Before we get to tonight’s free pick and the return of the King to Cleveland, let’s tackle a couple of things. First, if I could have ONE sentence back that I have written here in the last five years it would be “Madison Baumgarner being able to pitch tonight is overrated.” Um. So I whiffed on that one just a little bit. But seriously, did YOU think he had five innings of two hit baseball in him and nearly 70 pitches? Because Buster Posey didn’t either. Alas, I’ve gotten a few good-natured jabs regarding that line, and its well deserved…
A few NBA observtions as well. If you have the UNDER on the Thunder’s 58.5 wins this season, I think you are sitting on some easy money. They could still very well be playing in June but they are going to struggle with a very difficult schedule before getting Durant back. Westbrook is simply brilliant but this team doesn’t have the offensive depth to win consistently until the MVP returns. In the next month here’s the rougher patches on their schedule: @Clippers, Denver, @Brooklyn, @Toronto, Memphis, Houston, @Denver, Golden State. That’s a tough slate.
We haven’t had the NBA start we were looking for through two games thanks to the Celtics putting up their highest point total in an opener since 1990. Let’s try to notch our first win tonight.
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Today’s Free Pick:
New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers -12 (Total: 201)
Look, I’m excited about LeBron’s return too, but twelve points?? That’s a ton to lay in the very first game that the new Big Three ever play together. Carmelo has always played well against LeBron, especially when he was in Miami. Sure, the Knicks looked lousy in last night’s 104-80 loss to Chicago, but they also shot 36% from the floor. That number is unlikely to be as low tonight for two reasons: one is a natural regression to the norm, and the second is that Chicago might be the best defensive team in the NBA. I feel pretty confident Cleveland will NOT be.
Look for Melo to bounce back tonight and for the Knicks to at least keep things suspenseful in the new-look Cavs debut.
Washington Wizards -4 at Orlando Magic (Total: 191)
The Wizards dropped their season opener to a better-than-advertised Miami Heat team, but tonight they get Nene and DeJuan Blair back from one game suspensions so their frontcourt will have their depth back to contend with Nicola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic. The Magic will be without Victor Oladipo for another month and top free-agent signing Channing Frye is also still out.
This game feels like a mismatch, even with Bradley Beal still nursing an injury. The Magic only won 23 games last year and with their early season injury issues, it feels like they are headed in the same direction again this year. They got rolled by the Pelicans in their opener, and they are in for another one tonight. Look for Washington to pull away in the fourth quarter and to win and cover.