San Antonio continued their under-the-radar excellence last night, thrashing Atlanta and former assistant Coach Bud in the process. San Antonio controlled the game throughout, helping us notch an easy sixth winner in seven NBA games and moved to a ridiculous 14-3 in the process. The early knock was “they haven’t beaten anyone.” But 14-3 is 14-3, and they now own wins over Atlanta, @New York and @Boston as well as wins over Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix. Granted, they haven’t played Cleveland or Golden State, but they have still won a bunch of games and beginning to do so more easily, even as their schedule has ramped up. They travel to Chicago next, and it will definitely be a game worth watching.
Meanwhile, Golden State was laying a staggering 15 points on the road last night, and I ALMOST pulled the trigger before opting for the Spurs (more safely) instead. Golden State won by 19 to push their record to 18-0. Their next game is a roadie at Utah, a game I circled as a potential trouble-spot weeks ago. If, and again, IF, they get through that game, the next four they will be double-digit favorites before a tricky trip at a similarly sharp-shooting small-ball Pacers. Win THAT, and it is not unrealistic that they could be undefeated on Christmas Day for a 5pm matchup against the Cavaliers that would likely shatter regular season television ratings for the NBA… A long ways to go still, but man…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Indiana Pacers -9.5 at Los Angeles Lakers (Total: 201.5)
Let’s start with some basics: The Pacers are good and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Lakers stink and have been getting worse every time out. Indiana has covered nine of their last ten games and has won 10 of 12 straight-up. The Lakers have failed to cover five straight times and enter tonight 2-12 straight-up. Indiana ranks 10th in offensive efficiency. The Lakers rank 29th, only ahead of Philadelphia. Indiana, thought of as a more “offensive” team since the small-ball transformation, ranks third in defensive efficiency. The Lakers are 28th.
So basically, the Pacers are pretty efficient offensively, and certainly explosive, averaging a ninth-best 101.5 ppg, however, they have scored 115.5 in their last four games – a sign of a team that has improved greatly since their first week. Paul George has played himself back into confident game shape and is averaging 30.5 ppg on 49.5% shooting in his last ten games.
The Pacers are the real-deal, and the Lakers are awful beyond description. There is talk Kobe might sit tonight on the back end of a back-to-back, and frankly, as much as I love some vintage Kobe, is the only thing that makes me hesitant to lay ten points. Either way, as long as the Pacers show up, and they have nothing on their 2015 resume that supposes they will not, I think they manhandle a Lakers team playing on a second straight night. I’d be willing to lay as many as 13 or 14. I think the Pacers win easily and help us notch our 7th win in 8 picks.