NBA All-Star reserves were announced yesterday, and there were a few small surprises, and of course, a few small controversial omissions. In general, I think the coaches did a pretty good job, though I would have thought Steph Curry had earned his way on the squad for sure. You can blame the coaches for selecting LaMarcus Alderidge over Curry (or even his own teammate David Lee getting the nod) but it is just as sensible to blame the fans. Had they not stuffed the ballot box for Dwight Howard, L.A. could have made the team along with Steph Curry while the petulant and injury-rehabbing big man stayed home.
The East saw its share of fresh faces added as well, with Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday and Paul George all getting a well-deserved first nod. It’s hard to find too much fault with the Eastern Conference selections overall; perhaps because the conference isn’t as deep as the West, or perhaps because the selections were more clear-cut. Either way, other than the possible addition of Paul Pierce, I can’t think of any glaring omissions in the East. Some are claiming the Nets were completely overlooked despite having the third best record in the conference because of the growing reputation as coach-killers (Deron Williams in particular), but I think it’s a simple case of Brook Lopez missing too may game with injuries, and Williams simply being outplayed by Holliday and Irving this season.
Perhaps the All-Star snub will continue to fuel the Nets, who are now 11-2 under new coach PJ Carlisimo? Let’s take a deeper look at this Brooklyn team with today’s free pick.
Brooklyn Nets at Memphis Grizzlies -4 (Total: 177.5)
Two weeks ago, I wondered if the Nets hot streak wasn’t so much a product of the coaching change as it was a combination of the healthy return of Brook Lopez and the soft schedule. However, they answered that question with aplomb, reeling off another four wins in five tries, the only loss coming at Atlanta, and winning tough games at Minnesota and the Knicks.
Still, despite that strong showing, they have yet to win (or go to) a place with as good of a team as the Grizzlies waiting for them. Memphis had their struggles the past few weeks, but still have one of the top five records in the NBA and are a legitimate big-time team just outside the level of the elite.
Memphis has gotten back on track, winning three of four including blowout wins over Sacramento and the Lakers and a nice road win at Chicago. Their lone loss was an 82-81 loss on MLK Day in an odd 2pm start time (both teams looked a little disjointed early). I expect them to play well at home tonight and to get the win. They are 16-6 at home this season, but more importantly, they have been an undervalued team all year from a wagering perspective. They are a nice 24-16-1 ATS this season and are often a good value pick. Perhaps it is that their bad games have been SO bad they stick in the brain, perhaps it is because they aren’t as marketable or popular a team so the money is slow to flow their way in Vegas; I’m not sure the exact reason, but it does provide a nice wagering opportunity tonight.
I like the Grizz laying the four to get the home win and cover.
Free Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -4