The NBA returned to action yesterday, and despite nice efforts from the Thunder and the Blake Griffin-less Clippers over the Spurs, the biggest news was the flurry of moves off the court as the trade deadline came to a frenetic conclusion. There are some heartwarming stories like KG going back to Minnesota and Tayshaun Prince returning to Detroit, assumingly to conclude their careers with their long-time and original team. But the biggest move was another splashy Pat Riley potential coup, acquiring Goran Dragic to give them arguably their best point guard since Timmy Hardaway. But the real question – does this make them Eastern Conference contenders are many pundits have claimed??
I have had some interesting debates on this issue. Full disclosure, many friends of mine are Heat fans as I went to college in Florida, so their views might be optimistically tinted, but I have been surprised with how many people think this move substantially elevates the Heat’s 2015 Playoff chances. Long term? It could be a nice move. The cap is expected to swell and gives them some room, assuming Whiteside’s continued great play, assuming Bosh and Wade get healthy, assuming Dragic is a good fit in Miami, assuming Deng isn’t shot… to add a substantial piece and get back to Championship caliber basketball. The problem for me is the numerous ‘if’s’ accumulating in Miami. It’s a roster full of guys on the downside of their primes making star money. Yes, the cap is swelling, but with so much tied up in Bosh and Wade, I am not sure I see the climb back to championship contender happening without some more seismic moves.
I agree, the Heat look fierce on paper. In fact, I thought the same thing before the season in my season preview. The results just haven’t been on par with the potential. It will be interesting to see how they close the season with the new-look roster. I’m not making any Heat wagers for a few games, but I will be watching intently.
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Today’s Free Pick:
San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors -7
The Spurs have long been the Warriors nemesis, sending them packing in the playoffs two seasons ago and handing them one of their two home losses this season. Perhaps tonight is a night to get a little revenge. Granted, the game is after a long All-Star break, but it IS the Spurs second game in as many nights and they are famous for their backend shenanigans. Even with a full complement of players at Coach Pop’s disposal, winning in Golden State is a tough ask.
The Spurs just don’t seem quite right this season, whether it is the inevitable creeping of Father Time or if it is simply a function of the rapidly improving Western Conference competition, the Spurs are sixth in the standings and with the long Rodeo-road trip beginning, don’t seem too likely to climb into the top four, let alone the top two.
However, San Antonio has covered four in a row against the Warriors and six of their last seven. They’ve gone seven games without losing straight up and won eight of their last nine.
But I think tonight is a different story. The Warriors are rested and should be ready to roll. They’ve only lost twice at home all season and have a chance to avenge one of those losses tonight against the Spurs. The Warriors are 31-19-1 ATS, one of the league’s best. The Spurs are 22-29 ATS, one of the league’s worst. I’ll go with the 2015 trends as opposed to the historical ones tonight and take the Warriors to cover in a big home effort.