February 10, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)
There are two picks tonight.
1) Take Detroit Pistons at -5 spread against Denver Nuggets for 3% of the bankroll.
Of the 24 NBA teams in action tonight, the Pistons have arguably the most to gain or lose. That's because they currently occupy the 8th and final playoff position in this year's competitive Eastern conference but risk falling out if things don't go their way tonight. They have no margin for error as the Hornets are now just half a game behind in the standings and are one of only a number of other teams breathing down their neck. Failure to get the W would not only see them potentially slide down to the 9th position but would see them drop to an even .500 record with 27 wins and 27 losses on the season!
To say the Pistons will be motivated for this matchup would be an understatement. That's because they not only want to head into the break in a post-season position but they have unfinished business with the Nuggets. Detroit blew a 14-point lead in its recent trip to Denver thanks to a terrible 3rd quarter that saw them get outscored 39-20! That came right after an impressive first half and suddenly saw them go into the fourth trailing. Momentum had shifted and they were unable to rescue the game. They suffered a painful and narrow defeat but one that could prove to be a valuable lesson. They won't take these Nuggest lightly this time around and will know that a double-digit lead is not safe against them. That should inspire them to continue playing solid basketball and cover the spread on their way to a victory.
Detroit is not only the more talented and motivated squad but one that will enjoy home court advantage in this one. They are 16-9 at the Palace of Auburn Hills and have been a tough team to beat in Motown! That's especially been true when they face an opponent that previously beat them. The Nuggest on the other hand have been largely competitive in the thin air and altitude of Denver but have found it much tougher on their travels. They are just 10-17 away from home and have fallen to weaker opposition than the Pistons.
They not only find themselves in a tough scheduling spot, having played two games in New York on back-to-back nights on Sunday and Monday but must also 'get over' the brutal manner in which they lost their last game! After clinching a narrow win over the reeling Knicks in what turned out to be Derek Fisher's final game in charge, Denver thought it had done enough the following night against Brooklyn before a lucky shot from Joe Johnson banked in off the glass with just 1 second remaining in regulation to turn a 2-point win into a 1-point loss for Mike Malone's side! He was well defended on that final possession and the Nuggets were gutted to see that buzzershot go in. Their body language said it all after the game as the look of 'disbelief' and 'frustration' was evident on each and every face! Tired and dejected, they took a flight to Detroit to face a hungry team that not only wants to bounce back from 2 straight losses but one that has a lot on the line and has revenge in mind. This is a tough spot for this team to be competitive and we wouldn't be surprised to see Stan van Gundy's team pull away. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond had a poor game in Denver on January 23rd and will be determined to showcase their skills tonight. Look for Detroit to retain that critical 8th position in the East as they grab a convincing win over the deflated Nuggets.
2) Take Brooklyn Nets at +4 spread against Memphis Grizzlies for 3% of the bankroll.
Some players have more media hype surrounding them than others due to being household names. Marc Gasol, despite being one of the best Centers in NBA is not one of them. The efficient veteran is excellent at both ends of the court, is the leader of this Grizzlies side and not only leads the team in several statistical categories but constantly makes plays that don't show up in the box score! He also happens to be the one player that Memphis has no replacement for. That's because at least when Mike Conley was out with an injury, Mario Chalmers was there to cover. And in the SG, SF and PG positions, the Grizzlies have good depth. They were already without their backup C, Brandan Wright, however which meant Gasol was relied on very heavily. An MRI revealed that the Spanish big has a broken bone in his right foot and will be out indefinitely! That is terrible news for Dave Joerger's side. To put things into perspective, consider the fact that Memphis has won nearly twice as many games as it has lost with Gasol on the court but is a below average 10-14 without him in recent years! His presence has essentially transformed a mediocre side into a consistent playoff team and he'll be sorely missed.
Every team has an integral player or two whose absence is tough to deal with but most have adequate backups and replacements. The Grizzlies don't, not for his position. Brandan Wright could have a done decent job but he's been sidelined with a lengthy injury himself and won't be back till after the All-Star break. That leaves Ryan Hollins who's on a 10-day contract and has never been able to establish himself at the NBA level. He's always played a bit-part role as the 3rd choice Center for a variety of different teams and has often even found himself without a club. He'll be pressed into action tonight and has an unenviable matchup against Brook Lopez! Lopez has been Brooklyn's best player once again this season and has regularly outplayed quality 5's. To not have to contend with Gasol will make his job a lot easier tonight. Starting Hollins in place of the 2-time All Star is a huge drop-off so coach Joerger will probably shift Zach Randolph to the Center position instead and see how that goes. The issue with that lineup is that Randolph isn't used to being the primary rim protector nor all that familiar with playing the 5 spot. Memphis as a whole is not used to that system nor playing style as Gasol has been ever-present and had yet to miss a game this season! While they'll eventually figure out how to cope without him or risk falling out of the playoff positions, it'll take them some time and to expect them to immediately have an answer for their leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker would be naive.
The Nets have had a season to forget but they have the opportunity to head into the break with a bit of momentum on their side and wash off the bitter taste in their mouth. Losing is no fun and this is a team that has had its fair share of frustrations in the first half of the season. They would love nothing more than to end it on a winning note so they can enjoy their break more. While they won't be making the playoffs, they are a competitive group and haven't laid down for teams like the 76ers and Lakers have. Many of their losses have been competitive ones and come in the closing stages of the game. Tonight, they have a great chance to cause an upset and win consecutive games for the first time in 2 months! They are live underdogs in our opinion and it would not surprise us if they won this game. Even if they fall short however, it is likely to come right at the end where the 4 points are precious and should come into play.
Brooklyn has won its last 2 games at Barclays Center and no longer has the crowd booing as they did last week. They're feeling a little more confident in themselves and are not under as much pressure anymore. Coming off a morale-boosting buzzerbeater by Joe Johnson, look for them to avenge their loss in Memphis. The Grizzlies have had their ways with them recently but Gasol was a big factor in most of those matchups, especially in guarding Lopez and limiting his effectiveness. Brooklyn knows this is the ideal opportunity to get one over them and the fact that Memphis is coming off back to back overtime losses means they are more tired and deflated than usual. Take the Nets plus the points as they have an excellent chance to beat the reeling Grizzlies on this particular night.
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