LAST NIGHT RECAP
Pistons at Cleveland----- The Pistons pummel the Cavs. This one was close when Lebron was 6/7, not so close when the final buzzer sounded and Lebron was 9/20. To be honest I don't think I can place the blame for this one on Lebron. We all knew that as soon as Lebron made some shots the Pistons would start terrorizing him with double and triple teams. The rest of his team sucks. His supporting cast is remarkable similar to Yao's when T-Mac is out, unathletic, old and uninspired. I know, I already went on an anti-Cavs rant in my preview of this game, but I can't help it. I think were the Cavs in the West, they would have a record similar to Houston's when T-Mac is out (1-4). It is still very very early to start talking about this, but Lebron's story is already starting to look a bit like Minnesota's with KG. I've heard people call Danny Ferry a good GM - how so? What has he done? He signed a deal to be GM in June 05, since then: signed Damon Jones to a 4 year deal worth about $14 million, extended Drew Gooden w/ 3 year $18 million deal, drafted Shannon Brown and Daniel Gibson, signed larry hughes to a 5 year 65 million deal, signed david wesley for 1 year 1.7 million, reupped Zydrunas Ilgauskas 5 years $55 million 4 years and 17 million to Donyell Marshall. So he gave two old players big long term contracts, he paid a one-hit wonder huge money (hughes), signed a guy as a backup guard who is the same player as the guy he signed the year before (damon jones), also a one hit wonder. His draft picks have looked pretty good, particularly gibson, and he got a pretty good deal on the drew gooden contract, but on the whole Ferry's moves look careless and reek of inexperience.
Washington beats Sacramento----- Artest sits, but Kevin Martin, who i thought would sit, goes for 40. I think Artest's absence was no small factor in Martin's outburst. It was also no small factor in the Kings giving up 126 points. Salmons started again and followed up a poor performance by shooting 10/14 and scoring 24. He also added 5 assists and 4 steals. Washington didn't seem particularly motivated on defense. Let me get this straight - the Wizards hired Eddie Jordan out from Byron Scott's coaching staff because he was supposedly the defensive mastermind behind the Nets' defensive dominance during their k-mart/kittles/conference finals years. Defense is all about discipline. Not only does this team have no defensive discipline, but their offensive strategy is also completely without structure. So much for a team taking on its coaches personality.
Yesterday's record: 2-0
PICKS FOR TONIGHT
Man, 13 games tonight.
Utah -7 1/2 at Charlotte----- Charlotte sucks. When the Bobcats win they win because the other team lost focus. The Jazz are probably the most focused to team in the NBA. The Bobcats are likely without Knight again and definitely without Sean May. That means another start for Derek Anderson, who I thought was for sure retired. Anderson has been reduced to fewer than 25 games each of the last two seasons. His high in the last four seasons is 51 games. He reportedly refused to practice at all all summer because he was so paranoid that he would get hurt. No wonder he's shooting 28%. In case you hadn't figured it out yet, I'm going with the Jazz.
Golden State +4 1/2 at Orlando----- The Magic are coming off of a 3 point win against New Orleans at home. If it wasn't for 6' Chris Paul dunking on Dwight Howard, the highlights for this game would have shown how offensively inept the Magic are with starters Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson injured. Dwight Howard continues to turn the ball over like crazy. He also continues to rebound and block shots, and the Magic continue to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Hornets took 13 more free throws then the Magic, outrebounded them on the offensive glass, and equaled them in turnovers. Usually that differential would add up to a victory, but the Hornets, even more devastated by injuries than the Magic, managed to shoot only 37%. The Magic shot 45% and scrounged out a not that impressive victory. In Golden State's last game, Jason Richardson got his first big minutes since coming back from soreness in his surgically repaired knee. In 41 minutes Richardson scored 9 on 4/19 shooting. Richardson was 1/7 on three pointers, and missed all 5 of his mid range jump shots. In fairness he was covering and covered by Paul Pierce, which is a lot of hard work. Okay I'm blabbering on and on. GS is 4-7 in December, 2-9 overall on the road. Orlando is too good defensively for J-Rich to break out. I have to go with Orlando here. If the spread were 6+ I would probably have gone GS.
Lakers +3 at New Jersey----- On 11/26 the nets lost to the lakers by 6 in LA. Both teams were at full strength. Now in NJ the nets are at full strength and the Lakers are missing Odom. The nets are coming off of their second best win of the season, beating Cleveland by 2 at home. The lakers, even without Odom, are a better team than the Cavs. They have quality victories against Houston, San Antonio, Chicago and Utah. And you even get 3 points. Gotta go with the lakers.
