It was a strange night in the NBA last night. There were only two games, but both featured rather surprising results as both Chicago and Miami lost on their home floor in close games. Miami fought late to force their game into OT, but in the end the Hawks made more plays and maybe surprisingly, showed more poise and better shot selection. It might be time to start including Atlanta in the discussion of the East’s elite teams and NBA Finals possibilities…
Enough about what has happened, let’s talk about the future. If someone would have told you six months ago that a Minnesota trip to the Clippers in January would be must-see television, you probably would have laughed. However, that’s exactly what tonight’s game is, must-see.
It doesn’t get much better at the power forward position than Kevin Love and Blake Griffin squaring off. Both are deserving All-Stars and are the clearly emerging All-NBA favorites for years to come, supplanting the decade and a half stranglehold that Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett have held on the position. For fantasy basketball players, it doesn’t seem impossible that the two of them combine for nearly 100 points tonight (points, boards, assists, blocks, steals). For everyone else, just enjoy the chance to glimpse ahead into the future of the NBA…
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Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Phoenix Suns -7 @ Cleveland Cavaliers (Total: 214.5)
The Suns have set, so to speak, and their best days are clearly behind them. Their roster is aging and time finally seems to be catching up with the infatiguable Steve Nash, as six or seven young point guards have finally passed him on the “who would you take” meter.
However, that doesn;t mean Phonix can’t still get up and down the floor and score a ton of points against the right matchup. Say, a matchup like the anemic defense of the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers minus their defensive energizer Andy Verajao.
Consider this statistic; the Suns are 11-2 when they score over 100 points. Cleveland has lost 23 of 24 games and allowed an average of 116.7 points per contest on their recent road trip. They return “home” tonight, but suffice it to say their home court magic isn’t what it used to be when a certain swingman made his home a little farther north.
Phoenix is a tough cover for Cleveland (though isn’t everyone?) and will be able to dictate tempo and create open lanes; all of which plays to Nash’s creative strengths. I like the Suns by double figures in a road romp.
Indiana Pacers @ Golden State Warriors -4 (Total: 214)
It’s a long flight to the Bay from Indiana, especially for a team as road-deficient as the Indiana Pacers.
Statistically, the Pacers are among the league’s best teams in FG% allowed at 43.7%. However, that stat seems to fly out the window when they visit the Warriors, who have hung 123ppg on them in their three previous meetings.
The main reason is that Golden State gets up the floor, using their quickness and shooting to create quick shots – open looks – for scorers like Steph Curry and Monte Ellis. The Pacers play one of the slowest tempos in the league. This prevents a lot of transition opportunities, ergo the lower shooting percentages on average.
I don’t think they will be able to slow down Golden State, and laying only 4 at home against a lousy road team is too good to pass up. This line should be more in the 6-7 point range. Take the -4 and smile.