The NBA resumed play last night with a pair of interesting results. The first being the relative lack of results from a lackluster trade deadline. Only two players that average more than twenty minutes a night moved teams and most of the deals involved odd salary cap computations more than actually, you know, making the on-court product immediately better. Congrats to the Suns for jettisoning the poisonous Markieff Morris, I wasn’t sure he’s have many suitors. But other than that only one got appreciably better in my estimation.
The Detroit Pistons.
No, they aren’t winning the East, but with the chaos in Miami and Chicago, the regression of the Wizards and Bucks and the still questionable post-season viability of the emerging but “star-less” Boston Celtics, all of a sudden Detroit looks like the next best option to the Raptors to make a run to the conference Finals. Tobias Harris isn’t a big name star, but he is an efficient and effective scorer, and will be a huge upgrade from Ilyasova. Keep an eye on Detroit in a few weeks when they start to develop some chemistry.
Meanwhile, we took the most absurd non-sense beat of the season last night as the Bulls scored nine unanswered points in the final 85 seconds to cover the twelve point spread by one stinking point. The run featured two STEALS and a 25-footer from Aaron Brooks with five seconds to go. I KNOW no NBA is thinking about the line, but man did that one feel like a ludicrous late effort to cover the number.
Alas, we shall lick our wounds and regroup for tonight’s full slate of action and try to notch a winner.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Toronto Raptors -5 at Chicago Bulls
Yes, they may have screwed us last night with an oddly-energetic garbage time barrage of points, but the facts regarding the Bulls haven’t changed since yesterday. They are decimated by injury, tragically thin on the bench and woefully devoid of the talent necessary to maintain a competitive position in the East. The losing streak continued last night and now they host one of the hottest teams in the NBA less than twenty four hours later.
It’s a recipe for a good ole’ fashioned butt-whipping and I think that’s exactly what happens tonight at the United Center.
Toronto, meanwhile, has comfortably settled in as the #2 seed in the East and sports an impressive 35-17 record. It’s unlikely to see them getting caught for the second slot, but as long as they remain within shouting distance of the Cavs, I expect them to keep their foot on the gas. They are a solid 17-11 on the road, but that record alone doesn’t tell the story tonight. They have had a week to rest and are healthy. The Bulls are on a back-to-back and are the Bulls in name only – this team suiting up tonight is light years away from the near-elite version we’ve seen for the last six years.
I like Toronto to run away, taking advantage of their fresher legs and much better depth tonight.