Sometimes you’re just living right. We moved the post-All Star record to 9-2 ATS with a half-point winner in the Clippers. LAC almost gave away the cover in Minnesota before Dahntay Jones hot two free throws and a Gary Neal three-pointer bounced harmlessly away. When you are in a losing skid, those two things go the opposite direction, but for now, I’m grateful the gambling gods gave us a free pass.
Someone who didn’t get a free pass is James Harden. Apparently his kick to the groin of the King wasn’t enough to merit ejection from the game Sunday but did rankle the league office enough that he is suspended for tonight’s game upon further review. Many reports suggest the league reviewed the incident at James’s behest, and if that’s it true, perhaps Lebron should have let it ride – the Rockets now head into Atlanta without both Harden and Howard and are 8.5 point underdogs as a result. You can all but pencil in a win for the Hawks tonight, another step towards the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Wizards -1 at Chicago Bulls
This is a battle of who do you like less. The Wizards have been an abomination for the last three weeks, but they did snap their six game losing skid Friday against the Pistons. Does that mean the skid is over, or was it just a temporary reprieve? Meanwhile, the Bulls are fresh off a loss to the Clippers that cost them more than an L. Jimmy Butler will be joining Taj Gibson and Derek Rose in dress clothes on the sidelines, leaving the Bulls with a hobbled Joakim, an aging Pau and a cast of reserves. It’s not pretty in Chicago right now…
So who do you trust less tonight?
I less trust the Bulls. I know, I know, never count out Thibs and the Bulls, but the roster is finally getting so thin he might be forced to, gasp, actually play Dougie McBuckets! (That’s mocking of course – I actually think Dougie M will be a decent NBA ballplayer). The point is, they are running out of bodies in the United Center.
Meanwhile, Washington is both healthy and rested. Both Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce are back and that gives the Wiz far greater offensive options than Chicago tonight. Many of the losses and the skid came without Beal. Assuming he can round back into form quickly, don’t forget this was one of the best backcourts in the East for the first three months of the season. Add in Washington’s stable of bigs to counter Chicago’s lone reliable offensive option, Pau Gasol, and it adds up to a big Washington advantage.
I’m going with the Wiz tonight and expecting nice games from Wall and Beal who should love not having Rose or Butler on the defensive end to deter them from putting the ball on the floor and taking open looks.