You gotta call that one, right Derrick Rose?? Sure, it’s a little sour grapes that I lost my pick on a banked-in three pointer on the buzzer, but surely many of you would agree (unless you have a rooting interest) that there is something rather unsatisfying about a banked in game-winner that was clearly unintentional. It takes some of the chest-thumping bravado out of the moment to say the least…
But what is NOT tampered is the fact that the Bulls got a HUGE win and took an enormous step towards advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since Rose’s MVP season. And for the all the talk about his failures in back-to-back games (I wrote it too. Because it was accurate. Until last night.) Rose was awesome last night. He looked explosive and his 30-points were instrumental in allowing the Bulls to reclaim home court advantage and put a ton of pressure on the Cavs and LeBron in Game Four Sunday.
Speaking of pressure, the Warriors find themselves in their first pressure test of the season tonight with the series knotted at a game apiece as they head into the Grindhouse, which has been a house of horrors for visitors. Let’s take a closer look at this awesome matchup for today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Golden State Warriors -4.5 at Memphis Grizzlies (Total: 196.5)
The public and Vegas still love the Warriors. Despite the awesome showing of the Grizzlies and Mike Conley handing the Warriors only their third home loss of the entire season, they enter tonight, with their full lineup intact, as four and a half point home underdogs.
That is some respect for the Warriors.
But perhaps some respect for the defensive prowess of the Grizzlies backcourt is warranted as well. Mike Conley flustered Damian Lillard in the first round walk-over against Portland, and he held Steph Curry to 2 of 11 shooting from distance in his first crack at him in Game Two. Add in First Team All-Defense shooting guard Tony Allen, and maybe things are going to be tricky for Klay and Steph, especially in the Grindhouse.
Honestly, I can see this game going ether way. I know that isn’t what you want to read in a handicapping column; you want bold proclamations and certainty, but I’ll admit, neither result would surprise me – Golden State roaring back, regressing to the norm after a dismal shooting performance and lighting up the more offensively-challenged Grizzlies. I can also see the defensively-tough and veteran savvy Grizz locking things down at home.
But what I don’t see is a track meet. Despite the high-flying reputation of the Warriors, this is a defensive-minded team as well. In fact, seven of the last eight meetings between these two would fall UNDER tonight’s total. Add in the normal proclivity of the home team to more greatly influence tempo, and I see this one in the nineties, and quite possibly tense. I’d lean Golden State if forced to pick tonight, but there is no conviction in that pick. My money is on the UNDER with a ton more confidence.