Saturday’s main slate features six games and gets underway at 7:00 p.m. ET with the final game tipping off at 8:30 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Saturday night.
Warriors -6 (-110)
A little over a month ago, this matchup looked like it could be a preview of the 2022 NBA Finals. The Warriors have weathered their rough patch (injuries) and again look like championship contenders. The Nets are weathering their rough patch (injuries) and they look old. James Harden is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday night, but Harden looks old. At times, he has looked like his former self by aggressively attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. However, when his offensive stats are not popping off of the page his perimeter defense — especially during regular season games — is seriously wanting. Golden State is not a great matchup for an aging backcourt. With Kevin Durant, the Nets ranked second in limiting their opponents’ 3-point shooting percentage (the Warriors are first), but without Durant, they have sunk to 20th.
The Warriors are still missing Draymond Green, but Klay Thompson played a season high 27 minutes on Thursday and scored 23 points along with five rebounds and four assists. His fellow splash brother, Stephen Curry, dropped 29 points on a 6-of-10 shooting night from the 3-point line and flirted with a triple-double at Minnesota (eight rebounds and six assists). The Warriors have won four in a row and two of those wins were against strong opponents. Their win over the Jazz was a push, but they beat the Mavericks by 38 points. As five-point favorites or larger, the Warriors are 17-9-1. Many of the times that they failed to cover this season, were games where the Warriors were rolling out a limited roster. While they’re not completely healthy, this team is comparable to the version earlier this season that won every night and was unstoppable at home.
Kyrie Irving over 24.5 points
It’s always fun when the same people that shun logical consistency complain about logical consistency when it is inconvenient for them. At least they’re consistent in that sense. To the surprise and disappoint of some, and the pleasure and delight of others, Kyrie Irving will be allowed to play on Saturday night. This is a major moral victory for Kyrie Irving. Regardless of your politics, for Kyrie, this is a win. San Francisco represents ground zero for government mandates, and Kyrie is going to be allowed to play. This cannot be understated. It is not just some silly NBA DFS narrative. He put his career on the line and won, and tonight he takes center stage and celebrates. He’ll likely be the only person celebrating in San Francisco, but being surrounded by his haters will only make his grin from ear to ear wider.
From the stats perspective, he doesn’t really need a narrative. In the last four games, Irving has scored 27, 30, 24 and 30 points. His usage rates have been 29.5% or higher in three of those contests and his offensive efficiency rating has increased every game from 119 to 134. With Kevin Durant out and James Harden nursing a hamstring injury, Irving should easily clear this number. With the narrative of all narratives taking main stage, Irving should soar over this prop and score more than 24.5 points.
Grizzlies -5.5 (-110)
Washington is getting a lot of respect with this line. What they have done to deserve it, no one knows. They've lost four in a row and have failed to cover in 10 of their last 11 games. On the four game slide, Washington ranks 26th in Net Rating (-8.6), and they’re 20th over the last 11 games (-1.6). Their game in Memphis is the first of a three-game road trip where they will be significant underdogs each night. This is not an optimal situation for a team that is quickly falling out of playoff contention.
In contrast, Memphis continues to be one of the rising teams in the NBA. They’ve won 15 of their last 18 games and covered in 14 of those contests. Memphis has covered in six of their last seven home games dating back to New Year’s Eve. In four of those covers, the Grizzlies were five-point favorites or larger. The Grizzlies have a top-10 offense and defense, thus they have a top-10 Net Rating. The good team at home not only beats the bad team, but they cover when it is a single digit spread.
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