Well, I was close. I wrote that the Warriors would win by 25, rest their starters in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook would have a triple-double but be wildly inefficient in the process and that the Warriors would clearly and visibly have Kevin Durant’s back in what was sure to be an emotional game.
I missed. The Warriors won by 26, and rested their starters in the fourth quarter after a 37-11 second quarter basically ended the game. Westbrook was four boards short of a triple-double, but DID shoot under 30% with six turnovers, and the Warriors fed Kevin Durant like he was their college son home for a long weekend. KD dropped a cool, efficient 39 points in 31 minutes.
It was an EASY winner for us to push the mark to 80% ATS on the season. I don’t expect that 80% is sustainable, that would be Biff’s Almanac territory – but I am definitely feeling like we have a good grasp on the early season and in store for a monster 2016-2017, as even the two losses were very narrow and handicapped pretty accurately.
Let’s see if we can keep it rolling on a crowded Friday slate of action.
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Today’s Free Pick:
The highlight of the schedule tonight is clearly the Spurs visiting the Jazz, trying to avenge their only loss of the season after Utah went into San Antonio and handled them with relative ease. Vegas thinks it was anomaly, as the Spurs are four-point favorites on the road. I’m staying off picking that game as it is easy to envision either result, but I will be tuning in. For my pick, I’m heading to a less glamorous game, but I line I much prefer.
Charlotte Hornets -6.5 at Brooklyn Nets (Total: 205)
More than a few people had the Nets slated to be the worst team in the NBA heading into the season, but through five games they are a respectable 2-3 straight up and an impressive 4-1 ATS. They’ve been in every game except the Chicago game on no rest and have looked like a competent NBA team behind Brook Lopez’s 20ppg/6rpg. They have been guided by the steady hand of Jeremy Lin, now a serviceable veteran of the NBA, a half-decade removed from Lin-Sanity, he has settled into being a good, solid NBA point guard.
Unfortunately for the Nets, Lin is out indefinitely with a torn hamstring and backup Greivis Vasquez is listed as doubtful tonight as well. That leaves a real point guard issue for the Nets and a very thin backcourt. Sean Kilpatrick has been awesome this year off the bench, averaging 16.6 ppg in just 25 minutes, but he is more of a scorer than a point guard, as evidenced by his scant 1.6 assists (less than his 1.8 tunrovers – a pretty scary ratio if you are even CONSIDERING handing over lead guard responsibilities tonight). Ditto for rookie Isaiah Whitehead who will be pressed into heavy action tonight that he may not quite be ready for. Randy Foye has been upgraded to “probable” but he has missed the last five games with, yup, a hamstring injury. It’s thin to say the least right now in Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, Charlotte is healthy. As in ‘more healthy than they have been in years.’ Kemba Walker has been GREAT this season. He gets lost in the discussion of top point guards, fairly in some respects, overshadowed by Lillard, Kyrie and Isaiah Thomas who have crept into the discussion with the normal mainstays of the position (Paul, Westbrook, Curry). But if he can continue his 23.0/5.5 statline, he should find himself in the 2017 All Star game. Bu the biggest gain for the Hornets this season isn’t a draft pick or a free agent acquisition; it is that they FINALLY have a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrest. MKG has been very good this season and is an incredible defender. He isn’t scoring a ton, but that really wasn’t ever supposed to be his role. If he can continue being a near 10/10 double-double every night who blocks shots, gets steals and guards the other team’s best scorer, the Hornets are a formidable challenger for the top half of the Eastern Conference. Nicolas Batum is healthy and can provide a second big-time scoring option, and they are getting solid contributions from their deep frontcourt of Kaminski, Zeller, Hawes and Marvin Williams.
Charlotte is 3-0 on the road straight up and they get a really nice break tonight with Brooklyn being SO THIN in the backcourt and in their first night of desperately trying to figure out who will play point without Lin and assuming Vasquez can’t return.
At first glance, Brooklyn looks like a good value given how they have started the season, but expect depth to be a major issue and for the Hornets to get a comfortable win on the road.