The NBA is back to a full slate of games tonight after their traditionally trim Thursday lineup. One thing that wasn’t “trim” yesterday, or trimmed, were the Dallas Mavericks’ beards. They supposedly had a barber on hand ready to shear them clean after the game, as a win would have gotten them back to .500 and fulfilled the “no-shave” team pact they had made nearly a month ago.
Apparently Indiana didn’t appreciate the display of confidence, and handed them their unshaven heads on a platter, winning at Dallas 103-78. The loss didn’t hurt them too much, as the Lakers also lost at Milwaukee, but it was a valuable chance to gain a game squandered.
Let’s take a look at a pair of games and find a good winning edge.
Washington Wizards -3 at Orlando Magic (Total: 197)
The Magic and Wizards are not part of the playoff picture, but it is a shame Washington’s John Wall didn’t return a month sooner, or they very well could be. They are still dreadful on the road at 7-28 on the season, but they have been respectable since Wall returned. In fact, they are 6-4 in their last ten games and have easily been one of the best eight teams in the East since January.
They have lost six games in a row at the Magic, but have beaten the hell out of them in the last two games in Washington, winning by an average of 21.5 points. The Magic have been a train wreck lately, losing nine of ten games, and showing very little signs of life. They are waiting for the offseason, and it shows.
I think Washington is a much better team and I like their backcourt of Wall and Beal to thrive against what might very well be the worst backcourt in all of the NBA.
Free Pick: Washington Wizards -3
Brooklyn Nets at Denver Nuggets -6.5 (Total: 204)
The Nuggets winning streak is over, but let’s not forget this is still the best home team in the NBA. They are a dominant 32-3 at the Pepsi Center and have typically won by a pretty decent margin. They have failed to cover in their last two home games against pretty lousy teams, but I think some of that was attributable to fatigue and some of the pressure of the “streak.” Prior to that, they ripped off eight straight covers at home and were mauling anyone who dared enter their arena.
I think they get back to their dominant home ways tonight. Brooklyn has played well lately, going 7-3 both straight up and ATS in their last ten games. They have also been a pretty good road team at 20-15. However, there is a difference between going on the road and going TO Denver.
Both teams have a key player likely to miss tonight’s game; Ty Lawson for Denver and Joe Johnson for Brooklyn. I’ll consider those two absences a wash, though I’d rather have Lawson for team-functioning purposes. SO, considering those two losses even, I’ll lean towards Denver and their impressive +10.2 ppg differential at home.
Free Pick: Denver Nuggets -6.5