The red hot Golden State Warriors travel to Wisconsin to face the Milwaukee Bucks, who have just started to look like a playoff team again. The Bucks might still have one eye on the teams below them, while the Warriors have all but mathematically locked up the top seed in the Western conference.
Golden State brings an eight-game winning streak to Milwaukee and it’s hard to imagine a team playing with better rhythm. Steph Curry scored 38 points and Klay Thompson scored 28 as the Warriors routed the Grizzlies in Memphis, just three nights after they drubbed the Trail Blazers in Portland. A team that has been known as near-unbeatable at home is now also playing pretty well on the road.
Steve Kerr might be tempted to rest a few of his player between now and the postseason, but he hardly needs to. He’s able to hand out plenty of rest during games. Thompson and Curry barely played in the fourth quarter against Memphis, a game that Golden State led by 20 entering the final period.
It’s not just Curry and Thompson of course. Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green look settled on the front court as an energetic, if slightly under-sized, front court duo, and Andrew Bogut appears to be responding to his critics playing an aggressive inside game, even if he’s still not showing up much on the scoreboard.
A six-game losing streak did threaten to de-rail Milwaukee’s season altogether, but victories over the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers have steadied the ship returning the team back to a .500 record in the process. It now looks unlikely that the Bucks could drop back into the scramble for playoff places, which will be a relief for Jason Kidd and his team.
The return to form can be put down to the play of the team’s front court. Giannis Antetokuonmpo, Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia have all stepped up their play at both ends of the floor and it’s helped Milwaukee win more possessions and taking some of the pressure off of Michael Carter-Williams and Khris Middleton,who still haven’t quite found any flow playing alongside one another.
Betting Preview: Milwaukee (+5) vs. Golden State
Maybe Kerr gives a couple of players a night or “half-night” off, but it’s too hard not to pick the Warriors to emerge from this game with a big win. Middleton and Carter-Williams aren’t a bad backcourt tandem defensively, but their cohesion still isn’t there and it’s easy to see both Thompson and Curry shredding them here. Throw in the versatility of Green and Barnes, and you have the recipe for a ninth win in a row for the Warriors with the splash brothers still not getting overused.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-5) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 36-30