Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers
Time: 10:05 PM EST (NBA League Pass)
Spread: GSW -8.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors pulled into the All-Star break as owners of a 48-4 record. The team has been ever-so-slightly less invincible on the road, where all four of its losses have come this season.
Traveling to face the Portland Trail Blazers may present problems given the Blazers 16-11 record at home and the fact that this would be an easy game to possibly lose focus in. The Warriors are 8.5 point favorites according to oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Blazers also reeled off three straight victories going into the All-Star break. Portland knocked off the Houston Rockets twice and sandwiched between was a win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The 116-103 win over the Rockets may have cast a cloud over Houston heading into the break, but it is all momentum for the 27-27 Trail Blazers.
Few expected Portland to be more than lottery fodder this season, but the young roster has responded well and C.J. McCollum has gone from a bit of a role player to a full-fledged superstar in just one season. McCollum is averaging 20.7 points and 4.2 assists per game this year and seems a near-lock to win the NBA’s most improved player award.
Accompanying him in the backcourt is former Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star Damian Lillard. Lillard did not make the All-Star team this year, which may have been one of the more egregious snubs.
Lillard is averaging 24.3 points and 7.3 assists per game while posting a PER of 21.9 this season. The Blazers have also got unexpected contributions from Al-Farouq Aminu and Allen Crabbe. The pair both average double figures and the Blazers put up 102.5 points per night as a team. The weakest spot on the team still remains in the frontcourt and the Blazers did not seek to address that at the trade deadline.
Mason Plumlee and Meyers Leonard are both effective big men, but neither are particularly good at bodying up with bigger players in the post. Ed Davis is an effective weak-side defender but offers the same deficiencies when it comes to stopping back to the basket players. The Blazers may seek to add frontcourt help this offseason, but it seems unlikely to get a starter-caliber player in the draft, most especially if the Blazers do make the postseason as they are in-line to at this juncture.
The Warriors concluded its pre-All-Star break stretch with a 112-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns. The Warriors have won 11-straight in its current win streak and the team still has the second-best win differential at +12.5. Even so, Golden State will hope to extend its four-game lead on the San Antonio Spurs, as the Spurs still could pose a major threat in the postseason. Home court advantage should prove crucial between these two teams, given that neither has lost a home contest this entire season.
Perhaps most interestingly, Vegas oddsmakers are expecting 73 wins from the Warriors this season, which would indeed make history. The team has a 37 percent chance to win 73 games, and it enters its last 30 games as a -170 favorite to break the 1996 Chicago Bulls 72-win season win record.
The Warriors do indeed have an “all-time great” feel to its roster. Draymond Green is a unique talent thriving in a unique era, and the Dubs’ backcourt is perhaps the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. Putting this all together has been the superb coaching of once-interim coach Luke Walton and head coach Steve Kerr. Both have masterfully constructed a system that befits the array of talents on the Warriors’ roster.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson tend to make it easy to win ball games, but this team is not so overly-talented as to render it a “can’t miss” success. Taking the all-time season wins record would surely solidify this team’s place in history, though in some senses the Warriors are already legendary after winning a championship a season ago.