Houston at Golden State
Time: 9:30 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: GSW -9.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors have won its past nine contests to ascend to a 3.5 game lead over the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Standings. Now at 61 wins with seven games remaining, the Dubs will become the first team since Michael Jordan’s Bulls to put together three-consecutive 60-plus win seasons. They host James Harden and the Houston Rockets tonight as 9.5-point favorites at 9:30 PM (CT) on ESPN.
Harden and the Rockets have been hot, too. Houston has won seven of its past 10 SU, and is 23-14 on the road this season. Houston has lost its past two contests, to the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors, but those ‘Ls’ were preceded by four-consecutive wins, including back-to0back wins over the surging Denver Nuggets. Houston sits at No.3 in the West, and has to be thought of in some senses as legitimate contenders, given both their record and the fact that Harden himself represents one of the league’s premier talents.
While Harden’s postseason track record has been spotty at best, that potentially could lend to the notion that this is his, and Mike D’Antoni’s, season. Houston could potentially shock any of the top NBA teams, because the Rockets can fill it up. And this is a scoring era. While many may deride Harden’s defensive efforts, and D’Antoni’s lack of philosophies regarding defense in general—but Houston is winning, and that is what matters to Houston. While the model may not yield long-term postseason success, this is D’Antoni’s latest and perhaps most brilliant iteration of it.
Rather than basing it on several talents as he did with Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, he is doing it mostly on the hands of James Harden. Harden made the move to point guard at D’Antoni’s behest, and the result is that Beard now leads the league in assists. It is hard to question the mind of D’Antoni from an offensive perspective, but the matter remains whether that style of coaching, can, in fact, produce the elusive and coveted rings.
Rings are no strangers to the crew in Golden State, save their newest addition Kevin Durant, who is making quick progress in rehabbing his knee. Durant could be back before the end of the regular season, and this could be his first NBA title season if the Warriors hold to form and continue to dominate the West. He has not been a part, obviously, of the Warriors back-to-back Finals run, and for all the criticism Durant has drawn, he has also had a phenomenally efficient and successful season. His defensive effort has been First-Team worthy, and perhaps it is hardly being discussed. Durant has now focused himself on playing even better basketball, but it is being attributed to being on the court with three other All-Star talents.
Perhaps that criticism will dog Durant’s legacy to some degree indefinitely, however, fair or not.
The Warriors did add the NBA’s premier small forward outside of one LeBron James, and Durant is a guy who led the NBA in scoring three times by age 23. Durant will go as an all-time type of talent, and the Warriors an all-time type of team. Winning 73 games already assured that. Now that Durant is in the fold, once healthy, the Warriors will be the team to knock off once again in the West. That is fairly evidenced as 9.5 point favorites over Houston tonight, even without Durant in the fold for this one.