Ah, the dog-days of February… I was listening to a Super Bowl interview with the guys who run the prediction machine; a statistical prediction model that got some attention for its uncanny playoff accuracy in the NFL over the past few years. They were asked about other sports – and said, yes of course we analyze other sports. When asked the hardest, they laughed and said “regular season NBA basketball” and confessed their data-chugging super-genius was under 40% ATS.
Why? Because odd, hard-to-explain stuff happens during the course of a long regular season. Just look at the following example; Orlando spent the weekend beating Oklahoma City and Indiana back to back. So, one of the worst teams in the NBA – a team with a ton of incentive to LOSE and TANK, knocks off the two best teams in the NBA. Then last night, Indiana, fresh off a bad loss, beats Denver by 39 on the back-end of a road/home back to back.
None of this is an excuse for a four-game losing streak. It is simply a tale of some of the guesswork that comes into play this time of the season. You never know exactly when a team is going to mail in a clunker (though you can safely imagine a little higher clunker-frequency with the Sixers…).
Let’s snap the skid tonight and notch a winner.
Today’s Free Picks:
Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trailblazers -1 (Total: 210.5)
OK Portland, if you truly are NBA Title contenders, let’s see it tonight. A home game against the best team in the West with a chance to creep to within just two games in the loss column for the number one seed; it’d be an overstatement to call tonight a “must-win” but it’d be an understatement to not call it a statement game. Damian Lillard needs to exploit his matchup and play big tonight and LaMarcus Alderidge has a nice shot to show his MVP-worthiness (not saying he’s the MVP, relax) against Kevin Durant.
Portland has been a mixed bag lately. They are just 5-5 over their last ten games, prompting plenty of talk about their regression to the norm and “not ready for primetime” sentiments. Tonight’s a chance to stop that talk, and I think they’ll play like it.
Oklahoma City has obviously handled the loss of Westbrook well, thanks largely to the super-human run Kevin Durant has enjoyed. Their two losses in their last ten games have been by one and two points respectively, and both on the road. So I don’t expect Portland to blow them out by any stretch. But I think they win an entertaining and hard-fought “playoff feel” game tonight at home.