We dropped our pick last night with the Bulls mustering up a heroic short-handed effort on the back end of a back-to-back against Toronto. I’m never stunned when I drop a pick – there’s a reason Vegas casinos and sportsbooks rarely go out of business, but I am surprised by HOW they won. Dougie McBuckets was a basic no-show the night before last, logging just 13 minutes, and I ALMOST wrote about him in the column, along the lines of “if Hoiberg isn’t going to give him a change NOW, when everyone is hurt, you have to wonder if he is ever going to be a part of Bulls plans.”
He promptly dropped 30 points last night leading them to a win over the hottest team in the East.
But he is FAR from the star of the night. That honor goes to Damian Lillard putting down on the best regular season games in recent memory against Golden State. The Blazers were deserving home underdogs hosting the champs. They emerged with the most surprising result of the year, a 137-105 win over the defending champs, well-rested and at full strength. Lillard put up 51! Points, 7 assists and 6 boards – all with no turnovers.
Think the All Star snub might have pissed him off a little bit???
Now the Warriors must regroup a night later and face the hated rival Clippers on a nationally televised ABC game. The loss put them in EXACT lock-step with the 1996 Bulls. A second loss tonight would knock them off the pace for the first time all season long… They are five point favorites AT the Clippers, but I’m not touching this game…
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Today’s Free Pick:
New York Knicks at Minnesota Timberwolves -1.5
The Wolves are building an impressive young core headlined by Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins (Zach Levine ain’t a terrible piece either), but it is still clear their success is still at least a year or two down the road. The Knicks have been infused with some energy from their own rookie gem, Kristops Porzingas, but the overall roster outlook is far less rosy. Carmelo, the annual object of trade deadline overtures, once again stayed put – and in fairness, so did the Knicks faintly-existent playoff hopes.
Tonight’s game is for basketball lovers who want to see three of the brightest young future stars in the NBA far more than those who want to see a meaningful game. But it is a favorable line. The Knicks have been lousy on the road all season long, and while Minnesota also has a losing home record, they have been pretty good about beating the bad teams when they come visiting. Minnesota is 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games, while New York is 1-5 ATS in their last six away from the Garden.
This season has pretty much gone down the drain in New York. They’ve lost five in a row and are 1-9 straight up in their last ten games. They could view tonight as a nice opportunity to snap the streak in a very winnable game, but I’m instead banking on the young, hungry, enthusiastic Wolves seizing the same opportunity in a should-win home game.