I guess the panic in Cleveland was a little premature (sarcasm intended). They’ve won back-to-back games, both in impressive fashion and LeBron, Kyrie, and Love shared the basketball beautifully and played their best game as a trio last night hosting New Orleans. Anthony Davis is brilliant, and any list of the Top 5 players on the planet that does not include him is now tragically outdated. But I still think this team is a year and a reliable shot-creator away from making the Playoffs.
I had this discussion with a few readers who argued this is the year the Pels make the postseason. I like them too, but who on this list is NOT going to the Playoffs: Spurs, Clippers, Warriors, Rockets, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Blazers? That’s seven. And assuming the Thunder get Westbrook and Durant back sooner than later, there’s no spots left…
The East on the other hand will have plenty of room. Only five teams have winning records, though one team has looked surprisingly awesome… we will head to our neighbors to the North for today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors -11 (Total: 202)
The Raptors are leading the NBA in scoring at 106.7 and are limiting opponents to 81.7 points and 41.4% at home. That doesn’t bode well for the visiting Magic who are outmanned on most nights and especially woeful on the road. They have lost eight straight games to the Raptors and are a staggering 2-29 in their last 31 road games. That’s nearly unfathomable futility for a team that isn’t good by any stretch but isn’t the worst in the league either.
The Magic need Victor Oladipo back badly. Not that he is the piece to get them to the postseason, but they are thin defensively to begin with and missing their potentially game-changing win has hurt. Toronto’s strength is their dynamic backcourt – the best in the East. I don’t see Orlando being able to defend Lowry and DeRozan tonight.
Toronto is 5-0-1 ATS in their last six games against the Magic and 7-2-1 over their last ten games. They’ve been decent against the spread the last few weeks, going 3-1 ATS, but they are still below .500 on the year ATS and have a tough task facing a blistering hot team on their home floor.
Toronto is a league-best 6-1 ATS and four of their six wins have come by 12 or more points, three of them by 19 or more. I think they’ll run the Magic out of the building tonight and put up some big points in the process. The OVER feels vulnerable, but I’m not sure Orlando holds up their end of the bargain. I’m riding with the Raps -11 instead for my official pick.