Rockets vs. Pacers Pick NBA – December 21st

You gotta love Coach Pop.  The sports media was abuzz yesterday with whether or  not Popvich would get fined for resting two healthy stars, for no other reason except for the fact it was the second night of a back-to-back.  Competitive balance?  Television ratings?  Pop could care less.  Heck, have you ever listened to a Coach Pop interview?  He makes Bill Belicheck seem downright jovial.  But like him or not, no one is going to tell, fine or shame him into managing his team anyway other than how he sees fit.

So the Spurs benched Timmy Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

And went on the road and beat Golden State 104-102.  Fantastic stuff.  And kudos to you if you had Marco Belineli in any one-day fantasy leagues yesterday, as we went off for 28 points in 28 minutes of action.

Let’s get to Friday’s free pick.

Houston Rockets at Indiana Pacers -5.5

The last we saw Indiana they were summoning ghosts of playoffs past and gagging up a 15-point lead to the venerable Miami Heat.  Paul George left the floor complaining of a foul that was, Roy Hibbert left the floor most of the night with foul trouble, and the Pacers left Miami with their first back-to-back losses of the season.  Tonight, they try to snap their three game skid with a visit from the dangerous Houston Rockets.

Houston has been hot and cold in December, notching wins over Chicago, Orlando and Golden State twice, but they have also dropped games against the Jazz, Suns and Kings (as well as a more excusable loss to Portland).  Some people still think they can get it together and be title contenders, but I am not one of them.  For all the individual talent, this team is flawed; both in how they share the ball and in their frequent defensive and effort malaises.  Those are not good traits if you want to beat an angry, deep and defensivly-tenacious Pacers team on their home floor.

Indiana has lost only once this season, and it was their last home game against Detroit.  Perhaps they were looking ahead to the Heat.  Tonight, they will be razor sharp after two tough losses.  The only hesitancy on Indiana tonight is the reintroduction of Danny Granger.  It is plausible to assume, that even though he is a HUGE talent upgrade over anyone currently on their second unit, that there will be some growing pains as he returns to the team in a much different role than he is accustomed to playing in Indiana.

That said, I think Houston is catching Indy at a really bad time.  The Pacers are 11-1 at home.  Houston is 6-6 on the road.  Indiana allows 90 points per game.  Houston allows 102.

Give me Indiana tonight at home covering the 5.5.

Free Pick:  Indiana Pacers -5.5