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Matt's NBA Pix
<u>Detroit Pistons (-9) over New Jersey Nets </u>@1.94 (Pinnacle)
The Pistonís will be glad to be back in Detroit after a long seven game road trip. Although they played well on the trip winning five out of their seven games, they suffered a tough loss their last time out against Miami. They basically controlled 40 minutes of the game before Dwayne Wade put on an amazing performance to end the game, giving the Heat the boost they needed to pull out the win. Tonight they are back at home for the first time in quite awhile, and they always come out with intensity in front of their hometown fans. The Pistons are an amazing 22-2 at home this season, as they really seem to elevate their play to a whole different level. Tonight they will be hosting the New Jersey Nets who are playing well lately thanks in large part to the increase in production from swingman Vince Carter. They have pulled out a 3.5 game lead in the Atlantic Division after going 4-1 on their home stand, but now are in a difficult situation against a rested Pistons squad who are back at home, and coming off of a loss. The Nets game really relies a lot on their guards (+ Richard Jefferson) for scoring as they lack a true post presence. Nenad Kristic is doing a good job for the Nets this season but tonight he will struggle with the physical play of Ben Wallace under the basket. The Nets big men lack the strength to compete with Detroit in the paint, and the Pistons coach Flip Saunders will take full advantage of this. Also, the Nets generally benefit from their ďfast breakĒ style of play which is helped out a lot from the rebounding of Kidd (7.1 per game), and Jefferson (6.5 per game). Tonight they Kidd will be matched up with one of the best point guards in the game in Chauncey Billups who I expect will give him problems on both ends of the court. Richard Jefferson will be matched up with Tayshaun Prince who has been doing a solid job with his defensive play. Another thing that I noticed was Detroit was won by at least 9 points in each game following their last seven losses. Watch out New Jersey! I believe the Pistons will be too much for New Jersey tonight at home and I expect the Pistons to pull away late and put up 100+ in this game, meaning New Jersey only needs 81 for the game too go over. This should not be too much to ask.
10u (Over 180)
5u (Pistons -9)
<u>Sacramento Kings (ml) over Chicago Bulls </u>@2.01 (Pinnacle)
The Sacramento Kings really seem to have picked things up since acquiring Ron Artest from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Peja Stojakovic. I really loved the Kings making this deal as it added a defensive presence to their team. In my opinion Artest is one of the best on the ball defenders in the NBA and although he doesnít have a jump shot like Peja I believe he is a better all-round player and a good fit on this team. The Kings are 5-2 since picking up Artest, and they have been doing noticeably better on the defensive side of the ball. Before the Kings had to outscore opponents in order to win as they didnít pose a threat defensively; but now they are starting to shut teams down. They have held 7 of their last 9 opponents under 100 and I see them doing it again tonight in Chicago. The Bulls are coming off of an impressive win against the Clippers as big dogs on Sunday. Kirk Hinrich scored 17 points, leading 6 Bulls in double figures in a game that the Bulls bench scored 46 points. The Kings are coming off of a 109-84 root over the Hawks which got the team back on track after having a three game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Suns. Sacramento has won seven of their last eight games against the Kings including a 98-80 thumping at home just 5 days ago. I do not see a big change of things with Chicago being at home. Their inexperience will hurt them and I believe Bibby and Artest will both have big games leading the Kings to a win.
<u>Houston Rockets (+3.5) over Los Angeles Clippers</u> @1.98 (Pinnacle)
After getting off to a pathetic start in the first few months of the season (thanks to injuries, etc) the Rockets are finally starting to turn things around. A key factor for this improvement was the return of Yao Ming on January 30th. Since then they are 6-2, and winners of two straight. Houston also impressed me in their last game (a 90-83 win over the Knicks) not because they won by 7 points, but because they did it without T-Mac having a big game. McGrady had one of his worst games this season going 3-20 from the field scoring only 7 points. He has shot only 37% over his last 10 games but I really see him breaking out of this funk tonight against the Clippers. Tonight he is expected to be guarded by Quinton Ross who will not even be 100% in this game as he is dealing with back spasms. He is not in a good spot. Yao should also be able to control his match-up in the paint with Chris Kaman. He has been averaging 23 points over his last four games and has been shooting an impressive 60% from the field. The Clippers are coming off of a tough loss at home on Sunday to the Chicago Bulls 97-91. They shot only 39% from the floor and went 1 of 14 from long range. Tonight they will be facing a Rockets team that is generally much more sound defensively then the Bulls, and I see them giving Los Angeles troubles. Houston is also looking to avenge a 89-81 loss to the Clippers back in December; a game that T-Mac went 2 of 12 from the field. Do not expect a repeat performance from him tonight.