We notched a second straight winner last night with Philadelphia winning straight up as a home underdog against the Miami Heat. You had an even better night if you decided to go all in on the moneyline with a nice fat +170 payday. It was the Sixers fourth straight win at home and they are beginning to look more and more like a competent ballclub. My borderline-obnoxious preseason prediction that they would finish ahead of the Heat in total wins despite the Vegas line differential of 11 wins total.
We are almost a month into the season, and things have already started to settle in standings-wise to be almost exactly what most expected. Sure, a few teams have under-performed a little bit. Boston, Utah and Indiana are a few wins shy of expectations and the Clippers might be a win or two better (and far more dominant) but aside from that; status quo. The Cavs are the top seed. The Warriors and Spurs are a combined 23-5 after a rough first week and only the Lakers are in a playoff position no one expected. Of course, two or three losses and that situation will likely be rectified as well…
We have had a great month as well, sitting on a nice 61% ATS record and looking for more. Let’s see if we can keep it going by plucking out a gem on tonight’s very limited schedule of action.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Portland Trailblazers at New York Knicks -1.5
At a glance, it seems like Portland would be the favorite tonight, but digging into their records, trends and overall performance over the last few weeks, New York is a relatively easy play tonight. The Knicks are 5-2 straight up at home this season and a nice 4-1 ATS in their last five games in The Garden. Meanwhile, Portland is 1-7 ATS in their last eight games overall, and dating back to last season they are just 7-18 straight-up over their last 25 road games. They are a smallish-team that depends heavily on their dynamic backcourt scoring and shooting well, and so far, it hasn’t translated well on the road.
The only obstacle for New York is if they can continue to SHARE. Kristaps Porzingis is living up to the ‘unicorn’ hype, averaging 20 and 7 in his sophomore campaign. Carmelo is still scoring, but Derek Rose has been a little more team-centric lately and the whole team seems willing to let ‘Zinger be at LEAST the second option, if not the first at times. It makes the team a lot better, as he is easily the most efficient player on the team and at 22.0, his PER leads the team narrowly over ‘Melo (21.4). The backcourt of Rose and Jennings still shoots about a combined 40%, which makes me nervous whenever backing them with a wager, but I am counting on their renewed focus on team basketball carrying through one more night.
Portland struggles on the road, and they are DEAD LAST in defensive efficiency in the NBA. New York should enjoy some easy shots tonight, which will make it even easier to keep the ball moving; everyone can get theirs tonight.