Thursday night in the NBA means two things; it’s going to be a very light schedule and that both of the games (televised on TNT) are usually really good ones. Tonight is no exception. The Heat face a similar game to the Thunder last night, opening the second half of the season on the road against a good team in their conference. I read an interesting article about how the moneyline on the Bulls winning the NBA Championship shrunk tremendously yesterday upon rumors that Derek Rose is going to be returning soon.
My question to those better is, why?? Yes, the line is a much better value wager if Rose is healthy, but even with Rose in the lineup, is this team really winning an NBA Championship?? I don’t see them beating Miami even with Rose (pop in some film of the 2011 Playoffs and see what Lebron did to him), and they sure aren’t beating OKC/San Antonio/LA Clippers either.
Speaking of the Bulls, Heat, Spurs and Clippers – all four are in action tonight, so let’s get to some quick picks for both of tonight’s marquee matchups.
Miami Heat -3 at Chicago Bulls
The Heat is literally on fire. They have won eight straight games, five in a row by double digits, and have been simply overwhelming teams. Backing them tonight violates my “team on the road on the second night of a back-to-back” rule, but honestly, at this point, the Heat are a little beyond conventional rules and methods of evaluation.
Chicago is an excellent defensive team, so tonight will be a nice litmus test for the inhumanly-efficient Lebron James. If he goes for 30/60% tonight, there might just be no constraints for him this season as a basketball player.
Chicago won the last meeting, IN Miami, back in January. That should be just enough fuel to get them extra-focused tonight. Keep in mind that this Heat team became the first team ever to win three games in three straight nights all on the road, earlier this season. The normal rules don’t apply.
Give me the Heat laying the three.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -3
San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers -3
The Spurs finished the first half of the season with the best record in the NBA (stop if you’ve heard that storyline before, say, nearly every year for 15 years…) but the Clippers were neck and neck with them until Chris Paul’s injury. Since Paul’s return, it’s been back to winning for the Clippers who finished with an impressive 4-1 run to close the first half of the season with four of the five games coming on the road. The wins included a humiliation of the Lakers, a nice win over Houston, and road wins at New York and Philly.
This should be a good game, but I lean toward the home team tonight and give the edge to the Clippers. This is an enormous game for them, as they are 4 ½ games behind San Antonio and 2 games behind OKC in the standings. Being the #3 seed in the West means you would likely need to win three consecutive series without Thunder, Spurs and Heat in order to win a title. That seems unlikely. Getting to the #2 or even the #1 in the West remains the Clippers goal. Tonight is an opportunity for a huge step in the right direction.
Free Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -3