It doesn’t happen often throughout the course of a long season, but every once in a while; every once in a glorious long while, you get two steps ahead of Vegas. It happened last year around this same time of the year when Marc Gasol got healthy and everything you knew about the “struggling” Grizzlies became irrelevant – all the numbers and metrics could be thrown in the trash, because once the big guy returned it was a completely different basketball team and it took several weeks for the lines to adjust to the fact this was no longer a .400 ballclub, rather it was an elite NBA team.
I’m not quite ready to put Detroit in the discussion for legitimate Finals contenders. But there is little question at this point that all the numbers and formulas Vegas sportsbooks employ need to be recalibrated for the Josh Smith-less Pistons. They won again last night, on the road and against a legitimate playoff team, to run their record to 9-1 in their last ten games. They’ve beaten three top-ten teams on the road and their only loss is by a single possession to the Atlanta Hawks who are 25-2 over the last two months.
Vegas may be slow on the uptake with the new-look Pistons, but we’ve been smart enough to leap early – it’s a big factor behind the current 11-1 ATS streak in the NBA. I’m not sure how much longer Vegas will allow us to cash free money at the Pistons ATM, but I know I’ll be keeping an eye on their lines for the next few weeks…
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Today’s Free Pick:
San Antonio Spurs at Washington Wizards -1.5
The Spurs are in the unfamiliar position of chasing most of the Western Conference halfway through the season. They are a solid 23-15, but 7th in the hypercompetitive West and injuries have been a huge factor. Ironically, the one reliable guy has been the oldest of their “aging core”, Timmy Duncan, who has been fantastic. Once again tonight it will be a piece-meal lineup with Manu questionable, Bellineli doubtful and Kawhi out. The Spurs are just 6-7 with Kawhi Leonard, who might be their best all-around player at this point in Duncan and Parker’s careers.
Meanwhile, Washington has had their struggles lately, but it has been largely on the road. They are 16-4 at home and very tough to beat there. Don’t worry too much about their 6-4 record over their last ten games. Seven of those games were on the road and all four loss were away from home against Atlanta, San Antonio, Dallas and New Orleans.
I expect a good effort from the Wiz tonight in front of the home folks and I expect them to win. The Spurs are just 10-9 on the road and 6-7 without Kawhi Leonard. Washington has one of the better starting fives in the league and certainly has enough talent to beat the depleted Spurs. I’m surprised this line isn’t more like 3or 3.5, but I’ll lay the slim one and a half and back the home team that’s won 80% of their home games.