The two longest win streaks in the East lived on last night, but it wasn’t without a little fight along the way. For the Miami Heat, the fight took place in the form of a double-OT struggle with the lowly Kings before eventually prevailing 141-128. The score looks lopsided and earned them a cover, but it was anything but an easy game.
For the Indiana Pacers, the fight took on a more literal context, as their 108-97 win over the Golden State Warriors was marred by a minute-long brawl which will likely earn center Roy Hibbert a suspension. However his willingness to accept responsibility and his demeanor after the game might help mitigate it to just a single game.
Either way, it is looking more and more like we could see a more interesting Eastern Conference matchup between these two than most people anticipated just a month ago as the Pacers continue to show toughness and a near unbeatability at home.
Let’s get to today’s free picks:
Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies -7.5
For today’s pick, we move from the hottest combatants out East to the hottest team in the West, the Memphis Grizzlies. Perhaps jettisoning Rudy Gay wasn’t such a bad move after all… the Grizz have reeled off seven straight wins and are beginning to resemble the team that knocked off the top-seeded Spurs in the Playoffs two years ago (not coincidentally, Rudy Gay was injured during that series and did not play). Gay is a talented played and an accomplished scorer, but he isn’t a terribly efficient player and has been known to “check out” a bit at times, dating all the way back to his college career at UConn. On paper, the Grizz don’t look as formidable, but in practice, this team is really clicking and spacing the floor well.
The truth is, they have enough offense even without Gay, and the ball is running more through the post and highlighting the best frontcourt in the NBA with Zack Randolph and Marc Gasol. Tonight will be an interesting test against a Mavericks team that has traditionally played them tough and has a rugged frontcourt themselves.
Memphis’s win streak is aided by a soft schedule; four of their wins are Orlando, Detroit, Toronto and Sacramento. However, it is bookended with wins over Golden State and a win at Brooklyn. Tonight is a good chance to add another quality win to the streak and I think they will do so and cover the 7.5 points in the process. Look for Mike Conley to exploit a weaker defensive backcourt and to orchestrate the offense well tonight.
Free Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -7.5