We got back on the winning track last night with the Hawks home win over the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trailblazers. It was just the first game Lillard has missed in his entire career – but let’s not get carried away and say that is why the Blazers lost. In fact, the nine-point final margin was a little misleading as that was as close as the game was the entire fourth quarter. In truth, although we only covered by two, it was a relatively easy winner.
It’s a much smaller schedule to choose from tonight with only four games on the NBA docket, but let’s see if we can keep the winning ways rolling anyhow. It’s a pretty ugly night when there are only four games on the schedule and Lakers at Nuggets ISN’T the worst one on the schedule (that ‘honor’ goes to Memphis at the 1-28 Sixers). But, there are actually two games I like tonight, but let’s go with my favorite play on the lonely board.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat -4
The Pistons are coming off their longest game in franchise history, Friday’s quadruple-overtime thriller against Chicago, but that shouldn’t be a factor considering they have had three days to rest and recoup. Making things a little better for them is the added depth tonight with the return of Brandon Jennings. It sounds great, but I’m going to be the wet blanket here – Jennings has been one of the least efficient players in the NBA over the last three seasons and he plays the same position as Reggie Jackson, who was just named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week. So IS Jennings’ return really a great boost for the oft-erratic Pistons??
Meanwhile, they are on the road in a tough place to play, Miami. The Heat are 16-10 and quietly going about their business. They continue to be that under the radar team that has the talent to challenge for the Eastern Conference Finals, though they haven’t dazzled anyone early. They’ve been really good, but never “great.”
The Pistons are near the bottom of the NBA in bench points, so eventually Jennings could find a home at the two-guard spelling Caldwell-Pope and his staggering 37.3 minutes per night.
In the meantime, look for Miami to win at home. They have won four of five overall and are 12-5 at home this season. Dwyane Wade is playing well, averaging 22.3 points on 62% shooting in his last three outings and is healthy and ready to go tonight. And isn’t that usually the rub with Miami; if… IF, Wade, Bosh, Whiteside, Dragic and Deng are all healthy, this team should win about 50-55 games and be a legit contender. I think that is the version we get tonight in South Beach.