Thunder vs. Hornets Pick NBA – Feb 21st

Golden State looked just as sharp as ever, thrashing their long-time nemesis Spurs with ease and shooting the three-ball with deadly accuracy. It wasn’t just the splash brothers either; Andre Iguodala, more noted for his defense, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green went a combined 9 for 16 from distance and the offensive output was too much for the Spurs to counteract.

Meanwhile, the other conference’s favorite, Atlanta, showed some of the vulnerability I cautioned about on Thursday. Regression to the mean? That might be a little harsh, but there are certainly some massive red flags after getting boat-raced by 25 points at home by the visiting Raptors. The Cavaliers thrashed the Wizards. It isn’t reading too much into one night to acknowledge that the Cavs are no worse than co-favorites right now to win the East…

And lastly, our thoughts are certainly with Chris Bosh and his family. I wrote a column questioning the health of Bosh and Wade down the stretch and how it made the Dragic trade less-relevant than it was being treated. I had NO IDEA Bosh’s “not quite right” was something so serious – the column was definitely written before the announcement of blood clots in the lungs.

Get well soon Chris Bosh.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Oklahoma City Thunder -5 at Charlotte Hornets

I was very critical of the Thunder a month ago. The main contention was health and the excessive inefficient shooting tendencies of Serge Ibaka. Since Durant and Westbrook have gotten healthy it seems normal order in the universe has been restored and Serge has settled back into the role of important #3 option.

Now, add in the jettisoning of Reggie Jackson (just listen to some of the player quotes about his departure and tell me this isn’t a GOOD MOVE), the underrated trade for DJ Augustine, a capable and more pass-prone backup point guard, and the bigtime addition of a legitimate post presence in Enis Kanter, and this team is about to go on a real run. Don’t be surprised if they put some pressure on teams above them and find a way to climb out of eighth in the West before the most frenetic tournament in NBA history commences.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is hold this thing together with duct tape. Kemba Walker is out for another month. They’ve lost three straight games and with OKC tonight followed by a trip to Dallas and Chicago, things could get ugly in a hurry for MJ’s Hornets.

Oklahoma City has covered four straight games, all against quality opponents, and even if Durant doesn’t play tonight with foot soreness, expect Russell Westbrook to go off and carry them, this is a team on a mission to close the season strong and get back in the mix. I don’t think they’ll miss an opportunity against a banged-up inferior opponent.

Free Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder -5

Chris Scheeren / Author