Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors
Time: 9:30 PM CT
Spread: GSW -13.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Warriors have won four straight since falling to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Loss to Milwaukee came on the second half of a back-to-back which ended a seven game road trip for the Warriors.
There are “schedule losses,” and that was one.
Golden State has hardly let it rattle their confidence, and since that point the Cavs have beat their last three opponents by an average of 14 points per game including a 121-112 win against the Bucks at Oracle.
The Warriors are the league’s toughest team on its homecourt, with a raucous atmosphere that is sure to be alive on Christmas day.
Stephen Curry still leads the NBA in scoring at 30.8 points per game, and the flame throwing point guard is shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 44.5 percent from three.
This season, Curry is attempting over half his field goals behind the arc, and he is hitting 4.8 threes per game. He is on pace to destroy his own single season record, and many are wondering at this point, “How much better can it get for Curry?” One could even start with the fact that he has hit 68 percent from BEYOND 28 feet this season. Or the fact that he is on pace to shatter his own record for threes made in a season. Or even the fact that if he continues at this rapid pace he will have hit more threes in two seasons than Larry Bird over his entire NBA career.
Even with 2-guard Klay Thompson having struggled some this season, the Warriors backcourt still produces 50.1 points per game with 19.3 coming from Thompson. He is shooting 46 percent from the floor and 43 percent from three, and is one of a slew of Warriors having career years.
Joining him in that category is Draymond Green of Michigan State fame and former UNC Tar Heel Harrison Barnes.
Green is a jack of all trades at the 4-spot, with averages of 14.6 points, nine rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. He is also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, with average son 1.24 steals and 1.48 blocks per game. Green is the perfect player for Golden State’s small ball attack, as a guy capable of stretching the court and hitting the triple. He should make the first team All-Defensive, while having an outside shot at winning the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Green is shooting 38.7 percent from behind the arc on 3.7 attempts per night. Barnes has played well in his own right, shooting an efficient 50 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three.
The Warriors have so much depth that many of these complementary players could be stars in their own right on lesser teams. But the goal in Golden State remains repeating as champs, with the sights also set on defeating the Bulls 72-win season from 1996.
The Kings have lost three of its last five games, most recently falling 98-94 to the Portland Trail Blazers last night as Blazers 2-guard C.J. McCollum erupted for 35 points on a weak Kings’ defensive backcourt. In fairness, McCollum has been busting a lot of opposing guards in a breakout season for him.
All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo has recaptured the brilliance he has played with for most of his NBA career, and he had 13 points and 16 assists while also snagging eight boards in 37 minutes. Omri Casspi came through with a double-double of his own while seeing a team-high 41 minutes in the game.
Kings management has repeatedly stated that DeMarcus Cousins is not available in trade, but those kinds of statements seldom mean much. With the right offer, Cousins would be readily available for the taking. His statistical contributions render him valuable in so many respects, but his attitude (which is still only marginally better) and lack of team play seem to hold the mystery behind Sacramento’s struggles over the last three seasons.
Cousins is averaging 25 points per game but he turns it over 3.4 times per game while shooting a pitiful 42 percent from the floor. He has expanded his range to include the three-point shot, but just barely: Cousins is shooting 30 percent from behind the arc, just good enough to make teams take him seriously there, but not good enough to really be a strong threat that renders the Kings a better team.
Sacramento still hits 36 percent from three as a team, and it knocks down 8.2 per game. Between Cousins and the oft-maligned and overrated force that is Rudy Gay, the Kings really still appear to be mostly pretenders on the court. There is scarcely an illusion that even with this immense talent that Sacramento can challenge the top-tier teams in the Western Conference—even if it should crash the postseason party.
With NBA oddsmakers favoring Golden State by 13.5 points and Sacramento continually falling short against even average opponents, it seems foolish to expect anything other than a double-digit Dubs win in this one.