Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 7:00 PM
The Golden State Warriors are so good that they managed to strengthen their position in the NBA Championship race while only covering 25% of the time at the end of regulation vs. the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round.
Golden State played below expectations…yet now seems like a bigger championship threat than ever!
*Hey, a sweep is a sweep!
*Cleveland lost Kevin Love, which knocks the Cavs “below” championship level
*Top seed in the East Atlanta is playing nowhere near championship level so far
*Most dangerous threat in the West San Antonio is below last year’s form
Golden State is healthy…fresh…versatile…and was already the best team in the brackets before other teams started getting bad news.
Oh, second round opponent Memphis saw guard Mike Conley suffer a serious injury in the first round. How many breaks can Golden State get?
For each of the four second round series, we’re going to re-run JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats from the regular season to set the stage. It’s much better to use an 82-game sample size than one from just a week of action. That will tell us what we need to know in a big-picture sense for each matchup.
Remember, these are from the regular season…
Memphis: 103.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #13 in the NBA)
Golden State: 109.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)
The Memphis offense is better than many in the media realize. They play some low scoring games because of a slow pace. Once you adjust for that…the Grizzlies are league average on offense. Golden State is particularly potent because they’re efficient and fast! That makes it very hard for opponents to keep up. Big edge on the offensive side of the floor…though it’s probably not as big as the mainstream guys are telling you. Too many on ESPN and elsewhere will call this “the offense of Golden State vs. the defense of Memphis.” Let’s look at the defenses…
Memphis: 99.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #4 in the NBA)
Golden State: 98.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)
Golden State has the better defense once you adjust for pace! Both are great in this area. The margin for error is such that this category is probably a wash. The two defenses will cancel out…then Golden State will use its offensive advantage, home court, and a rest/preparation advantage to move onto the next round. This series isn’t the offense of GS vs. the defense of Memphis. It’s the elite offense and defense of Golden State vs. relatively one-dimensional Memphis.
Golden State: #1
Well, the only way that scenario DOESN’T play out is if Memphis is able to slow the series down into a wrestling match. New Orleans was able to do that to enough of a degree to cover some 48-minute pointspreads. They couldn’t win a game straight up though. It would be a surprise to many if Memphis made it to two victories unless a key Warriors star gets hurt. Golden State’s the best team in the NBA…and they have home court advantage.
Against the Spread
Golden State: 47-34-1
It took forever for the market to catch up to Golden State’s elite level of play this season. You see that all the time in the sports world. Teams destined for championships beat expectations for a long time while nobody believes they’re really that good! The line does look like it’s caught up though. Golden State has to play perfectly to cover spreads lately. And, that’s the case again in Sunday’s series opener…
Sunday’s Game One Line: Golden State by 9.5, total of 198
Wow…this one might be Golden State -10 by the time you read this or on game day. The West was supposed to be super-competitive! The loss of Conley is factored into that line…as is the fact that Golden State’s been resting up for several days while Memphis just finished the Portland series Wednesday. Hey…Memphis is a very solid team. But, they’ll still be underdogs every time they take the floor unless some surprises develop. That early line suggests Golden State will be around -4 on the road.
JIM HURLEY is looking forward to this series because the dynamics of “pace” will loom very large in determining who covers the spreads. If Memphis can slow things down…then they’ll be a moneymaker even if they don’t score any straight up victories. If Golden State can push Memphis out of its comfort zone…then it could be a short, uncompetitive series showcasing the Warriors at their very best.
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Second round series previews will continue through the week as NBA drama is about to get kicked up several notches. We’re closer to naming the 2015 champ. When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!
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