When discretion is the better part of baller

March 7, 2019 11:27 PM

When discretion is the better part of baller.

Two-time defending NBA champion Golden State knows it has an extra gear it can dust off come playoff time. That’s why it’s been getting such horrible results against market point spreads in recent action. The Warriors are pacing themselves for games that matter.

Will they prioritize Friday night’s marquee matchup at home against Denver (ESPN, 10:35 p.m.)? Those two are now neck-and-neck in the battle for top seed in the Western Conference brackets. If both show up, bettors would get a great read on playoff readiness. 

You may have stayed up late Tuesday to watch a game the Warriors didn’t show up for. Boston ( 6.5) annihilated them 128-95. That was almost a 40-point failure. It goes on the list of recent big Golden State misses.

Not-so-Golden State:

GS (-6.5) lost to Boston 128-95 (39.5-point miss)

GS (-4.5) lost at Orlando 103-96 (11.5-point miss)

GS (-9.5) lost at Miami 126-125 (10.5-point miss)

GS (-12) lost to Houston 118-112 (18-point miss)

GS (-12.5) only beat Sacramento 125-123 (10.5-point miss)

GS (-2) lost at Portland 129-107 (24-point miss)

GS (-13.5) only beat Miami 120-118 (11.5-point miss)

Those are lowlights from an even longer stretch. Bettors fading the overpriced Warriors have cashed ticket after ticket. Steph Curry and company are 1-10 ATS their last 11 games, 2-12 ATS their last 14. 

It would be extreme to suggest that the NBA regular season is one long exhibition slate until the playoffs begin. Results do determine who qualifies where in the postseason. But, the season’s sheer length allows teams to pick spots or stretches they can virtually discard.

Handicappers and bettors must develop a sense of how coaches and players prioritize during the regular season. If you can attain that knack, betting smart becomes much easier. But, if your first inclination is to look for favorites you think are going to crush opponents, you’re going to be constantly frustrated because those teams could care less about winning your bet for you…particularly when pacing themselves until a championship is on the line.  

At the very least, watching Friday’s late telecast could give bettors a sense of how Denver is getting things done this season. Many in the markets and media left the Nuggets off their radar because Denver didn’t seem like a truly serious threat in the West. It’s easier to be a playoff threat when your home games are played a mile high, particularly if you earn the top seed in your conference! (File this away for future use: Denver is 27-6 straight up at home this season, 22-11 against the spread.)

Will the Warriors show up with seeding at stake? Answer that question correctly, and the game picks itself. Is Denver ready to matter in the West? If it can’t get a result Friday against a team that’s just posted a slew of double-digit non-covers, probably not.

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