It's the NBA's best team from last season in reigning league champion Golden State against the worst from 2014-15 in Minnesota on Thursday The host Wolves are +8 on NBA odds with a total of 210.
Warriors Just Unbelievable
Is the record of 72 regular-season wins by Michael Jordan's epic 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team in jeopardy? It's way too early to talk about that and it's doubtful, but the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors look poised to approach that mark.
I thought the Warriors would be in for a fight on Wednesday night at Memphis as the Grizzlies were embarrassed 119-69 in the team's first meeting this season. That was the worst loss in franchise history, so you know the Grizzlies players were eager to stick it to the Warriors in the rematch. Except the Warriors won pretty easily again 100-84 to match the franchise's best start to a season at 9-0. Only two of those wins have been by single digits.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 28 points and had 14 over the final three-plus minutes of the third quarter to increase Golden State's one-point lead to double digits. Harrison Barnes added 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting and was a game-best plus-24. The Warriors held the Grizzlies to 34.3 percent shooting.
Will the Warriors be underdogs in a game all season? Maybe at Cleveland and San Antonio. Because Thursday's game is the second of a back-to-back, it's possible that Golden State sits center Andrew Bogut vs. Minnesota. The Warriors are 6-3 against the spread on NBA odds this season and 3-6 'over/under.'
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Wolves Are Much Improved
Minnesota (4-3) is already 25 percent to its win total of last season. The Wolves, in fact, won in Chicago on Saturday and then in Atlanta on Monday in a very impressive two-game road trip. But this is very young team and it's still going a lot of ups-and-downs. And it was down on Tuesday back home in the second of a back-to-back as the Wolves lost 104-95 to Charlotte. Zach LaVine had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Minnesota. No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns continued his strong start to his rookie season with a third straight double-double, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
In many ways, you could see that defeat coming. The team hasn't had center Nikola Pekovic yet this season off tendon surgery and Minnesota was down three more starters vs. Charlotte in point guard Ricky Rubio, shooting guard Andrew Wiggins and power forward and elder statesman Kevin Garnett. Rubio had a sore left knee and is questionable for Thursday. He's averaging 13.0 points and 9.0 assists this season. LaVine would start again if Rubio sits. Wiggins has a sore right knee but is probable to play here. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year has taken a second-year jump in averaging 19.8 points per game and has scored at least 31 in two straight. If for some reason Wiggins sits again, Kevin Martin would get another start. Garnett starts in name only as he doesn't play many minutes and won't play in both halves of a back-to-back. He should be in there Thursday.
The Timberwolves are 0-3 at home this season and have dropped 11 straight at Target Center dating to a 121-113 win over Portland on March 7. It's the second-longest home losing skid in franchise history. Minnesota is 4-3 against the spread on NBA picks this season and 3-4 'over/under.'
Golden State not surprisingly swept all four games. In the first matchup, Curry and Klay Thompson scored 21 points apiece as the Warriors won their 13th straight game at the time, 102-86. Wiggins led Minnesota with 21 points. In the second meeting, Curry had 25 and Thompson 21 as the Warriors led by as many as 27 in a 110-97 home win. The closest game of the four was the third meeting, at Target Center, as the Warriors nearly blew a 14-point lead but held on for a 94-91 victory. Curry had 25. And in the finale near the end of the regular season, the Warriors got 34 points from Curry and won 110-101. LaVine led the Wolves with a career-high 37 points. The Warriors have won five in a row in the series overall and seven in a row at Minnesota.
NBA Free Picks: If Wiggins and Rubio play, take the points at BetOnline. Golden State will be tired and might be flat off facing the physical Grizzlies. Go 'Under' the total. The Warriors are 1-8 ATS in their past nine vs. teams with a losing home record. Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its past five at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The 'Under' is 4-0 in the past four meetings.