The NBA season is a long grind. There are a ton of nagging injuries, and in the modern NBA, it seems half of every roster is listed no better than “day-to-day” (though an ironic semantic lover could say ‘aren’t we all’). It makes for some occasional difficulties trying to decipher who is actually going to play when writing a column early in the morning, and I am sure it is occasionally frustrating for fans heading to the arena hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite player.
The season tends to meander a bit, especially on both sides of the All Star Game, and there are definitely some instances where teams can look a little disinterested (ehm, Houston Rockets). So it is always nice when a game jumps up and grabs some significant meaning, even if it has to be somewhat manufactured. Such is the case in tonight’s Miami at Phoenix game, where thanks to the very unpleasant departure by Goran Dragic and the subsequent six-technical foul, three ejection game that ensured three weeks after the trade, ensures. To make things even more delicious, Dragic has continued to chirp even close to a year later, and the Suns brass and players aren’t exactly missing their former point guard either.
As much as two teams that have no other reason to give a flip about the other can possess genuine animosity, such is the case tonight.
It’s going to be fun.
So let’s make it even more fun by winning a wager along the way.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns -5
Yes, the Suns won their last game, but this is still my favorite non-Kings simmering supernova in the NBA. Things couldn’t be any more contentious and the increased losing certainly doesn’t help. Sure, there are injury problems, but chemistry issues are even more prevalent and things could get really, really ugly before this season mercifully concludes in the desert.
But let’s deal with numbers and not emotions for the time being.
Miami enters 4-1 ATS in their last five road games and fresh after a night off following a disappointing home loss to the Knicks. They also bring a relatively healthy team that ranks second in the NBA in points allowed at 92.7 ppg. Look for that defense to cause problems for a Suns team that ranks seventh in offense, but did a lot of that damage before losing their best player, Eric Bledsoe.
Phoenix is 1-9 ATS in their last ten games and have lost 8 of 12 straight-up at home. They have only eclipsed 100 points three times in their last 11 games, and one of them was on a night where they gave up 142 to the Kings. They are losing by a lot of point as well. The only two losses less than eight points in their last ten were against a Lebron-less Cleveland and a Durant-less Thunder.
Tonight seems like a good night to rest some players, but I think Miami has Dragic’s back tonight and know he really wants to destroy his former employer. It is good for morale and team chemistry to bring the full force tonight, and I think Miami will.
Assuming they dress everyone and push the gas pedal, covering a five point margin shouldn’t be a big deal.
Look for Miami to play hard, spirited basketball; to hold the Suns under 100 points and get the win out in the desert.