The Cavaliers latest overtime loss (at least this time they weren’t even trying) threw things into flux. The Eastern Conference Playoff picture was already interesting at the bottom with Indiana, Chicago and Miami jostling for the final two spots, but with the Heat’s loss to the Heat, now the #1 is even more in doubt than before – and LOOKS like it will likely head Boston’s way. THAT domino makes the #7 seed FAR less attractive than it would have seemed a week or two ago, yet no one can ‘tank’ into #8 position, as it likely means a real danger of missing the playoffs all together.
Phew… that’s a lot to digest. And we will talk more about specific scenarios tomorrow before the final day of the regular season. But first a quick thought on the Cavaliers. There is something kind of intimidating cool about their complete indifference about the top seed in regards to the Celtics. Last week’s butt-kicking was all the proof they needed – this seed DOES NOT MATTER. It is kind of like Giannis dunking from the foul line in warmups with full sweats on; this level of greatness is EASY for me. But I can’t help but wonder if their nonchalance has gone a little too far. Does the top seed guarantee and benefit or is it a free pass to the Finals? No, of course not. But it certainly is a “like to have” that makes the path that much easier. It is one thing not to over-extend in order to earn it, it’s another thing to casually throw it away when it is so easily within your grasp…
Today’s NBA Pick:
Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves -4
We notched yet another NBA winner last night with the Clippers rolling over the coasting Rockets, and will try to tack another one on tonight with another coasting team visiting one who seems to care more. The Thunder are finally resting Russ – and WHY NOT? Seeding locked up. MVP probably locked up. Triple-Double record, locked up. So time to make like Dirk and “shut it down” (Obscure google reference soundbite).
No Russ = no chance. I honestly believe that and so do most advanced analytics.
NOTE – MOST BOOKS HAVE MOVED TO -7.5 or -8 – I still like it. At presstime, BOvada was still -4, though I imagine that corrects quickly and irretrievably.
I hate to be so generic, but this pick needs no numbers. It is all Russ. No Russ, no win.
I’ll take the TImberpups who are still fighting to build some ‘next year’ momentum.
** Keep an eye on lineups – with Russ (unlikely) I no longer like the Wolves anywhere near -8.
Today’s Pick: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES -4