Hawks vs. Clippers Pick NBA – March 5th

We notched a winner last night with the Memphis Grizzlies continuing the Jazz’s road miseries by pulling out a late win. Memphis’s grasp on the fifth seed seems pretty secure in both directions. They are five games clear of the sixth-place Mavs in the loss column and trail the fourth place Clippers by four. And as encouraged as some could be by finishing fifth in the “vaunted” Western Conference, I can’t help wonder if they are slipping dangerously into that NBA purgatory of mediocrity; not bad enough to get the help they need through the draft and trapped in a city that typically struggles to attract top free agents, and not good enough to truly compete for a championship. Could this be the first in several more years of early playoff exits and relative irrelevance in the NBA??

Meanwhile, the East seems to be the new West in terms of competitive balance as every day shakes up the playoff standings. Indiana took their third loss to Charlotte in two weeks to fall to seventh place while the Hornets opened up a 1 ½ game lead for sixth. But by no means should anyone feel safe; seventh and tenth are separated by only 1 ½ total games and fifth and tenth by just 3 ½. It should be fun all the way to the wire in the East, and with only Cleveland looking dominant (and sometimes Toronto), anyone with a dance ticket has to feel at least some optimism for the postseason.

Let’s see if we can make it another winner tonight.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Clippers -5

The Hawks looked good last night in Los Angeles. But tonight’s opponent at the Staples Center will look a little different than their last…

The Hawks made quick work of the Lakers, dispatching of them in routine fashion, jumping out to a 54-36 halftime lead and cruising to an easy victory. The ease with which they won does negate some of the “road back to back” factor, as well as the fact they didn’t even need to check in or out of a hotel. But they are still playing on two consecutive nights on the road against a team that is better than they are, so the heavy edge still goes to the Clips.

Los Angeles is riding high off their dramatic stunning comeback against the Thunder and is now 23-7 without Blake Griffin, easily a large enough sample size to establish that this is still one of the best teams in the NBA, even with their star sidelined. They are averaging 107.7 points per contest and are one of the most efficient teams, and best shooting teams, in the NBA. They are playing smaller, but they are also playing smarter and faster.

The Hawks have a losing record on the road at 15-16 and are dead even ATS on the season, both at home, on the road and overall. Meanwhile, the Clippers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games as they just keep defying logic by rolling without Blake. Griffin is close to a return, but for tonight’s pick, it really doesn’t matter. Give me the better-rested Clippers, who are also the better team, at home.

Free Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -5