Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 12/26/15
The first results are in for this season’s NBA All-Star balloting. To what should be the surprise of absolutely nobody, Kobe Bryant is getting the most votes, leading Stephen Curry by a wide margin.
Yet, some folks seem to be up in arms over this perceived injustice. In the spirit of the season, I think it’s fair to refer to these people as grinches.
Of course there’s no question that Bryant is no longer an All-Star caliber player. So what? He’s calling it a day after an amazing 20-year career, and fans want to see Kobe one more time in a spotlight game. It’s safe to say he won’t be seeing any action in that type of battle with the Lakers this season, as the team is terrible. So aside from perhaps his final home game at the conclusion of the regular season, this will be the final big audience game for Bryant.
Fortunately, unlike baseball where for totally illogical reasons the All-Star game actually means something, the NBA version is simply a showcase for the most popular players to put on a show. That’s as it should be, and I wish MLB would go back to the way it was until Bud Selig’s panic move some years ago.
Props to the fans for checking off Bryant’s name on their ballots for the most part. And make no mistake, my belief is his fellow players are going to feel the same way about Kobe performing in this swan song and I fully expect him to have a big game. Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings toward Bryant, he’s one of the most electrifying players of all time and rates one more highlight reel performance before it’s over. I’m looking forward to watching.
Just one play here on Christmas Day, and whenever a favorite gets there in OT, it’s a fortunate win. So nothing to get swell headed over with the Heat winner, but I’ll sure take it. As for today, as of now, I have one bowl game, I’ve already played the lone CBB duel on the calendar and I’ll take my chances with the NBA game I’m also using as the free play. There might be an add or two, to be determined in the morning.
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The Heat frittered away a nice lead down the regulation stretch against New Orleans. But fortunately, Miami got the best of the proceedings in the overtime and managed to cover the spread in the process for a free play winner. I’m involved with the Heat again for the Saturday comp.
HEAT @ MAGIC
Take: MAGIC -3.5
I’ll play the scheduling dynamics here as Miami heads to Orlando for a Saturday being clash with the Magic. That aspect is fairly obvious, which isn’t always ideal. But the fact remains the Heat are off a tough 53-minute duel with the Pelicans, and now have to do a little traveling with no rest against what should be a fresh Orlando squad.
The Magic have been a very pleasant surprise to date, as I don’t think most NBA fans envisioned them playing at the level they’ve displayed. Orlando has been a very solid home team, and they got to enjoy a relaxing couple of days off while their guests tonight certainly did not have that luxury.
Small sample in-season tendencies favor the Magic here. They’ve done really well playing at home off a win. As for Miami, I wonder if they might be a little on the phony side. The Heat are now 17-11, which is not bad at all. But they’ve also had what can only be described as a truly advantageous schedule. Miami has played 19 games at home, and only nine on the road. This is also just the third time they’ve had to go back to back.
Given the problems the Heat have had facing winning teams on the road going well back to last season, and what sure looks like a plus scenario for Orlando when including the scheduling, I can build enough of a case for the Magic to justify laying the points tonight.