NBA Thursday: Lakers and Warriors are attractive road covers
After building a 22-point lead the Wizards capitulated, losing to the Suns and ruining what would have been a 3-0 day. Instead, a nervous wait through overtime was needed for the Jazz -3.5 to come in, while the Clippers -10 was never in doubt.
It’s quiet on the NBA front tonight, but I like the look of both road teams covering to kickstart the next streak of profitable days.
Warriors (5-3) @ Spurs (4-3)
The Spurs are still without Kawhi Leonard and opened as +6.5 home dogs in this one. So far this season, home dogs are 15-24 against the spread.
On a three-game losing streak, it’s hard to side with the Spurs, but they are 2-0 both straight up and against the spread at home. LaMarcus Aldridge has been a bright spot, but San Antonio is desperate for Leonard to come back to give them a reliable No. 1 option. Aldridge is good, but he’s a No. 2 option at best.
After a 4-0 start, the Spurs have struggled on both sides of the ball throughout the current losing streak.
In their four wins, they scored 103 points per game while only allowing 93.25. In their three losses, the Spurs are only scoring 91.66 points per game while their opponents score 106.33. If they were just struggling in one area, I’d lean with them to cover tonight.
But not against the high-flying Warriors.
Defensively they haven’t been as dominant, but it hasn’t mattered while they average 121 points per game. With a 60.5 effective field goal percentage, the Warriors have scored 100-plus points in all eight games this season.
It hasn’t all been straight sailing, though.
Coach Steve Kerr called his team out for not caring after their 115-107 loss to the Pistons on Sunday. They responded by putting 141 on the Clippers 24 hours later.
Kerr after the game, "we didn't deserve to win that game just by showing up
in the last six minutes so the right thing happened" pic.twitter.com/QvzeQkzoNA
— KNBR (@KNBR) October 30, 2017
A lack of interest won’t be an issue tonight against a Spurs team considered to be a genuine contender to the Warriors – if there is such a thing.
Playing in San Antonio worries me a little, but the Warriors are 14-3 against the spread in their last 17 games on the road and 4-1 in their last five games at the AT&T Center. I’m picking them to win, and win comfortably.
Pick: Warriors -8
Lakers (3-4) @ Trail Blazers (4-4)
The Trail Blazers will be playing this one on tired legs after going to overtime in Utah last night.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum played 43 and 42 minutes, respectively, and both struggled to hit their shots. They combined to shoot 18-47 last night, and they face a surprisingly stingy Lakers defense tonight.
Luke Walton preached a defensive philosophy throughout the preseason, which appeared to have fallen on deaf ears until recently.
Only 7 games, but for right now, Lakers defense looking much improved. Like, better than anyone could have realistically expected.
— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) November 1, 2017
The young Lakers have kept their last four opponents to an average of 97.25 points per game. My go-to guy for any good Lakers analysis is Pete Zayas (@LakerFilmRoom), and he displays in this video exactly how they have become a decent defensive team:
Julius Randle has all of a sudden become a defensive stopper rather than stopping the ball on offense. The spells on the bench early in the season have given him the wakeup call he needed, and with Al-Farouq Aminu unlikely to play tonight, he could be in for a big performance.
Aminu left the arena in a walking boot. No official word but my sense from the locker room is that he could be out a while.
— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) November 2, 2017
Defensively, I like the matchup for the Lakers. Lillard is playing as a pick-and-roll ball handler for 46.9 percent of his possessions, while McCollum is a little bit less at 30.6 percent. Whether they are guarded by the competent Lakers perimeter defense or switch onto Randle, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram or Larry Nance Jr., they’re going to have a tough time of it.
The Trail Blazers are 7-1-1 against the spread in their last nine games with no rest days, but with Aminu’s injury and an improving Lakers defense, I think the purple and gold will cover as a road dog.
Pick: Lakers +6.5