Heat vs. Hornets Pick NBA – December 9th

Don’t let the final score fool you. The Golden State Warriors might never lose. They absolutely dominated the Pacers last night before a weird fourth quarter lull forced Golden State to put their starters back in order to secure the win. In reality, this was a 20-point game throughout and at NO POINT were the Pacers ever really going to win the game.

The only downside to the game was the late ankle injury to Klay Thompson, who was brilliant most of the night. If, and again, IF, he misses a game or two AND Harrison Barnes can’t get back, maybe this weekend’s back-to-back will finally do them in. After all, no team in NBA history has ever swept an entire seven game road trip, so the odds were certainly stacked against them from the beginning.  But here we are.  Five games in.  Wins at pesky Utah and Charlotte.  Win at very good Indiana.  And now only Boston and Milwaukee remain before heading home with only three heavily favored home court defenses needed to set up an unbeaten Christmas Day showdown with LeBron and the Cavs.  Unreal.

In other NBA action (or the JV division, as it is slowly becoming), Brooklyn continued the Rockets misery and are very quietly becoming a competent team and good wagering opportunity. We correctly faded them against the Knocks last week, but Brooklyn is now 8-2 ATS in their last ten games. The Cavaliers won a closer game than expected against Portland, and another sleeper team, the Orlando Magic, won in Denver to push their record to a surprising 12-9.

We had out four game winning streak snapped Monday, so let’s get back on the grind today.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Miami Heat -1 at Charlotte Hornets

Both teams enter tonight in playoff position and having gotten off to decent starts. The Heat have at times flirted with looking like a legit Eastern Conference contender, but one thing that jumped out at me in analyzing this game concerns me; they have played a TON of home games so far. The Heat are 12-7 but 10-4 at home. That means that have played 14 of their 19 games at home, so an inevitable regression to the mean seems likely once they have to start packing their bags a little bit.

Like tonight. Charlotte (who is also a little home-heavy) is a nice 9-3 in Charlotte, which makes Miami laying a point (or being even or getting a point, depending upon where this line eventually shakes out – it is +1 Charlotte at the time of publishing) pretty surprising. Miami is 2-3 on the road, and granted it is a small sample size, but when teams are relatively even an neither is tired or hurt, I lean towards to home team more often than not.

Miami is one of three teams in the NBA to avoid losing back to back games this season, a fate they will be trying to dodge this evening. However, that streak could be aided by the home game discrepancy I noted above. Meanwhile, Charlotte has win seven of nine games overall with their only two defeats coming to Golden State and Cleveland. Over the last three weeks, you could argue they’ve been a top five team in the NBA and certainly a top ten. They have wins over Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and a rapidly improving Brooklyn team. In fact, of their eight losses, all are to teams in playoff positioning.

They dropped the season opener at Miami. I think they level the season ledger tonight. It is daunting on paper to be without Al Jefferson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, but the Hornets have actually been playing fantastic basketball with Cody Zeller in the middle. Add in nice balanced scoring from Batum, Walker, Lamb and solid point play from Jeremy Lin, and this team may not look quite like Jordan envisioned in the preseason, but they are getting the job done with regularity.

Free Pick: Charlotte Hornets +1

Chris Scheeren / Author