Last night wasn’t the NBA’s most glamorous night, but it certainly was a fun one. From the foolishness of the Wizards arriving in all black (as any intense Dark Wizard is want to do…) to ‘intimidate’ (maybe?) the Celtics and add a little heat to a previously lukewarm rivalry, to Andrew Wiggins dropping a buzzer beater against the Suns, to the Spurs narrowly edging the Raps in Toronto 108-106, and the Sixers beating the Clippers in Blake Griffin’s return despite playing without Joel Embiid.
It was a fun and somewhat wacky night in the NBA, and a nice reminder that the January/February stretch is upon us. It seems like every year the bubble around the All Star Game, the several weeks on each side, provides some erratic results. The Heat’s win over Golden State two nights ago was the opening salvo, and don’t be the least bit surprised to find yourself surprised by some of the upcoming results for the next four or five weeks.
That doesn’t mean we run and hide from winning picks. But it does mean “sure things” are few and far between (or non-existent) as the Warriors losing to the hapless Heat reminded us…
We dropped a pick with the Jazz last night as they took a rare loss since George Hill returned to the lineup. Let’s get back on track tonight.
Today’s Free Pick:
Houston Rockets -3 at Boston Celtics
Boston got dropped by 15 last night in Washington, and though I poked a little fun at some of the fake tough-guy stuff before the game, the matchup between the C’s and Wiz did have a little extra animosity last night. It was a tough, hard-played game. That makes turning around and playing a night later against one of the highest octane offenses in the NBA a tough challenge.
Houston is coming off a loss to Milwaukee, but that might not be a terrible thing. They are uncannily good after setbacks this season, posting a 12-1 SU record following a loss. They are also pretty good as road favorites, going 11-7 ATS (4th best in the NBA – ironically, Boston is tops at 10-2 ATS). Meanwhile, Boston hasn’t been a home dog often, going 0-2 ATS this season, but both have had convincing margins leading to an average defeat of -11.0 ppg.
The Celtics have some big, talented, strong wing defenders. Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and others could get spells trying to contain James Harden. But the Rockets can counter with a similar strength on strength with Patrick Beverly frustrating the criminally underrated Isaiah Thomas (28.6 ppg this season).
This should be a decent game, but the combination of the Rockets high-powered offense, their great metrics ATS and the fact they rested yesterday while Boston played an emotionally-charged road game tilts me heavily in Houston’s favor.