Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 30 inclusive:
Well folks, the reserves have been announced for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, and as expected, Kyle Lowry (20.4 PER) was not among them. The Toronto Raptors do get to send DeMar DeRozan (17.9 PER), who’s having a fine season, but not that fine. And it’s not like the Eastern Conference is loaded with backcourt talent like the West. Joe Johnson (14.9 PER) gets to go again, for crying out loud. Looks like it’ll be a while before NBA coaches embrace advanced metrics. Hey, it’s all good. That’s what Moneyball is all about.
Sacramento at Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET)
The Kings (15-30 SU, 19-24-2 ATS) were pretty lousy at first after acquiring Rudy Gay (20.8 PER) from the Raptors, but Sacramento was a good landing spot for him, and Gay’s been playing like an All-Star since getting accustomed to his new surroundings. But things went haywire for Sacto on Jan. 22 when Gay hurt his left Achilles’ tendon and DeMarcus Cousins (26.5 PER) sprained his left ankle. The Kings are 0-5 SU and 1-3-1 ATS since those injuries. Gay is expected to play Friday; Cousins is questionable at best.
Dallas (26-21 SU and ATS) has been rather inconsistent of late at 2-4 SU and 3-3 ATS, thanks in part to injuries. Shawn Marion (14.4 PER) hurt his right shoulder earlier this month and hasn’t played well since returning, so Jae Crowder (11.7 PER) will get the start against Sacramento. This is good for Dallas supporters – Crowder’s PER is subpar, but his defense is excellent. Also, back-up PG Devin Harris (17.8 PER) has played well since rejoining the lineup. Harris was an All-Star once, don’t forget. Stupid injuries.
NBA Pick: Take the Mavericks –8 (–104) at Marathon
Toronto at Denver (9:00 p.m. ET)
The beat goes on for the undervalued Raptors (24-21, 27-18 ATS). They’re 4-1 SU and ATS in their past five games after encountering some turbulence earlier this month. DeRozan is expected to play Friday after missing a pair of games with a sprained ankle; however, Amir Johnson (15.3 PER) is iffy after spraining his ankle Wednesday night, and Patrick Patterson (17.5 PER) may or may not play because of his broken nose. Tyler Hansbrough (13.6 PER) is back, though, so there should be enough warm bodies at power forward when all is said and done.
Denver (22-22 SU, 21-23 ATS) has much more pressing concerns on the injury front. Ty Lawson (20.1 PER) is doubtful for Friday with a sprained left rotator cuff, and Nate Robinson (16.1 PER) appears to be out indefinitely with a torn ACL. With Andre Miller (13.7 PER) excused from team activities, that would leave Evan Fournier (9.1 PER) to deal with Lowry if Lawson doesn’t suit up. Of course, Denver is favored anyway. Now that’s what I call an inelastic market.
NBA Pick: Take the Raptors +2 (–103) at 5Dimes
The Bobcats (20-27 SU, 25-20-2 ATS) took advantage of the wounded Nuggets on Wednesday, winning 101-98 as 7.5-point road dogs. Al Jefferson (21.5 PER), another All-Star snub playing in a small market, scored 35 points with 11 rebounds. And Ramon Sessions (15.2 PER) had another solid game in relief of the injured Kemba Walker (17.9 PER) with 16 points and seven assists. Does anybody care? No. Nobody cares.
Meanwhile, the Lakers (16-30 SU, 24-21-1 ATS) have dropped the cash in three straight games, and they’re basically shooting themselves in the foot with Mike D’Antoni’s lineup changes. Once again, Jordan Hill (19.2 PER) is coming off the bench, this time because Ryan Kelly (11.7 PER) is getting the starting assignment. And Chris Kaman (14.8 PER) is back in the doghouse. Of course, Los Angeles is favored anyway. Sweet baby corn.
NBA Pick: Take the Bobcats +2.5 (+104) at Matchbook