If any of you watched PTI on ESPN, tell me you weren’t at least temporarily fooled by the “Frank Vogel fired, Larry Bird to come back to the bench to save the Pacers” story yesterday?? I know it grabbed my attention and had my jaw a little slack for a few seconds before at least introducing the “maybe this is an April 1st hoax??” into my thought process. I mean, the tantalizing part of the prank is that, on some level, it kind of made sense. I’m not advocating Vogel losing his job – what he has done in Indiana is pretty amazing when you look at their overall roster versus the elevated expectations their tremendous play caused; but I can’t recall a team in the hunt for the top seed in the conference imploding quite the way Indy has the past few weeks.
Larry Bird might not be coming back to the bench to save them, but the best jokes and hoaxes have a little hint of truth in them, and the truth right now is that Indy looks like a team that will be lucky to even FACE the Heat in the Playoffs, let alone knock off the three-time Eastern Conference Champs….They might very well vent some pent up frustration against the Piston tonight but at 3-23 ATS in their last 26 games, I’m staying clear.
Today’s Free Pick:
Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks -2.5 (Total: 199)
The Knicks and Nets were the laughing stock of the NBA for the first month or two of the season. All of a sudden, Brooklyn is the team no one wants to see in the Playoffs, and trust me, the Heat would MUCH rather see Atlanta than the Knicks sneaking into the eighth spot. Both teams enter tonight playing fantastic basketball, but the Knicks should have the advantage of being a little fresher.
The Nets snapped their eight-year losing streak against Houston last night, outscoring the Dwight-less Rockets at the Barclays Center. Tonight, they have a quick turnaround to gear back up for another big game; the Battle for New York City.
I like Carmelo to have a good night tonight. Shaun Livingston has good length, but it should be more incumbent on Joe Johnson to hold Melo in check. Advantage Melo. With the suddenly resurgent Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, the Knicks aren’t a bad ballclub right now. All Phil Jackson jokes aside, he came on board at a nice time as the Knicks stock is finally rising.
Brooklyn is just 5-11 this season on the back end of back-to-backs and they are facing a hot Knicks defensive team. They’ve held the Warriors and Jazz to an average of just 83.5 points in their last two games. This game means a LOT to the Knicks who really need to all but run the table to grab a spot in the Postseason. I think they’ll bring it tonight and knock off the Nets at home.