It was a strange night in the NBA as the playoff picture took some unexpected shape, largely because of the success of road teams across the Association. The Rockets grabbed a huge win on the road in Minnesota (and gave me a loss, and reminded me once again why the Bulls and Rockets were my ‘hands off’ wagering teams most of the season – the Rockets week? Win at OKC, Lose at home to Phoenix, win by a million in Minnesota). But the Playoff picture also swung a big on Charlotte blowing out Boston in the Garden (and Atlanta losing to Cleveland) and Dallas getting a huge win in Utah. It drew the Rockets and Jazz into a tie and also opened the door for the Heat to sneak back into the third or even fourth spot with Boston falling.
These next two nights will actually be a lot more interesting than the final two nights of NBA regular season action usually is, Golden State’s record-breaking attempt notwithstanding. (Though, obviously, that is the game MOST fans are going to be most interested in watching).
Let’s see if we can bounce back after yesterday’s stinker and grab a few wins ramping up for the postseason push.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons -2.5
This game doesn’t mean as much to Detroit as it might appear on the surface. The Pistons are in the postseason, and despite being tied with Indiana for the seventh spot, it is very likely that they will open the postseason in Cleveland. The Pacers own the tiebreaker and need only a single victory to wrap up the seventh spot, and it SHOULD come tonight at home against the lowly Knicks (or tomorrow at Milwaukee is winnable as well). So I am not sure there is a real sense of urgency for the Pistons.
Meanwhile, the Heat have a lot more to play for than they did last night – with the Hawks and Celtics losing the Heat would finish third in the East with a pair of wins to close the season. Home court and a second round matchup with Toronto versus going on the road and round one and possibly meeting Cleveland in two weeks are drastically different paths to the promised land. Can the Heat win the East? Probably not. But they certainly have as much talent in their starting lineup as the Raptors and tell me their fans wouldn’t relish a Conference Finals against LeBron??
Miami has been far better at home; winning ten of eleven at home versus dropping four of their last five on the road. Detroit has won nine of twelve overall. So the most recent trends favor the Pistons. So does the fact that the Heat are 0-5 ATS in their last five road games and Detroit is 4-2 ATS in their last six against the Heat including a win IN Miami earlier this season and blowing out the Heat in Detroit. I don’t think they’ll blow them out tonight, but I do think they win at home. It isn’t desperation time for Detroit, but they will be playing to win and to keep the pressure on the Pacers at the very least.
Look for a good game, but for the Pistons to pull away at home.