It was a nice return to our winning ways last night, spearheaded by the Nuggets continuing their home dominance with an easy win over the Los Angeles Clippers. I still think the West is Oklahoma City’s to lose with San Antonio being an interesting potential challenger provided Parker returns at full strength, but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to have to face the Nuggets in the first or second round. They may not have the talent of the top three teams in the West, but with the near unbeatable home-court play, you know you are in for a long series.
Tonight boasts a full slate of NBA games, but the ones with the most playoff intrigue are at the back-end of the evening; the Lakers hosting the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors taking on the Rockets. Whoever loses that second game is going to find the heat ratcheted up another notch, provided the Lakers win over the Raps. I lean Lakers and Warriors at home, but the game we’re are going to hone in on is a less glamorous one out East.
Philadelphia 76’ers at Miami Heat -13.5
The Heat’s winning streak now stands at 16 games and counting, and it is hard to picture that streak coming to a close tonight hosting the train-wreck that is the Philadelphia 76’ers. However, it seemed impossible the Heat’s streak would end at home to the Orlando Magic either, but were it not for some last second Lebron James heroics, it would have been snapped two nights ago. I imagine they come out with a little better focus tonight after that wake-up call, but 13.5 points is a ton for a team that has been known to push the gas pedal just enough to beat opponents to the finish line, but certainly not lap them.
The 76’ers are a mess. By all accounts, Coach Collins is a dead-man walking, which makes no sense to me, but seems to be reality. This is a guy who took an overwhelmingly under-talented team to the second round of the Playoffs last year and forced an intense, long series against Boston in the second round. This year his front office traded away their best player for a player who has not gotten on the court for a SINGLE second all year, and predictably the team sucks… so fire the coach?? Anyway… regardless of the reason, Philly is not good this year. Their 6-21 road mark is especially bad. As in “there is no way they win tonight.”
But I’m still betting them with the points. Miami has failed to cover in their last four home games and haven’t been putting the hammer down on lesser teams, even during this fantastic win streak. They have only covered in six of nine home games overall, and one of them was an overtime win against the Kings (so closer than the final score).
Miami wins. No doubt about it. But I like the big huge 13.5 points tonight with Philly.
Free Pick: Philadelphia 76’ers +13.5