The Hawks stormed back late in the fourth quarter to not only secure a vital win over the Celtics and solidify their claim on a first round home court edge, they also covered a spread that looked unlikely for 42 minutes with relative ease. It gave us a nice winner and one we will look to double-down on today to cap off a nice NBA week.
Meanwhile, the Warriors moved to 71 wins with just two games to go with a scrappy, narrow win in Memphis. Of course, this makes them just 4-2 in their last six games with a one point win at Memphis (who is a MASH unit) and an overtime win over Utah and losses at home to the Celtics and Timberpups. So, while the fun question is “can they win in San Antonio and eclipse the ’96 Bulls?” the more prescient question might be “are the Warriors OK, and can they still win a Title?” The answer feels like “mayyyybe??” but the home win with command over the full-strength Spurs was a nice reminder to not overreact to minor stumbles too heavily…
Meanwhile, it was an all-around wacky night in the NBA. The Suns and Timberwolves got ROAD wins, the Bulls beat the Cavs (with LeBron) and the Thunder lost to the Kings. While most of those games are just fun anomalies, the Bulls win pulled them back to 40-40 and keeps the pressure on the Pacers who still need another win to clinch their likely playoff spot.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Utah Jazz -6.5 at Denver Nuggets
Speaking of games that someone NEEDS to win to secure playoff spots, the Jazz’s last loss has made today’s game in Denver VERY important; a loss today would pull them even in the loss column with the Rockets, who don’t SEEM interesting in the playoffs after their last two losses, but alas, they are still hanging around – and with them hosting the Lakers today, one would have to assume that even the Tinman Rockets would have the heart to prevail today.
It seems like a winnable game for the Jazz to be sure, but by no means a “freebie.” Utah is just 15-24 on the road this season and 18-21 ATS away from the friendly Salt Lake confines. Denver is only 18-22 at home, but considering how lousy their season has been overall and the massive rash of injuries, not a terrible mark. They are still injured; Danillo Gallinari’s return was a brief tease, only to find him back on IR for the remainder of the season.
The Jazz have played well lately, winning 11 of 15 and storming to try to take control of one of the final two playoff berths. But to just assume they win on the road by a large margin would be dangerous. We’ve seen a lot of teams with “nothing to play for” step up these last few weeks as the Suns, Timberwolves and Kings have all notched impressive wins. I am not sure Denver goes all the way to “winner” tonight, but getting six and a half at home feels pretty generous. Their recent performance at home against Utah gives me some slight pause, failing to cover in four of the last five matchups in Denver, but then again, they weren’t usually getting seven points to play with either.
It’s a lot of points for a home team against a team that’s won less than 37% of their games away from home. I’ll take the Nuggets and the healthy point pile.