Yesterday’s Results: 2-1
All Time Results: 43-46-2, +2.1 Units
Indiana Pacers +3.5 @ Detroit Pistons – .1 Units
Asymmetrical risk here with Blake Griffin Questionable. If Blake plays, I think we’re catching a fair number here. The Pacers without Oladipo are right around the level of the Pistons – i.e. average. Since Oladipo went down in mid-January the Pacers have a Net Rating of +0.5, slightly higher than the Pistons year-long Net Rating of -0.2. Yes the Pistons have played much better since the All-Star break – Net Rating of +3.7 – but they’re overall quality in my opinion is closer to average than good or excellent.
Key to my bet here is the chance that Griffin does not play. Not practicing Tuesday, Griffin will test how his knee feels during morning shoot around. Even if there is slight discomfort, I don’t see the Pistons pushing him because it is unlikely to significantly help their playoff outlook. Detroit will be looking to win its first playoff series since 2008 in a few days. Whether they play the 76ers or the Raptors, that will not be as important as having their star player back at 100%.
In games without Griffin this season, the Pistons are 1-4 SU with a net scoring margin of -6.2.
The overnight line movement in the spread – from 1.5 to 3.5 – suggests that many think that Griffin will play. I’m wagering this movement is based on sheer conjecture and that he is not a certainty to suit up.
2. The Pacers 4-10 record in March is more reflective of an extremely difficult schedule stretch than it was a drop off in play. The Pacers, who had the easiest schedule in the league for most of the early months of the season, played 10 total games in March against teams in the top 8 of my Power Rankings. In 8 of those 10, the Pacers were on the road.
3. Pistons have been on a tear at home, winning 11 straight at Little Caesars Arena. All streaks come to an end and what better excuse to let the streak go than if Detroit is without its talisman, $44 million Forward.
Chicago Bulls +10.5 @ Washington Wizards – .1 Units
1. It’s common industry knowledge that teams in every sport tend to outperform expectations the game after their coach gets fired. The general principle is that whether you loved or hated your old coach, you come out the next game with a fire to show that you are better than the performance that got him canned.
Not sure if the same applies with a General Manager. Relevant now as the Wizards fired GM Ernie Grunfeld yesterday after 15 seasons with the team. My inclination is that after their big win in Denver on Sunday night, the Grunfeld firing will be a bit of a fly in their punch bowl for the Wiz. The players are reminded that this group was not what ownership had in mind when it sought to field a competitive team. Scott Brooks will still be there shouting his marching orders. The players will feel stuck in the middle, playing out the string before more major changes happen.
2. Despite the Bulls injuries, they have remained competitive with a lot of players scratching and clawing for their place in the league. For example, take Jakarr Sampson, whose career scoring average in the NBA is currently 22.0 after 1 game played. A close loss would be a great outcome for these players. A win would be euphoric.
3. Bulls have been sneaky road warriors under Jim Boylen, going 10-5 ATS over their last 15 on the road.
New Orleans Pelicans +3.5 vs. Charlotte Hornets – .1 Units
1. In one corner, we have the Hornets, a team in the middle of a dream-crushing road trip. Their playoff chances have gone from slim to infinitesimal during their latest three game slide. In the other corner, we have the Pelicans, a rudder-less squad playing in front of an apathetic crowd.
I’ll take the less recently deflated team, the home team and the points. These Pelicans players are not as emotionally attached to their recent poor play. Their season has been a haphazard, clown-show for several months now. They are comfortable by now in the muck. Players like Jahlil Okafor have a ton to feel good about, as well, as he has reinserted himself as a legitimate NBA player during a season he must have entertained offers from teams from Madrid to Beijing.
“The guys that we have on the floor, we’re all trying to make our way in this league,” Okafor said Sunday. “We have a lot of young guys playing like me, Christian Wood, (Kenrich Williams), we’re all still trying to figure it out. We’re just trying to finish the season out on a high note.”
The Hornets have had some high notes this season – I don’t expect many more as they wind things up. The Pelicans may well get that one last statement win. Let’s get ready to bumble!