Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets Pick
Golden State Warriors (29-14, 18-25 ATS) vs. Denver Nuggets (29-13, 23-19 ATS)
When: Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 – 9:00 pm ET
Where: Pepsi Center – Denver, CO
TV: Local TV Only
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GSW -1/DEN +1 (-105 @ 5Dimes)
Last Night in the NBA
Halfway through this Pelicans-Clippers game, we’re on pace for a 132-126 Pelicans victory, so I would say that my work here is done. Anthony Davis has barely broken a sweat on offense yet, but Jrue Holiday is working on a Gary Payton Memorial 5x5 game, and my bank account thanks him for it.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Donovan Mitchell dropped 28 points against the Pistons on an efficient-for-him 21 shots, the Boston Celtics continued to frustrate Bostonians and delight Philadelphians, and James Harden…I honestly don’t even want to get into it. This really is the “Biff Tannen as President” timeline, isn’t it? A rip in the space time continuum is the only possible explanation for Harden’s current scoring streak. Where’s my Grays Sports Almanac when I need it?
College Basketball Pick: Kentucky vs Georgia
Assuming we pick up another W in an hour or so, let’s go ahead and roll these winnings into Tuesday night. The defending champs are trekking into the Rocky Mountains to take on the Denver Nuggets and battling for the rights to the first seed in the West. The Warriors are currently favored by 1 point over the shockingly savvy Nuggets with the total set to a robust 228 points. Thank you, ma’am – may I have another?
With All-Star weekend fast approaching, it’s no surprise that these games are heating up. The NBA is going to try to the fill the void that the NFL is about to leave in the sports world, and for my money, I think they’ve done a damn good job. The defending champs’ next 10 games are against 1-seeded Denver, AD, Clippers, LeBron (maybe?), the Ewing Theory Wizards, Celtics, Pacers, Sixers, LeBron definitely and then the Spurs. Holy schedule-making, Batman! Tired of seeing the Golden State Warriors on your television? How does 11 national TV games in their next 13 games sound? Warriors are here, y’all – and they ain’t goin’ nowhere.
If they want to get off on the right foot, the Dubs are going to have to march into Colorado and take the W. The Nuggets sport the best home record in the NBA, and their stout defense has as much to do with that as the thin Denver air. Luckily for the Warriors, they still own the best offense in the league, and they have two MVPs running the show.
In a league as guard-driven as the NBA, having the greatest shooter in NBA history be able to drop 11 3-pointers at the drop of a dime is a great luxury to have. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is in the midst of a yet another all-time offensive season, and Denver doesn’t have the personnel to defend either one of them. Jamal Murray is a sub-par defender, and unless Gary Harris’ hamstring cooperates, it’s going to be another Steph Curry show on Tuesday night. For the Nuggets’ sake, they better hope the Splash Bros decide to became the Hash Bros before the game. I don’t think double vision will lend itself well to winning basketball in Mile High City.
Mining for the 1 Seed
Welcome to your feel-good team of the NBA season. The Clippers, Pacers and Nets all have solid cases to be heard, but Denver has managed to maintain a vice grip on the one seed amidst one of the deepest Western Conferences in league history. The Dad-Bod Revolution is upon us, and Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic are beacons of light in a dark, dark world. Jokic is the most unique athlete in all of sports right now. While I appreciate and cherish the utter dominance that Joel Embiid inflicts upon his opponents, a 6’11” doughy center who meanders around screens and throws no-look alley-oops in the lane? Sign me the eff up, please.
In order to be the best, you have to take out the best. I would think that the winners of 3 of the last 4 NBA Championships would qualify as “the best.” Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to extract from the statistics that would indicate that Denver is currently the superior team. They are a nice offensive unit and their new defensive scheme has paid off in spades, but most of their raw stats kind of say, “meh.”
However, there is one glaring weakness that has plagued the Warriors for years: their lack of a true center. While the Dubs own the league’s 10th best Defensive Rebounding percentage, the eye test doesn’t agree. With a 6’8” chubby pseudo-center, the Warriors have always been exposed when it comes to teams that crash the glass and reel in extra chance opportunities. How do you think Tristan Thompson is currently making $20 million per year? Denver has the highest offensive rebound rate in the league, and as Pascal Siakam likes to remind us on a nightly basis – effort is a skill. If the Nuggets can punish the Warriors small-ball mentality, Jokic might be able to show the Dubs exactly what he’s made of. Right now, Denver is in stuck in a limbo between “we think they’re good” and “prove it to us.” No time like the present.
While this isn’t exactly the Sophie’s Choice of NBA gambling, I am pretty torn! I was pretty high on Denver coming into the season, and there hasn’t been much reason to doubt the Warriors for a couple of years. While the Nuggets have nearly blown my pre-season expectations out of the water, it’s hard to look past the laissez-faire attitude that the Warriors have played with for the entirety of their 2018-19 campaign. Golden State doesn’t exactly strike me as a team that cares whether or not they are home or away in the playoffs; in fact, they won a Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals on the road just last year. If this game was on national television (like all of the other Warriors’ games), I would buy into the narrative of them wanting to put Denver in their place. But for now, I think GSW is okay with taking home silver. “If you ain’t first, you’re last” doesn’t really apply to you when you have Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. But Denver wants to be first – and that’s exactly where they’ll stay.
Final Score Prediction: Denver Nuggets 114 – Golden State Warriors 112
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