We dropped a tough game last night to flatten out to 2-2 on the young NBA season. Both the losses I have posted were caused by teams that are expected to be well out of the playoffs, but have yet to lose this year. So are the Pistons (3-0) legit? Perhaps they can compete for a playoff spot, hell, it is the Eastern Conference after all. But considering they have shot under 40% in all three games and won them all, it seems reasonable to consider that a regression towards the expected outcome when one shoots under 40% is not too far behind… records can be fickle in the early NBA season. Make sure to look at WHO teams have played and the efficiency with which they are operating on offense and defense. It is a much more telling measure of a team and the likelihood to win.
Meanwhile, if you missed the wildness in Orlando last night, you really should notch a few winning picks and pony up for League Pass. That game was simply bananas. Russell Westbrook bounced one off the backboard and in to force overtime (the third made three pointer between the two teams in the last 17 seconds). Oladipo hit a buzzer-beating corner three to force double overtime before the Thunder finally exhausted the young Magic. Tough loss for the Magic, but definitely an early contender for regular season game of the year.
Let’s get back on track tonight and make it an extra happy Halloween with a bonus pick in today’s candy bag.
Today’s Free Pick:
Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers -3
The Pacers are off to an 0-2 start and they have had some real defensive issues with their new smaller lineup. However, they were within a bucket in the final minute of each loss – both to quality playoff teams: @Toronto and Memphis. Tonight they get to stay home after a day of rest and host a young team traveling across the country on the second night of a back to back. That is traditionally a good recipe for home team success.
The Jazz are loaded with young talent, and Derrick Favors could be a handful for Indy tonight if they elect to stay small, especially with Rudy Gobert requiring Mahimi’s attention in the post. However, I expect Indiana to get loose offensively and for Paul George’s rust to continue to shake off. Yes, he has scored points, but he has done it on sub 30% shooting. He will get better. I think that’ll start tonight against a sluggish Jazz squad.
Look for Indy to score plenty of points and to defend just well enough to get their first win of the season and cover at Banker’s Life.
Golden State Warriors -4.5 at New Orleans Pelicans
OK, I know it is dangerous to defy the rules, but I am starting to think Golden State may be beyond rules and traditional definitions. Yes, they went on the road last night and play a second straight night away from Roaricle. However, those two games have been ‘rest-the-starters, cruise with comfort’ blowout wins. They have already demolished the Pelicans once this week and I think they do it again tonight. Steph Curry started the year dropping 24 in the first quarter against the Pels (en route to an easy 40). However the Pels have also allowed 37 points to CJ McCollum. Perhaps there are some REAL defensive woes at play in this backcourt (hint: yes, there are).
Anthony Davis will have a better night. He averaged 36.5 and 12 against them last season. But it isn’t enough. Golden State will top 110 points, and while Steph and Co. might have to actually play in the fourth quarter for a change, I still like them to win and cover on the road.