We’re going out West, where they’ll appreciate us. Check out those Denver Nuggets – they’re getting hammered by the NBA lines these days. The Memphis Grizzlies haven’t been too hot, either.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 11 inclusive:
So the All-Star Game is coming up, and as it turns out, Anthony Davis will get to represent the Western Conference in front of his home fans at the – ugh – Smoothie King Center. Davis (26.5 PER) was wisely named as the injury replacement for Kobe Bryant. All well and good, but there are just too many worthy players in the West who deserve the same recognition. We’ll do our part by showing you how poorly two teams in particular are doing against the basketball odds without their star point guards.
As if losing the Super Bowl weren’t bad enough, Denver (24-27 SU, 22-29 ATS) has now lost the best player on its basketball team – again. Ty Lawson (20.0 PER) suffered a fractured rib over the weekend, and the Nuggets got crushed in back-to-back road games by the Indiana Pacers (–10.5) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (–6.5). With Nate Robinson (16.0 PER) out for the season and Andre Miller (13.7 PER) not with the team, it’s up to rookie Evan Fournier (8.5 PER) and Randy Foye (13.2 PER) to carry the load until Lawson returns, which shouldn’t be too long after the All-Star break.
The Grizzlies (29-23 SU, 24-27-1 ATS) saw their All-Star snub go down on Jan. 31 when Mike Conley (21.3 PER) sprained his right ankle. They’re 4-3 SU and 2-5 ATS since that fateful day. Fortunately, they were able to take care of the Orlando Magic (+1.5 at home) in Wednesday’s 86-81 victory. Unfortunately, I had the Magic. Worse, Marc Gasol (16.4 PER) aggravated his injured left knee and didn’t return to the game. He was expected to have an MRI on Thursday. Not good, but at least we might see more of James Johnson (19.2 PER).
How far up the creek would the Suns (30-21 SU, 33-17-1 ATS) be if they didn’t have two quality guards? Eric Bledsoe (20.0 PER) is still recovering from lateral meniscus surgery, but Goran Dragic (22.8 PER) is playing excellent basketball, and Phoenix is clinging to that No. 8 seed at 8-4 SU and ATS in its past dozen games. Give some credit to Gerald Green (15.4 PER) for making the most out of this opportunity – and to GM Ryan McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek for building this team “the right way” with effective and inexpensive young players.
The Kings (18-35 SU, 24-27-2 ATS) are also under new management with GM Pete D’Alessandro and head coach Mike Malone, whose father Brendan Malone was also a coach in the NBA with the expansion Toronto Raptors. The trade with Toronto for Rudy Gay (21.1 PER) has worked out marvellously for both clubs, and DeMarcus Cousins (26.0 PER) has turned into one of the very best players in the league, but it’s point guard Isaiah Thomas (21.0 PER) that’s keeping this whole thing glued together. The Kings are 15-10-1 ATS since the holidays, and they just beat the New York Knicks (–6 at home) 106-101 in overtime on Wednesday.
San Antonio Spurs
It would be so easy to bet on the NBA if teams would always lose when their starting point guards are out, but the Spurs (38-15 SU, 25-28 ATS) didn’t want to play along on Wednesday. They beat the Boston Celtics 104-92 as 3.5-point road faves, even though Tony Parker (19.8 PER) had to sit the game out with a sore back. Cory Joseph (14.5 PER) had an effective game in relief with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals – one of five Spurs to hit double figures in scoring that night. So much for schadenfreude. Parker is still expected to play in Sunday’s All-Star Game; we’ll see if the rest of the injured Spurs will rejoin him after the break.