Okay starting tonight I'm adding two elements to my picks. First I'm going to give a confidence rating of 1 through 5 (5 meaning I'm quite confident in my pick). Second I am going to have a pick of the night. I will track my pick of the night record separately.
Timberwolves +4 1/2 at Indiana----- Confidence factor: 2. The first meeting of the year between these two teams. Indy has been looking good. KG and Ricky Davis sat in Minny's last game in Indiana and the Wolves lost by 12. Indy has had some solid wins in their recent streak of 4 wins in 5 games. I go with Indy here, but more out of disrespect for the Wolves than respect for the Pacers.
Orlando +7 1/2 at Cleveland----- Confidence factor: 3. Orlando is coming off of a home loss to GS, but as I said in my recap of that game, Baron Davis controlled that game. Orlando was helpless. GS also has many more tools than Cleveland does. If Cleveland wins this game it will be in a gritty and tight fought defensive battle.
New York +3 at Philadelphia----- Confidence factor: 4. Can't pick against New York after that convincing victory over Chicago, especially when Philly is playing its first game with Miller and Smith. Historically NY has given up big games to bad players like Willie Green. Andre Miller has also had some good success against the Knicks. I don't consider it out of the question that Philly pulls this one out, but if the Knicks play defense like they have in any of these last 3 games, they should easily dispose of the Sixers.
Atlanta +10 1/2 at Detroit----- Confidence factor: 4. Atlanta has struggled to finish games lately. They are at full strength and they only lost by 5 in their last visit to Detroit. In most of Detroit's losses you will find that big games from the opposition's post man led them to victory. Atlanta has no post presence to speak of. I also feel that Detroit is a team of streaks and they have really picked things up since they last met Atlanta.
Golden State +5 1/2 at Miami----- Confidence factor: 2. Golden State now has it's wild card in Baron Davis. Davis is hot. He's carried them in their recent road winning streak. J-Rich still ain't right, but they've got plenty of other talent. I'll go with the wild card here and say Davis stays hot. The heat have no chance if he does.
San Antonio -9 1/2 at New Orleans----- Confidence factor: 2. San Antonio is coming off of an embarrassing trampling at home against Houston. New Orleans also looked somewhat energized in their home victory against Memphis. I think the embarrassment motivates the spurs to a 10+ point victory.
Utah -4 at Memphis----- Confidence factor: 4. Okur has a bruised chest. Utah has been far from dominant on this road trip (2-2). The question I'm asking myself is, did Utah lose to Charlotte because Charlotte can only win against premiere teams, or was it just a poor performance? I'm not sure, but one thing I can say is that the Knicks have shown that they're performance against Utah wasn't a fluke, so that provides some relief for what could have been labeled an embarrassment for Utah. They also beat an Indiana team which has surrounded that loss with 4 wins. I think Utah wins this. If Okur sits, that's fine - Kirilenko gets to play PF where he is much more comfortable and Millsap steps in.
New Jersey +4 at Milwaukee----- **PICK OF THE NIGHT** Confidence factor: 5. The bucks are an inconsistent team. The Nets are without Krstic, but to me this is a good thing. This opens the door for more PT for Mikki Moore and Josh Boone. The Nets need athletic big men on the court, and Lawrence Frank's refusal to put these guys out there is quite annoying. Krstic is a decent low post guy, but he doesn't rebound and he doesn't block shots. Carter could turn out to be a better post player than Krstic and either way it will force the nets to run more. Look for a blowout.
Clippers +7 1/2 at Houston----- Confidence factor: 3. After the timberwolves the team that I find most annoying is the Clippers. Houston is coming off a big win at San Antonio, but they aren't an explosive streaky team. They just caught the spurs on an off night. The clippers just suck though. They are totally lost. You'd have to add 10 points to that spread for me to pick them.
Charlotte +10 1/2 at Chicago----- Confidence factor: 1. Charlotte doesn't get to be a king killer because the Knicks just dismantled Chicago last night. The Bulls haven't played Charlotte yet this season. Charlotte is a competitive with Knight in the lineup (only 1 15+ point loss). Unfortunately I don't know if Knight will play and he is unlikely to play much if he does. Chicago looked pretty bad against the Knicks. Can they recover in time for tonight's game? I have to take Charlotte here, just because it seems more likely than not that Knight will play.
Toronto +5 at Seattle----- Confidence factor: 3. Ray Allen is supposed to play tonight. He has sat 9 straight games so his minutes and effectiveness may be somewhat limited. He was also shooting pretty poorly before because of the foot injury, so maybe he's pain free and goes nuts. Either way I think TJ Ford will lead this mysteriously successful Toronto team to victory.