Perhaps Portland isn’t so lost without Brandon Roy as we might have thought. Certainly, no team is pleased to lose a young All-Star to not just a knew injury, but two knee injuries; but it may not prove as catastrophic as expected.
Last night was a showcase for some of the other players on the Blazer roster. LaMarcus Alderidge poured in a game high 28 points to go with eight boards, but more impressively, made Blake Griffin look…dare I say… human. The defense was superb.
Don’t overlook the potential contributions from the long over-looked Rudy Fernandez either. Fernandez shone brightly in the 2008 Olympics, along with Pau Gasol and Ricky Rubio, leading Spain to the silver medal. His past two seasons in Portland have been grumpy ones, not happy with his limited role coming off the bench, even trying to void his contract to return to Spain. He is finally getting his chance to shine full-time – don’t be surprised if he maximizes the opportunity.
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Today’s Free NBA Picks
Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets -1 (Total: 212.5)
Amidst all the consternation regarding who will be signing Carmello Anthony’s checks, the Denver Nuggets have actually been playing pretty darn good basketball. The Nuggets enter the game having won four of their past five, including an absolute decimation of the Utah Jazz last week.
Los Angeles, for all their Western Conference domination over the past three years has yet to extend that mastery to the Denver Nuggets. LA has lost four consecutive games in Denver.
Lately the Lakers have been plagued by some defensive struggles, however in their four road losses in Denver their problem has been putting the ball in the basket, shooting just 35% in their losses.
I keep looking for reasons to doubt the Nuggets, and they keep blocking out all the noise and winning games. Nothing sharpens a team’s focus like having the two-time defending champs come into town. Nothing gets Carmello’s attention like have Ron-Ron guarding him physically all night. It’s a ploy that makes life miserable for most small forwards, however “small” doesn’t really apply to Anthony. He thrives on rugged, physical defenders, using his size and strength and back to the basket prowess to dominate.
I like Carmello and Co. continuing their home dominance of the Lakers tonight and grabbing a big win.
Phoenix Suns @ Washington Wizards -1 (Total: 213.5)
Nothing gets the guys in Vegas to pump up an over/under line like a traditional gunner taking on one of the league’s bottom-feeders. Neither team can be said to excel on defense, however there are a few telling reasons to focus on the under for tonight’s game.
First, Washington can’t score either. They average just 96 ppg, despite giving up over 102. As is my frequent rule, when it comes to tempo of play it is nearly always dictated by the home team in the regular season. Phoenix will score their points, but to get to the total tonight will require an abnormal output and pace of play from the hometown Wizards.
If pressed for a pick, I like Phoenix winning on the road tonight, but my money’s on the safer bet, taking the under 213.5
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