We grabbed a third-straight winner last night with the Indiana Pacers easily defeating the Sacramento Kings in Indianapolis. The Pacers join the parade of Eastern Conference teams no one thought anything of before the season started who sit over .500 nearly a month in to the campaign. Detroit (who might have started the comeback-to-Earth last night with a loss at the Lakers) are 5-3, the Magic are a blistering 5-2 and Boston has won five straight since losing Gordon Hayward to move to 5-2 and the top of the East (tied with Orlando).
As we turn the calendars to November, is it time to take these teams seriously? All of them were projected in the low-30’s or worse in their Vegas over/under. A regression to the expectation SEEMS likely. Does that provide an opportunity for us as sharp wagerers as the public perception of these teams becomes more favorable? Or is Magic-Mania a wave we need to be riding to profitability??
There are a lot of really interesting story lines to track in November, and a ton of really interesting games tonight – one of the nice by-products of rampant early parity. For tonight, we we head out West in search of a fourth straight NBA winner, though my interest is keen on the Cavs at Pacers game, the Bucks at Hornets, the Hawks visiting Ben Simmons and the Sixers, and a battle of conference leaders with the Magic visiting the Grizzlies… yup, the 2017-2018 NBA season is bananas….
Today’s NBA Pick:
Portland Trailblazers at Utah Jazz -4
The Jazz are just 4-3 this season, but they are a perfect 4-0 at home and despite the loss of franchise player Gordon Hayward and veteran leader George Hill, appear to be a playoff caliber team. Much of that is because of their fierce defense, anchored by Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Rudy Gobert. The ‘Stiffle Tower’ is blocking nearly three shots a night, and is contributing 13.6 points and 11.0 rebounds. Offense will be a challenge all year for Utah, especially compared to some of their high-flying Western counterparts, but if they can continue to defend (they are fourth in defensive efficiency in the NBA) their patchwork offense should get them by. Rodney Hood and Ricky Rubio shouldn’t be an NBA team’s two leading scorers, but with double-digit contributions from Favors, Gobert, and Ingles, they are trying the vintage Pistons ‘team balance and defend like hell’ approach.
So far, so good.
Meanwhile, scoring isn’t a problem for Portland and their elite backcourt of Lillard and McCollum. But consistency are. They rank seventh in offensive efficiency and a surprising seventh in defense, but some of that is skewed from the massive 50-point blowout they put on Phoenix to open the season. Since then, they are just 3-3 and shoot just 42.8% from the floor (24th in the NBA). Erratic shooting is a bad sign when heading on the road to play one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
I’ll take the Jazz on their home floor at a very reasonable line tonight.
Today’s NBA Pick: UTAH JAZZ -4