Perhaps all the experts have been overlooking a contender in the Western Conference. The New Orleans Hornets captured their ninth straight win last night, and did so in dramatic fashion as David West hit a buzzer beater to defeat Oklahoma City.
The win pulled the Hornets to 30-16, good for the third seed in the Western Conference if the playoffs were to start today. So is New Orleans a legitimate contender in the Western Conference? I suppose it depends on what month it is… No team in the NBA has run more hot and cold than the Hornets. They began the season with the longest unbeaten streak in the NBA, and now currently have one of the longest win streaks of the season at nine.
If you subtract the two prolonged runs, their record is only 12-16.
The jury is still out on the Hornets potential in the playoffs, but if they get on one of their runs, I sure wouldn’t want to face them in the first round.
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Today’s Free NBA Picks
Denver Nuggets @ Washington Wizards +5 (Total: 211)
Saying the Wizards are having a tough season is a little bit of an understatement. At 13-30 Wizard fans are already thinking about ping pong balls in next year’s lottery. A visit from the Denver Nuggets certainly doesn’t look real promising on the surface.
But as you dig into the numbers you’ll find the Nuggets are two distinctly different teams; 20-5 at home and a dismal 5-13 on the road. The Wizards have some similar statistics as well. Their home/road defensive splits are stunning. They allow an average of nearly 109 points on the road, yet only 96 at home; one of the widest discrepancies in the league.
All the numbers suggest a real upset possibility tonight. With the Wizards getting a five-point security blanket, I like their chances at home tonight.
Los Angeles Clippers +7 @ Dallas Mavericks (Total: 194)
This is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. Dallas began their freefall when Dirk Nowitzki missed nine games with injuries. However, even after his return they have continued to flounder. Meanwhile the Clippers and their rookie phenom Blake Griffin have been getting win, and a ton of media exposure.
Dallas has lost 7 of their past 9 games, meanwhile the Clippers have WON 7 of 9, including quality win s over Denver, Miami and the Lakers.
Dallas is pretty solid at home, and the Clippers have struggled on the road – but all those numbers are based on season aggregate stats, looking over the past three weeks and you’ll find the Clippers edge them in nearly every statistical category.
Dallas’s weakness of late has been heavy legs – they look old and slow. The Clippers are more than just Blake Griffin. Eric Gordon and Baron Davis are tough covers for an aging backcourt of Dallas. I like them both to be able to exploit favorable matchups and for Griffin to run wild inside and on the glass.
Gimme the Clips on the road getting a healthy seven.