It’s a show-me night for the turbulent Los Angeles Lakers when the San Antonio Spurs and their 40-7 record come to the Staples Center tonight. Amidst swirling trade rumors, many centering on, who else, Ron Artest; the Lakers get an excellent litmus test of exactly where this team stands tonight at 10:30 EST on TNT.
It’s no secret that the Lakers have struggled this year against the league’s elite. If those struggles continue, or exacerbate, tonight – things are going to get real real interesting in La-La Land.
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Today’s Free NBA Picks:
San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Lakers -3.5 (Total: 194.5)
Sometimes the massive moves of the herd makes life a little easier for those of us a little bit sharper when it comes to analyzing and betting NBA basketball. I think tonight is one of those examples.
The Spurs have been nearly flawless this season, entering the game with a staggering 40-7 record. Home, road, it matters little with Pop’s Spurs. The reason? The defend as well as any team in the league. They have reshapen their identity on the fly; watch tonight and you will be amazed at how different Tim Duncan’s role in the offense is in 2011. Now? Manu Ginobili is their primary offensive weapon, with Tony Parker’s unguardable quickness a close second. The backbone of the team is their tenacious defense.
Think of George Hill as Bruce Bowen 2.0. Deadly jumper from the corner if left unguarded, but more importantly, a tireless defender who is going to make for a long night for Mr. Kobe Bryant.
It’s not everyday when you can get the hands-down best team in the league AND points. I’m taking it and not looking back.
PICK: San Antonio Spurs +3.5 (-110) @ Bookmaker.com <– Offering crazy super bowl bonuses right now
Miami Heat @ Orlando Magic -1 (Total: 196)
You know life in NBA television-land is fantastic when Heat v. Magic is the undercard. Grab some popcorn and get to the TV early tonight – this is one doubleheader truly worth watching.
Orlando enters the game in a bit of a malaise. It’s not that they’ve played poorly, its more that they’ve played at times erratic, and sometime disinterested. The road losses to Boston and Chicago are understandable. The losses to Memphis and Detroit are a little more concerning.
The Magic should have no trouble getting focused for tonight’s huge Southeast Division game. The Heat can move to a 3 ½ game lead with a win tonight. The division crown might be more important than it seems. The #2 seed in the East should be pretty smooth sailing with Charlotte or Phily waiting. Fall to the #4 slot and it’s a likely matchup with either Chicago or Atlanta and at best, a slugfest of an opening round series.
The Magic have better depth, the Heat are a better defensive team. The matchups are pretty much a wash. The Magic can’t match-up with Wade and LEbron, the Heat have no defensive answer for Dwight Howard. To me, this game comes down to home court advantage. The home team has won the first two games in this series by large margins – one going to each team.
I like Orlando tonight, pushing tempo and scoring enough points to overcome the Heat and their Big Three. Gimme the Magic in a near pick-em at just -1 at home.
PICK: Orlando Magic -1 (-102) @ 5Dimes.com <- $520 sign up bonus