The Eastern Conference has two Round 1 series’ to finish up but the West’s final four teams are set and the first game of the conference semis begins on Saturday night in Golden State.
The Warriors completed the gentleman’s sweep of the Spurs in Round 1 without Stephen Curry, while the Pelicans turned some heads and completed the real thing in four consecutive against the Blazers.
Golden State is a big favorite again and is trading as a -9 side on its home floor in Game 1.
I took Golden State at -125 to win the West about a week ago. It’s still available at that number and likely even better, but I am placing my bets at a shop in Africa, where the odds aren’t usually as good for the bettor.
So I’ve followed the Curry situation closely over the last few weeks. The Warriors have, predictably, taken a deliberate approach to make sure Curry comes back at 100 percent and even stronger than before. It’s a first-class organization in that way and I have full confidence in the process the staff is taking.
Curry practiced on Thursday and woke up feeling good enough on Friday to do it again. He’s listed as questionable and we’ll probably get word on his status after he wakes up this morning, gets evaluated and has a final meeting with the coaches and training staff. He spoke with reporters for about 15 minutes in a press conference that is publicly available at YouTube.
He looks good, sounds good and will certainly play in either Game 1 or Game 2, it would appear. The question is how Golden State plans to integrate him. If it wants to gradually incorporate him back into the rotation, I imagine he will play in Game 1 on a limited basis. If Steve Kerr wants to get him back and let him go for 30+ minutes right away, Game 2 is a more realistic comeback target.
Either way, I don’t see him having a huge impact in Game 1. He’ll either play limited minutes or not at all. The Pelicans come in hot, rested and knowing that they probably have to steal this game if they are to advance.
That’s why New Orleans is my angle in Game 1. It feels like a bit of a square play and I must admit, that it’s just the tiniest of hedges against my Golden State future, but I do like New Orleans with a lot of points in a game where the Warriors still won’t be at full strength.
When it comes to fading Golden State, the first half is usually the way to go because it often isn’t until the third quarter that the Warriors create separation. In a first half where both teams will have a ton of energy, but also some rust, I don’t see either team pulling away from the other.
Free Pick: New Orleans (1st Half) +5.5