Anyone doubting LeBron’s MVP-worthiness after joining the Heat and teaming up with two fellow All-Stars might be forced to reconsider that opinion. Last night the Heat were eviscerated by the turmoil-riddled Nuggets in Denver. Without the King, the Heat still scored some points, but their defense was simply atrocious, giving up a season high 134 points.
Meanwhile the Magic went from “hottest team in the league” to “losing streak” after getting topped 125-123 in an absolutely entertaining game out in Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant gets most of the oub, but Russell Westbrook was the engine powering the Thunder, posting yet another triple double from the point guard position. Not only has Westbrook emerged as a no-brainer All-Star but he’s also blossomed into a Top 10 MVP candidate. On a non-related note, would you much rather see Westbrook in the dunk contest than Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings??
After last night’s small schedule we’re back to a full slate of action for NBA Friday night.
On To Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Milwaukee Bucks @ Philadelphia 76’ers -4 (Total: 190)
The Sixers have been pretty respectable at home this season, and are beginning to look like an eventual playoff team (albeit as the #7 or #8) as Elton Brand has begun to round into playing shape. Tonight’s visit from Milwaukee is an even matchup, though both teams have a different style.
Both have an average point differential of about -1 a game (Phily 0.8, Milwaukee 1.4). The main difference is in how they get to that losing number. Phily averages around 98 points a night, while Milwaukee just 91.
I’ve written it before, but it bears repeating, you aren’t going to win many road games when your two primary perimeter scorers are both shooting under 40% for the season. That’s exactly the situation for Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings and John Salmons. Earlier this season, this exact problem reared it’s head in the Bucks 90-79 loss in Phily, shooting 34% for the entire game. Ouch.
I like Phily to put the clamps on the Bucks once again, hold the score in the 80-85 point range and cover the four points at home.
PICK: Philadelphia -4
Charlotte Bobcats +9.5 @ Boston Celtics (Total: 188.5)
The Bobcats have been on fire, and I’m going to ride the winning streak with ‘em, they’ve been treating us pretty well – not only winning games on the court but A.T.S. as well.
Boston is still banged up; Kevin Garnett will miss his ninth straight game and back-up Jermaine O’Neal will sit out tonight with a sore knee. I know, hard to believe J.O. is hurt, right??
The road record for Charlotte is a dismal 4-12, while Boston has been dominant in the Garden; 17-3 on the season. However, they are just 5-4 without Garnett, including two home losses to Detroit and New Orleans.
Charlotte has a lot to prove tonight. They have posted four consecutive wins, but have yet to knock off a quality opponent on the road. I don’t think they get that impressive win tonight, but I think they will compete and keep it close.
Gimme the Bobcats with the 9.5
PICK: Charlotte Bobcats +9.5