The National Basketball Association is now past the All-Star Break and unlike hockey and baseball, the NBA’s big draw is not held at the mid-point of the season. It’s actually held well into the second half of the season.
Most teams have about 30 games remaining as the push for playoff positioning begins. New Commissioner Adam Silver has decided to put his mark on the NBA already by calling for a new age minimum.
Currently, players have to be a year out of high school (or 19) before they can enter the NBA Draft. This has of course led many great players to play ‘one and done’ in the collegiate ranks. Silver would like to see the age moved up to 20 years old.
He believes this will help both the college game and the professional game as well. Movement on this issue can’t happen until the NBA Players’ Association names a new executive director. Even when that happens, I suspect there will be great debate over the issue as there always has been.
We’ll keep an eye on that as it continues to gain some momentum but as for now, let’s check out tonight’s NBA slate.
Miami (+4) at Oklahoma City – The Heat returned from the All-Star Break and promptly put a beat-down on the Mavericks behind 42 points from LeBron James. I don’t think this is an outlier either. Miami knows that catching Indiana for the top seed in the Eastern Conference is necessary for hopes of a three-peat.
Both OKC and the Heat enter the game on 8-2 streaks and both are winners of their last three games. Some will look at this as a battle between LeBron and Kevin Durant who many feel has had a better year so far than the ‘King.’
Look for the role players to have just as much impact this evening and I expect this game to go down to the wire so take Miami getting four.
Denver (-3) at Milwaukee – The Bucks opened their second half of the season with a surprising win over Orlando. The win earned Milwaukee their tenth win of the season and improved their home record to 6-21.
The good news might not end there though because now slumping Denver visits them riding a five-game skid while going 3-7 over their last ten contests. The Nuggets are essentially out of the playoff hunt with 30 games to go as they sit 6.5 games out of the eighth and final spot out West.
Call me crazy here but I love the Bucks tonight at home getting three points.
Houston (+2.5) at Golden State – The Rockets come to Northern California riding a seven game winning streak. Houston is also mired in the middle of the playoff pack in the Western Conference with the Clippers and Trail Blazers. All three are six or 6.5 games behind first-place Oklahoma City.
Golden State has been average recently and the 5-5 stretch in their last ten games bears that out. The Warriors have to be careful here over the next few weeks because of their current position in the Western Conference standings.
They are currently tied with Dallas for the seventh/eighth spot eleven games behind OKC. One game back is Memphis who has won three straight and seven of ten. A poor stretch by the Warriors could result in them dropping out completely.
Given the way Houston is playing and the fact they are getting 2.5 tonight, I love the Rockets in Oakland.