Wade beats no one: It wasn't Kobe vs. Wade, it was Wade vs. no one. If I see Ronny Turiaf's picture under "top performers" in the Yahoo box score, that means that LA didn't come to play. I said Wade would have to outperform Kobe to have a shot at winning. I can't find the exact quote but Wade said something like, "That was the best all around game I've had." Reports say that Kobe had a "touch of the flu." Whatever. He didn't get up for the game at all. Phil Jackson suggested to his team at halftime that maybe he should stay in the locker room and watch A Christmas Carol while the team went back out to play. They all should have just stayed in the locker room. They could have recruited some fans to come in and play the second half. That would have been entertaining at least.
Last night's record: 0-1
Memphis +7 1/2 at Washington----- Confidence factor: 3 It seems that lately in every recap of a wiz win or preview of a wiz game, we get an Eddie Jordan quote that goes something like this: "He wants to show he's going to be one of the greatest of all time." Jordan is trying to motivate Arenas to go nuts, put up 50 again. He's so streaky and the streaks are so psychological that Jordan can't help but try. I would love to see Arenas coached by Phil Jackson, just to here what kind of crazy things Jackson would say and to to try to get Arenas to go off. Arenas seems to have a bad game every 6-10 games. He had a bad one just 3 games ago at Denver (10/30 fgs). I see him playing well enough to cover.
Houston at Indiana (No spread available)----- Confidence factor: NA T-Mac should be back tonight. Dike should log big minutes again and if T-Mac doesn't play, expect the scoring load to fall on Luther Head. Historically, McGrady has played pretty well in his 1st game back off injury. I will pick Indiana by 4 which if they ever release a spread, will probably have me picking Houston. UPDATE: It looks like O'Neal is sitting out with the flu. I think Indy still wins this one, maybe knock off a point or two.
New Jersey +7 at Detroit----- Confidence factor: 2 Welcome to the post-Krstic world. Please, Krstic is not that great of a player. If the nets felt that they could make a run before he got hurt, they should still do fine after. They need to play more Moore and Josh Boone needs to have a boon in his minutes. These guys can't replace Krstic, but they bring a different element to the game. I don't think Frank will become desperate enough to open his mind to this reality after just one loss, so House will probably start again. That means VC gets to guard Nazr Mohammed. Detroit's front line isn't as intimidating as it once was, but they should still get the job done against a reeling NJ team.
Chicago +1 at Minnesota----- Confidence factor: 4 I don't have time for this. Trade KG.
Milwaukee +9 at San Antonio----- Confidence factor: 4 Did San Antonio release enough of its rage over losing to Houston when they whooped the Hornets? I think so. The Bucks have always given the Spurs and Pistons trouble. Well, that is to say, Michael Redd has. The Spurs seem to sleep at predictable times. They don't play hard against bad teams unless something else is motivating them (IE a recent bad loss). After having some Christmas jollity, I don't see the Spurs coming out with the intensity it will take to shut down Redd and the Bucks.
Charlotte +13 at Dallas----- Confidence factor: 4 The fantasy dude over at SI.com is saying that Knight is going to be out until after new years. In his report, published today, he also conflicts the reports that McGrady will play, so I don't know how up to date this guy is. He doesn't cite any sources, and the preview for this game says that the Bobcats are "hopeful" that Knight will play. I'm sick of getting burned by picking the Bobcats only to see that Knight sat out and 'Cats were blown out, So I go with Dallas.
Clippers +7 1/2 at Utah----- Confidence factor: 5 **PICK OF THE NIGHT** Cassell says he's going to have to sit for a while. Utah had some precarious moments on their recent road trip, losing to NY and Charlotte and scraping out 4th quarter comebacks against Atlanta and Memphis. They will rejoice and relax after being home and enjoying some Christmas pot roast and get back to their dominating ways against the Clips.
Portland +12 1/2 at Phoenix----- Confidence factor: 1 This is a tough pick. It's hard to say how Phoenix will respond to Arenas single handedly ending their win streak. Either way, they've played a lot of mediocre teams close, so even though their last game against Portland was a blowout, I'll take portland to cover.
New Orleans +6 at Seattle----- Confidence factor: 2 Only six points? Does Ray Allen play his second consecutive big game after returning from injury? As much as I'd like to take New Orleans here, just because they're playing a team with only a bit more talent, I think Allen has been aching to get back and has a big game tonight.
Philadelphia +6 at Golden State----- Confidence factor: 2 Ellis is hurt. Hard to get a read on the new Sixers. Wins against Boston without Pierce and Wally, and New York without almost 1/2 their team for a week, don't say much to me. I like that Iguodala is getting more shots here and I think this team will win more than they would have with just a mopey AI. The ball is going to move. Golden State is coming off of a weak performance. J-Rich is sort of back, but is clearly far from 100%. Gotta go with Philly here.
Boston +6 1/2 at Denver----- AI will have to carry Denver on offense here. Big time. Denver will again be without their defensive anchor, Marcus Camby. Denver still has defensive stopper Yakhouba Diawara and a big man to cover al jefferson in Nene. But again they have no one who can shoot the ball except for their little guy. I think a general lack of leadership (certainly none coming from the bench) will leave Boston disorganized on both sides of the floor. Their one strength is that they have little guys who can cover the perimeter, but I don't think anyone will be stopping AI in these first few honeymooning weeks.