We had our four game winning streak snapped last night when the generally offensively-challenged Bulls (last in the league in effective FG%) went off behind an offensive explosion from Doug McDermott and beat the Grizz straight up despite being on no rest. It was one of the more impressive efforts of the season – or at least since the blissful first three weeks – for the mercurial Bulls. Have they found something in Dougie McBuckets, or was it just another odd blip on the third-year pros bumpy journey in search of playing time?
Elsewhere, both James Harden and Russell Westbrook continued their daring MVP Tet-a-tete by tallying triple doubles in respective victories. I’ve written it before, but it bears repeating – this is one of the best years for individual brilliance in recent NBA memory. Enjoy it.
Today is replete with day games as the NBA celebrates Martin Luther King Day in style with celebrations in each city and cool tributes before the games. It’s a cool homage to what makes basketball, and this country, so great. I’m looking forward not just to an awesome day of hoops, but also all the cool tributes and reflections that come with them.
And of course, CAVALIERS AT WARRIORS – 8PM EST (ESPN) for the final time until June…
Let’s dive in to today’s free pick:
Utah Jazz -6 at Phoenix Suns
The Utah Jazz are the better team. I don’t think that is in dispute. But laying six on the road against a team that has been good against the number recently is pretty aggressive. The Jazz are only 11-9 SU on the road this season. Phoenix is a surprisingly competent 8-11 SU at home. Their last game was a thrilling win over the Spurs down in Mexico and are 4-4 in their last four games with all four losses coming by single digits and three of them against good teams; Cavs, @Clippers and @Utah.
Utah is just 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games. Phoenix is 5-1 ATS in their last six at home, so very opposite momentum. Both teams are exactly .500 ATS for the entire season overall, but the Suns are at least showing signs of improvement after a disastrous start to the season. Devin Booker is blossoming into an All-Star level player (he won’t make the team until they win some games) and Eric Bledsoe is back from injury to help form one of the better and more underrated backcourts in the NBA.
I like Phoenix to sneak up and throw a very competitive game at Utah tonight in the dessert. I’m not sure I’m willing to stake the pick on the moneyline upset, but I do like them getting six points at home. They’ve covered that margin against the Cavs at home recently and beat the Raptors straight up, so they definitely have the capability to be competitive in their home arena.