Oct. 29, 2017
NBA Picks #5 10/28/17
Another Draymond Green scuffle leads to another controversy. What's new? Green and Wizards guard, Bradley Beal, got tangled up Friday night, leading to a full out brawl between the two teams. Was Green targeted last night after being put in a headlock for trying to get a rebound, yes. But what were the refs supposed to do. This guy antagonizes every player in the league and stays in games when he's kicking people in the groin. I'm not feeling bad for Green. He is the NBA's version of an enforcer and those guys don't whine in hockey, they lose a couple of teeth and get on with the play. This is Green's game so why are we feeling sorry for the guy when it goes his way 80% of the time? The Warriors were able to win the game without him in the second half, but proved that Green is one of the most valued players on the team. I'm tired of this "everyone is against me" mentality from Green because he set up that narrative. Just go with it and accept the consequences.
Cavs at Pelicans (+1.5)
It's still in question whether Anthony Davis plays tonight, but I don't think it really matters. This is one of those early regular season games where LeBron doesn't care if the team wins, he just wants to see how the team reacts during certain situations and if they pass the test he couldn't care less if the team comes out with a victory. LeBron only cares about the postseason and putting his team in the best position to succeed there. They could win .800 percent of their games on the back of LeBron, but how would that help the team in the future. In this game particular, the Pelicans have a big man that can score 40 a night and probably will again tonight, with the lack of better options on the team. This is a tricky game to pick because you don't know whether the Cavs want to win regular season games or not.
Celtics at Heat (+1.5)
Since every other team in the League is trying to win regular season games, this game is easier to determine a victor. The Celtics finally seem to be gelling after starting the season 0-2 but have won three straight games. The youngsters for Boston look like studs as well. Jayson Tatum doesn't look startled by the pros and Jaylen Brown is molding into Boston's franchise player of the future. I still think that Kyrie Irving is playing too inconsistently, and it may be him adapting to a new. Irving is a star in this league, but I'm still not sure if he's a proven leader. The Heat don't really have a superstar player. Their best bet is Hassan Whiteside, who still hasn't been on an all-star team and is a liability to get injured. Whiteside will miss his fourth game in a row against the Celtics leaving a gaping hole for the Celtics to drive on. I like the Celtics riding on their high and taking advantage of the Whiteside-less Heat.
Rockets at Grizzlies (+2)
Houston is playing their third game in four nights and their fourth game of this week in four different cities. The Rockets are coming off wins against the 76ers and Hornets, but are facing the one team that already beat them this season, the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are a one-loss team as well and look to capitalize on the Rockets' crazy travel schedule. The key stat from Monday's game was the 29 three point shots the Rockets missed. If one or two of them go in, along with one or two free throws the game is different. Maybe the Rockets don't put the Grizzlies on the line 37 times and they have to work for their points on offense. Literally 1/3 of their points came from free throws, something I doubt is going to happen again tonight.
Thunder at Bulls(+10)
I held off ripping the Thunder in my opening statement because I truly think they are going to turn it around. They have too much talent in the starting lineup to lose to sorry teams like the Bulls. The Timberwolves got them two times in a row now so there has to be some fire brewing under them. This Bulls game might be the earliest "must win game" of the season, but what happens if OKC does lose to Chicago? A team that's won one game (against the Hawks...), has teammates wanting to end each other's careers (looking at you Mirotic) and your'e only prospect is a lesser version of Kristaps Porzingis (sorry Lauri). The Bulls are a mess but so are the Thunder. Someone needs to step up and be a leader for Oklahoma City and I don't know who it is going to be. Is it last year's MVP, who ran Kevin Durant out of the franchise because of his unwillingness to share the ball in crunch time? Is it Carmelo Anthony, who has not been to the postseason since 2013? Or is it Paul George, the youngest of the three, that needs to lead by example on defense and dunking on people on the offensive end? Someone needs to right this ship and if it isn't solved soon it might sink.
76ers at Mavericks(+2.5)
I would say that the 76ers are the best one win team in the NBA and beating the Mavericks (1-5) would certainly prove that. Their last loss took place days ago, against the Houston Rockets, and haven't seen how they will respond after losing at the buzzer. Dallas is the worst opponent they faced all year, which is saying something since they play in the Eastern Conference. They'll bounce back because they have good players. Ben Simmons is the tallest point guard in the NBA and it's led him to a 16/10/7 line that is surprisingly good. The only problem with this 76ers team is staying healthy, as Fultz apparently can't even "raise his shoulders to shoot the ball," according to his agent. With the absence of Fultz, Simmons has been able to progress astronomically so far and is already getting rookie of the year attention. I like the 76ers because I still believe in them and they have gotten robbed in the last few games.
Lakers at Jazz(-9)
The Lakers are another team that I may be to high on, but I like their young talent. Lonzo Ball didn't even play in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter last night and they were still competing. I don't know if that says more about Ball playing bad or someone else was just playing better, but he wasn't playing regardless. The Lakers always seem to have a new guy being a star every night. Brook Lopez is their lone all-star, Lonzo almost had a triple-double against the Suns, Julius Randle showed out last night and Brandon Ingram shows flashes where he may be the next Kevin Durant. The Lakers haven't put together a game where all these players play their best in the same game. I don't understand the hype on the Jazz. The Raptors are way better than Utah and they were only a six point favorite! Utah just lost their best player to Celtics, they're still trying to figure out how their team is going to work and they're automatically scratched in for the playoffs. I think they drop another game here.
Suns at Trail Blazers (-10)
Since the "I don't want to be here" tweet by Eric Bledsoe, the Suns are undefeated against the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. Their whole situation with Bledsoe has been funky: sitting him on the bench for over a month at the end of last season, trading for him and then trading for two other point guards and then this whole debacle. I could see why the guy wouldn't want to play there. I also don't see why the Suns need him. They aren't going to win a championship in the next three years and they're not really hunting for wins, so why not trade him for either a young prospect or a draft pick. I would trade him straight up for Markelle Fultz right now. Fultz's value is low right now. I mean he was the number one pick for a reason. Bledsoe would fit good off the ball with Simmons and they would definitely be getting more production out of him than Phoenix is. Or what about the Clippers? Bledsoe's former team could use him as a spark plug to team that looks already better than it did in recent years. The only problem is who would the Clippers give up? Austin Rivers? Lou Williams? They don't have any young prospects that are good enough for the Suns to be interested and I wouldn't want to give up Rivers. He's peaking right now in his career and if he goes to the Suns he's going to want to be the man there. Anyways the Suns play the Blazers tonight and Portland wins.
Pistons at Clippers (-6)
The Clippers are now the only team in the NBA that remain undefeated. How long may this streak continue. Well, their next game after this one is against the Warriors, and it doesn't really get tougher than that. I think the Clippers win this game because, honestly, I don't know that much about Detroit. They have Andre Drummond, but how are they scoring their baskets. You can't give him the ball down low every possession and look for him to score. Avery Bradley is there for defense. Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris have peaked as players. Stanley Johnson is their lone prospect and he's kind of stalled. He hasn't had a breakout game. His career high is 22 points. That's what all-stars AVERAGE in a game. He needs to step it up if this team is going to do anything in the next few years.