Thunder vs. Warriors Pick NBA – Dec 18th

The NBA’s marquee matchup certainly didn’t disappoint last night, with the Spurs and Grizzlies hooking up for a triple-overtime thriller in what was probably the best NBA game so far this season. It had drama; Marc Gasol hit a step-through three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime (the second overtime-forcing three pointer for the Grizzlies this week), Courtney Lee hit a three-pointer in transition to give the Grizz a two point lead with 2.3 seconds remaining in the first overtime only to have his heroics negated by an impossible straight-on bank shot by Tim Duncan at the buzzer to force a third overtime.

The Grizzlies finally prevailed in triple overtime to earn a splendid back-to-back over Golden State and San Antonio, as impressive as any 48-hour span an NBA team has turned in all season. The dramatic win also gave us our fourth straight NBA winner and we will look to take that momentum into tonight’s limited Thursday slate of action.

Somewhat under the radar given the magnitude and splendor of the Grizz/Spurs tilt was Atlanta absolutely boatracing the Cavaliers IN Cleveland without Jeff Teague. Perhaps it is time to add Atlanta top the list that includes Washington and Toronto for “teams other than Chicago and Cleveland that could legitimately win the Eastern Conference.”

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Today’s Free Pick:

Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors -2.5

The Western Conference doesn’t take a breath. For the third night in a row it is offering up a “game of the season.” The week started with Memphis edging Golden State in The Grindhouse to snap the Warriors’ 16-game winning streak. Last night the Grizz followed it up with a triple-overtime win in San Antonio. Tonight, the Warriors look to start a new winning streak and retain the top spot in the West by derailing the team with the current longest winning streak in the NBA. Oh, and by the way, everyone’s healthy so it’s the Splash Brothers versus that “other” best offensive duo on the planet, Durant and Westbrook.

It’s going to be incredible tonight, and thankfully the game is on ESPN for those of you without League Pass. Oklahoma City has won seven straight games and has been playing great defense. They are holding opponents to 93.1 ppg on 40.4% shooting over their seven-game run. Westbrook has looked like an MVP candidate, averaging 27.3 ppg and shooting over 50%. Put those two stats together and you have a nice foundation for wining. And of course, Kevin Durant looks better with each game he rounds into sharper form.

Golden State has been great at home, and they are also doing it with defense. Yes, like everyone else, they will have their hands full with Westbrook, but their perimeter depth of solid defenders bodes well with holding Durant in check. He will still score but Iguodala/Barnes and crew should keep him from running wild.

The Warriors are without Bogut and Lee, but still have plenty of depth thanks to the emergence of Speights and Draymond Green. All good things must come to an end, and this season, the end to glorious winning streaks is usually met on the road against an elite team. The Warriors certainly fit the bill. Don’t let one road loss at Memphis scare you away from the best team in the NBA at home laying a slim two points.

Free Pick: Golden State Warriors -2.5

Chris Scheeren / Author