Well, Joakim Noah played last night. He played well and the Suns didn’t – and the result was a bad home loss for Phoenix and a small losing streak for me in NBA plays. It was a rare home no-show for the best team against the spread in the league this season, and frankly one they couldn’t afford to give away given the razor-thin margin of error in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile in the East, even despite playing back-to-back nights on the road, the Pacers handled their business in Atlanta to push to 3 ½ games clear of the Heat for the top record in the conference. It was a good opportunity for the Hawks to get a nice win, but let’s face it, positioning really isn’t that big of a deal for the slop pile that is teams three through ten in the East…
It’s a pretty good slate of action on Wednesday night, so let’s bring our focus to my two favorite plays on the board.
Today’s Free Picks:
Phoenix Suns at Houston Rockets -7.5 (Total: 212)
Phoenix has the unenviable task of playing the backend of a back-to-back against high-octane Houston. I’m not sure if it is the public’s general fatigue with Dwight Howard’s off-court antics the past few years or simply the crowd of the Western Conference, but Houston is one of the more underappreciated good teams in the NBA. They are playing nearly .667 basketball and are 20-7 at home.
Most impressively, this team can score in abundance. They are averaging 105.1 points per game and shooting over 47% from the floor. That is high tempo efficiency. Phoenix is a similar story, averaging 104.7 ppg . I expect a lot of offense tonight and more than a few easy Rockets buckets from a tired Suns squad.
212 feels pretty vulnerable for a game in which the winner will likely be around 110+
Toronto Raptors -1 at Sacramento Kings (Total: 200)
At first blush, I can see why the Raptors are favored on the road tonight. They have a much better record than the Kings, they’ve won four of their last five games and six of eight, and they have been better on the road this season (14-12) than they have at home. Then see that Sacramento is just 2-8 in their last ten games and it looks like a mismatch.
But take a deeper look at the schedule and actual results. Sacramento has close losses to San Antonio, Dallas and Utah on the road. They have an overtime loss to the Pacers and losses to OKC, Memphis, Denver and Houston. That’s a BRUTAL stretch of schedule for any team, let alone a young team that isn’t quite ready to contend in the West. In the East? This team easily makes the playoffs behind DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.
The Kings are 9-1 ATS at home against teams with a winning record. The Raptors barely meet that criteria, and are ripe to get beat tonight. I like Sacramento at home with a banged-up Kyle Lowry coming to town and a Kings team swollen with confidence after their beatdown of Chicago earlier this week.