Remember all the noise before the season started about LeBron James joining “Dwayne Wade’s team” and how he would be sacrificing his individual greatness and his chance to build his own legacy and would never win another MVP trophy??
Perhaps that talk was just a little bit of an exaggeration. The King continued his recent MVP assault last night, pouring in 41 points to go with 13 boards and 8 assists, in the Heat’s win over Indiana 117-112. The Heat are 17-3 over their past 20 games and LeBron James is the main reason why. During that stretch he has averaged 29.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.8 assists.
No one in the NBA has posted numbers like that since Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double long, long before anyone had even come up with a clever name for the feat. At this pace, it is hard to see anyone preventing James from capturing his third consecutive MVP award, regardless of how special Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki or anyone else have played.
Orlando Magic -1 @ Philadelphia 76’ers
Philadelphia has played fairly well of late, storming back in to the playoff picture and starting to distance themselves from the rest of the Eastern Conference’s playoff hopefuls. They have won 7 of their last 10, including last night’s absolute thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks 117-83, in Atlanta no less. The relative ease of that game should mitigate the back-to-back factor somewhat, and give Phily a slight edge, despite the fact that both teams played last night.
Orlando has played Phily tough historically, winning 13 of their previous 15 meetings, however the Sixers did win their last encounter with the Magic in Orlando.
Orlando has been a model of inconsistency this season; one minute they look like legitimate challengers to win the Eastern Conference, the next they look like a first-round exit waiting to happen – particularly if they stay mired in the fifth seed they currently occupy. The Magic are just4-5 over their last 9 games, never looking real cohesive in any of the ballgames.
Ultimately, whenever I can get a home team and a point or two, particularly in a pretty evenly matched game, I jump on it. Phily is a nice tidy 16-8 at home, and Orlando is no better than a .500 ballclub away from home. I like Phily getting the point and winning at home.
PICK: Philadelphia 76’ers +1 (-110)
Detroit Pistons @ Cleveland Cavaliers -1.5
So let me get this straight… IF I want to take the Cavaliers tonight, who have lost an NBA-record 25 consecutive games, I am going to have to lay points?? Call me a cynic, but this line is inflated by the fact that people (who move lines with their behavior) are rooting for the Cavs to end their futility.
I know Detroit is not any good, and they have been even worse on the road this season, a dismal 6-21 away from the Palace. However, at this point I think it is more than just bad basketball that is plauging the Cavaliers. They have gotten so conditioned to losing they look uncomfortable and unsure what to do in close ballgames; evidenced by their inability to even get off a game-tying shot attempt Monday night.
If they are going to snap their losing streak, tonight is the ideal time and place to do so, but they better get out to a good, healthy lead early and then hold on for dear life. If it is a close game, and I think it will be, it certainly favors the Pistons.
I’m not one to lay points on the most historic losers in the history of professional basketball. Gimme the Pistons and the 1.5.
PICK: Detroit Pistons +1.5