The great thing about the Friday following the all star break is almost everyone is playing tonight! With the most crucial third of the season remaining, everyone is looking to get out of the gate fast to solidify playoff position (or lottery balls if you’re the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns). In each conference there is an upper crust that seems all but assured of home court advantage in at least the first round. The last four or five playoff spots (four in the West, five in the East) remain up for grabs. For example, the Celtics are currently third in the East, but they’re 4.5 games back of the second place Raptors and at the same time 4.5 games ahead of the 9th place Detroit Pistons (who added two solid players over the break).

Here on Stump the Stiffs the strategy is the same. The three teams come out of the break with just 5 games separating them and also a tie for first place. I’m going to take on the challenge of representing the Stiffs Staff this week, my two previous attempts have returned mixed results. For our commenters, the king commenter himself, Russ Hamilton, will be making the picks. Finally, for the no longer sole leaders of this competition, the Nuggets Subreddit team, we have /u/Dragic-Bronson. Pick time!

Stump the Stiffs Week 15

Stiffs Staff

Zach Mikash

Stiff Commenters
Russ Hamilton
Nuggets at Kings Kings Nuggets Nuggets
Heat at Hawks Hawks Hawks Hawks
Raptors at Bulls Raptors Raptors Raptors
Pacers at Thunder Thunder Thunder Thunder
Celtics at Jazz Celtics Jazz Jazz

Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): It’s not likely that D.J. Augustin plays in this Nuggets game meaning there’s no one to play back up point guard. For that reason I think the scales tip in the Kings favor. Heat/Hawks is a good one against two evenly matched teams. I think Teague and Horford will feel a massive weight off their shoulders now that the deadline has passed and I look for them to play well in a win at home. The Raptors are the better team in the third match up and the Bulls did nothing to improve a team that clearly needs a jolt, I like Toronto. The Thunder are also going to be shorthanded in their back court tonight but at home they’re incredibly tough to beat. Finally, the Jazz are on the back to back and the Celtics were playing very well going into the break, I like Boston on the road.

Russ Hamilton (@rscotham): The Kings are a barrel of monkeys trying to fly a hot air balloon over an active volcano. I honestly don’t know what to expect from them on the floor. The FO has undermined their coach to the point of impotency without, you know, actually firing him. And while I feel bad for Karl, he hasn’t done a whole lot to help himself in his coaching. Give me the team that, from the outside at least, likes each other and their coach, plays hard every night, and showed every sign of turning the corner in the games before the ASB. With the loss of Bosh for the foreseeable future, the HEAT really don’t have a lot going for them. I expect the newly kept together Hawks to take care of business. The Raptors should easily dispatch the desiccated corpse that once was the Chicago Bulls. Randy Foye hits a pull up three over Paul George for the win! The last one, I’ll ride with the home team Jazz, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the C’s pulled it out.

/u/Dragic-Bronson: Denver over the Kings, the Kings have been underwhelming before the break and I doubt they’ll turn things around. Hawks over Heat, Bosh is out and Atlanta still has all their guys. Raptors over Bulls, 2nd best team in the East versus a bad defensive team with no Jimmy Butler. Thunder over Pacers, new addition Randy Foye leading them to victory. Jazz over Celtics, it’ll be a defensive game and Utah will out-defense the Celts.

And there you have it! As always get with Russ Hamilton or Alec Gwin (/u/IdRatherBeLurking) if you'd like to participate in the fun. I've put myself out on the line here but the Stiffs Staff needs to make up games. With a tie at the top its time for us to make our move!

If you're keeping score:

Stiffs Staff: 40-40

Stiffs Commenters: 45-35

/r/DenverNuggets: 45-35