The Raptors might be in a little bit of trouble. Sure, dropping a tight home game to Dallas isn’t the worst thing in the world, and losing a game in overtime on the road, even to the Lakers, isn’t a capital offense. But add in the fact that both of those losses came in the first two games without the injured DeMar Derozan could spell a larger issue. Kobe Bryant’s triple double last night was as much of a product of the Raptors not having Derozan as it was the extra overtime period. Most teams in the NBA can’t afford to lose their leading scorer without a huge drop off ( and he is an underrated defender as well), so the Raps aren’t unique in this regard – but given their relative anonymity and newness to the national radar, I think they’ll be judged a little more harshly.
Meanwhile, the Warriors are hoping that Steph Curry’s injured ankle is no big deal, as he tweaked it in their ninth straight win, a comfortable road win over the Pistons that gave us an easy winner as well. As long as Steph stays healthy, the Golden State story is going to be an interesting one to watch unfold. Is this finally the year the Warriors get over the hump??
Let’s see if we can start another good week tonight with a winner.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Denver Nuggets -2.5 at Utah Jazz (Total: 208.5)
The Nuggets have won seven of their eight games when holding their opponent under 100 points. Utah has failed to top the 100 point mark in seven of their last eight games. To make matters worse for the Jazz, the Nuggets have averaged 108.9 points per game in their last nine games.
But the most underrated part of the Nuggets furious rush back to respectability has happened on the defensive end. The league’s most porous defense through the first ten games has suddenly found a spine, holding team to 101.1 – which isn’t too bad when you factor in tempo and their offensive efficiency.
The point is, since Ty Lawson got healthy and this team decided to play defense, they more closely resemble the first post-Melo playoff edition than they do last year’s injury-riddled Lottery edition. Can they make the playoffs in the West? Probably not, but go ahead and make the list of quality teams in the West twelve deep and include Denver in the “tough game” mix.
All the money early has poured in on the OVER side of the line, but I’m inclined to lean UNDER. The Jazz are limited offensively and the Nuggets have a renewed vigor on the defensive side of the ball. But my official play today is to take the scorching Nuggets on the road. The Jazz have lost five in a row and seven of nine overall. The Nuggets have won six of seven and stacked up wins against Phoenix, Chicago, Cleveland and the Pelicans in the process.