Golden St. at Washington
Time: 7 PM CT, TNT
Spread: GSW -9
Odds c/o 5dimes
Perhaps predictably, the Golden State Warriors are now catching fire just past the mid-way point of the 2018-19 season. The Warriors have won its last eight games to take a 1.5-game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the lead of the Western Conference. It will face the 20-26 Washington Wizards as the first part of a TNT Thursday night doubleheader. Golden State is 9-point favorites in the game according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the over/under is set at 235 points. The game will air at 7 PM (CT).
The Golden State Warriors most recent win took the form of a 130-111 trouncing of the Los Angeles Lakers. Klay Thompson was atomically hot, hitting 17 of 20 including 10 of 11 from three-point range to finish with a game-high 44 points. The performance offset a 3 of 12 night from Stephen Curry, and DeMarcus Cousins is still finding his traction after sitting out nearly a full calendar year. He drew the start and shot 2 of 9 from the floor in 21 minutes, but having Cousins in the lineup is a tremendous addition to the Dubs arsenal: It now starts an All-Star at every position, and center had long been thought to be the Dubs’ Achilles heel— if it had one at all.
Cousins returned Jan 18 against the L.A. Clippers and scored 14 points in his debut on 5 of 11 shooting. He is still facing minutes restrictions, but that is expected after tearing an ACL and rehabbing for the better part of 12 months. Cousins eventually should give the Warriors a needed interior presence on both ends of the court. While he has been maligned over his career for his attitude and behavior, perhaps being on a true winning team will bring some sort of Renaissance for the center. Cousins has averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds over his 10-year NBA career and is widely regarded as one of the most skilled and best stretch-5s in the business. Adding a weapon like that to Golden State should only transform the Warriors into a more unbeatable team as he rounds into shape.
It certainly should strike a little fear into teams to imagine what this team can do with a healthy roster. Stephen Curry is turning in an MVP caliber season with his 29.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game, and Kevin Durant is still the most efficient scorer in the league. Thompson can get as hot as anyone in the Association, and Draymond Green’s versatility—hopefully— will tie it all together, as he is one of the best high post passers in the league.
There is a cushion, a warning, that this could implode due to chemistry issues, and certainly the forerunners of that were already seen when Green and Durant exchanged (insults) words, but the Warriors — on paper— should be relatively unstoppable. If it does not transfer to the court, that would be tragic, though the rest of the league is basically praying for that implausible friction to actually occur.
Could anything else stop Golden State?
The Washington Wizards have won four of its last five, but it still lingers six games below .500 and it is out of the playoff picture in the East. The Wiz have begun to pay better attention to the defensive end, and that is the primary reason behind its recent success. Only one of its last five opponents have scored more than 106 points, and that was a 140-138 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Trevor Ariza has assumed a comfortable role as the team’s No. 3 option after John Wall and Bradley Beal. Beal is having an All-Star season and career year. He is averaging 24.7 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game. Ariza helps tie it together with his two-way play, as one of the best defensive wings in the NBA. He is averaging nearly 15 points per game in his 16 games as a Wizards, and it appears that (though no one thought it could) he could change the Wizards’ fate this season.
In its 16 games with Ariza, the Wizards have fared 8-8, which is an improvement and a mark good enough to be playoff-worthy in the Eastern Conference. When analysts and fans talk about team-changing talents, Ariza is not the first to come to mind, but he has been just that thus far for Washington.