If you believe the oddsmakers, the Golden State Warriors' best chance of losing a game before Jan. 6 is on Monday at Utah. That is priced at +275 on NBA odds to be the Warriors' first loss.
Utah's Defense Could Be A Problem
Utah could definitely be the team to end the Warriors' record-breaking 18-0 start. The Jazz, who are 8-point underdogs on NBA odds, are only 8-7 but they are one of the NBA's best defensive teams, allowing opponents just 93.2 points per night (third in NBA). They have a game-changer in the paint in French 7-foot center Rudy Gobert, a blocking and rebounding machine. The Jazz lead the NBA in points per game allowed in the paint (36.5). Then again, the Warriors generally win from the 3-point line and don't do much down low offensively. Golden State hasn't been held under 100 points yet this season and leads the league by far in scoring at 115.8 points per game and in field-goal percentage (.491).
The Jazz snapped a six-game losing streak against the Warriors with a 110-100 home victory on Jan. 30 in Salt Lake City. The Warriors won the other three matchups last year by double digits. Utah does have one injury concern in that second-year swingman Rodney Hood is questionable for Monday due to back spasms. But he did play through them Saturday against New Orleans. Power forward Derrick Favors missed the win over the Pelicans for personal reasons but will be in there Monday. He is averaging career bests in points (16.2) and field-goal percentage (.543).
The Warriors are the fourth team in NBA history to win 22 consecutive regular-season games, trailing only the 1971-72 Lakers (33 straight) and 2012-13 Heat (27) for the longest win streak in NBA history. This begins a season-long seven-game road trip for Golden State. It has had a record of .500 or better on 13 of its last 17 road trips of at least three games. During this trip, the Warriors will fly about 7,400 miles.
And they will be without forward Harrison Barnes for the first few games at least. He missed Saturday's win over Sacramento with a sprained left ankle and won't be re-evaluated until next week. Barnes is Golden State's third-leading scorer and is averaging 13.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. Brandon Rush started for him against the Kings and had 16 points.
Following Utah, the Warriors go to Charlotte on Wednesday. That is +375 to be Golden State's first loss. Charlotte (10-7) has been better than most people expected and will be plenty rested for this game. They last played Sunday, an 87-82 win over Milwaukee, the Hornets' fifth win in their past six games. That should be an interesting telecast in the Charlotte area considering one of the team's broadcasters is Dell Curry, the father of the Warriors' Stephen Curry. Of course Stephen went to school in North Carolina at Davidson. The Warriors won both meetings last year but are only 10-15 all-time in Charlotte.
On Saturday, the Warriors visit a good Toronto team (11-7) and that being the first loss is at +375. The Raptors nearly won in Oakland on Nov. 17 but fell short 115-110. Curry had 37 points. Toronto rallied from an 18-point deficit and trailed by one late in the game with the ball. But Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was called for an offensive foul, and Curry hit two free throws to help seal the win.
On Sunday in the second of a back-to-back, the Warriors are in Brooklyn. The Nets are terrible but they almost pulled the upset of the season on Nov. 14, falling 107-99 in overtime at Golden State. Andre Iguodala tied it with a 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left in regulation and Nets center Brook Lopez missed a short jumper at the buzzer. The Nets are +2500 to be the first team to beat the Warriors.
The rest of the road trip is Dec. 8 at Indiana (+500 at SportsInteraction), Dec. 11 in Boston (+800) and Dec. 12 in Milwaukee (+1400). The Warriors could tie the NBA record of 33 straight wins on Christmas Day when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of the NBA Finals. That's +2000 to be the Warriors' first loss. That they make it to Jan. 6 unbeaten is +800. Our predited NBA pick is .........
NBA Pick: I do believe it happens this week and that it's in Toronto.