Dwyane Wade made a heroic return to Miami and “Wade County” last night, and despite a rather subdued performance from the Heat’s All-Time leader is basically EVERY statistical category, the Bulls had his back and got the road win despite some tough travel and tired legs. Perhaps I underestimated the emotional factor of Wade’s return, as I took just my fifth loss of the NBA season just a few buckets.
Elsewhere, the Pelicans finally got their first win of the season, now leaving… wait for it… PHILLY! – as the lone winless team in the NBA. Anthony Davis put in another MVP-like night, scoring 32 points to go along with eight rebounds in the road win over Milwaukee, and it finally translated into victory. Interestingly, Jabari Parker was scintillating with 33 points and nine rebounds in the loss. Parker appears to have turned the corner into legitimate NBA scorer in his third season – and one finally (so far) devoid of injuries. Parker is averaging 19.5 and 6.5 so far this season. He and Giannis have the makings of cornerstone franchise stars, making Milwaukee an interesting burgeoning power if they can add a few pieces this offseason.
It is an absolutely ridiculous night of hoops with eight NBA games and the commencing of college hoops, so if you are in and watching hoops tonight, it should be a bountiful harvest.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Toronto Raptors at Charlotte Hornets -3
Heading into today, the top three point differentials in the NBA belong to??? If you said: Clippers, Hawks and Hornets – you would be right and frankly, pretty amazing. Not the Cavs. Not the Warriors. The Hawks and the Hornets (or as Chris Paul might explain to his shrunken Kevin Love son, the “birds and bees”). The Clippers you probably got. The second two are a major surprise.
Charlotte is 6-1 entering tonight and has won four straight. Granted, they haven’t played a top five team yet, but they do own nice wins over Utah, Indiana and a road win at Milwaukee. Toronto has also been good this season, 5-2 and a perfect 2-0 on the road, and have gotten an epic start to the season by DeMarr DeRozan. Tonight is a legitimately REALLY GOOD game that the general public will largely ignore.
So who has the edge? Charlotte and Toronto rank 11th and 8th in offensive efficiency, and 2nd and 7th in defensive efficiency. They are shooting a true shooting percentage of 54.5% and 53.8% respectively and have balanced rosters. The biggest difference to me? Charlotte, despite the perceived ball-centric nature of Kemba Walker, rank 4th in assists while the Raptors rank 29th. Charlotte moves the ball better and gets easier and more diverse shots. The Raptors might be a little inflated in FG% because of the likely unsustainable start from DeRozan. Lowry has struggled at times, and they will surely need him to be an All Star if they want to remain a top-four team in the East.
This game is a Vegas pick em with the three sliding to the home team. I think Charlotte is actually a little bit BETTER to this point this year, in addition to ALSO being at home tonight.
I’ll take the Hornets to keep moving the ball, generating easy baskets and playing exception defense. The will miss Kidd-Gilchrest tonight if he doesn’t play, as he could absolutely make life miserable to DeRozan tonight, but either way, I expect Charlotte to win at home. That confidence amplifies if MKG makes the lineup.