The Warriors quest for a third title in four years and a legitimate claim for "best team in the modern era" begins tonight. Can Chris Paul help the Rockets close the gap, or is there no touching the Dubs??
It doesn’t get much better than the reigning NBA Champs and strong contender for “best team in the Modern Era (post three-point shot)” opening up their season on National TV against one of their two or three formost contenders; a team that made a HUGE offseason move in an effort to close the gap on greatness. TNT will have the action at 10”30 PM EST – and it will be worth staying up late for if you are an East Coast hoops fan.
The Warriors open as a nearly double-digit favorite, despite the Rockets addition of Chris Paul and their easy Top Five NBA status. That is how imposing the Dubs are; both on the court and in Vegas. No line seems too wide, no obstacle seems sufficiently formidable.
So is tonight the opening salvo in an impending season of automatic dominance, or can the Rockets make a similarly striking statement – this season is going to be just that, a SEASON, and one without a predetermined result??
Today’s NBA Pick:
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors -9.5
The Warriors are the strong favorite. Get used to it. Barring injury and end of season “rest” they will likely once again be favored in every single home game in which they field an intentionally competitive squad (they were favored in 40 of 41 last year – and the only underdog was a complete roster “no-show”). They were a modest 26-23-1 ATS at home last season, but their Margin of Victory (and for most of the season on this column we will refer to it as “MOV”) was a whopping 16.2 ppg. They were STEAMROLLING people, but the lines were so massive, occasionally they failed to cover the whopping spread. Expect the same thing this year; wide spreads, but still more covers than misses.
Meanwhile, Houston was one of the best road ATS teams in the NBA last season, posting a third-best 28-18 ATS record (inclusive of postseason). They were an even more striking 13-5 ATS as a road underdog. However, keep in mind, Houston snuck up on people last year. They were seen as a middle-of-the-pack Western Conference playoff team, not a solid #2/#3 seed. They overachieved. This year, expectations are sky high. The only way to over-achieve would be to STUN the Warriors and win the NBA title. I expect them to come back to Earth a bit this season.
Chris Paul is a HUGE addition. He makes the Rockets obviously better. But are the better than Golden State? Do they have a third option? Do they have the bench depth? Does Paul amplify Harden’s efforts or will the reduced workload for Harden somewhat offset the Paul-driven gains?
As great as Chris Paul is, he rarely stays healthy all season, and even if he does, I think the Rockets are still WAY behind Golden State. Tonight will be a good reminder of just how good the Warriors are on BOTH sides of the ball. Houston caught ‘em slipping once last year, winning in Double OT by making 14 three-pointers. I think it’ll take a similar effort tonight, and that’s a pretty long shot to bet upon.
Today’s NBA Pick: GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS -9.5