Let’s keep it rolling with a few bonus picks for Christmas Day. Enjoy the Holiday and some great Holiday Hoops!
Today’s Free Picks:
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs -7 (Total: 209.5)
The Rockets have been a pretty tricky team to handicap this season. One night, they are world beaters, hammering Golden State on the road, beating the Spurs in San Antonio last month – and the next night they stink; losing at home to Dallas in their last game, getting pulverized in Indiana, getting embarrassed in Sacramento, etc. They’ve been hard to figure as you aren’t ever quite sure what you are going to get one night to the next.
Meanwhile, San Antonio continues to chug along. Underestimate them if you want, but Coach Pop and Timmy have a way of making the skeptics pay. They are 22-6 and have a league-best 11-3 road record in 2013. They’ve managed minutes, gotten contributions from the bench on days where it looked like they were conceding defeat by resting the entire starting lineup, and even ridden out some nagging injuries to Ginobili and Tony Parker. No one besides Parker averages more than 13.9 points per night and in the loaded Western Conference, it’s hard to argue any truly demand being an All-Star. Yes, you can make a great case for Parker, but it wouldn’t be absurd to put him behind Lillard, Curry and Westbrook in point guard considerations (and possible even Eric Bledsoe, though it’ll never happen).
Yet somehow, someway, the Spurs just keep winning. I think they’ll win tonight as well, avenging an early season home loss to the Rockets, but laying seven points is a fairly steep price. The better play tonight is the UNDER 209.5. Yes, Houston scores in bunches and they give up a ton of points. But the game is in San Antonio, and the home team generally controls tempo more effectively. The Spurs will defend them more thoroughly than most teams. San Antonio doesn’t grind the tempo to a halt; that’s a bit of a misnomer, but they do hold teams to a stingy 95 ppg considering they are scoring 103 ppg themselves.
I like this game to possibly have one team (Spurs) over 100 points, but it should tuck gently under the 210 threshold. I’d be surprised if the Rockets won, as it just seems unlikely any team beats them twice in their own gym this season. Enjoy the game – it should be a good one – I like a 102-97 type game.