The Raptors took a tough loss last night, one that was sealed on a lousy missed call by the officials, but a loss, that really shouldn’t have been left in the referees’ hands in the first place. Something isn’t quite right in Toronto. The Raptors started the season looking like a legitimate contender in the East, ripping off five straight wins including a “statement game” in OKC. Since then, they are 0-3 and have now lost to the Knicks at home. Perhaps it is just a blip on the long journey of the regular season, but it is starting to feel like the same old Raptors; good enough to get a top four seed but not a legit contender to do anything in the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans finally got their first win of the season (long overdue), handling the Mavericks at home behind 25 and 11 from Ryan Anderson, even with Anthony Davis playing only 17 minutes after being forced from the game. The better news is that it appears to be just a bruise and AD should be on the court for the Pelicans next game. It will be interesting to see if they can claw back up the standings now that their schedule is finally mercifully relaxing.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Golden State Warriors -7 at Memphis Grizzlies (Total: 199.5)
You can bet against the Warriors if you want to, but I’m firmly on the bandwagon right now. They have begun the season in even better form than they finished last season – and that season resulted in 67 wins and an NBA title. Right now the Dubs are nine points more efficient per 100 possessions on offense than any other team in the league, a margin wider than the separation between any two other teams in the NBA. They are 8-0 and have only been pushed twice and tested once (the Clippers were up ten in the fourth).
Meanwhile, Memphis has looked old in their 3-5 start and a big part of the problem is that they CAN’T score. They are averaging a near league-worst 90.5 ppg and shooting a terrible 40.5% from the floor. Add in they don’t have great floor spreaders to knock down three pointers to boost the “true” shooting percentage, and you have a team with real offensive deficiencies. That’s a poor recipe when going up against one of the best defensive teams in the league and a team that can also score with ease. Conley tends to defend admirably on Steph, but the Warriors can beat you in so, so many ways. I don’t see Memphis hanging around for the distance tonight and would be surprised if they are within ten heading to the final frame. It’ll stay close enough that Curry and the other starters will get a full run tonight and that should be enough to cover.
I know there are some people clinging to the memory of Memphis’s 2-1 lead over these Warriors in last year’s Western Semi’s, but things are different this year – at least by the eye-test, something is significantly worse in Memphis. Meanwhile, the Dubs look like a team with the depth and balance – plus legitimate repeat MVP star power, that really could win 70 games. They already have two wins over New Orleans, a win over the Clippers, Detroit, and oh yeah, that 50-point destruction of these Grizz a few weeks ago.
It won’t be THAT tonight, but there’s no reason not to have faith in the Dubs, even in the Pyramid tonight.