The NBA’s top title favorite this season is the 9-3 Golden State Warriors. Tonight they will face the upstart 6-5 Philadelphia 76ers, who should be a legitimate title contender very soon (8:30 p.m. ET Saturday).
Golden State has made its 9-3 start look very nonchalant. The team basically slept-walk its way through its first seven games, eking out several tight wins in which they trailed for much of the contests. Since then, the Warriors have been their dominant selves, winning five straight games by at least 17 points.
Philadelphia has been up and down in the early season, but have performed admirably against expectations. The squad’s young core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Robert Covington has been solid, though more contributions from its role players would be welcome.
Is the Warriors’ winning streak in jeopardy? We’ll see what factors will affect this game’s outcome before taking a stab at some advice on the betting lines with our preview’s picks and predictions.
How Will Ben Simmons Fare Against Banged Up Kevin Durant?
The top matchup to watch in this game is Simmons vs. Durant. The two 6’11” stars should guard each other, though the rookie Simmons plays more of a point guard game on offense and the veteran Durant is a small forward for the Warriors. They are both extremely quick and skilled for their size and get after it on defense.
Durant suffered a thigh injury against the Miami Heat and missed Wednesday’s win against the Minnesota Timberwolves because of it. If he shows ill effects from the malady and Simmons makes a point of going at him, the Sixers will have a chance here.
However, the injury is minor, and Durant is still a much steadier and more skilled player than his younger counterpart.
Is the Warriors’ Defense Truly Over Its Early-Season Complacence?
Personnel-wise, Golden State is stacked on defense. Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston is an almost unfair combination of players to have on that end of the floor.
They majorly underachieved to start the season, ranking near the bottom of the league in defensive rating after eight games. In their past four contests, however, Golden State has the best defensive rating in the league by nearly seven points per 100 possessions.
The difference between the Warriors and the second-place team (coincidentally, the 76ers) is bigger than the difference between the 76ers and the 16th-place Memphis Grizzlies in that span. Golden State is locking teams up and throwing away the key.
It’s still tough to trust the Dubs completely, because they know how much room for error they have during the regular season. We never know whether they’ll decide to turn on their “dominant defense” switch.
Can Joel Embiid Get Draymond Green and Warriors Big Men in Foul Trouble?
Embiid and Green are both so important to their teams. Defense is the better end of the floor for both guys, especially Green, but Embiid is more of an offensive threat.
In particular, the massive 7-footer is expert at drawing fouls. Whether he’s fighting for position to receive a pass, trying to score inside or going for rebound, opponents often have no choice but to hack his large frame to prevent Embiid from getting what he wants.
Green might be the NBA’s best defender, but he will get in foul trouble now and then as he deals with bigger post players. In the times Embiid is matched up against the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, he needs to get physical.
Our Preview’s 76ers vs. Warriors Picks & Betting Predictions
Every team gets up to play the Warriors and Golden State may be due for a lazier effort after four consecutive dominant wins. If Philadelphia isn’t able to keep the margin close for most of the contest, even just a late surge in garbage time could help the Sixers cover the spread.
- The posted line for this game is Warriors -14 with the top sportsbooks for USA residents. The Sixers are a decent team and should keep the final margin under that number. The betting prediction of this preview is to bet on the 76ers +14pts @ -110 with Bovada, Bookmaker or Betonline.
- Oddsmakers seem to be banking on the Warriors’ efficient offense and the 76ers’ fast pace making for a very high-scoring game. The Sixers are averaging 214.9 in their games, and the Warriors average 226.9. The estimated total is 230. This game should be high-scoring, but maybe not quite that high-scoring. Our pick is to bet on this contest going under 230pts @ -110 with any of Bovada, 5Dimes, Bookmaker, MyBookie or BetOnline.