The Lakers are finally on the board with Kobe, notching an 88-85 win last night at an improved Charlotte Bobcats team. Kobe had a team-high 21 points on 8-15 shooting with 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Um… WOW. If Kobe can replicate anything close to that effort the rest of the season, it is fair to say the Mamba can still be deadly; and could possibly lead the Lakers to a playoff berth in an absolutely loaded Western Conference. I wasn’t sure he had THAT game in him quite yet, as I joined many handicappers in fading the Lakers since his return. But I suppose that is what Kobe has done throughout his whole career – doubt him at your own peril….
There are six NBA games to choose from today, sprinkled about the day at odd times interspersed with the avalanche of NFL football, so be sure to pay attention to the random start times of any games you might be interested in today. I have one game on my radar, so let’s break down the matchup.
Today’s Free Pick:
Golden State Warriors -1.5 at Phoenix Suns (Total: 209.5)
Judging by the relative hype surrounding each team, you’d never guess that the Suns actually have a BETTER record than Golden State. They are separated by just a single game in the standings and the Suns have two less losses. The Warriors, for all their flash and immense ‘watch-ability’ are only 13-11 and a very pedestrian 6-8 away from home. Meanwhile, the Suns are a nice tidy 7-3 at home, which is where tonight’s game is being played (which makes getting points awfully hard to ignore).
The biggest key for the Suns success has been their spectacular backcourt. Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic will likely be left off the roster, but both have merit as All Star selections (especially Bledsoe, who is averaging 19.1 and 6.3 assists, and carried the Suns while Dragic was out). They have gotten nice interior play from the Morris twins and Miles Plumlee.
Position by position, the Suns match up well with Golden State. They have athletic guards who can pester Curry and Thompson. I actually LOVE the matchup of Bledsoe on Steph, as he is the right blend of quickness and strength to give Steph some headaches. The Suns also have a stable of athletic bigs who can run the floor with the Suns and David Lee.
I’m frankly surprised that Vegas is STILL not sold on Phoenix and in love with Golden State. By all the numbers and metrics from the first 22-24 games of the season, Phoenix should be three point favorites at home. Instead? They are getting one and a half. I’ll gladly take them.