Things are getting mighty interesting out West. Everyone knows the Spurs are good, but given their troubles in the Playoffs despite home-court advantage in the last two years, the perception is that they are vulnerable. Everyone knows about Oklahoma City, the reigning conference champs. But what to make of Denver??
The Nuggets went in to Oklahoma City last night and extended their franchise-record win streak to 13 games with a 113-103 win. So are the Nuggets a legit challenger to win the West? They’ve now gone on the road and won at both OKC and LAC and have moved up to the 3rd spot in the conference standings, a half-game ahead of Memphis and the Clippers. They have the best home record in the NBA, and now that they are beating elite teams on the road as well, it is impossible to ignore them as a threat.
Meanwhile, out East, is there any debate?? The Heat look to extend the second longest winning streak in NBA history tonight by notching their 24th win at Cleveland. It would be sweet for Cleveland fans, no doubt – but it ain’t happening. I’m not sure I’m willing to lay 11.5 points on the road, but I think the streak is safe.
Let’s get to a few picks with a little better wagering lines.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies -1.5
The Grizzlies cooled off a bit, losing back to back road games at New York and Utah, but rebounded Monday night with an easy home win over Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Thunder don’t have much time to rebound from their alarming home loss last night to the suddenly-surging Denver Nuggets.
Memphis has played well against OKC lately, winning two of their last three meetings (all three in Oklahoma City) and covering in three of the last four meetings (also all in OKC). Tonight they get them at home for a change, and they get OKC on the back-end of a back-to-back. I like their chances to get the win, despite the obvious motivation for the Thunder to play well.
It seemed a foregone conclusion that the Thunder would be no worse than the 2nd seed in the West, but a loss tonight makes things interesting down the stretch, as the Grizz would pull to just three games back and Denver could close to 2 ½ with both having a chance to also own the tiebreaker.
The Thunder have had a knack for bouncing back after losses, but lost in that stat is how often that bounce back game has come on the road against one of the best and hottest teams in the NBA. I like Memphis to protect their home court in a good game tonight.
Free Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -1.5