We notched yet another easy winner last night, our fourth straight ATS NBA winner, with the Heat cruising at home against the jet-lagged and tired Cavs. IN fact, the Cavs were so tired and the “LeBron back to Miami” storyline was so compelling that Coach Blatt decided to… hold LeBron out of the game. I’m sure David Silver, the NBA, and especially NBAtv appreciated THAT decision! Alas, I’d have taken the Heat at -2 regardless (and did, there was no hint LeBron was sitting at the time of the column) and would have felt just as good laying the eventual 5.5 it settled upon.
Because, that is how things generally go in the NBA. Even really good teams scuffle on the backend of back-to-back road games. It’s one of the more tried and true wagering principles in professional basketball handicapping. Of course it isn’t fool-proof – Vegas is oddly aware of this correlation as well and adjusts lines accordingly – but it is a good general starting principle.
Which makes tonight’s Golden State -10 line all the more telling of the sheer absurdity of what we are all witnessing. The Dubs ran it to a flawless 21-0 last night, beating a really good Toronto team on the road on a night when Kyle Lowry was sensational. Steph dropped 44 points on 24 shots, further extending the greatest true-shooting season in the history of the NBA (and no, mister “the game is different today, back in my day…blah blah vomit blah” no one and nothing is EVEN CLOSE). Will they win tonight? Probably. Am I willing to lay ten on the road on the second night of a back-to-back? So close. So, so, so close. But no. It’s just too insane. Isn’t it??
But then again, so is this entire Warriors season…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Dallas Mavericks -2.5 at Washington Wizards
This is an interesting one. No one can deny that at the quarter-mark of this long season these two team would rank among the most surprising and disappointing respectively. Dallas, expected to flounder amidst an aging roster and a rough offseason (including letting Tyson Chandler go prior to DeAnde-Gate), has been solid, entering tonight in playoff position at 11-8 in a suddenly good-not great Western Conference.
Meanwhile, Washington has been a dumpster fire. They lost at home to the Lakers and are 8-9 and currently out of playoff position in a conference they had aspirations of competing to WIN outright as Beal and Wall took their next step in the maturation. Suffice it to say, it’s been a rough start.
However, if you look just at the last few games, things might be starting to level out. Washington has won three of four, including a nice win @ Cleveland and has actually covered in six of their last ten games. In fact, since the Indiana shellacking, they seem to have woken up a bit and look like a middle-tier playoff team at worst.
The Wizards may be missing their frontcourt again, with Gortat schedule to miss a second-straight game with a family situation. Instead of going big, perhaps Whitman once again slides 6’8’’ Otto Porter and goes small. It worked beautifully in their last game, and frankly, who is Dallas going to punish them inside with? I kind of like the small look against this matchup and think it could free up a sometimes-plodding offense.
I’ll take the Wizards at home despite some player absences. Dallas has overachieved this season but has dropped four of their last five road games, with the only win coming in overtime at Portland. Look for Washington’s backcourt to exploit an average Dallas defense and to control the game at home.