Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 14 inclusive:
This is getting ridiculous. Sure, 16 points is gigantic for an NBA spread, but the Philadelphia 76ers in their current form just might be the worst basketball team this side of the Washington Generals. Yet the Indiana Pacers, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, couldn’t get the job done Friday night. They took a 68-52 lead halfway through the third quarter, then let Philadelphia climb back within three before winning 101-94. Egg, meet face.
Any particular reason we shouldn’t fade the Pacers (48-17 SU, 33-31-1 ATS) Saturday night when they visit the Detroit Pistons (25-40 SU, 28-36-1 ATS)? Detroit is only 1-4 SU and ATS in its last five games, and the NBA odds only have Indiana laying 5.5 points this time. But the Pistons have been idle since Wednesday. And Indiana is a toxic asset to say the least.
All that good stuff I had to say about Andrew Bynum (15.2 PER)? Yeah, he didn’t play Friday. Lavoy Allen (11.8 PER) got the reserve big man assignment instead, and he actually did fairly well against his former team, scoring 13 points in 18 minutes with four rebounds and a pair of blocks. Bynum was given the night off to rest his knees. However, the Pacers have indicated that Bynum will be available for Saturday’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET).
He’d better be. Allen may have had a good offensive game Friday, but Sixers back-up center Byron Mullens countered with 15 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals in his 24 minutes, and Allen finished the night at minus-6. Evan Turner (11.9 PER in Indiana) was a minus-8 after scoring just two points. The Pacers bench was outscored 32-27 by Philadelphia’s bench. Philadelphia!
Unsafe at Any Speed
The problem with picking the Pistons is that they’re the Pistons. This is not a good basketball team, however much talent they might have in Andre Drummond (22.5 PER) and Greg Monroe (17.8 PER). Starting point guard Brandon Jennings (16.4 PER) is shooting 40.2 percent from inside the arc – inside, not outside. And Josh Smith (14.6 PER), the team’s “top scorer” at 16.6 points per game, is worth minus-0.8 Offensive Win Shares this year.
Combine that “Big Four” with a very weak bench – okay, not as weak as Philadelphia’s – and you get a team striving for mediocrity in the East, four games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the last playoff seed. Detroit ranks No. 21 in the NBA in offensive efficiency (102.4 points per 100 possessions) and No. 22 in defensive efficiency (105.6 points allowed/100). Somebody send Pistons PBO Joe Dumars a recall notice.
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Didn’t You Use To Be the Pacers Defense?
Of course, the Pacers offense isn’t all that either, barely ahead of the Pistons at 102.5 points per 100 possessions. It’s defense that has brought Indiana to the dance. Even here, though, we see that the Pacers have been slipping of late. They’re still first overall by a wide margin at 95.6 points allowed/100, but that’s for the entire season. In the month of March, Indiana has allowed 106.0 points/100. That’s awful. That’s worse than the Pistons (105.3).
I suppose I could try taking the OVER again with the Pistons (OVER 44-21). But they’ve got the UNDER at 4-2 in their last six, just as I was getting on the bandwagon. And the Pacers (UNDER 35-28-2) have the UNDER at 5-2 in their last seven. So let’s just go ahead and stick with fading Indiana, even though I have this unsettling feeling that Bynum is going to punk out Detroit’s bench on Saturday. May the sphere be with you.
NBA Pick: Take the Pistons +5.5 at JustBet