Kings vs. Pistons Pick NBA – Jan 4th

They aren’t the sexiest team in the NBA. In fact, unless you are a hoops nerd like me (and presumably many of you since you are reading this column), there’s a good chance you can’t name more than three of their current players. Let’s see… Al Horford, Kyle Korver, maybe Jeff Teague… hmmm…. Dominique Wilkens? Spud Webb?

The point is, this year’s Hawks might be anonymous, but it’s about time to get to know them. They have vaulted to the top spot in the East by posting a ridiculous 25-8 record (especially considering they started 5-5). They went into Portland last night and convincingly took down one of the best teams in the NBA and are now 20-3 since their pedestrian start with road wins over Portland, Dallas, Houston and Cleveland. That’s impressive stuff. Now of course, they have their hands full tonight facing the Clippers in LA on the back end of a back to back, but even if they lose, it’s time to recognize the Hawks as legitimate NBA Finals contenders.

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Meanwhile, we pushed out record to 3-0-1 ATS over the last four NBA games thanks to a nice resilient Spurs win at home over the Wizards. Let’s try to cap off a perfect weekend tonight with another winning wager.

Today’s Free Pick:

Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons -3

This might be my favorite play in weeks, so let me temper my enthusiasm with the simple truth that there are no such thing as “sure things” in sports wagering. Just ask Alabama fans who were counting their money prior to a matchup with a “slow” Big Ten school and a third-string QB… BUT, if you were ever looking for a pair of teams heading in opposite directions, tonight is your night.

The Pistons have been simply dominant since the release of Josh Smith. It seems to coincidental not to be somewhat causal, so after four games I’m willing to buy into the Pistons as a playoff-caliber team in the East. It makes sense; they have a better roster than all but six or seven teams in the East and Stan Van Gundy can coach – now the minutes are better allocated, the basketball is moving hands, and all of a sudden, the Pistons can’t be beat. They have racked up four straight wins and done so in impressive fashion, laying a 23-point beatdown on the Cavs in Cleveland and hanging similar double-digit swaths of destruction in Orlando and New York.

Meanwhile, no team seems more lost than the Kings. They fired a coach who was winning. They hired a coach and the players didn’t even know (google it), and their solid start to the season has given way to “same ole’ Kings.” This team is a wreck. They’ve dropped eight of ten and their only wins are over the Knicks and Timberwolves. They still have talent, but it just isn’t working right now.

Oddly enough, as lousy as the Pistons have been lately, they have won four straight games over the Kings. At no point in the ‘rivalry’ were the Pistons playing this well. I like them to keep their resurgence rolling today in the Motor City.

Free Pick: Detroit Pistons -3

Chris Scheeren / Author