The Warriors emerged from the latest “best game of the year” victorious last night, avenging their snapped winning streak by snapping someone else’s, ending the Thunder’s run since the return of Kevin Durant at seven games. The win keeps the Warriors comfortably atop the NBA standings for now and answered some lingering questions as to their legitimacy. They have navigated a brutal schedule stretch with aplomb, losing only a tight game at Memphis and now have a bit of a breather with the Lakers before their Christmas Day showdown with their arch-rival Clippers.
But the talk of the NBA world was the potentially-seismic shift in balance that occurred when the Mavericks acquired Rajon Rondo in exchange for a draft pick that will likely be quite high and Brendan Wright. Yes, Wright has been awesome this year and is shooting 74% from the floor to lead the NBA. But by and large, he is a long-time NBA journeyman. Rajon Rondo is a four-time All Star and four time All NBA Defensive Team member and makes Dallas – on paper – every bit as formidable as the Spurs, Warriors, Grizzlies, Rockets, Thunder…. You get the point. They are in the mix.
It will be interesting to see if he and Monta Ellis mesh well together, but given how bad the Mavericks were at point guard in comparison to every aforementioned team except perhaps Houston, and it is easy to see why Mark Cuban leapt at the chance to make the move.
Are the Mavs the favorites in the West now as some suggested? I don’t think so. But the logjam at the top just got a lot more convoluted. The biggest winners are you and me; NBA fans, because nearly every night is going to serve up some must-see television in the Western Conference.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Wizards -5 at Miami Heat (Total: 192)
We are riding a perfect week of NBA picks and a 5-0ATS run, so let’s try to start the weekend off in grand fashion. The Wizards are also riding a nice little run. They’ve won five in a row and nine of ten, and yes, it has come against the pu-pu platter of the NBA (wins over Orlando, Boston, Utah, Minny) but there is also a nice win over the Clippers, and you can’t fault the Wiz for being in the East. They enter tonight 18-6 and looking like legit contenders with a healthy Bradley Beal.
Meanwhile the bottom has fallen out in Miami. Chris Bosh – the lone bright spot on this team, is hurt. Josh McRoberts is out for the season and Danny Granger is expected to miss tonight’s game. That leaves the Dwyane Wade show! He proved earlier this week he can still score points when he needs to. He also proved he can do it in Kobe-like efficiency-be-damned fashion. I don’t think Wade gunning tonight is enough to beat a balanced Wizards team, even at home.
These two met earlier this year with Bosh and without Beal and the Wiz smacked ‘em in the mouth, winning 107-86. I expect similar results tonight. The absence of Bosh and McBob should make life easy for the talented and big interior of the Wizards. Expect good nights from Gortat and Nene. The backcourt advantage is also Washington’s. Actually, every advantage is Washington’s.
I like the Wizards, who are plenty rested, to go on the road and beat up an already-weakened Miami team.