The Spurs notched an absolutely enormous win last night, knocking off the Rockets 104-103. The storyline will revolve mainly around the insanely insistent determination by Coach Pop to intentionally foul Josh Smith, who finished just 12-26 from the line. It is terrible to watch, but it undeniably worked, as James Harden never got into a rhythm, scoring just 16 points.
But the most important play of the game was Tim Duncan turning away James Harden at the rim (and Father Time) with a huge block to preserve the victory. The win catapults the Spurs all the way up to third place in the West and they’d now HOST Houston in the opening round if the playoffs started today. That’s how razor-thin the margin between second and sixth is in the Western Conference, which makes the next six days jockeying for position so incredibly compelling.
We came up a point short of covering last night as the Pacers went into Detroit and won but not quite by enough. Let’s see if we can find an easier winner tonight on a big Saturday of NBA action.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors -20
Surely Golden State doesn’t have even an inkling of enough motivation tonight to consider covering one of the most absurd spreads of the NBA season, right? Yeah, they win this game easily tonight, even if their stars check out early (or all together) but to win by 21? When the top seed is long secured, there is no ‘message’ to be sent by winning, and with Steph Curry virtually locking up the MVP Award thanks to the Rockets sliding down the playoff ladder and to Pop putting Harden on ice?
That’s the best logic I can give you for this pick tonight. Metrics, numbers, trends – toss them out. I just don’t see Golden State caring nearly enough about embarrassing Minnesota to cover a margin usually reserved for when Kentucky plays a MAC opponent.
These two have played some reasonably close games, including a 3-point Warriors in earlier and NONE of their last ten games have been settled by more than 16 points and most have been around ten or less. Sure, Golden State has won nine of them, but not a single victory would have toppled tonight’s mountain of points. Minnesota has lost nine in a row and has only covered twice, so I understand the need to TRY to get some money to go on the Wolves, hence the largest line I can recall seeing this season, but Golden State has also only covered two of their last five as they are beginning to ease up ever-so-slightly with the playoffs now clearly in sight just a week away.
I’m far from predicting an upset, but I think Minny keeps it in the 12-16 point range tonight.