It’s fashionable to take shots at the Eastern Conference, but you have to respect and even enjoy how fervently the last playoff entrants are approaching the earning of a berth in the tournament. Perhaps it is also a little sign of disrespect/skepticism about the Hawks, but the Heat, Nets, Celtics and Pacers all really seem to WANT to chance to take them on. Conventional wisdom has always been there is nothing worse than the eighth slot in the playoffs – why sacrifice a Lottery ping-pong ball just to get slaughtered in the first round of the Playoffs. So make fun of the East all you want, but at least they are making this final week of the season interesting.
Unfortunately for the Heat, interesting didn’t equal “good” last night. They got simply mauled in the second half by the Bulls, squandering a double digit lead and ending up getting routed 89-78 by the Bulls. Charlotte, Boston, Indiana and Brooklyn are all in action tonight, so the picture will get further filled in tonight…
Meanwhile, Golden State got back to their winning way, and we did as well along with the Dubs, as they covered a big number at home against Portland. Let’s keep the momentum rolling tonight with today’s free pick.
Today’s Free Pick:
Indiana Pacers -6 at Detroit Pistons (Total: 198)
The animosity has evaporated from this rivalry over the last few years, and I don’t see a tremendous fight from the Pistons tonight now that they have officially been eliminated from the postseason. The Pacers HAVE to win this game if they want to sneak into the postseason and I think they’ll stretch Paul George out a little more tonight after an optimistic performance in his first game back from his fractured leg. The Pacers are 2-0 with George back in the lineup and the more he can contribute the more dangerous this team becomes. Don’t forget, this team was the #1 seed in the East last season.
The Pistons have basically cashed it in. They looked terrible against Boston, a similarly motivated playoff team, turning the ball over 19 times and allowing 34 free throws. The reached, hacked and chucked the ball all over the place. I expect a similar (though likely not AS bad) performance tonight against a good defensive team with motivation a plenty.
The Pacers have won four of their last five games at The Palace and have long since exercised the demons of playing in Motown. The rivalry will always be known for The Brawl, but in truth, this series hasn’t had much fight in it on late. I like the Pacers to go in and handle their business and keep the pressure on the Celtics and Nets.