Chicago -6 at New York----- New York just scraped out a victory in a game where both teams played horribly. Imagine if the knicks didn't carry six guards on their roster. We would be seeing backcourt lineups like Balkman, Lee and Malik Rose. This team was grumbling about how tired they were after last game, setting themselves up for a let down. Chicago has owned the Knicks (double digit victories in both of their meetings this season). Crawford and Curry are both ex-Bulls though, so you might see some kind of explosion from them. Still definitely going with Chicago here.
Indiana -3 at Atlanta----- Atlanta has been playing well and falling just short. It's about time they pull together a complete game. They are healthy and playing a team that is inconsistent. J O'neal has had some good games recently, but he's always been a streaky player, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle against the (surprisingly good) hawks defense.
Milwaukee +6 at Minnesota----- Milwaukee pulled out a win at home in their last meeting with KG and minnesota. Minny has lost 3 in row including that 4 point lost to the Bucks. The Bucks, however, are only 4-10 on the road. The bucks will win this one then lose tomorrow in NJ.
Memphis +2 at New Orleans----- Wow memphis is favored on the road (2-13 record). That could be the first time this season. Things are looking pretty bleak for the thin Hornets. Peja and West had surgery this week. If you think that the reason the Hornets have been losing is because they are waiting for west and peja to rescue them, then you don't have to worry about that anymore. Go ahead and pick the Hornets. Do it. You know you like Hilton Armstrong. Look for Gasol to get 25 minutes or so. In fact, I'm gonna go with the Hornets too. Not for that reason, but because Memphis is crap, fratello won't let the young guys in, and his old guys suck.
Philadelphia +3 at Boston----- You are probably imagining an all-star backcourt of Kevin Ollie and Andre Miller. Me too. Who is going to score for the sixers? Miller scores in like 1/5 games. Joe Smith sucks. Kyle Korver is a catch and shoot player. C-Webb is a joke. This team will move the ball a lot better without AI and with the offense going through webber, but webber is a gimp. He can't move anymore, can't guard anyone. The only guys on the sixers who try to play defense are Iggy and Ollie. Dalembert makes occasional cameos on defense as well, but he rarely makes them 2x in a row (16 pts 13 rebounds last game).
Houston +8 1/2 at San Antonio----- 8 1/2 is a lot of points. San Antonio doesn't have the quickness or athleticism to take advantage of Houston's biggest shortcoming. And maybe Bonzi will remember his performances against the spurs last spring and put on a little retro, "I'm not as fat as you thought," performance.
Clippers +9 at Dallas----- Big spread with Nowitzki questionable. The Clippers look hopeless. They are losing to everyone (5 in a row). Mike Dunleavy, why doesn't elton brand get the ball more? Nowitzki has had several of these ankle sprains and has generally played through them, but quite frankly, I don't care if he plays. Either way I think Dallas at home dominates.
Sacramento +3 at Denver----- The AI era begins with Sac coming into town. Camby is out. Artest missed the last game. Let's not forget how thin Denver is with no more Joe Smith and no JR smith. I think AI plays a good game, tries to show up the Sixers, but with no Camby, Salmons and Bibby will get in the paint and Kevin Martin will continue to be Kevin Martin. that's too much for even AI to overcome.
Toronto +4 at Portland----- Portland has a lot of decent players, one good player, and a good coach. McMillan's the guy who led basically the same seattle team as you see today to 52 wins. His team is young, but they play hard. Toronto has been hot since bosh went down, winning 4 of 5 including a win in Orlando. I can't stand the way Mitchell manages this team though and am at a loss as to exactly how they managed to win those 4 games. I think I'm gonna write it off as catching the other teams on off nights. Portland is consistently average and will beat this Toronto team handily.
Washington +11 at Phoenix----- You might think, well here are two high scoring teams, two teams with a lot of offensive talent. It should be close. The problem here is that the Wiz's greatest asset is their ability to break down other teams one on one (i know i've talked about this before). Phoenix is going to give you opportunities to score that are easier than any one on one play, but Washington won't execute as a team well enough to take advantage. Phoenix will run over Washington's horrid defense and blow them out. Phoenix is bound to lose eventually, but I can't pick against them this game.