We got back on the winning track with our NBA picks last night as Golden State erased a sloppy first half to storm back and smoke the Blazers 122-108 in Portland. The loss dropped the free-falling Blazers to fourth in the Western Conference standings thanks to the provision that a division leader cannot be ranked lower than fourth overall, however, their record would have them just a half game out of seventh place. Even more interesting, they have fallen to just four games ahead of OKC in the division. Is it actually possible the Blazers could fall all the way to eighth place in the Western Conference??
Meanwhile we get some fantastic NBA action tonight including a potential Finals Preview with Cleveland taking a trip to Memphis. It will be interesting to see how the red-hot Cavs play on the road against a big and physical Grizzlies frontline.
Let’s get to today’s action with tonight’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans +1.5
Just the injury report alone tonight would comprise a high-level NBA game if all were healthy. Tyreke Evans and Omar Asik are questionable for New Orleans in addition to the long-sidelined J’Rue Holliday and Ryan Anderson. For the Rockets, you could win some games with a lineup of Corey Brewer, Josh Smith, Terrance Jones, Papanikaulou, and Patrick Beverly. But the real story tonight for Houston is the likely return of Dwight Howard. The Rockets have done just fine without the bigman, but if he can return and be a force without James Harden sublimating his game, the Rockets could be an interesting sleeper in the West.
The return of Howard won’t be an easy welcome back to the NBA as he likely draws the assignment of trying to contain Anthony Davis. However, even if Davis gets loose, I am not sure the Pels have enough firepower to beat Houston tonight. The Rockets are a good road team at 20-13, nearly the same record the Pels sport on their home floor. Plus the Rockets are 4-1 ATS in their last five games and 4-1 overall including road wins at Indiana and the Clippers.
New Orleans has faded in the playoff push, despite the bevy of Thunder injuries. They are now all but sure to be in the Lottery after losing four of five including a loss to Denver and a 72-point clunker in Phoenix. I think this team is a little out of gas, while Houston should have a little extra zip in their step as they get their talented center back tonight.