Utah at Golden State
Time: 9:30 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: GSW -8.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
GSW TEAM NOTES:
Though Golden State has won its past four, and with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins to its starting lineup, is there any stopping Golden State?
Perhaps real momentum is now building with the team hopping into the lead in the Western Conference standings. With 32 wins, the Warriors are still on pace for a 50-win season, but this is a team just two seasons removed from the most winning season in NBA history. Where it has gone wrong is difficult to pinpoint, but chemistry issues, particularly those between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, seem at least partly to blame.
Injuries to Stephen Curry have also played their role in the Warriors. Whatever the reasons, the demise is mostly over-stated because this is a team still sitting No. 2 in the West on the verge of adding a perennial Allstar to its starting lineup. Whatever form Cousins may or may not be in, this is still a team with immense talent, and Cousins will not have to work hard to get his shots. After all, the Warriors will then be starting five All-Stars, even with whatever existing chemistry issues may or may not even exist.
Curry and Durant have still been outstanding this season, even if Green has maligned Durant for his attitude on multitudes of occasions. Curry is tallying 28.9 points per game and Durant is just b behind him at 28.4. Klay Thompson still has been cooking with his 21.6 points per game. Perhaps the biggest finger could be pointed at Green himself, whose defensive efforts have fallen off as his facilitation on offense has become just as dicey. Green averages under eight points per game and is good for “only” 6.8 assists per night.
His role as point-forward appears to be changing, as does this Warriors team, but it is unclear how deep those effects may run, as it is equally unclear whether Durant will re-sign with the team or head elsewhere due to the friction that has already been a problem. And therein lies the rub with dynasties: The only thing that can often derail them is internal issues, but yes, those have inevitably arisen in Golden State, and to see the Warriors trail the Nuggets in the standings is as odd as it was predictable. It was also just as predictable that the Warriors would catch fire and pass them before the All-Star break if we are being honest about things.
Ultimately, there is too much talent to question this team’s potential as a repeating Conference champion, but without some cohesion with its lineup and resolution of some defensive issues, the Warriors could be upset in the postseason. It will have done so, to itself, almost.
The Utah Jazz is 32-24 on the season and has won four of its last five games. The Jazz has won 10 of its last 13 games.
After Donovan Mitchell’s outstanding rookie season, many were expecting the Jazz to continue to rise in the West, but Mitchell has been mostly the same player, as the Jazz has been mostly the same team, albeit slightly worse than it was a year ago. Utah is still seeded No. 6 in the West and a serious threat, but the team has failed to take that “next step.”
Mitchell is averaging 20.7 points per game, but he has shot just 41.4 percent from the field and just 31.6 percent from behind the arc. Rudy Gobert has seemingly maximized what offensive potential he had, and the center is averaging 14.7 points per game while serving as the Jazz’s defensive anchor. Ricky Rubio is still the same player he has been over his entire career: astoundingly average. The Jazz has a deep and strong rotation, but without Mitchell making a quantum leap over his outstanding rookie season, Utah has remained in mostly the same place it has been: Good, but not good enough, in the Western Conference.
Rookie Grayson Allen has provided precious little and appeared in just 17 games. Georges Niang has done close to nothing after looking like a potential star in the developmental league. Dante Exum never has blossomed and appears to be little more than a career backup with outstanding (yet deceiving flashes). It all goes back to Mitchell, and he is the one with the chance to make an ascent to a star-level player. Will he? Or will Utah remain in the limbo it appears to be after its strong 50-plus win season a year ago?