I got back on the winning side of things in the NBA last night with the New Orleans Pelicans handling their business at home against the rapidly-sinking Clippers ship. NOLA needed a few late free throws and almost gave away a backdoor cover with a Boogie Cousins sloppy pass to Austin Rivers in the final twenty seconds, but alas, Jrue Holiday knocked down a few from the line to hold on to the money.
Elsewhere in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors taught a tough second-half lesson to the youthful Sixers, turning a competitive game into a rout with a 36-21 third quarter. Stop me if that sounds familiar… does any team in NBA history blister teams more mercilessly out of the locker room at halftime than the Golden State Warriors???
In other action, the Nuggets continue to exploit a deadly home court advantage at altitude, blowing out the Magic to move to 6-2 at home, and the Suns continue to look good at home, knocking off Minnesota in somewhat surprising fashion in yet another big evidence of the massive parity in the early NBA season.
It is a light slate today, but there are a couple interesting games on the slate. Let’s see if I can throw a second straight W up on The Sports Geek this afternoon…
Today’s NBA Pick:
Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons -2.5
I have been slow to come around on the Pistons. I thought the loss of Caldwell-Pope would hurt defensively. I wasn’t sold on Reggie Jackson as a legit lead guard from a distribution and efficiency standpoint (and neither were the Pistons at one point), and I thought they lacked the offensive punch to compete for a playoff spot.
However, Stan Van Gundy has the Pistons playing with reasonable offensive efficiency (9th in the NBA) and defending at the same rate, thanks to a massively improved effort from Andre Drummond who is menacing team approaching the rim. He is snatching a ridiculous 15.5 rebounds a game and leads the NBA in 15-point/20-rebound games over the last three seasons. Tobias Harris is playing like a borderline All Star, Avery Bradley has been brilliant on both sides of the ball and Reggie Jackson is toting a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Things are clicking in Detroit and this looks like a legitimate basketball team in the East.
Meanwhile, the early returns in Miami have been so-so. It isn’t the disastrous 11-30 start of 2016, but it is also a far cry from their NBA-best winter run which stoked some optimism for this season in South Beach. The Heat enter a respectable eighth in Defensive Efficiency, two spots better than the more heralded Pistons, but they languish at 25th in Offensive Efficiency, largely in part to their third-worst Turnover Rate (their 15.7 is only 0.2 better than league-worst Philadelphia and Lakers – two teams playing nearly all teenagers in ball-handling positions…). Goran Dragic and company have NO EXCUSE.
This is a pretty favorably line for a team that is 9-3 SU overall, and 8-3-1 ATS on the season. The Pistons are 6-1 at home SU this year against the Heat’s 3-3 record (2-4 this season as an underdog).
I’ll take the home team at a very, very reasonable price.
Today’s NBA Pick: DETROIT PISTONS -2.5