Yesterday 5 picks were made, with the featured pick being the Phoenix Suns -2 @ the Orlando Magic. That pick definitely did not turn out so well. I had believed that the Magic would be a bit too winded after playing in Washington the night before, and being without a few key players was going to be too much to overcome. The key in this game was Aaron Gordon. Gordon shoots about 30% from 3, but he hit all 5 of his attempts in this one. The Suns “big 3” of Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, and Kelly Oubre Jr., combined for just 29 points total. The Suns will not win many games this season when arguably their 3 best players combine for that low of an output offensively.
Miami +5.5 @ Boston was a game I debated for some time, but I just felt that with the Celtics being without their defensive stud in Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward still out, that the Heat would be able to keep this close until the end. BUT, on the other side, Miami was on the 2nd night of a brutal back-to-back, in which the Heat played an overtime game at Toronto the night before, which in my opinion definitely played a factor. In the end, I chose the Heat because I believed they had enough firepower to overcome the tired legs, even with the absence of Goran Dragic off the bench.
Atlanta +3.5 vs Brooklyn: In this situation, with the Nets missing Kyrie Irving, I felt that Trae Young would be the best player on the floor, and win this game straight up. Based on what we have seen with the Nets up to this point, they have struggled even with Kyrie in the lineup, so their inconsistencies really had me believing the struggling Hawks would be able to get it done at home. As it turns out, the Nets bench did not do much, but their starting lineup went for over 100… which is obviously not good. The Hawks shot the ball pretty well, but the Nets were 45% from 3 hitting 14-31, and made 16-18 free throws, pulling away late. Trae Young had 39 points and 10 assists in the losing effort, so it is safe to say he was probably still the best player on the floor, the supporting cast just couldn’t keep it close enough.
So the night started off pretty poorly with the first 3 picks, going 0-3, but the night was salvaged with the Lakers winning straight up as a +2 underdog at Utah, and the Blazers covering the -5 spread against a wounded Kings squad.
The Lakers are just damn good. That shouldn’t be breaking news. When you have Anthony Davis and LeBron James on one team, this is what should be happening. The Jazz, on the other hand, were without their starting point guard, Mike Conley, and their offense has been struggling with consistency for most of the year. The only issue that had me questioning this pick somewhat was the fact that it was the 2nd night of a back-to-back for the Lakers, as they played in Denver the night before. But the Lakers took care of the Jazz without much struggle, and continue to reign atop the Western Conference.
I added the Blazers -5 to my card a little after 8PM EST. This was actually after I had gotten word that Bogdan Bogdanovic would be sitting out with a knee injury. The Kings are already without their young stud point guard, De’Aaron Fox, and also without their top pick from 2018 in Marvin Bagley III. So, the Kings were without their 2nd, 4th, and 5th leading scorers, with Bogdanovic being the only real scoring threat off the bench. I just didn’t think the Kings would have enough consistent scoring options to get it done on the road against a Portland team that is desperate for wins. This is a perfect example of the advantage you present to yourself when you are familiar with pretty much every NBA player on every roster, and how their absence may or may not impact their team on any given night.
Suns -2: LOSS
Hawks +3.5: LOSS
Heat +5.5: LOSS
Lakers +2: WIN
Blazers -5: WIN
2-3 on the night. 4-5 record overall on the NBA season.
LOSS—-Philly -8.5 @ Washington
More injury issues for the Wizards with Isaiah Thomas being ruled out with a calf injury. It was also announced that bench contributor Jordan McRae is out with surgery on his finger. That leaves Ish Smith at the point with G-League prospect, Justin Robinson, out of Virginia Tech, as the only other option. Beal and Bertans are going to have to score 30+ each to have any chance. Starting center Thomas Bryant remains out for a few weeks and that is not good news against the 76ers star center, Joel Embiid. Sixers get it done tonight, covering the -8.5.