While the chalk has held in the Eastern Conference side of the NBA playoff bracket, the Western Conference has been a bit more unpredictable. The Rockets and Trail Blazers have already advanced to the second round, but the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors have not had such an easy time.
Most believed the Warriors would put the Clippers to the sword in Game 5 of their series at Oracle on Wednesday night but, once again, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell proved to be too much for Golden State to handle. The Clippers escaped with an impressive 129-121 victory, which means the two teams will head back south to play each other once again in Los Angeles in Game 6 tomorrow night.
The Warriors are still the heavy betting favorites here, as Vegas has installed Golden State as a 9 ½-point favorite to close out the Clips. The Warriors are also listed at -550 on the moneyline, while the Clippers are down at +425.
|2019 ATS Home||17-26-1||23-20-0|
|2019 ATS Away||20-23-0||25-18-1|
|2019 O/U Home||18-26-0||28-15-0|
|2019 O/U Away||23-20-0||19-24-1|
Kevin Durant was electrifying in Game 5, as he scored a playoff career-high 45 points in the losing effort. Durant was completely unstoppable once again, but his teammates failed to show up. Steph Curry scored the quietest 24 points you’ll ever see, while Klay Thompson and Draymond Green didn’t factor much into things at all.
Durant has been a one-man wrecking crew in the series, but the Warriors have racked up all of these wins over the last few seasons due to their ability to just overwhelm opponents. We have seen glimpses of that in the series, but the fact that the Dubs have dropped two out of their three home games at this point is somewhat shocking.
It’s weird to see the Warriors shoot a respectable 38.5% from 3-point range and lose while committing just 8 turnovers, but that’s what happened in Game 5. Offense hasn’t really been an issue for this team, but they have had an alarming number of defensive lapses so far.
The Warriors allowed the Clippers to shoot 54% from the field in Game 5, which is an insanely high percentage for a massive underdog in a potential close-out game on the road. If the Warriors are serious about winning a third straight title, they’re not going to be able to get away with lackluster defending for much longer.
Few expected the Clippers to make the playoffs after trading Tobias Harris at the deadline. Even fewer expected them to put up much of a fight going up against the Golden State juggernaut in round 1.
However, the Clippers have a habit of exceeding expectations, so it really shouldn’t be all that surprising that they haven’t just let the Warriors trample them in this series. The Clips are a prideful group with a roster full of capable veterans and a decent crop of young talent.
Williams was unstoppable down the stretch in Game 5, and he finished with a team-high 33 points alongside 10 assists in 34 minutes of work. Williams made a number of difficult shots in the game’s waning moments to essentially put it on ice for L.A.
Withstanding Golden State’s inevitable second-half surge is something road teams at Oracle don’t accomplish very often, but the Clippers have now done it in back-to-back games. When’s the last time that happened?
We saw the Warriors go down to Los Angeles with renewed focus in Games 3 and 4, following the disastrous blown lead in Game 2, and I think there’s a chance we’ll see that again tomorrow night.
These teams aren’t really comparable in terms of on-paper talent. Even with DeMarcus Cousins done for the year, Golden State still has four All-Stars on the roster. The Clippers don’t have a single player on the roster that has made an All-Star appearance.
That discrepancy hasn’t mattered up to this point, but I think Game 5 was yet another wake-up call for the reigning champions. The Rockets are already sitting at home and waiting for them in the next round, so the Warriors have to know that they can’t continue to let the Clips hang around and extend the series. Betting on a heavy favorite on the moneyline offers zero upside from a profit potential standpoint, but I like the spread here.
As much as I would like to see the Clippers force a Game 7, I have to believe the Dubs will take care of business in Game 6. They essentially steamrolled LAC in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center, and I’m expecting a similar result tomorrow.
The Clippers have been proving people wrong all year long, but I think their Cinderella run will finally come to an end in Game 6. Bet on Golden State to cover the 9 ½-point spread and advance to the conference semis tomorrow night.
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