The Westbrook/Harden duel didn’t disappoint. Westbrook was furious in effort, dropping 49 points on 34 shots, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Rockets escaped with a 118-116 victory. Harden wasn’t as flashy, but he was more nuanced, chipping in 26 points, 8 boards and 12 assists on a scant 16 field goal attempts. The Rockets controlled the game and I thought we were heading for a cover until an odd fourth quarter slump saw it go up in smoke. The Thunder outscored the Rockets 33-21 in the fourth, which is an oddity when the road team is on no rest and the home team IS rested.
Alas, we took the L, but it was a fun game to watch nonetheless.
It’s not a great slate of Friday action, though anytime you can wind up a late night with the Grizzlies and the Warriors after midnight on the East Coast, one shouldn’t complain. Let’s see if we can start the weekend with a winner.
Today’s Free Pick:
Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards -5
The Wizards had a dreadful start to the season and have largely been forgotten. Two years ago, this was the up-and-coming darling; the impressive playoff run, the young star-laden backcourt – the sky was the limit for the Wiz. Then last year, the sky fell. The Wizards missed the playoffs, the Wall/Beal relationship became Durant/Westbrook-lite and Washington went back off our collective consciousness.
But over the last three weeks, things are beginning to click. The Wizards enter today just a game out of the playoffs (and three games from the #4 seed – the East, man) and have done it largely by improving their offense. They are up to 10th in assist ratio (something they struggled with), and ninth in true shooting percentage. They have won seven of ten overall and are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games, including a nice 5-0 ATS home winning streak.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s road woes are well-documented. The team with all the talent just hasn’t become the team with all the results. They are 5-12 SU on the road and despite going 8-4 ATS in their last twelve games is still 6-11 ATS on the road this season. In summary, they lose on the road and rarely cover in that losing effort.
I’ll take the home court, the veteran team that is finally playing decent basketball, and the powerful ATS trends at play today.