The Cleveland Cavaliers made a loud resounding statement last night in Memphis, going on the road and once again completely dominating an elite Western Conference opponent. People can focus on the interpersonal relationship between Lebron and Love all they want, but it comes at the expense of missing the larger story – the Cavaliers are the OVERWHELMING favorite to win the NBA Championship at this point. They have no trounced every elite Western Conference contender, and when you also account for the fact that path to the Finals will be infinitely easier for the Cavs, it is hard to recommend putting money on anyone other than the King to wear the Crown.
Meanwhile we picked up a second straight win in narrow fashion with the Rockets squeezing out a narrow two point victory in New Orleans. Dwight Howard played only 16 minutes and scored only four points, but the fact that the Rockets won on the road against a quality opponent while gently easing D12 back into game shape is a good sign. James Harden continuing to be MVP-like even with Howard on the floor is also a really good sign.
It’s a light late of action tonight in the NBA with only Indiana playing at Milwaukee as the NBA defers to the NCAA Tournament this evening. But there’s no reason we can’t stack a third straight win on the NBA resume.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks -1.5
The Pacers got a big two-point road win last night in Detroit to reclaim the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs with about a dozen games to play. It will be tightly contested with Charlotte, Boston and Brooklyn all within a half-game of the Pacers, there is little margin for error. George Hill might have saved the season with his driving layup last night, but there is still a lot of work to be done and going on the road on the backend of a back-to-back against a playoff team is a tough task.
Milwaukee was also in a freefall until a Kris Middleton buzzer beater against Miami stopped the skid and went a long way to ensure they held the sixth spot over the Heat (and avoid certain misery in a first-round playoff matchup with the Cavs). I think this young Milwaukee team is acutely aware of how much better the sixth spot is for their future and will get enough wins down the stretch to hold onto it.
Indiana has won eight of the last nine matchups between these two, but it feels like the tide has turned a bit recently with Indiana’s injury woes and Milwaukee’s emergence. Indiana has won two of three of this season’s meetings, including a win on Indiana’s home floor. I expect them to even the series tonight with the home court edge as well as the rest advantage. The Pacers are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games with zero days rest. I’ll take the Bucks tonight, especially not really having to lay any points to get the fresher team with the better record on their home floor.