzlies and Thunder are both a few games over .500 ATS. Both have winning records and solid playoff positions, and both have been a little better than expected after some off season turmoil; the Thunder’s more major, losing Durant, and the Grizzlies dealing with an aging roster, Z-Bo moving to the reserve role and a ton of injuries. They are a half-game apart in the standings, both playing well over the last three weeks (6-4, 7-3 respectively) and have some good on-court matchups with the defensively-solid Conley matching Westbrook, the defensive interior strength of the Thunder matching Randolph/Gasol.
So in short – it’s a good game to watch tonight on ESPN.
But the game is IN Oklahoma City where the Thunder are a nice 11-6-1 ATS this season as a home favorite and they have covered four of their last five games against Memphis. Both teams are rested, so there is no advantage in that column making this a straight up game between two quality teams with a reasonable line. In those instances, it is hard not to favor the home team. Oklahoma City’s defensive strengths are in the Grizzlies sources of offensive strength, so I’ll give them the edge at home.
It should be a good game. Look for Oklahoma City to make enough shots to get over the number and get the winner.
Also, don’t discount the revenge/effort factor in NBA regular season games. The Grizzlies laid a 114-80 beat down on the Thunder in Memphis last month and more than a few Thunder folks were a little grumpy about the Grizz bench launching some late three pointers and piling up the score. That extra pep in the Thunder step could be enough to return the favor tonight…