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NBA Weekend Betting: Warriors vs. Raptors Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 2/28/2014 5:16:52 PM

The NBA moves into March with an interesting Sunday slate that includes a game between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors. Rest might not be a factor, but body clock settings might be.

Golden State Warriors @ Toronto Raptors

The Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors haven’t played a 4:05 p.m. Eastern time game in many months, if at all, this season. Yet, that’s when they’ll play this late-afternoon contest. It’s going to be an adjustment for these players, in the midst of a long season but only two weeks after the All-Star break, to take the court at an odd hour. If anything, this will probably favor the home team just on a general level, but it could also affect a Golden State team that is in the midst of its first extended road swing after the All-Star break. The Warriors have been playing well, but this slight twist in their schedule could rob them of needed rhythm. Golden State’s defense is what the Warriors will need to win in the playoffs but winning this game will probably come down to the Warriors’ shooting ability, which is dependent on finding and sustaining a good game flow. Toronto has become a decent team – six games over .500 – because coach Dwane Casey’s team has been able to limit opponents to 96.5 points per game. The Raptors’ stingy defense has been the catapult for a team that has moved up to third place in the muddled Eastern Conference. It makes complete sense that, given the pervasive mediocrity that’s found in the East, a team has occupied the third spot behind Indiana and Miami simply by avoiding and minimizing mistakes, not by maximizing its own offensive output. Toronto has moved up the ladder in the East by making other teams look bad. It’s possible that the Raptors could use their defense to establish control against the Warriors.

Yet, it has to be said that Golden State – which is 12 games over .500 – exists on a different plane compared to the non-Indiana, non-Miami teams in the East. The Warriors are trying to nurse injury-prone big man Andrew Bogut through the season, and they haven’t gotten the production out of wing Harrison Barnes that they were hoping for before the season began. However, for all their weaknesses, they are still holding up in the Western Conference, which has several more quality teams than the East does. Moreover, Golden State had been eighth at the All-Star break. The Warriors have moved up to sixth place and are four games out of third. This team has a chance to make a run and get home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Warriors tasted how good it feels to win a playoff series last year, but they also absorbed the bitterness of defeat. Both of those tastes should make Golden State more eager to play its best basketball late in the season. This urgency should not be undervalued when this game tips off.

Prediction

The Warriors show signs of rounding into form and becoming the team they hoped to be before the season started. Toronto is good, but Golden State is noticeably better and should be able to win on the road.

Pick: Golden State

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