We could have an NBA Finals preview on our hands Friday night when the Golden State Warriors pay a visit to the Atlanta Hawks. The NBA odds have swung in Golden State’s favor since the open.
Jason’s record as of Feb. 4: 30-28-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals
Who are we to doubt the Golden State Warriors? The best team in the NBA was down 20 points to the Dallas Mavericks (+8 away) Wednesday night, but the Warriors came back to win 128-114, improving to 39-8 SU and 31-15-1 ATS. Nobody in the Western Conference has been a better NBA pick this year.
The Eastern Conference, that’s another story. The Atlanta Hawks (41-9 SU, 35-15 ATS) are mere percentage points behind Golden State in the overall standings after winning – let’s see, carry the one – 36 of their last 40 games. Wait, let me do the math again… yup, 36-4 SU and 31-9 ATS since Nov. 21. Despite this monster run, the Hawks opened as just 1-point home faves on the NBA odds board for Friday night’s matchup (7:30 p.m. ET) with the Warriors. Then they moved to +1 and as high as +1.5 by press time. Are we going to have to fade Golden State again?
It’s not a pleasant thought. The Warriors have won three straight games SU and ATS after back-to-back losses to the Chicago Bulls (+11 at home) and the Utah Jazz (+10 away). We faded the Dubs in that Jazz game, too, but so much for our central thesis that their market value has crested.
Then again, Golden State did need a signature performance from Stephen Curry (27.7 PER) to get back into Wednesday’s game against the Mavs. Curry ended up with 51 points, landing 10 of his 16 trey attempts in the process. But Curry was a zero on the old plus-minus charts, meaning Dallas also scored 51 points while Curry was on the floor. Some MVP you are.
Wednesday’s “real” heroes were the ones who showed up to play defense. Draymond Green (plus-4.1 DBPM) led all Warriors starters at plus-17, even though he only scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Back-up swingman Andre Iguodala (plus-1.5 DBPM) was even better at plus-22, one of four Golden State reserves to finish the game in plus territory. That is one hell of a bench they’ve got in Oakland.
Five is the Number that Makes Me Want to Boogie
The Hawks have one hell of a starting five. They were jointly named the Eastern Conference players of the month for January after winning all 17 of their games at 14-3 ATS. Here they are from 1 to 5:
PG: Jeff Teague (21.9 PER)
SG: Kyle Korver (53.2 percent from downtown)
SF: DeMarre Carroll (plus-2.3 BPM)
PF: Paul Millsap (20.1 PER)
C: Al Horford (21.9 PER)
That’s three All-Stars, potentially the greatest 3-point shooter of all-time, and a solid glue guy in Carroll who plays defense with vim and vigor – oh, and he’s hitting 40 percent from long range, too. It’s everything you could possibly want in a starting rotation. Now, about that bench…
Actually, Atlanta’s reserves are pretty good, but they don’t hold a candle to the Warriors. PG Dennis Schröder (14.8 PER) is the most interesting of the bunch; he’s taken a big step forward in his sophomore campaign, putting up 16.8 points, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes. And center Pero Antic (10.1 PER) is one of our favorites here at the ranch, a giant slab of Macedonian who leads all regular Hawks in fouls at 4.9 per 36.
There are some other useful role players in there, like defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha (plus-2.8 DBPM) at shooting guard, and Mike Scott (14.5 PER) hitting 36.4 percent of his trey attempts as a stretch-4. But overall, if we had to pick one of these two teams heads-up to win on neutral ground, it would be the Warriors. Good thing Atlanta’s getting points at home instead.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Hawks at 5Dimes