The Clippers proved resilient last night and overcame the absence of Blake Griffin for at least one game. He biggest reason might have been the animal effort from DeAndre Jordan who tallied 22 points and grabbed an insane 26 rebounds in their upset road win over Dallas. In honor of the late Dean Smith, I am reminded of a famous line of his, regarding a team actually being better for one game without their best player, but that over the long haul, it is difficult to overcome. So was last night the one-game Clippers blip, or are they really going to be able to beat other Western Conference Playoff teams on the road over the next month with Blake? They are going to have to be up for the challenge because 12 of their next 15 games are against teams currently in playoff position…
Also, congrats to Coach Pop for his 1,000 NBA win last night, but from our perspective, the even more interesting thing from last night’s game was another inexplicably great effort from the Pacers who should have won that game. Indy is now 15-6 ATS as a road underdog this season. Good enough to hang around dangerously close, but lacking the finishers (see: Paul George) to actually notch wins.
Tonight is the second-to-last full schedule of NBA games before the All-Star Break. We need some wins bigtime to snap a miserable week, so let’s get after it.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Detroit Pistons at Charlotte Hornets -2
There was this weird little blip where the Detroit Pistons were a gambling ATM and it looked like Stan Van Gundy just needed to ditch Josh Smith and all was right with the world. Those days have come and gone. Over their last nine games they are just 3-6, and while they are still over .500 ATS at 5-4, the bloom is off the rose a little bit. They are, not coincidentally, just 3-6 since losing Brandon Jennings for the season.
Meanwhile, Charlotte is 6-4 over their last ten games and an impressive 3-3 since losing Kemba Walker. Tonight’s game could have been a fun matchup of two of the more exciting small point guards in the NBA. Instead, it is two teams rolling out backups and hoping their offense doesn’t suffer too much.
Both teams are coming off disappointing home losses, Charlotte to Indiana and Detroit by double digits to Minnesota. Neither team seems to have much spark right now, but I like home teams in matchups of mediocre and less-than-motivated teams, especially when the rest factor is even. Charlotte will certainly miss Kidd-Gilchrest tonight, but should have enough with Jefferson in the middle tonight to get by.
I’ll take the Hornets at home to further solidify their playoff position by knocking off one of the few teams that seems interested in making a run.