Check out all my NBA picks and below...
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS @ CHICAGO BULLS (-3.5)
The Bulls seemed to play with an extra bounce in their step during Tuesday’s 12-point home victory over the Jazz. Miraculously, the Bulls still have a legitimate shot at make the playoffs and played with the type of desperation the United Center faithful have been expecting for months. Many comments following their surprising victory also talked about the team using all the media criticism as motivation. While that actually seems to be an indictment on new headmaster Jim Boylan as the players don’t have the motivation normally, as an ATS player I really don’t care what the reasons are and just want to be on the right end. In addition, while the trade has many in Chicago scratching their heads as the future seems muddier than ever, the current mix of players has added a nice scoring bunch and some energy that was lacking for most of the season. Drew Gooden seems possessed of late (Tuesday: 24 pts, 10 reb, 3 blks) and Larry Hughes adds some veteran experience and size to the Bulls young backcourt was lacking. Tonight, they face a red-hot Philly squad coming off an emotional victory at Detroit on Hump Day, but I expect a letdown from the overachieving squad as they have a home-game with Defending World Champs on Saturday and have a banged-up PG (Andre Miller-questionable) that has been their catalyst of late…Bulls by 6-10 points
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS @ ATLANTA HAWKS (-9.5)
Amazingly, just like the Bulls, despite the Hawks woeful performance of late they still have every opportunity to make the playoffs. While their defense looked better in a loss to the Rockets Wednesday, Houston is playing the best team-D in the Association and forced the Hawks out of their normal sets. But tonight, Mike Woodson’s squad faces a Clipper group that probably won’t have the same passion playing in the desolate ATL arena and looking more like high schoolers waiting for Summer Break. Especially if C Chris Kaman is out a again tonight (questionable), I can’t see how the Clippers have any interior defense to stop Josh Smith (Wed: 16 pts & 22 rebs) or have the guard play (Brevin Knight & Cuttino Mobley) to stop Bibby & Joe Johnson from lighting up the scoreboard. Honestly, with Tim Thomas, Josh Powell, Aaron Williams, & Dan Dickau all logging heavy minutes for the Clip, if the Hawks don’t blow them out at home I’m declaring Mike Bibby the most overrated player of all-time…Hawks by 14-18 points
LOS ANGELES LAKERS @ NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (+2)
After watching the Hornets absolutely destroy the Spurs on Wednesday (and lose me some dinero), I’m floored that Vegas has the Lakers favored tonight. I know the line is shifted because of all the high-rollin’ Lake Show fans, but tonight’s match-up is perfect for CP3 and David West. For all the fanfare regarding LA of late, their defense has been shoddy on the block and they’ve struggled against speedier PGs. While Derek Fisher is a solid defender against most floor-generals, he has no business trying to chase Chris Paul, not to mention his back-up (Jordan Farmar) will be totally useless tonight. On the interior, without Andrew Bynum (and even Kwame Brown for that matter) the Lakers have nobody to protect the basket. Pau Gasol can play solid team-defense when paired with another big, but until then, he has no chance to slowdown the low-post efficiency of David West or the athletic ability to stop Tyson Chandler from dominating the glass. While betting against Kobe is never a guarantee, he’ll need to score at least 50 for the Zenmaster to pull this one out…Hornets by 5-9 points