Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 17 inclusive:
There’s no such thing as a statement game. Especially not when you’re Kevin Durant. He just goes about his business and lets everyone else do the talking. Take Friday night’s performance against the Golden State Warriors – Durant scored 54 points to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 127-121 victory, beating the NBA betting lines as a 1-point home dog. Impressive. A career high, even. But a statement?
Let’s talk about the only statements that matter: bank statements. The Warriors (25-16 SU, 18-21-2 ATS) have dropped the cash in each of their last four games, and they have to get right back on the horse Saturday to face the New Orleans Pelicans (15-23 SU, 16-20-2 ATS), who have been resting up since Wednesday. The Pellies have lost seven games in a row and they’ve run into some major injury problems, but they’ve also gotten paid in their last three games. The NBA lines have New Orleans getting four points at home in this matchup with a total of 202.
It’s Raining Threes
So I had Golden State as my NBA pick for Friday, based on Oklahoma City’s so-so results without Russell Westbrook and the recent trade that brought Jordan Crawford (16.3 PER) to Oakland. Crawford stepped right in and scored eight points in 15 minutes off the bench, and he even hit both of his trey attempts, so that’s promising. Also, Stephen Curry went 6-of-10 from downtown to finish the evening with 37 points and 11 assists, and Klay Thompson (26 points) was 6-of-9 from behind the arc. But it wasn’t going to be enough on this night.
In case anyone thinks this typically soft Golden State defense, think again. The Warriors were No. 4 in the league in defensive efficiency (99.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) heading into Friday’s action, tied with none other than the San Antonio Spurs. This was just one of those games. But this was also another bad day offensively for Andre Iguodala, who shot 1-of-8 for two points. As long as Iguodala is laying bricks, the Dubs are going to have a hard time making money.
You might want to jot a note down in your Filofax to take the OVER on the Pelicans when next year’s regular season win totals are released. They’ve got plenty of talent; however, their four best players have all spent time on the shelf. Anthony Davis (26.6 PER) is back, but Ryan Anderson (19.0 PER) and Jrue Holiday (17.3 PER) are both out indefinitely, and Tyreke Evans (18.1 PER) is iffy for Saturday after spraining his left ankle for the fourth time this season.
At least Davis is around. Much like Durant and the Thunder, Davis is an MVP-quality player on a small-market team, and on any given day, he can carry the Pellies on his back. They also still have one high-quality guard in Eric Gordon (16.7 PER), so it’s just a question of fitting some decent players around that axis. Al-Farouq Aminu (14.1 PER) can grab some rebounds. Jason Smith (12.5 PER) can block shots. Brian Roberts (12.5 PER) can run an offense.
Okay, so it’s not the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. But the Pelicans have been beating online sportsbooks' expectations of late, and there is a chance that Evans will be able to suit up on Saturday after receiving what the New Orleans Times-Picayune called “laser stem and ultra cell treatment.” I wonder if that’s code for testosterone gummies. Mmmm… testosterone gummies.
NBA Pick: Take the Pelicans +4.5 (–104) at Marathon