Don’t crown a new king in the East just yet. Not while THE King is still in his prime.
LeBron James led the Cavs to an exciting 140-135 win in Cleveland last night (in game that I still think I was wise to stay away from, given that it was a near pick ‘em and went overtime – the line was pretty darn good), snapping Washington’s lengthy winning streak, but more importantly, reestablishing some order in the East. Washington is a nice story and John Wall is on a nice run. But he East still belongs to the King…
Elsewhere we took a second straight NBA loss, and again by a single possession in a game it looked like we had a pretty good chance of winning. So it goes sometimes, especially in professional basketball with the short shot clock and the whole “the game doesn’t start until the fourth quarter” mantra that is well-earned. We will try to get it back tonight despite a minuscule slate of action to sift through.
Today’s NBA Pick:
Portland Trailblazers at Dallas Mavericks +1
It is not a GREAT advertisement for the NBA that this game is easily the best game going today. Neither team is in the Playoffs currently and both are ten games-plus under .500. But seriously, this isn’t a bad basketball game and it actually has some eighth-seed implications.
There is a BIG INJURY CAVEAT with this game – keep an eye on Wesley Matthews. He limped off the court last night in a loss at Denver. If he is scratched, then I rescind (or at least reconsider) this pick. Repeat – no Wes, no Mavs, at least not at this current line. He is their best defender, and they are on a back-to-back, making all hands on deck a necessity tonight.
Assuming he plays, and right now, he is not even on the injury report, I like Dallas at home. Portland is a miserable 8-19 away from home, Dallas is a stunningly solid 12-12 at home, considering their early season flirting with “worst team in the NBA status.” Deron Williams is hurt, but shush, the secret that isn’t really a secret, they are BETTER without him. Yogi Ferrell has been a sparkplug and has literally carried the Mavs to their best stretch of the season. They had won four in a row before last night’s loss at Denver and have won six of eight overall.
This line is a little all over the place right now. It opened at Dallas -2.5. Matthews concern is affecting the line – Vegas is smart and doesn’t need official injury reports to know what is going on. The line is now anywhere between Dallas +1 (Bet Online) and -1 (Pinnacle). So, again, WAIT a little till closer to gametime, and then shop lines if this is a pick you like.
Your (logical) question – “Hey Chris, with this much uncertainty why not pick a different damn game?!?” SO, my reply, “fair point” but with Wes, this game will bounce back to -2 or so, and I really like Dallas as the best play on the board. The other two games kind of stink. Orlando getting 11 at Houston – Houston is slumping, but Orlando stinks and is on the road – plus that’s a big line that brings garbage time potentially into the equation. I’ll pass on that one. Ditto for Brooklyn getting the same at Charlotte. I’m just not interested in either game.
Back to a few more stats to chew on – Portland is 3-13 in their last 16 road games SU, and just 1-4 ATS in their last five games away from home ATS. Dallas has won five straight home games and is 4-1 ATS in that stretch. Dallas is 14-10 ATS at home this year, Portland is 10-17 ATS on the road, one of the worst marks in the NBA. Add in Dallas’s momentum the last three weeks as a team, and this is a very appealing number.
** If Matthews is cleared and this line moves back Dallas’s way, I am still in up to Dallas -3.
Today’s Pick: Dallas Mavericks +1