We came up two points short of notching back to back winners last night. The Pistons went cold, failing to score in the final minute and the Spurs notched four free throws (including some misses, which left the covering door WIDE open) and we came up just short. It was a tough one to drop, but a loss nonetheless. Let’s get back on the grind today and find a winner hiding on a good NBA Wednesday night schedule.
But first, the NBA’s two most maddening teams to wager on were in their full glory last night, in completely different applications. The Chicago Bulls, you know, the “second best team in the East” occasional costume wearers, got beat by the Milwaukee Bucks for their third straight loss. Prior to that, they reeled off six straight wins including home and home’s against Toronto and wins against the Pacers, Celtics and Knicks. They have now lost three games in four days to the Hawks, Wizards and Bucks by a combined 34 points. Pau Gasol revealed after last night that he is playing with a sore Achilles, so perhaps that is contributing factor, but I think the Bulls troubles are much deeper.
And of course, you have the funny Vine waiting to happen that is the Houston Rockets. The team with the most obvious on/off switch in the league flipped it ON last night, going on the road and hammering Memphis. They’ve now won four straight with home and home’s over the Jazz and wins against the Pacers and Grizz. Prior to that, they reeled off loss four straight, including home losses to the Hawks and a loss to the Pelicans. The two games before that? A loss to the Magic and, of course, a win over the Spurs. This is simply a maddening team to wager on.
So, I’m swearing off the Bulls and Rockets for a while. And for the record, both have terrible ATS records at 15-22 and 16-23 respectively, despite more than a few big wins against top tier teams as well. Too much ambiguity and I am not close enough to either team to guess WHEN they are going to choose to play or not.
Let’s head to calmer waters for today’s NBA free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Golden State Warriors -9 at Denver Nuggets
This Warriors team seems to have the long memory, and bit of over-sensitivity, that is required to pursuit epic greatness of the marathon of an NBA season. So surely they will recall their near-wobble last time against Denver. The Dubs needed a furious rally to edge the Nuggets 111-108, at home no less, in order to avoid the head-scratching defeat. I imagine they won’t have any trouble focusing tonight. Add in the fact they are well rested, and that they are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games, and it makes laying a paltry nine points seem like a bargain.
Denver is just 1-3-1 ATS in their last five home games and have dropped seven of nine overall, including four of their last five at home. Advanced metrics swing wildly in the Warriors favor as well. Golden State is the best scoring road team in the league and its most efficient, while Denver ranks just 21st at home. Over their last ten games, Golden State is scoring 15 more points per game than Denver and allowing the exact same amount. That is a HUGE edge GS’s way.
The simple fact is that Denver can’t score enough or efficiently enough to hang with the Warriors when Golden State is on their game. They have Curry and Barnes in the lineup, which means the “death lineup” is available when needed. Expect the Warriors to flash it just enough to push the margin well into double digits for an easy victory. It occasionally feels lazy to keep going back to the champs, but at 14-5-1 ATS on the road this season, it is a profitable strategy. Denver is just 5-11 ATS at home as well.
Huge edge Warriors. You get a team laying single digits who covers over 75% of their road games against a team who covers less than 30% at home. Lay the scant nine.