Suns vs. Lakers Pick NBA – Jan 3rd

Well, that was a gut-punch. I went back to the safe waters by the Bay last night in search of an NBA winner – only to have Steph Curry leave the game at halftime reaggravating his injury. We were on pace for an easy cover until Curry departed unexpectedly. The Warriors still escaped with a late win, but fell well short of the 12 points I laid eagerly. I have a feeling there are a LOT of bettors with similarly hurt feelings this morning as that line closed all the way up to -15, meaning a LOT of us thought Golden State was the nice play on last night’s crowded NBA slate of action.

It will be well worth monitoring the progress of Steph, as well as the now-delayed return of Coach Steve Kerr, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezili, who is now also nursing an injury. If the Warriors we so “lucky” last year, this year they are dealing with lots and lots of key injuries. And, um, they are STILL 31-2.

We caught some bad luck last night, but will look to get back on track today. The NFL always has center stage on Sundays, especially in a pivotal playoff-defining Week 17, but there are five NBA games to choose from on today’s slate of action.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Phoenix Suns -1 at Los Angeles Lakers

There aren’t many occasions to bet the Lakers with any confidence, but tonight is one of those rare occasions. The Phoenix Suns are a mess. Forget the whole “throwing a towel at the coach” thing. Forget the “man, this roster sucks and the players hate the coach, so let’s fire all the assistants” thing. Focus on the real, REAL problem. This team is hurt, and they weren’t any good to begin with. Phoenix needs a total rebuilt, and I think the process has already started. They are careening towards the Lottery with Eric Bledsoe already out for the year and the frustration of their current eight game losing streak is evident. Tyson Chandler was ejected in last night’s blowout loss at Sacramento, and now they have to try to snap the losing streak on the road on the second game of a back-to-back. Not good.

Devin Booker has been a bright spot, and Alex Len might be a piece in the rotation in the future. Brandin Knight is playing better without a fellow shoot-first point guard in the lineup with him, but the Suns will eventually need to move he or Bledsoe in all likelihood. If you want to be an optimist, and say “yeah, but three of their last four losses are to the Cavs, Spurs and Thunder” I say, no problem. The two BEFORE those were home losses to Denver and Philly. Barf.

Enter the Lakers.   Winning opportunities are few and far between for L.A. But they are 6-4 ATS over their last ten games and have won two straight games – including a win at Boston. Could they actually win three in a row? Well, they are the rested team. And they certainly are the happier team, as odd as that sounds for a team that is 7-27 with Kobe taking the bulk of the shots and shooting 34.1% from the field. In fact, this whole team are unconscious gunners. Of their seven leaders in minutes, only Jordan Clarkson is shooting over 42.4% at 45.1% (which is actually respectable for a small guard). Nick Young, D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams are all under 40.1%. Insane. Yet they are going to win tonight. Not because they are good, but because Phoenix is SO BAD and getting worse every day.

You might not want to watch this one. I sure as hell don’t. But I do want to wager it. I’ll take the Lakers in a +1, pick or -1 – I’ve seen all three lines (but try to get the +1 with some shopping)

Free Pick: Los Angeles Lakers +1