Remember that excitement brewing with Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons squad? Safe to say that the shine has faded a bit after last night’s 12-point loss at the Lakers. Detroit’s 5-1 start with a win over the Hawks has quickly morphed into 5-5 with four straight losses including defeats at Sacramento and the aforementioned Lakers. It won’t get any easier this week either with home games against Cleveland and Washington sandwiched around a tricky trip to Minnesota to face the young but talented Timberwolves. Detroit may still very well find themselves in the midst of a playoff chase in the muddled middle of the East. But it is looking more and more evident that the same issues that have plagued them for a while; consistent perimeter shooting and shot selection, will continue to be an issue all season long.
Meanwhile, the Jazz put up another impressive effort yesterday, stealing a one-point win at Atlanta. The Jazz now owns wins at Atlanta and Indiana, to go with tough late losses at Cleveland and Miami. Yes, they are only 5-5, but aside from a bad loss at Portland, they have been competent in every game.
Let’s see if we can up our own competence this week after a pretty lousy week in NBA picks. I was tempted to roll the dice with Houston at home laying five against a Boston team that played last night (and won in OKC), but I am just not ready to trust the 4-6 Rockets to put forth the necessary effort against a well-coached and hungry Boston team. So instead, let’s head out to Memphis for today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies -2.5
The Thunder will once again be without Kevin Durant, which is bad news for a team on the second night of a back-to-back and on the road against a team that didn’t play yesterday. They got drilled last night by the Celtics 100-85 and shot 36% from the floor. I imagine they will find some offensive struggles tonight as well, especially giving some credence to the Grizzlies’ point guard Mike Conley’s sterling defense. Expect him to harangue Westbrook into some difficult shot attempts. Yes, Westbrook will still get his, but if they are not EFFICIENT points, the edge goes to Memphis.
Much has been made of the Grizzlies poor start, but quietly they have clawed back to just a game under .500. All their losses but one are on the road, and the home loss was to the Warriors. They have lost to Golden State twice, @LAC and @Utah. Watch them make a little move over the next few weeks as the schedule levels out a bit.
My point is that Memphis isn’t as bad as their record indicates and they should be laying WAY more than 2 ½ hosting an OKC team on a back-to-back without their best and most efficient player. I like Memphis to win easily tonight and get us off to a winning start this week.