The Golden State Warriors aren’t the title favorites anymore, but they’re still the best in the NBA. The basketball odds are also shining on the Southwest, where four teams are viable contenders.
Jason’s record as of Jan. 21: 25-24-2 ATS, 2-4 Totals
If the Golden State Warriors need any bulletin board material to rile themselves up, they can always take a look at the championship futures market. The Warriors had previously taken top spot on the NBA odds list, but as we go to press, Bovada has the Cleveland Cavaliers as the 4-1 favorites, followed by Golden State at 5-1. Hardly seems fair.
The betting market may be in love with LeBron James, but make no mistake: The Warriors (34-6 SU, 27-12-1 ATS) are the best team in the league right now – no offense to the Atlanta Hawks. Golden State even put the boots to a solid second-tier contender on Wednesday, downing the Houston Rockets (16-1) 126-113 as an 8-point home chalk. If that isn’t championship material, we don’t know what is.
He’s Gonna Stephen You Again
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the NBA odds for the Western Conference title, and the Warriors were on top at 11-4. That’s where they remain as we go to press. And Stephen Curry was the most valuable player in the league, in terms of VORP and Win Shares/48. Also still true: Curry took an 8.1 VORP and a .295 Win Shares/48 mark into Wednesday’s action. Curry was first as well in Offensive Box Plus/Minus at plus-8.9.
Curry isn’t the only Warrior on the advanced metric charts. Check out Draymond Green, who’s No. 1 in the league in Defensive Win Shares (2.8), with Curry not far behind in sixth (2.4). Or Klay Thompson, who’s No. 11 overall with .192 Win Shares/48. We’re not done: Harrison Barnes has a 121.9 Offensive Rating, tenth in the league. And the only reason Andrew Bogut (plus-5.6 DBPM) isn’t tops in Defensive Box Plus/Minus is because he hasn’t played enough minutes this year. Numbers don’t lie.
The San Antonio Spurs (27-16 SU, 21-21-1 ATS) were the second favorites in the West two weeks ago at 15-4. They’re still in second place, but the defending NBA champions have gained some ground at 7-2 to win the West, and 13-2 to take home yet another Larry O’Brien Trophy. That’s what a healthy 6-1 SU and 5-1-1 ATS run can do for your profile.
The key word there being healthy. Just about everyone is back in action now, including Kawhi Leonard (19.7 PER), Patty Mills (14.6 PER) and Tiago Splitter (17.9 PER). The only missing ingredient is Marco Belinelli (12.2 PER), who could be back in action Thursday night (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT) against the Chicago Bulls.
Having all this depth makes it easy for the Spurs to deal with injuries – and to give their aging veterans as many maintenance days as they see fit. Which tends to keep them off the statistical charts as well as the hardcourt. But you’ll still find Tim Duncan (plus-4.4 BPM), Danny Green (plus-4.3) and Leonard (plus-3.8) in the Box Plus/Minus Top 20. Nice to see Green playing the best basketball of his career after a few shaky moments last year.
Here’s a Glue Guy
San Antonio is just one of four teams from the Southwest Division with serious championship dreams. We’ve already told you about the Rockets, who are 9-7 SU and ATS since picking up Josh Smith (plus-1.7 DBPM) for pennies on the dollar. The Southwest also gives us the Dallas Mavericks (30-13 SU, 22-20-1 ATS) at 15/2 on the NBA odds list, and the Memphis Grizzlies (30-12 SU, 21-20-1 ATS) at 14/1.
The Grizzlies are the obvious value pick of those four teams. In addition to being a proven San Antonio killer in the playoffs, Memphis has the right combination of defense, depth and tiny market share to make it an ideal NBA pick for value-conscious bettors. Let’s see if Jeff Green (15.7 PER) turns out to be the difference-maker at small forward. If Green is willing to be the glue guy, the Grizz have everything they need to win the title.