The Warriors won again last night to push their early season record to a perfect 5-0, but the Clippers did something none of their peers could accomplish this season; keep the game respectable. As a result, we missed the cover by a few buckets and slid back to 5-5 this season – in perfect alternating order. So I suppose we are due for a W tonight…
It’s easy to talk Warriors. But there are two other teams that have caught my early attention. First, how about the Toronto Raptors? They are 5-0, the only other undefeated team in the NBA and last night they won on the road in OKC. They have won in Dallas and Boston and absolutely hammered the Bucks. The backcourt of Lowry and DeRozan has been the best in the East (though Wall and Beal are going to make this interesting all year long – Beal’s Spurs-killer last night was money), and their defense has been much improved (DeMarre Carroll addition paying off?)
The other team is the Orlando Magic. They aren’t bad. Really. They aren’t. The lost in overtime, again, last night to a top tier Western Conference foe. They’ve gone to overtime with Houston and OKC, lost in the final seconds to Chicago and Washington and beat up New Orleans on the road. That is a BRUTAL schedule. They host Toronto tomorrow night, which is an obviously tough game, but then they get a four game run against Indiana, Philly, the Lakers and Jazz. Keep an eye on the young Magic over the next two weeks. I think they can compete for a playoff spot in the East. The next few weeks will be pretty telling…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Miami Heat -3.5 at Minnesota Timberwolves
Gerald Green is in the hospital, Dwyane Wade Is questionable with migraines, yet the biggest headache for the Heat tonight might be facing a young, energized and inspired T’Wolves team playing their first home game and their first home game since the passing of Flip Saunders. I expect Minny to be electric and inspired.
Also, there is the basketball fact that, even though Minnesota will likely lose 50-55 games, they aren’t a terrible basketball team. They are just playing in an elite conference. In the East, I think they win 35 games. Andrew Wiggins has struggled with his shot, shooting just 30%, but is still a talented wing player who is going to get better and better. Zach Levine has been excellent, Ricky Rubio is healthy and looking like an All Star, even with all the insane PG talent in the West (note: he will not make the team with Curry, Paul and Westbrook, but he has been every bit as good as Conley and Lillard and Bledsoe) and first overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 17.7/10.3 through his first three games. Impressive stuff. I can’t wait to see him match up with Whiteside on the offensive side of the ball.
Miami has a ton of talent, but ALREADY the injury talk is becoming a factor. It likely will all season long. Not that either of these injuries are chronic or predictable, but others feel inevitable. It is going to be tough for them to win a lot of road games this season, and tonight there is an emotional avalanche going against them. I’ll take the Wolves to surprise the Heat and win at home tonight.