NBA Picks for February 23rd

Familiar Finals foes kicked off the stretch run of the season with assertiveness last night, as both Boston and Los Angeles blew out the opponents last night.

On the surface, it was a bigger win for the Lakers who were famously scuffling heading into the All-Star break. In reality, it might be the Celtics who need more to remain sharp. The reason for the vital focus? It’s as simple as two words; Carmello Anthony.

Anthony’s move to the New York Knicks tilts the balance of power again even more significantly to the East. With only twenty eight games to play, and allotting for some normal growing pains, it is unlikely the Knicks can move any higher than sixth in the Eastern standings.

I’d hate to be the #3 seed who gets that present in the first round. With Chicago and even Orlando and Atlanta nipping at their heels there is little room for error for the reigning Eastern Conference champs.

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Today’s Free NBA Picks:

Detroit Pistons @ Indiana Pacers -7

Remember when this was one of the best rivalries in professional sports?? Alas that was many years and Ron Artest crazy moments ago.

The Pistons have been dreadful, less than 25% winning percentage on the road, meanwhile the Pacers have actually been pretty solid over the last month, going 10-3 in that spam since O’Brein was dismissed.

The Pacers have a huge depth advantage over the Pistons, as well as a favorable matchup for their catalyst, Darren Collison, at the point guard position.

I like the Pacers to start the second half of the season the same way they finished the first half; playing tough defense and playing at a quicker, looser offensive tempo.

Free Pick: Indiana Pacers -7.5 @ Bookmaker.com <- click for special free money bonus!

Atlanta Hawks @ Phoenix Suns -3

Suiting back up less than 24 hours after being pummeled by Los Angeles, and flying into Phoenix to play the back end of a back-to-back is never a good situation. That’s exactly what the Atlanta Hawks are facing tonight.

The Suns have owned Atlanta at home, taking 16 of their last 18 from the Suns. Don’t discount the renewed energy the Carmello trade brings the Suns either. Right now they are in tenth place and only 2.5 games out of eighth place and a Playoff spot. With Denver now decimated, it is fair to expect they’ll quickly bow out of the mix. That leaves five teams for the bottom four spots, and the Suns are squarely in that mix.

The Suns have won five of their last six versus the Hawks, including Novembers thrilling 118-114 overtime win on the road. They held Atlanta to just 39.5% shooting during that span. So much for the no D Suns, right?

Gimme Phoenix protecting their home floor against a sluggish Atlanta team

Free Pick: Phoenix Suns -3 @ SportsInteraction.com <- Click for $250 free bonus

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Chris Scheeren / Author