Trade rumors continue to swirl, and the league’s elite teams, with the exception of the Heat and Magic have all hit some rough patches. Quite simply, what this means is that the NBA Championship is more up for grabs than anytime I can remember outside of the “between Jordan” years and the brief period after the Lakers Early 2000’s Three-peat.
Dallas, San Antonio and Los Angeles are all viable contenders in the West, and trust me, no one wants to see Oklahoma City in their first round matchup. In the East, Miami, Orlando, Boston and Chicago are all serious contenders. Even Atlanta has to be considered at worst a dangerous potential matchup. And what if, and again saying “if”m New Jersey were to swing the blockbuster deal to bring over Carmello and Chauncey BIllups?
It’s going to be an interesting ride.
Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Indiana Pacers @ Philadelphia 76’ers -5 (Total: 194)
Indiana is one of the worst teams in the NBA away from home, having lost nine consecutive times (and only four against playoff teams). As a matter of fact, since their promising start they have thudded back to Earth quickly.
The biggest problem in Indy is a lack of offense. They have good hustle guys like McRoberts and Hansbrough, but outside of Danny Granger (who is an IDEAL #2 on a championship-caliber team) they lack offensive punch.
This leads to being very jump shot reliant, which leads to low shooting percentages, which leads to even more trouble on the road where the rims and backdrops aren’t quite as familiar..
Philadelphia has actually been playing a little better of late, finally getting over some injuries that plagued the team the first few months. Number two pick Evan Turner has been hit or miss, but has turned in two good nights in the last week.
I don’t really love either team, but I think Indy is worse on the road than Phily is mediocre. Bad teams lose on the road. Period. Lay the five and go with Phily.
Free Pick: Philadelphia -5
New York Knicks @ Portland Trailblazers -3.5 (Total: 203)
If you caught Sunday’s Knicks v. Lakers game, you would have seen our analysis smack dab right on target. Fourth quarter fatigue from a team travelling East to West, tired legs, tired jump shots and a widening margin late to a cruising easy cover for the defending champs.
New York isn’t a “bad” team. They’re just not the great team ESPN wants you to believe they are. That’s good news for us who watch the lines, it means New York is often inflated two or three points.
Such is the case tonight. The Blazers have been very good at the Rose Garden, while the Knicks road wins have come almost exclusively over sub .500 teams.
LaMarcus Alderidge is a good matchup for Amare, with the length and comfort moving away from the basket to really contend with the Knick’s MVP candidate.
Gimme Portland laying the 3.5.
Free Pick: Portland -3.5