Yesterday was a good reminder of why you don’t get too cute trying to outsmart the NBA. By every statistical measure, the Milwaukee Bucks are abominable. They hadn’t played a solid game in close to a month. They were the most inefficient team offensively on the planet and they had played a game the night before.
BUT they were playing at home against a mediocre team on the road in the back-end of a back-to-back. I tried to outsmart a fundamental rule and paid for it with the loss. Obviously, it isn’t a 100% guarantee, but over the course of the season it bears out to be a pretty profitable strategy in and of itself.
Today, let’s look to get back on track and back in the winning column with a pair of good NBA games on the slate.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder -8.5 (Total: 208.5)
The T’Wolves are coming off a loss last night at Dallas 112-106. That puts them on the second night of a back-to-back on the road (sorry to be a broken record on this one, but we are over 60% ATS on the season and this has been one of the major reasons). But it isn’t just the fatigue factor that is an issue tonight. The biggest issue is that the Thunder are really good and have been virtually unbeatable since the return of Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder has covered in five of their last seven and have won six straight overall. What is most impressive is the teams they have beaten in that streak: San Antonio, Golden State, Denver and the Clippers. That’s a pretty impressive two weeks. The margin of victory has been fairly comfortable in all but the Golden State buzzer beater and Denver game.
Eight and a half is a pretty big price to pay – I’d love the game at 6.5 or 7, but I still think the Thunder cover this one at home. You might sweat it out a bit – one of those games where the margin floats around ten most of the fourth quarter, but in the end, I like OKC to notch the cover.
New Orleans Pelicans at New York Knicks -1.5 (Total: 197)
Introducing the last place team in the Eastern Conference… your New York Knicks! Yes, things are that bad in NYC right now for Carmelo and crew who are mired in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. The positive news for them is that they return home tonight for the first time in four games. The bad news is, they return home with the same roster…
The Knicks biggest weakness is their inability to defend the rim. It shows up in their second-highest free throw total allowed in the league. It’s a bit of an obscure stat, but it’s a good indicator that they are having to defend with fouling rather than solid lane protection. The absence of Tyson Chandler is an absolute killer for the Knicks, and it will be exacerbated tonight by Anthony Davis, who in his second year in the league is LOOKING like the #1 overall pick from two years ago. He’s been dominant, and I like him to enjoy a soft matchup today and have a big game.
Give me the Pels to drop the tenth straight L on the Knicks this afternoon in Madison Square Garden.