NBA Commissioner David Stern is angry with the Spurs and Greg Popovich for their little stunt on Thursday, sending basically his entire starting lineup HOME, rather than having them make the flight to Miami to play the Heat on TNT. It was the Spurs fourth game in five nights, and Coach Pop has always been famous for creatively managing the minutes and workloads for his aging veteran superstars.
As a fan? I’d hate to pay money to see the B-team take the floor. As someone wagering on the game? I’d LOVE to have more stringent injury reports and game-time playing decisions publicized earlier. But as someone who loves the sport, I’d be very cautious of the precedent set by fining the Spurs over who their coach did and did not DECIDE to put on the floor. It’s a slippery slope and can lead to a ton of unfair interpretation (in this case, sending uninjured 24-year old Danny Green home early was a bit gratuitous though…)
OK, enough opining, let’s get to tonight’s free pick (a game that might only be interesting with a little wager riding along with it, so worth digging in to).
Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Lakers -12 (Total: 199)
The Magic provided their small fan base with a glimmer of hope, opening the season with a pair of wins. With Big Baby and JJ Reddick leading the way, the team looked crisp and unselfish. Perhaps this season wouldn’t be quite as bad as everyone expected??
Um, yeah. It’s been AS expected since then, with the Magic 3-10 in their last thirteen games, including a bevy of double-digit clunkers. But one thing they have rarely done is absolutely mail it in. They may have some 10-14 point losses on their ledger, but next to NO 20+ point losses (the Spurs on the road excepted). It tells me this team is still trying to execute and is still putting out effort on the defensive end of the floor. As a team they allow 96.4 points per game on 44% shooting; not great, but certainly not shameful.
The Lakers on the other hand are a complete mystery, even after the coaching change. One night, they look fantastic (beating Denver 122-103, beating Brooklyn), and another night, completely pathetic (the recent home loss 79-77 to the Indiana Pacers, the road blowout loss to Sacramento). You never really know what team you are going to get on any given night with the Lakers.
So tonight they play another outmatched foe, a team they SHOULD pummel, and to tell you the truth, I have NO IDEA what team shows up. I feel more confident that the score remains in double-digits for each squad, which keeps the tally well under tonight’s 199 total.
Free Pick: Point TOTAL UNDER 199