I guess we answered the “what’s wrong with the Lakers” question pretty convincingly last night. The best part of the ferocious 112-57 beat down they laid on the hapless Cavs wasn’t scoring, the wide margin, the endless parade of dunks; it was LeBron’s Tweet after the game; simply stating “karma is a bitch.”
It seems LeBron is finally warming up to the idea of wearing the black hat and embracing the role of villain, to which he was reluctantly cast. I say bravo, the league is much better when there’s a Rowdy Roddy Piper to play opposite the polished, boring quote, Hulk Hogan hero.
We’re just now hitting the halfway point, but I have a good feeling we are in for the most compelling NBA Playoffs in more than a decade.
On To Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Chicago @ Charlotte +4 (Total: 185.5)
The overall records tip heavily in Chicago’s favor, but digging a little deeper in the numbers begins to tell a slightly more interesting story.
As great a Derrick Rose and his 24.2 ppg and eight assists a night have been, the Bulls are surprisingly average on the road at just 8-9 on the season.
Meanwhile Charlotte has found some life under new coach Paul Silas, going 5-2 since Larry Brown’s resignation. I’m Nike a bug “blame the coach” guy, but in this case I’m buying it – and so is Stephen Jackson and the young team he leads.
Chicago has dropped three of their last four in Charlotte straight up. The Bobcats are finally starting to resemble last years upstart playoff team, i like them getting four I their home floor.
Free Pick: Charlotte +4
Orlando Magic -3.5 @ New Orleans Hornets (Total: 191)
New Orleans rarely gets the notice for something they do as well as any team in the league; defend. Their 92.2 points allowed per game is bested only by the Boston Celtics.
I lean towards the Hornets at home getting points, but am afraid to wager against Orlando. During their nine-game win streak they are flattening opponents, winning by an average margin of over 14 points per game.
The Hornets are 14-5 at home this season and have beaten some good opponents, including the Heat and Bulls. The key to those victories has been consistently solid defensive efforts. On the season the Hornet have been under the o/u 26 of 38 games, or more than 70% of the time. It’s been even more lopsided at home where they have been under the total in 20 of 27 games dating back to last season.
The Magic are one of the highest scoring teams at 102, the Hornets are among the stingiest at 92 – something has to give, and it usually defaults to the home team if they are a quality ball club.
I like the Hornets to control the tempo at home and keep this game comfortably under the 191
Free Pick: Under 191