We grabbed another W last night for our fourth winner in five nights thanks to Kyrie and The King handling their business despite the Love-less Valentine’s Day. Their (well-deserving) All Star, Kevin Love, is expected to miss the next six weeks, and it will be worth watching how his absence affects the reigning Champs. It was an otherwise quiet night on the court with only three NBA games on the schedule, but a busy day in the NBA overall.
Just to get everyone up to speed: The Raptors made the biggest splash, acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic (where it just never clicked this season) in exchange for Terrance Ross (10.4 ppg, 14.9 PER) and a first round pick. Given that Ross is a rotation guy and the first-round pick will likely fall in the mid-twenties, they got a legit rim protector and third offensive option to compliment Lowry and DeRozan for very, very little. This is a potential game-changer as the Raps look to edge past Boston and Washington for the coveted #2 spot in the East.
But is #2 even a lofty enough goal?
It brings us back to the second BIG development of the past few days, the injury to Kevin Love. It’s not just losing Love, it is the subsequent depth and stress fallout. LeBron James currently leads the NBA in minutes played. Yep. LEADS. Despite being in his 14th season and having played in six straight NBA Finals (plus the Olympics), he is still logging a staggering 37.6 minutes per game. He is logging an even-stupider 38.5 minutes on the back end of back-to-backs (you know, the games where Popovich leaves all his veterans at the hotel…)
The point of this is simple: keep an eye on the Cavs the after the All-Star Break. They KNOW they need to save LeBron for May and June. They also know they need him more than EVER to keep the #1 seed without Kevin Love. The direction they choose to go will be interesting, and have an enormous impact on their performance from a Vegas standpoint. The Celtics, Wizards and Raptors will be interested as well, as the #1 seed isn’t close, but not completely out of reach..
As always, it’s great to hear from you, so feel free to chat, discuss, agree, argue or (politely) troll on Twitter @TheMarchManiacs
Let’s close out the first half of the NBA season in style with another winner!
Today’s NBA Pick:
Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets -5.5
The Wolves played really well last night against the Cavaliers, but it still led to another loss. It’s kind of the story of the Wolves season; even when they play well they just can’t seem to get over the hump against good teams. Now they have a tricky challenge tonight, going on the road on short rest to tackle not just a good home team but also the thin mountain air in Denver. It’s a tough turnaround, especially when your starters all played 37-plus minutes last night, including 41 Towns and 39 apiece for Rubio and Wiggins.
Meanwhile, Denver has been quietly GOOD, especially at home. The Nuggets are fresh off setting a new record for 3-pointers made in their stunning blowout win over Golden State and have reeled off eight of nine at home, going 7-1-1- ATS in that stretch. They have also covered five of their last six games head-to-head with Minnesota.
Minnesota is 2-7 ATS in their last nine games overall and 2-6 ATS in their last eight games on the road. They are just 6-10 ATS as a road underdog this season while Denver is 11-7 ATS as a home favorite.
The better team hosts an inferior opponent on short rest and only has to lay five and a half points. Sold.
Today’s Pick: DENVER NUGGETS -5.5