Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 27 inclusive:
The Philadelphia 76ers have taken losing to a whole new level. They’ve dropped 12 games in a row at 3-9 ATS, falling to second-last in the overall NBA standings at 15-43 (22-36 ATS). That’s still 3.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks, so the Sixers still have some work to do if they want to maximize their lottery chances in the 2014 draft. How about a phantom injury or two? A sore back here, a pulled groin there – it’s all good. The league office will look other way.
The Washington Wizards would love to help you out, too. They’re riding a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) with Philadelphia, vaulting back over .500 at 30-28 (32-25-1 ATS) and holding onto the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington’s last game was Thursday’s 134-129 triple-overtime win over the Toronto Raptors (–4.5 at home). Do the Wizards have anything left for the weekend? The NBA lines seem to think so, pegging Washington as a 10-point road chalk with a total of 213.5, up from 212 at the open.
Marcin to Glory
It’s not easy to beat the Raptors these days, but the Wizards are no pushovers. They took advantage of an early injury to Terrence Ross, freeing up All-Star point guard John Wall (20.3 PER) to score 31 points. That number was matched by center Marcin Gortat (16.9 PER), who abused Jonas Valanciunas in the paint – especially in extra time after both Patrick Patterson and Amir Johnson fouled out. It was a war of attrition to be sure. And the Wizards did it all without Nene (16.5 PER), who’s out 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL.
The last time the Wizards lost was also to the Raptors. There have been some changes since then: Andre Miller (14.2 PER) came over from the Denver Nuggets in a three-way deal that sent Jan Vesely (11.6 PER) to Denver and Eric Maynor (6.1 PER) to Philadelphia. This is a considerable upgrade for Washington at the back-up point guard position. Miller has played with a vengeance, too, posting 23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in 58 total minutes for his new and grateful employers.
Before we pop those champagne bottles, though, let’s put this five-game winning streak in perspective. The first four opponents were all very beatable, and the Wiz have fallen into something of a zigzag pattern at the NBA betting window, alternating ATS wins and losses (with a push thrown in) for the past seven games. This is still a .500-level team we’re dealing with here, albeit an improving one.
These are the Pretzels
Which is more than we can say about the Sixers. They got rid of both Spencer Hawes (15.3 PER) and Evan Turner (13.3 PER) at the trade deadline, and Danny Granger never even suited up for Philly – he was bought out, cleared waivers, and reportedly has signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. Here’s the starting five that Philly trotted out for Wednesday’s 101-90 loss to the Orlando Magic (–4 away):
PG: Michael Carter-Williams (15.6 PER)
SG: James Anderson (11.2 PER)
SF: Hollis Thompson (10.5 PER)
PF: Thaddeus Young (17.6 PER)
C: Henry Sims (11.3 PER)
Wow. That’s a second unit masquerading as a starting rotation – and not even a very good one at that. Normally, I’d be recommending the double-digit underdogs against a tired Wizards team on a night when Allen Iverson will be in the building to have his number retired. But an inspired tomato can is still a tomato can.
NBA Pick: Take the Wizards –10 at Sports Interaction