The battle for the “best” in the East continues to get more ironic as each of the Big Two continue refusing to win basketball games. It was the Heat’s turn last night, getting pummeled in Atlanta by the barely thirty win Hawks, and now sit hoping the Pacers lose a game to give them another look at the top seed. The ball is in Indy’s court; win two games to finish the season and they capture the top seed.
Of course, today’s visit from Oklahoma City is not going to be easy, and frankly I’m a little surprised they are two point favorites given their recent pathetic play. Perhaps it is because OKC is firmly locked into the two seed out West with no hope of moving up or down and there is uncertainty around how many minutes Durant and Westbrook will play today. For that reason, I’m staying off this game wager-wise, but it is a huge game and worth watching as a fan.
Instead, we will take our three-game NBA winning streak to a less-glamorous match up, but one I feel much more comfortable analyzing.
Today’s Free Pick:
Toronto Raptors -6.5 at Detroit Pistons (Total: 206.5)
The Raptors clinched the Atlantic Division title this weekend, and while division titles admittedly don’t mean much in the NBA, for a franchise that has only made six playoff appearances in 19 seasons, it’s a nice accomplishment in a season that began with pretty pedestrian hopes. They are now setting their sights on earning the third seed in the East, which is a much, much bigger deal that it seems – fourth place gets a first round date with the Nets, the hottest team in the East since the All Star break. The third seed gets the Wizards. BIG difference.
With that in mind, expect the Raptors to bring their A-game tonight on the road. The Pistons can’t guard anyone. They’ve given up more than 110 points a game in their last nine contests and lost 12 of 16. Opponents are shooting over 50% from the floor during that sixteen game span. It’s tough to beat any NBA team when you play that little defense.
Kyle Lowry is back and healthy and that should be enough to handle the erratic Pistons tonight who have very little to play for at this point. The Raptors have won four of five in the matchup and have beaten the Pistons twice this season by a combined 35 points. I like them complete the season sweep this afternoon and continue their pressure on Chicago for the third seed in the East.