Golden St. at Houston
Time: 7:30 PM (CT), ABC/ESPN
Spread: GSW -4
Odds c/o 5dimes
The top two teams in the Western Conference are due to collide at 7:30 PM (CT) on ABC Saturday night, and it promises to be a high scoring affair with NBA oddsmakers setting an over/under at a whopping 234 points.
The Golden State Warriors travel to face the Houston Rockets in a highly anticipated matchup that is seeing the Warriors favored by 4-points as of 2 PM Saturday. Golden State has posted a 21-3 mark on the road this season, while the Rockets are plenty tough at home (16-6).
Houston, for its part, overcome a slump and now has won four of its past five to arrive at its current 31-12 mark. Mike D’Antoni is again putting in a bid for Coach of the Year honors, given the way he has seamlessly integrated Chris Paul to the offense, essentially giving the Rockets a two-point guard attack, with James Harden functioning as the other high usage guard in the high octane offense.
Houston most recently disposed of the hot Minnesota Timberwolves 116-98, and prior to that it had knocked off Phoenix, Portland and Chicago, with a loss to the L.A. Clippers sandwiched between. In the win over the Wolves, Houston waxed defensively, limiting the Wolves to just 98 points, including just 17 in the opening quarter. The Rockets own attack was led by a hot-shooting Eric Gordon, who connected on 11 of 19 including 7 of 13 from three-point range, to score 30 points off the bench in 35 minutes.
Gordon will be in consideration for Sixth Man of the Year honors this season, and he effectively is the third guard in Houston’s rotation behind Harden and Paul.
Paul had 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds while posting a team-best +23 mark (tied with Gordon), and Harden had a bit of an off-night with just 10 points on 3 of 15 shooting. The scary thing is, for opponents, Houston was able to win convincingly over a playoff contending team while its best player had one of his worst games. That should put a scare into most NBA teams, but it might take more than that to scare tonight’s opponent, given that the Warriors are an elite team somewhat in a class of their entire own.
Golden State enters as winners of its past four games, and it won all of them (save a 127-125 win over Toronto) in rather convincing fashion. Andre Iguodala will sit out tonight’s game with a left calf contusion, but other than that the Warriors are at full-strength, and that is seemingly all it takes for the team to reel off dominant win after dominant win. Given that the Warriors have three superstars and an arguable fourth in do-it-all All-Star Draymond Green, it really is less requisite that the Dubs have every single star clicking in order to get the ‘Ws.’
Stephen Curry has been sharp since returning from injury. In his first three games back the MVP has tallied 24, 23, and 30 points, while connecting on 53 percent of his shots and 46 percent of his 5.2 threes attempted per game over that span. On the season, Curry is now averaging 27.7 points, 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds in “just” 32 minutes a night, quietly putting the caps on another MVP-caliber campaign, all the while making sure his court mates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson get their shooting appetites whetted in their own right.
That is important considering that both are shooting at such a high clip. Durant is nearing the 50/40/90 precipice if he steps up the free throw percentage just a hair, while Thompson has led the team in connecting on 45.4 percent of his three pointers.
There really is not much Golden State needs to fix, quite simply because there really is not a single thing broken. Draymond Green at times seems to pose no offensive threat, but to constitute that as a true statement would be to ignore his 7.6 assists per game, which leads the team. It is such a unique formula for an offense to run it through a stretch-4 with limited marksmanship, but Green’s value could not be any higher than it is to the Warriors, and the perfect combination of players and contracts has set up a nearly unflappable dynasty.
That said, if there is one team in the West that is capable of giving Golden State a headache, it is the Rockets. Houston is carved in such a similar fashion with such effective role players that this should be a superb game, even if the Dubs do prevail by a slim margin as expected by NBA oddsmakers.