We had a rough night in NBA picks last night, missing on both selections for just the second time in nearly a month. Chicago remain enigmatic; playing phenomenal one night blowing out Miami, then turning around and getting rolled on their home court by the Detroit Pistons. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it has to be exasperating for any true Bulls fans to see flashes of competence then waves of helplessness in the same 72-hour period.
Meanwhile, one of the most impressive performances of the regular season was turned in last night by the Indiana Pacers, going on the road and convincingly beating the San Antonio Spurs. They led by 18 points heading into the fourth quarter and cruised to a 111-100 victory. Tonight, they get a chance to cap off one of the most impressive weeks of the season if they can boot it back up and win at Oklahoma City. It’s a tall task, but if they are successful it would complete a 4-1 week with all five games on the road out West and wins already over the Clippers and Spurs and a tough last minute loss at Portland. I think most folks are already hip to this notion, but just in case, the Pacers are LEGIT.
It’s an abbreviated slate of games for Sunday, but let’s take a look at some of the more favorable matchups and get erase the sting of yesterday’s oh-for.
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Lakers -5.5
Ko-be! Ko-be! The Black Mamba returns to action tonight at what is sure to be an electric Staples Center. LA rode out Kobe’s injury better than expected at 10-9, and his addition to the lineup provides real hope that they can still be a playoff team in the loaded Western Conference. I’m not positive that happens, but it is tough to bet against Kobe – even returning from a nasty Achilles injury.
Both them and the Raptors have allowed more points than they’ve scored this season, a -1.4 and -1.5 differential respectively. However, the Lakers have played pretty good basketball at home this season and the Raptors have been pretty lousy away from it.
In addition to the return of Kobe, there is a strong probability Pau Gasol returns as well. All of a sudden, this looks like the team that…well, wait a second, is it really a good thing?? We shall see how quickly the blend returns to championship form (if ever). I’m still not sold this marriage will end a happy one, but for one exciting night in Staples, it should be enough to push the Lakers to a comfortable victory over a mediocre Raptors squad. I’m taking the Lakers in Kobe’s return and swallowing the points.