Hornets vs. Mavericks Pick NBA – Feb 22nd

We notched out fourth straight win last night and the second of the streak earned by backing the Thunder. Even without Durant, as projected, Russell Westbrook went into hero mode and threw in 33 and 10 to push the Thunder to the road win at reeling Charlotte. The Thunder are starting to edge into more comfortable playoff position, but the lingering on-again/off-again health status of Kevin Durant is problematic. It looks like they are going to make the playoffs, especially in light of the Phoenix Suns moving two of their three top-tier point guards at the trade deadline. But if the Thunder are going to do any damage, they obviously need Durant at full strength.

Meanwhile, how about the Los Angeles Clippers? They notched their second win in as many nights, following up the Spurs win by beating the brakes off the Kings, 126-99 and led by Austin Rivers’ 28 points. I thought the Clips were sinking when Griffin went down, but perhaps their bench and Coach Rivers will be able to ride the storm until Blake’s return.

Let’s see if we can make it a nice five in a row for the NBA today.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Charlotte Hornets at Dallas Mavericks -10

We had some success fading the Hornets as much as we backed the Thunder last night. Tonight the Hornets get a trip to Dallas as a fun second stop on a back to back. Good luck.

A promising season turned ugly in a hurry. Last season they broke through to become a playoff team with Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson. They signed Lance Stevenson and his antics in the offseason and many projected they could take the next step and win a playoff series this year.

Suffice it to say, it hasn’t gone as planned. Kemba is out. Lance has been the locker room disruptant his reputation portended and his output hasn’t been even close to enough to make it worth it. They’ve lost four games in a row and three of them are to non-playoff positioned teams in the East, including a loss to the Sixers. It’s getting ugly quickly and I don’t think a trip to Dallas is the answer.

Meanwhile, Dallas hasn’t looked like world beaters, but they rarely lose to inferior competition. They are 13-8 ATS against teams under .500 and have won by an average of 13.8 points when a double-digit favorite. They may not look great when it’s the Clippers or the Spurs, but they generally handle their business and let their talent advantage overwhelm the lesser teams in the league.

Not only are the Mavs the better team, they are catching a reeling team with injury and morale issues on the back end of a back-to-back. It all adds up to a healthy Mavericks win tonight.

Free Pick: Dallas Mavericks -10

Chris Scheeren / Author