In the Western Conference of the NBA, you better bring your A-Game every night; otherwise, you could be falling in the standings. For the most part, this helps NBA basketball handicappers or those making sports picks because these teams have to be so competitive; it is somewhat easier to read two teams in the playoff hunt rather than a contest that is a complete mismatch. Tonight gives us another matchup out West to ponder before making a pick.
Golden State Where They Want to Be For Now
After an unflattering 2-3 start to begin February, the criticism towards head coach Mark Jackson and his team was coming the like movie franchise “Fast and Furious”. Critics were lambasting Jackson for having too much faith in certain players when slumping and that he should be more adaptable to making moves instead of riding out the storm.
But Jackson’s belief in his players held true and the only noticeable change has been the overall effort of the Warriors players, as they have rattled off a 10-2 record (9-3 ATS). Despite this success, Golden State is still 6th in the Western Conference, but building confidence.
Somewhere along the line Warriors fans decided Golden State was an elite team and have shown almost no tolerance for losing or inept play. Yet, those diligently going over the NBA odds daily understand just because you show up on the NBA radar, does not mean championships happen immediately.
At this level of basketball, it’s about assembling all the right pieces at the right time. Miami failed in their first attempt with the Big 3, Dallas had at least two more talented teams before they won in 2011, Oklahoma City is still earning their stripes and for all the excellence in San Antonio, they have not taken home the hardware since 2007. Also, consider Michael Jordan was drafted in 1984 and Chicago did not win their first title until 1991.
Golden State could still move up in the standings since they still have four remaining contests with the Clippers and Portland, the teams immediately ahead of them in the standings, but they will have to do better than being 2-7 (5-4 ATS) as road underdogs to reach their goals.
The L.A. Clippers are Clipping off Opponents at a Rapid Rate
Last month I wrote an article about the importance of being in the Top 3 of the conference standings, if you have designs of winning a NBA title. The Clippers have won eight straight and they are 11-2 (8-5 ATS) since losing to Miami on Feb. 5 and are tied with Houston in the loss column for the third slot.
Coach Doc Rivers feels he has a good pulse on his club and turned up the heat on opposing teams with their offensive diversity. Those making NBA picks or surveying the betting odds have taken note the Clips have moved to the top scoring team in the Association at 107.8 points per contest, by wearing out the nylon in averaging 114.3 PPG in this sultry stretch. This despite missing two key pieces of late in reserve guards Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick, both out with ailments.
The news kings of L.A. in pro basketball are incredibly efficient attacking the basket, ranking third in two-point field goal percentage at 52.7 percent. The Clippers are in the lower third of the league in three-point field percentage, but because they generate more baskets inside the arc and are second in the NBA in free throw attempts (29.5), they offset this minor weakness.
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Betting Odds and Scheduling
The Clippers opened as seven-point home favorites and by this morning were down to 6.5, despite being 18-9 ATS after failing to a cover in their last outing. The sportsbooks total of 214 has also not held up, now down to 212.5.
After this evening, Golden State will have three very winnable home games against Cleveland, Orlando and Milwaukee, with a trip to Portland on Sunday mixed in.
If Los Angeles can manage a victory in this important contest, their fine play should continue facing mediocre competition like @ Utah, Cleveland, @ Denver, Detroit and Milwaukee.
Head to Head Meetings
The home team has won the previous six meetings between these teams, covering the spread in five of them. Los Angeles whipped Golden State 111-92 on Jan. 30 which broke a streak of seven straight OVER’s.
Because both teams are playing equally well, I will support the Warriors because of their defense.
NBA Free Pick: Golden State plus the points