The Golden State Warriors are the class of the NBA, but they might be the worst NBA pick of all the Western Conference teams playing in Game 1 this weekend. Let’s see what makes the New Orleans Pelicans fly.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 17: 72-72-5 ATS, 10-15 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
Basketball has been around for nearly 125 years. People are starting to get pretty good at it. If you had the chance to see the Golden State Warriors play during the regular season, you saw some damn fine basketball; winning 67 games is impressive enough, but the Warriors didn’t just win – they crushed their opponents underfoot, by an average point margin of plus-10.1. That was enough to make Golden State this year’s top basketball pick in the Western Conference at 47-31-1 ATS.
We’re going to fade the Warriors in the first game of the playoffs. What?! Yessir, we have lost our minds here at Jason’s NBA Pick Emporium. Or have we? The Dubs are massive 12-point home faves on the NBA odds for Saturday’s Game 1 matchup (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) with the New Orleans Pelicans. You might recall that thing we said about No. 1 seeds going 197-122 SU and 148-166-5 ATS in the postseason over the past decade. This looks like a classic “sell high” situation, especially when you consider Golden State’s opponents.
You’re not going to find many No. 8 seeds as talented as the Pelicans (45-37 SU and ATS). Sure, they squeaked into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, and you can argue that the Oklahoma City Thunder got hosed when they lost Kevin Durant to a Jones fracture. But it’s not like we’ve really seen the Pellies at full strength. Everyone on this team has been hurt at some point this season, Jrue Holiday (18.8 PER) and Ryan Anderson (15.6 PER) in particular.
It just so happens that right now, everyone on the Pelicans is active and ready for duty. Anderson, a quality stretch-4 who canned 40.9 percent of his 3-point attempts last year, came back two weeks ago from his sprained right MCL, and Holiday played in the last three regular-season games after missing nearly three months with a stress reaction in his right leg.
Neither Anderson nor Holiday was playing at 100 percent after coming back from those injuries, but this extra gap between the regular season and the playoffs should help those tender limbs out a bit. Same goes for Anthony Davis (30.8 PER), who, by the way, is one of the Top 5 players in the NBA. Davis missed 14 games this year with various ailments; he seems to be doing all right at the moment, judging by the 31 points and 13 rebounds he dropped on the San Antonio Spurs in Wednesday’s season finale.
Top of the World
On the other side of the coin, we’ve probably seen the Warriors at something close to their best all season long. Of their regular starting five, only Andrew Bogut (15.8 PER) missed significant time this year, and even he managed to start 65 games. Naturally, Golden State will crank up the intensity for the playoffs, and the crowd at the Oracle is one of the most vocal in the league. But there isn’t much room for the Dubs to improve on that plus-10.1 margin.
This is why we’re willing to look like fools with our NBA picks for this game. It wouldn’t surprise us if the Warriors came out on fire and drained just about every 3-pointer they shot. But that might be the only way they’ll beat New Orleans by more than 12 points on Saturday. Even with all their injuries, the Pelicans were fourth in the league in offensive rebounds (27.1 percent) and seventh in turnovers (12.5 percent), both better than Golden State. We’ll buy that for a dollar.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Pelicans +12 at BetOnline