- Struggling Spurs are battling for playoff position
- Warriors have returned to Warriors form
- Expert analysis for Thursday’s marquee matchup, as well as straight up picks for all 5 NBA games on the slate
Two of the Western Conference’s elite clash in Oakland Thursday night (10:30pm ET, TNT) as the Golden State Warriors (49-14, 24-7 at home) welcome the San Antonio Spurs (37-27, 14-19 away).
After a series of sluggish performances heading into the All-Star Break, the Warriors appear rejuvenated, and have not let the conference-leading Rockets out of their sights for the best record in the West, and home court throughout the playoffs. They’ve scorched the league to the tune of five straight wins, putting up close to 120 a game. And the combination of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson look back to their old and tremendously gifted selves.
This is not the strongest iteration of the Warriors, particularly because their bench play isn’t keeping or extending leads like they did in the past. But when you can outscore any deficiencies, that’s never usually going to be an issue – especially in the regular season.
On the other side, the Spurs are still the Spurs, but losing Kawhi Leonard potentially for the rest of the year (he’s played just nine games this season) – has dropped them into a log jam in the next tier down from two Western front-runners.
No less than 8 teams are separated by just four games, starting from the 3-seed Minnesota Timberwolves down to the 10th ranked Utah Jazz. Any extended slump could slide a team right out of the playoff picture.
Could that team be the Spurs? They are just 3-7 in their last 10, and their future core of Dejounte Murray, Kyle Anderson, Bryn Forbes and Davis Bertans – while extremely promising – may be just a few years away from counted contributors to the Spurs machine.
Without Leonard, the young roster coupled with aging vets like Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili may not be enough to support all-star LaMarcus Aldridge.
Straight-Up Pick: Warriors
There is a real fatigue to being uber successful, as the Warriors have shown. The break has certainly done wonders for them. One stat that head coach Steve Kerr likes to focus on is turnovers. When his team is locked in, they really possess the ball well, allowing their overwhelming talent take over the game.
On their current streak, they are keeping it level at 15 turnovers a game, while still seeking out the best looks on offense as they averaged 31 assists per contest. That’s a ratio that can’t help but spell success.
San Antonio will need a big night from Aldridge, without saying, but their young guys will need to figure prominently into this one. It wouldn’t hurt to scorch from deep in this one either, as they rank just 22nd in three-point percentage, 21 slots away from the Dubs.
What will keep this one close, as always, will be San Antonio’s defensive chops. They are the only team in the league to keep their opponents’ scoring average under 100 (99.4). It won’t happen here, but it will be enough to keep the Spurs in it until Golden State pulls away in the end.
Thursday Straight-Up Picks
There are four more games happening on the Thursday slate, including a couple of tasty matchups in Miami and Minnesota. Here are your straight up picks:
- Brooklyn Nets vs Charlotte Bobcats: Bobcats
- Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat: Heat
- Boston Celtics vs Minnesota Timberwolves: Boston
- Phoenix Suns vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder
Be sure to check back to get all the betting lines for these games. Got your picks? Place a wager by visiting one of our trusted sportsbooks. And for more information on betting on NBA games, be sure to visit our Betting on NBA Basketball Guide.
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