GREG GAMBLE’S 2008 HARDWOOD PICKS: 30-24 ATS…56%
NBA 20-15 - NCAA 7-8 - Teasers 4-1 - Church League 69-0
GREG GAMBLE’S 2008 PIGSKIN PICKS: 63-44 ATS...59%
NFL 23-19 - NCAA 20-15 - Teasers 20-10 - Lovely Ladies 69-0
CHICAGO BULLS (+2.5) @ NEW YORK KNICKS
While the return of Kirk Hinrich is forcing Vinny Del Scott Baio to squeeze even more minutes from his overcrowded backcourt, Capt Kirk provides a stabling influence for the streaky unit and a defensive intensity that’s proven to be contagious. Excluding the first game he played upon his returned, the team has won two of three (victories at Toronto & against Bron-Bron) with their lone defeat coming in a five-point loss to the Spurs. Besides the obvious benefit of Larry “What picture of Danny Ferry do you have to net you 70 million?” Hughes no longer logging actual minutes, Hinrich paired with Rose gives the Bulls a defensive swagger and enables Gordon to be utilized depending on the specific match-up. And unlike in year’s past where Kirk was responsible for point guard duties, with Derrick Rose running the show, the Iowa-native can simplify things and concentrate on directing the team’s defensive sets, improve their overall ball-movement, space the floor, and hopefully knockdown some open jumpers.
On the flipside, while it’s amazing what D’Antoni has done with a laughable roster, I expect opponents to demolish this squad as the season progresses as scouting starts to exploit their limited abilities. The Knicks lost both Friday & Saturday (at Washington and by double-digits to Philly in Gotham) as their short rotation is starting to look worn-down from the nightly track meets. Especially without a single low-post presence to ease the pressure, teams like the Bulls deep with guards & wings can simply outlast the perimeter-oriented squad.
As for the biggest reason why I like Chicago this MLK Day, Derrick Rose is simply too strong & fast for Chris Duhon and once he gets into the paint…GAME OVA as the Knicks don’t have anybody to protect the rim. Throw-in the added hype of playing in NY and the added-drama of D’Antoni’s job search this off-season, and for once, we don’t have to worry about the Bulls coming out ready to play!
BULLS BY 4-8 POINTS
DETROIT PISTONS (-3.5) @ MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Both teams are in the midst of five-game losing streak, but while the Pistons are desperately trying to find the right veteran mix to get things turned around, the Grizz have started to self-destruct and seem to be competing against each other. Especially tonight with the game on TNT, I expect Memphis’ youngsters to force some shots and to look more for the highlight reel play than an open teammate. In their last contest, with Conley & Mayo handling the rock for much of the shot-clock of their double-digit home loss to Utah, 19 ppg scorer Rudy Gay sulked on the perimeter as he managed just five shots, making one, with two rebounds and zero assists in 30 minutes….which means tonight, every time he has the pill the Pistons better turn and box out!
While Detroit is still figuring out “Life after Chauncey” and “Life with A.I.”, Tayshaun, RIP, Rasheed, & McDyess have too much experience and confidence in each other to let this slide continue. Especially with RIP looking better with each passing game since returning from injury, the continuing development of Rodney Stuckey, and Iverson desperate to prove he’s a team player and not the culprit of their demise, I expect the Pistons to roll through the rest of January to get stronger as the season progresses. On the flipside, with the young Grizz simply waiting for their coach to be fired, things are gonna get much worse before they get better!...PISTONS BY 7-12 POINTS
MINNESOTA T-WOLVES (teased -2) @ LA CLIPPERS
With Zach Randolph, Chris Kaman, Baron Davis, & now Marcus Camby out, do you really think a team starting Brian Skinner, Mardy Collins, & possibly DeAndre Jordan will have a chance against the hottest young team in the league...TOUCH ME HERE FOR THE ANSWER!!!
MINNESOTA T-WOLVES (teased -2) @ LA CLIPPERS
With Zach Randolph, Chris Kaman, Baron Davis, & now Marcus Camby out, do you really think a team starting Brian Skinner, Mardy Collins, and possibly DeAndre Jordan will have a chance against one of the hottest young teams in the league? The Wolves have won six of seven, including Friday’s impressive win in Phoenix, and are looking more confident with each passing game. Al Jefferson (22 ppg, 11 rpg) is an absolute beast on the block, and with everybody in Dunleavy’s frontcourt injured, I expect another monstrous night for Big Al while Kevin Love (last 4 gms: 13 rpg in 24 mpg) absolutely destroys LA on the glass. Throw-in an improving backcourt that will face the likes of Mardy Collins, rookie Eric Gordon, Fred MFin Jones and Ricky “it’s for my glaucoma” Davis, and the Wolves should have no trouble continuing their ascension from the cellar…WOLVES BY 7-12 POINTS
MILWAUKEE BUCKS @ PORTLAND BLAZERS (teased -2)
Once again the season Portland has been dominate at home 14-4, and tonight, should look even more excited to be back after a four-game trip out East. Especially since they concluded the trip with an OT loss to the Cats O Bob, I expect McMillan to have his squad focused from the opening-tip. While the Blazers will be without Steve Blake tonight, the Bucks are in much more trouble playing without Andrew Bogut again. In Blake’s absence, besides Portland’s ability to lean more on Brandon Roy to run the show, rook Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez have provided some different dynamics to the offensive and shouldn’t have too much trouble matched-up with Luke Ridnour tonight. On the Milwaukee side, let’s just say Dan Gadzuric & Francisco Elson don’t provide the same moxy for Scottie Skiles…as we saw in their horrific loss to the frontcourt depleted Clippers on Saturday.
BLAZERS BY 7-12 POINTS