The Knicks held up their end of the bargain and easily dispatched their cross-borough rivals to get us a third straight NBA winner. We will try to keep it up tonight on a an absolutely bananas sports (and sport-wagering) day. You have dynamite college hoops with Syracuse @ Georgetown and Arizona @ Gonzaga. You have all the college football conference championship games including a really intriguing ACC and Big Ten Championship Game, and a loaded NBA slate including LeBron heading back to Miami and Golden State trying to make it Blackjack at 21-0 at Toronto.
Awesome, awesome sports day. In fact, the only thing I can think of that would make it even better is stacking up a few winners to add to the festivities. So without further ado, let’s see if we can make it four straight ATS with NBA picks tonight.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat -2 (Total: 191.5)
It’s year two post-LeBron in South Beach, but don’t think that some of the conflicted emotions of gratitude, respect and anger have fully subsided. It will still be a spectacle tonight when the Cavaliers and LeBron come to town, and the spectacle is made even more interesting by the fact that this game isn’t nearly the mismatch it was last season. In fact, when Miami is healthy (and Cleveland is not, still no Kyrie) this is a pretty even matchup.
Both teams enter with six losses (Miami has played two less games) and both teams have similarly positive point differentials; Cleveland at +4.9, Miami at +3.8. Miami has played a little better over their last ten games; 7-3 to 5-5, but Cleveland is a little more efficient on offense. Miami is substantially more efficient defensively (2nd overall in the NBA).
I think that is where the difference will come in to play tonight. Miami has several other factors going for them aside from being a better defensive team. They are also at home, playing in front of a jacked-up South Beach crowd. This game MEANS a lot more to Miami than a normal matchup. Beating LeBron, especially this year while faint dreams of a championship have been allowed to re-emerge, is everything to this city. The emotion will carry over to the team. Secondly, Cleveland is on the back-end of a road back to back and, even worse, they lost in OVERTIME last night. Expecting them to be fresh tonight is unrealistic.
Teams don’t win back-to-backs on the road often in the NBA. They win them even more rarely when they went to overtime the night before and are playing a team that has this matchup CIRCLED months and months in advance. The Cavs are walking into a buzz saw tonight in Miami. Take the Heat laying just a slim, slim two points in what should be an unpleasant return for The King.