The Golden State Warriors set an NBA record last night. In a highly anticipated meeting with fellow conference frontrunner Denver, the Warriors showed that they are capable of scoring at will when everything is clicking. Golden State scored a record 51 first-quarter points on the road against Denver en route to a 142-111 demolition of the Nuggets. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson let it rain from three with each player ending with 31 points, but now they are heading home to take on the New Orleans Pelicans on no rest.
New Orleans doesn’t have anyone listed on its injury report, and that’s great news heading into a tilt with the defending champions.
Meanwhile, the Warriors still don’t have DeMarcus Cousins, though he is expected back sometime within the week, and Damian Jones will be out until near the end of the regular season. Draymond Green is probable to play, but Steve Kerr may decide to sit some regular starters considering the short turnaround time following a road game in Denver.
Normally, Golden State would be favored by double-digits in a game like this, but it seems like the oddsmakers believe Kerr will sit starters too. The Warriors are only favored by six points in this one, while the over/under is 240 points.
What’s at Stake?
The Pelicans’ hopes of making it back to the playoffs were fading fast, but they have looked better over the last couple weeks. They have won four of their last five, including two road games, and that has them up to 21-23 in conference play. Anthony Davis has been a monster during this stretch with 34 PPG and 13 RPG over New Orleans’ last five games.
The Warriors proved a point with their rout of Denver on Tuesday night. Just when people are starting to wonder whether or not Golden State still has it, they go out and trounce a team that is supposed to give them trouble. They are now a half-game ahead of Denver in the standings and 3.5 games up on the rest of the field in the Western Conference. Golden State doesn’t really care about how many wins they pick up in the regular season, but they do want the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference by the time the playoffs start.
New Orleans is halfway through a five-game road swing. The Pelicans played the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday night, and they had a day off prior to tonight’s game. They will travel to Portland on Friday night, so they are fortunate to continue to avoid the dreaded back-to-back.
As for the Warriors, this isn’t just a back-to-back, but the third game in four nights. Two of those games came on the road in different time zones, so fatigue should be a real factor. They are on a five-game winning streak heading into tonight’s tilt though.
Three players are responsible for the vast majority of Golden State’s points. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson are combining to average nearly 80 points per game between the three of them, and that makes them the most devastating trio in the league. Their inside-outside game makes them nearly impossible to stop as someone will constantly be able to get off their shot, and the Warriors are averaging a ludicrous 118 PPG.
The Pelicans have a solid trio of their own, but they have largely gone under the radar. Everyone knows that Davis is the best traditional power forward in the game today, and he has been going off, but Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle are both averaging 20 PPG or more per game too. Nikola Mirotic is back in the lineup and getting involved too, so this one could be one of the highest scoring games of the season.
The over is a pretty good play considering the Warriors are likely to be fatigued and both these teams can score, but the better play is to take the Pelicans and the points. Regular season win totals don’t mean anything to Kerr and Golden State, and this feels likely to be a loss.