Kobe Bryant will not go gentle into that good night. He’s trying his best to make the Los Angeles Lakers worth your NBA pick, but Kobe might not have anything left in the tank when he visits the Golden State Warriors Saturday night.
Jason’s record as of Oct. 31: 2-0 ATS
Profit: plus-4.9 units
Folks, we’re about to do something here at the ranch that we almost never do: Add a massive favorite to our NBA picks. The Golden State Warriors opened as gigantic 13.5-point home faves for Saturday night’s matchup (10:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) against the Los Angeles Lakers. If only we had been there right on the scene. As we go to press, Golden State has already been bet up to –16.5. Hoo boy, that’s a lot of points.
We’re not frightened. Although we don’t have enough data yet to pump out any consensus reports, the way the NBA odds are moving tells us that the early bettors are all over Golden State, and early bettors are usually sharp bettors. Very sharp if they jumped in right at the open. But we don’t mind riding on their highly profitable coattails. The Lakers face a lot of disadvantages in this situation, above and beyond their relative lack of talent.
We’ll start with that talent gap anyway. This was going to be a long season for the Lakers regardless; we had them in our Top 5 UNDER teams for 2014-15, and that was before their prize rookie, Julius Randle, broke his leg in the season opener against the Houston Rockets. L.A. (+7 at home) lost that game 108-90, then lost the next one 119-99 to the Phoenix Suns (–12 at home).
Not every game is going to be that bad. The Lakers aren’t completely devoid of talent, as we saw Friday night when they stormed back from down 15 points against the Los Angeles Clippers (–11.5 “away”), before ultimately running out of gas in a 118-111 loss. Kobe Bryant (21 points, seven assists) still has plenty of hops – again, though, he was 1-of-7 from the field in the fourth quarter. Bryant and Jeremy Lin (17 points, nine assists) seem to be getting along all right. And Jordan Hill (23 points, five rebounds) is certainly capable of big games like this.
The problem is, the Lakers aren’t going to shoot 51.2 percent every day. They got the cover against the Clippers despite playing some highly questionable defense – head coach Bryon Scott wanted his players to show some truculence this year, and they fouled their in-arena rivals early and often Friday night. The Clippers shot 38-for-44 from the line; the Lakers were 20-of-28.
So now our Purple and Gold heroes have to pack up for Oakland, where they’ll face a young Warriors team that has only played one game thus far: Wednesday’s 95-77 overthrow of the Sacramento Kings (+4.5 at home). That’s what you get for being the L.A. Lakers. This will be their fourth game in five nights, three of them as part of nationally televised NBA double-headers. Okay, Saturday’s game is only on NBA-TV, but still. They’re being overworked for our entertainment.
Meanwhile, it looks like Golden State will be just fine under head coach Steve Kerr. This is his first go-around as a bench boss, but he’s worked at just about every other level in the NBA except commissioner, so people were confident that Kerr would do a good job. His Warriors absolutely crushed the Kings despite missing PF David Lee (hamstring), who’s questionable for Saturday’s game. Draymond Green (12 points, 10 rebounds) got the start instead and led all starters at plus-22.
But it was swingman Andre Iguodala who led all Golden State players with a plus-25. Iguodala came off the bench Wednesday night for the first time in his career; Harrison Barnes started in his place. It’s a bold move by Kerr. We’ll go ahead and give the Dubs the edge in coaching – Scott seems to be in “stealth tank” mode – and make a larger bet on Golden State despite the mouthful of chalk at the end of the rainbow.
The Five Stars
Market Bias: GSW
Betting Line Value: LAL
Verdict: 3-star pick on GSW
Free NFL Pick: Bet 5.5 units on the Warriors –16.5 (–108) at Heritage