New Orleans at Golden State
Time: 9:30 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: GSW -17.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The New Orleans Pelicans are out of 2017 playoff contention, and due to that this game will be an odd one for NBA bettors…to say the very least, that is.
Expect both superstars on the Pelicans to rest tonight: Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are both being listed with injuries they would undoubtedly play through had the Pelicans anything on the line in this one.
GOLDEN ST. WARRIORS
The Golden State Warriors will welcome Kevin Durant back to the lineup for a tuneup, while it rests Stephen Curry who suffered a minor knee contusion.
There is no reason for the Dubs to play anything risky, so expect Durant’s minutes to be limited and plenty of reserves will get their chances in this game. Even with that being the case, however, a cast of second unit Warriors should be able to still achieve the expected blowout over New Orleans without both of its star big men. The Warriors are 17.5 point favorites at Oracle tonight, and the game will tip off at 9:30 PM (CT) on NBA League Pass.
Golden State had shown hints of mortality, including a three-game losing streak while Durant was out—but it has regained its poise, momentum and swagger at the most crucial of times. Golden State has reeled off 13-consecutive wins, and it has secured the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the third straight season.
Golden State will finish with 68 wins if it indeed wins its final three games, and while that is five less than a year ago, there is little doubt that this is the team to beat once again in the NBA.
The Cleveland Cavaliers could do the improbable and repeat, especially given that it possesses the league’s most dominant player, but the Warriors are having fun toying with teams and putting up absurd numbers. Something about that should speak loud enough: Golden State is averaging 116.1 points per game and winning by an average of 11.7 points per night.
To dismiss that kind of dominance would be silly, and though Curry is not having the caliber of season he had a year ago, he has awakened of late (at least before the minor injury) and is starting to look like the old unstoppable Steph that this league has so widely embraced.
For all the hype the Pelicans received after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins, the story still remains largely unwritten. In acquiring Cousins, the Pelicans surrendered valuable shooters and role players (including promising rookie Buddy Hield), and the roster has been significantly imbalanced since the trade acquisition.
The remainder of New Orleans season, really, will serve as a tryout for several NBA talents the Pelicans are attempting to evaluate. Among those are point guard Quinn Cook and Cheick Diallo. Both spent the majority of the year in the D-League, but both have also shown flashes of looking like they could be valuable rotation players as early as next season.
The Pelicans certainly seem to think so, in inking Cook to a two-year deal, a move that could go down as one of the more underrated acquisitions at this late juncture of the season. Cook had a superb year in the D-League and has been widely considered by teams in hunt of a backup point guard.
The hope is that New Orleans has itself a Patty Mills-like talent to develop (speaking of which, Mills himself is a free agent that New Orleans may want to consider if it feels it cannot afford Jrue Holiday this offseason). The Pelicans are due to do some major roster tinkering this summer, and acquiring a wing scorer as well as some shooters ranks atop its wish list.
New Orleans will not retain its lottery pick this year as part of the Hield trade, but acquiring Cousins still has to be thought of as one of the biggest bargains (or heists) of recent trade memories. While Cousins has flourished in New Orleans, the team still really has not, and defense, along with a sheer lack of depth, are the primary reasons why.
Fortunately for Dell Demps and The Pelicans, adding role players is significantly easier than acquiring two of the league’s best players at the 4/5 spot.
The future may be undefined and hazy in the Big Easy, but it is certainly one with more promise than a number of other rebuilding, lottery clubs as this season reaches its conclusion. Look for Diallo and Cook to get some minutes, as well as Jordan Crawford, who has been another valuable addition for New Orleans.
Crawford is averaging 13.8 points per game in just 23 minutes a night, and he could eventually be the team’s sixth man of the future, given his penchant for scoring outbursts off the bench.
The picture is taking shape in New Orleans, it is just difficult to discern exactly how Demps and company will go about adding the missing pieces to a promising array of talent on its roster.