We notched another NBA winner last night with the Sixers not just covering with their 11 point cushion, but actually winning straight-up in Brooklyn for their sixth win on the season. A Nerlens Noel dunk with 3.2 seconds remaining sealed the deal for the Sixers who now, gasp, have a better record than the New York Knickerbockers… Meanwhile, the Pistons epic winning streak has come to an end, but even in defeat the Pistons were impressive, battling tough all night and fighting to a 106-103 loss against the hottest team in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks. It will be interesting to see of the Hornets and Pistons can battle into playoff position and displace the slumping Heat and Nets.
We are 9-1-1 ATS in the New Year, so let’s try to keep that positive momentum rolling through the weekend and see if we can pick up a few winners. It is an enormous weekend of sports, with NFL Playoff games, a bevy of good college hoops and even the NCAA National Title Game Monday night. So your attention will likely be divided this weekend – here’s an NBA game I’ll be keeping an eye on.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Brooklyn Nets at Detroit Pistons -5 (Total: 196)
Sometimes searching for a game to pick is tough. Sometimes it is easy, as long as you can get out of your own way. Both teams played last night. Both lost. The Nets lost to the Sixers and are now on the road for the backend of a back-to-back facing a team that might have taken as much confidence from last night’s loss as they did from the previous seven wins.
I don’t think there is any ill-effect from dropping a game for Detroit, in fact, I think they look at it as a small blip and are eager to get back to work. It’s easy to blame Josh Smith for all the ails of the world; hunger, poverty, crime, and of course low offensive efficiency. But the attitude-180 of the Pistons post-Smith is undeniable. Their two talented big men are thriving. Jennings and Augustine are forming a top-notch point guard combo, and the Pistons seem to genuinely enjoy playing together for the first time in years. It’s a credit to Van Gundy and it’s been fun to watch some of the elite talent on Detroit’s roster finally look elite.
Meanwhile, things are pretty ugly in Brooklyn. Jarrett Jack is playing admirably, but the absence of Deron Williams has been rough. Kevin Garnett appears to be running on fumes and you never know when he will actually play and play well (he is expected to play tonight). Mason Plumlee has fared well in his first two meetings against Detroit, but he is facing a different team tonight. With the improved effort you have to favor the frontcourt of the Pistons.
Sometimes NBA basketball in the regular season boils down to ‘want-to.’ I think Detroit has that in spades over Brooklyn right now and like them to grab a big home win tonight.