Merry Christmas everybody. I missed the doubleheader on Wednesday because I was out West skiing pow and because of what we have on the holiday card today. The first of two Christmas plays comes in a rematch of the last two NBA Finals, the marquee matchup on the five-game slate. The defending champs have won four straight since losing on the road in Memphis. The Warriors have won eight in a row since they, too, perished in the Grindhouse.
They are the NBA’s latest rivalry but I wonder how far each team will go to win on December 25th. There is potential to grow from a competitive “measuring stick” game but, barring any major injury, both the Warriors and Cavs will top their conference without any problem and also must anticipate that the rubber match looms this summer.
I actually think Cleveland is the safer pick to play harder this afternoon. LeBron usually motivates his team a little extra for these sort of regular season games and the crowd will be ready to go after its first win of the NFL season yesterday (the 2008 Lions may resume banging their heads into the wall). The crazy part is that I still like Golden State for pretty much the same reason I gave the four against the Clippers two and a half weeks ago. If the Warriors find annihilation mode, nothing else matters. Even if they play loosely at the home of the defending champs, it will still be a ball game in the fourth quarter. The Dubs have been win some, lose some in their familiar position as double-digit favorites but the smaller the handicap the more I like Golden State because of the tendency to play to the competition. I won’t pass on the chance to take them as close to a pick as they may ever be, at least until the Finals.
Free Pick: Warriors -2