Steve Nash saying what so many basketball fans and betters already knew caused quite a stir yesterday when he admitted that it might take some time, “possibly even through the summer” for the Lakers to improve and begin to really come together. That’s bad news for Laker fans, considering Nash, Kobe, Pao and Ron Artest are all getting way up there in age (Kobe referred to them as “old as s**t”).
It may be bad news for the Lakers but it is great news for the collection of teams slugging it out between the #6 and #10 spots in the Western Conference standings, considering only three of them will earn playoff berths. With the Lakers sitting at 15-20, and assuming 46 as the ‘magic number’ of wins needed to earn a spot, the Lakers would have to finish the season 31-16 to get there. That equals a win percentage of over 65%, something only the Clippers, Thunder, Spurs, Miami, Memphis and the Knicks can boast this season…
Speaking of the Knicks, they have an interesting game tonight against one of the hottest surging teams in the NBA. SO let’s take a look at New York’s trip to Indiana and see if we can improve on last night’s 1-2 NBA picks.
New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers -4.5
The Indiana Pacers, fresh off their ten point win over the East-leading Heat will get another chance at a top tier opponent tonight with a visit from the Knicks. Making the visit a little more pleasant will be the fact that Carmelo Anthony will not be suited up tonight, as he serves a suspension for, well, acting a fool in the last game against Boston and basically following Kevin Garnett to the team bus in an attempt to… to do what exactly? From what I’ve seen of Carmelo’s NBA fighting career, his best bet would be if KG wasn’t looking!
Anyway, the suspension means the Knicks visit Indy short-handed, not exactly a good thing when facing a team that is a whopping 13-3 at home and who has won eight of ten overall including wins over Milwaukee, Miami, Utah and Memphis. The Pacers, even without Danny Granger, are beginning to look more like the team that pushed Miami to a tough series last year than the team that could barely stay above .500 early this season.
Paul George has blossomed into a borderline All-Star and should have a good game against New York’s depleted perimeter tonight. I also expect the Pacers to do a good job closing out on New York’ perimeter shooter. Indy is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, holding teams to just 87.3 points at home on 41.8% shooting. It will be a tough night for New York, especially without ‘Melo to bail them out on tough possessions with big shots. Look for JR Smith to try to pick up some of the offensive slack, but for the Pacer defense to frustrate him.
I like Indy at home to win and cover the four and half.
Free Pick: Indiana Pacers -4.5