Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The word that best sums this matchup up is “excitement,” pure excitement. Two of the highest scoring clubs in the league, and best rated defensively simultaneously, will engage in a battle which should feature a lot of three-point hoisting and a high point total.
NBA oddsmakers set the total at 218, which actually seems conservative considering what can happen if James Harden, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, or any of the numerous shooters beyond those three, catch fire in this game. The Warriors are nearly unflappable at home, however, and enter the game as 8-point favorites according to NBA odds listed at Bovada.
Houston is 29-13 on the season, with a 14-6 mark on the road. But the Warriors are 18-1 at home this season and have won nine of its past 10 games, including having won the last two. The plus-11.7 point disparity between the Warriors and its opponent ranks far ahead of any team differential in the NBA. Does that suggest the Warriors are on their way to an NBA title? Possibly.
Stephen Curry is quickly marking his stamp as the best shooter in NBA history, and it isn’t entirely percentage based, but mostly due to his prolific and frequent offensive engagements. The Warriors lead the NBA in assists per game and Curry is good for eight of those dimes. The well-rounded balance of the Warriors allows for niche talent around Curry.
Klay Thompson is no such player. His value greatly exceeds his contract, because he is a max-contract player. His defensive skills go largely unnoticed due to his three-point prowess, but Thompson can lock up an opposing 2-guard without a problem. He’s hitting 44.6 percent from distance and averaging 1.322 points per possession, second only to Curry (excluding James Michael McAdoo’s limited minutes).
McAdoo is paired with another former UNC player Harrison Barnes. Barnes, while promising, has failed to take steps forward as an NBA player. He’s basically been at this same level since his rookie season, which may have the Warriors kicking themselves for not taking any of the outstanding deals that were offered before he was taken off the table, at last year’s trade deadline.
Draymond Green has come through as one of the best second round picks in recent years, able to play both forward spots and defend equally well at the 3 or 4.
The Warriors often use Green to play small ball, because he offers shooting, some speed and footwork, and it just works better than continually playing Andrew Bogut. Bout is good for his 24 minutes a game, but his rest periods enable the high scoring Marreese Speights. He’s averaging 12.6 points per game in just 18 minutes (25.2 points per-36). That kind of production renders Speights a short minute wonder, and the Warriors have so much talent that the bench truly goes 12 deep if Steve Kerr wants to do it. Shaun Livingston essentially rounds out the bottom of a 10-man rotation.
It will, of course, be shortened when the Warriors hit the postseason, but having it now affords a San Antonio-like advantage because Curry and Thompson don’t have to play 38 to 40 minutes a game for the Warriors to get the wins. All indications are that this team has all the pieces in place to win a title. The season has been played without 20/10 staple David Lee, and it hasn’t mattered. When a team can be without a two-time All-Star and still reel off the best record in the league, that’s a pretty good indication that a ring is within reach.
For Kerr to win a title in his first season as coach would be fairly incredible, but it would be equally as illogical as to not credit Curry with most of that success. He’s rounding out to be one of the All-time Greats if he keeps up his torrid pace. With Chris Paul declining, Derrick Rose hobbled, and Westbrook being a 2-guard playing point…it’d be hard not to just admit that Curry is the best floor general in the league.
The former mid-major Davidson product not a pure point, not an overwhelmingly great passer, but his talents are perfect for the offense and for his teammates around him. Expect the Warriors to take care of business in this one, and bettors would not be unreasonable to expect the Warriors to win this by double-digits.