The Golden State Warriors have had some trouble beating the NBA lines lately, but they’ll get a crack at the tired Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night at Loud City.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 17 inclusive:
And things were going so well for the Golden State Warriors (25-15 SU, 18-20-2 ATS). They had a 10-game winning streak going, and nearly became the first NBA team ever to sweep a road trip of seven games or more, but the Brooklyn Nets (+6) put a stop to that last week with a 102-98 victory. The Warriors haven’t beaten the basketball lines since.
Then again, Golden State has only played twice since that loss. That means the Warriors will be fresh as a daisy when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (29-10 SU, 21-18 ATS) on Friday night. Oklahoma City will be playing its third game in four days, having just defeated the Houston Rockets (–2.5) 104-92 in Houston. The NBA odds board has the Thunder laying 1.5 points at press time, down from 2.5 points at the open, with the total holding steady at 207.5.
Golden State’s winning streak coincided roughly with the return of Andre Iguodala (15.1 PER), who had missed 12 games with a hamstring injury, a span that saw the Warriors go just 5-7 SU and 4-7-1 ATS. Things were peachy keen after that, but Iguodala has lost his shooting touch lately. He scored just three points against Brooklyn, then matched that total this past Wednesday in a 123-116 loss to the Denver Nuggets (+8 away).
Iguodala isn’t a pure scorer by any means – he’s more known for his defense, playmaking and rebounding. But when his all-around game is firing on all cylinders, which is most of the time, the Warriors are darn near unstoppable. As ESPN analyst Avery Johnson astutely pointed out to the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, Iguodala is “the key to their puzzle.” The NBA lines agree.
Golden State Crawfords
Johnson also said that the Warriors were missing former back-up combo guard Jarrett Jack. We’ve heard that a lot this year; it’s been a divisive issue, with most statheads rolling their eyes at the thought. But Jack did post a 15.9 PER while hitting 40.4 percent of his trey attempts, even if some of those shots were ill-advised. And he soaked up 29.7 minutes per game, giving Stephen Curry (38.2 minutes per game) and Klay Thompson (35.8 minutes) some much-needed rest.
This year, Toney Douglas (6.6 PER) was supposed to provide the relief, but that clearly wasn’t working out, so the Warriors shipped Douglas off to the Miami Heat in a three-way trade that brought Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks over from the Boston Celtics. Crawford (16.3 PER) is the person of interest here; he’s not too good from behind the arc (31.8 percent), but Crawford can hit it from just about anywhere else on the court, his defense is solid, and his assists are up this year to 6.7 per 36 minutes. Good move by the Warriors.
Take a look at our NBA Picks of the Day for more free plays.
The Thunder could use a guy like Crawford right about now. Although they won on Wednesday, that still leaves them at 6-5 SU and 5-6 ATS since Russell Westbrook (21.4 PER) went down with a knee injury. Reggie Jackson (15.9 PER) scored 23 points against Houston; Derek Fisher (7.7 PER) was held to three points in 18 minutes off the bench. Fisher has played poorly enough that the Thunder just signed Royal Ivey (8.5 PER) to a 10-day contract. Hey, worth a shot.
So we’ve got the rested Warriors, who just added Crawford, and the weary Thunder, who just added Ivey. I think I’d be placing my NBA bets on the Warriors this Friday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). May the sphere be with you.NBA Pick: Take the Warriors +1.5 (–105) at Pinnacle