We notched a fifth winner in six NBA games with the Portland Trailblazers continuing their authoritative march to the Playoffs with a comfortable 117-107 home win over the Houston Rockets. James Harden played, and played without a speed governor, but even his 30 points, eight boards and four assists weren’t enough. In fact, he played a pretty lousy game for those of you willing to look at more that raw stat accumulation. He was 2 of 13 from three-point range, took a whopping THIRTY shots and turned the ball over six times. That’s an inefficient night, and while most people will see 30/8/4, those of us who look a little deeper into the number will know he was the main reason the Rockets LOST the game.
That’s not shade on Harden. There was some sentiment he should have SAT OUT last night due to an injured wrist. It is simply a reminder that accumulation stats can be very misleading sometimes…
What’s not misleading is concern in Cleveland. The Cavs have to be SICK of hearing questions about their late season swoon and probably know it is just about time to warm up the switch, if not flip it all together. Yet they got punked again, on national television, this time by the Bulls, after a 37-21 third quarter set the stage. If I have no choice but to wager an important sum of money on one team to win the East, I STILL pick Cleveland. But I don’t feel great about it…
Today’s NBA Pick:
San Antonio Spurs -2 at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Spurs have the second-best metrics in just about every meaningful statistical category in the NBA, behind the Warriors in almost every one of the them. But their home loss to the Dubs earlier this week leaves a lingering taste of suspicion around this team’s legitimacy.
It shouldn’t. This is still EASILY the second-best team in the NBA and, I think, the only legitimate challenger to Golden State capturing their second title in three years. They are defensively excellent, offensively diverse and precise and a nice blend of youthful athleticism and veteran savvy. It’s a great team. They also travel well. Their 21015 ATS road mark is fourth-best in the NBA.
Meanwhile, OKC is a great story, lingering just 2 ½ games back of home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs as they try to chase down the Clippers and Jazz. Even if they fall short, which I expect they will, it’s been a pretty impressive season for the Fightin’ Westbrook’s. However, when they face top tier competition, as I have written all year long, they struggle. They have won their last two home games against the Spurs, but the Spurs appear to be trying tonight, which I think gives them a distinct edge.
Oklahoma City is 3-4 as a home underdog this season straight up. The Spurs are an NBA best 24-7 SU on the road as a favorite and an NBA-best 28-8 on the road, and that includes a handful of games they tanked.
I like the better team to bounce back tonight and grab an important road victory.
Today’s Pick: SAN ANTONIO SPURS -2