Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers
10:30 ET Thursday 4/18
Both the 76ers and Warriors take to the road in their respective series tied 1-1, but there is unequal confidence and trust when it comes to the anticipated results for these teams as road favorites in Game 3. The Warriors blew out the Clippers in Game 1 as 13.5 point favorites, winning easily 121-104 behind 38 points and 8-12 shooting from beyond the arc for Steph Curry. However, GSW fell asleep at the wheel with a 31 point lead and allowed Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari and Landry Shamet to shoot the Clips past them for a 135-131 win before a stunned crowd in Oakland. Curry picked up his 4th foul with 8:39 remaining in the 3rd quarter and the mood and momentum started to shift. By the end of the 3rd, the lead had shrunk to 14. The Clippers would go on to post the largest comeback in Playoffs history and provide the loudest wake up call for the somewhat slumbering 2x defending Champions in search of their fourth title in five seasons. GSW lost big man DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of the Playoffs and their Championship odds have dropped accordingly, however, I don’t think that impacts this series. Cousins only managed 4 minutes in Game 2 prior to injury, but in Game 1 was not a major factor, 21 minutes, 9 pts, 9 rebs and fouled out as a minus 17. The combination of Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut have accounted for 31 pts, 20 rebs, a plus 36 in a 55 minutes. In fact, GSW has been 3.8 points per 100 possessions worse with Cousins on the court as opposed to off of it. The Warriors are a seasoned veteran group and know what they need to do to eliminate the 8th seeded Clippers. They know they cannot afford to extend themselves playing extra games in the first round. Steve Kerr will use their second half snooze in Game 2 to his advantage prior to Game 3 and I expect a solid bounce back effort from the “Hamptons 5” lineup of Green, Iguodala, Durant, Curry and Thompson. However, their main four plus Looney has a staggering +18.7 net rating. I’m looking for a number in the range of -7 to -7.5 to lay with the Warriors here. I have a trust in the Warriors to bounce back on the road in Game 3 while my Sixers still have much to prove in order to earn my trust in Brooklyn.
Pick – WARRIORS (-7.5)