The Los Angeles Lakers flexed their two-time defending champs muscle last night in Boston, overcoming a 15-point first half deficit to beat the Celtics 92-86. There’s been a lot of talk that the Lakers have gotten old, soft, etc… but perhaps that talk is a little premature.
Yes, the San Antonio Spurs have been incredible, but I wouldn’t dismiss the Lakers chances of sending Phil Jackson out in style, with his twelfth ring, and his fourth three-peat.
Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Los Angeles Lakers -3 @ New York Knicks
The Lakers are a perfect 3-0 on their current road trip, including last night’s impressive victory in Boston. Meanwhile, the Knicks have been pretty pedestrian since their nine-game winning streak last month that captured the basketball world’s attention.
It would seem then that all the numbers favor the Lakers; and they do. However, it is tough to overestimate the emotional energy spent last night in overcoming a 15-point defecit to defeat their arch rival Celtics last night. The Lakers have been pretty average on the back end of back-to-backs, espcecially on the road where they are two games under .500.
I like the Knicks to take advantage of a sloppy, tired Lakers squad tonight and to steal a big upset win on their home floor.
PICK: New York Knicks +3 (-110)
New Orleans Hornets @ Orlando Magic -9
At first blush, this line seems really high. However, if you take a closer look at what is going on in New Orleans, it seems like a reasonable number to lay if you like the Magic tonight; and I do. The Hornets are decimated by injuries right now, missing Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. The have only one win in February, and that was a close home win over the Washington Wizards who have yet to win a road game ALL SEASON (0-25).
Meanwhile, Orlando has been dominant at home (19-7), and are healthy and rested coming into tonight’s contest. Their point differential is one of the leagues best, a healthy plus 6.5 ppg, while New Orleans is close to even despite their 32-22 overall record; a sure-fire sign of a team that beats up the bottom-feeders and struggles with the league’s elite.
Orlando has left a little doubt at times as to whether they belong in the league’s “elite” or not, but tonight I think their great depth will tire out a thin Hornet roster, and without Okafor, they have literally no size to bang with Dwight Howard tonight. Look for Howard to dominate both sides of the floor and have a huge double-double – and for the Magic to cruise to a double-digit win at home.
PICK: Orlando Magic -9