Things aren't going well in the Bay Area for the Golden State Warriors and the bettors who back them on a nightly basis. The Dubs are 3-7 against the spread over their last 10 games and 2-3 straight up in their last five, heading into the ABC showcase game against the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night.
A midseason swoon and questioned motivation is predictable from a team that’s played 18 NBA Finals games over the last three postseasons. Every defending champion finds it difficult to get fired up about a game in February but maybe no team more than the Warriors, who topped the all-time, single-season wins record the same year they lost in the Finals.
Even last year, coming off the shame of blowing the 3-1 lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers the previous June, Golden State lost five of seven regular season games at the beginning of March and covered the spread in just one of 11 games around the same time. In the 73-win season, the Warriors went 3-7-1 ATS for an 11-game stretch in early February and they went 5-12 ATS around the same time during their first championship season.
Situational bettors shorting the Warriors against the spread should be wary of carrying the same strategy into the futures market. Westgate Las Vegas Superbook oddsmaker Randy Blum told Covers on trade deadline day there would be little movement on their odds to win the NBA championship because, “the Warriors are still in a different class.”
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The Warriors are 1-4 straight up and against the spread in games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, and the one win was against a Houston side missing James Harden. But the faith sportsbooks have in the Warriors is unwavering despite the perceived vulnerability against two of the elite teams in the Western Conference.
The Superbook opened with the Warriors at -160 to win the 2018 title back in May and now list them at -250. Here’s what it looks like online:
Betting against the Warriors on the spread during the regular season and pouncing on them if they get anywhere near plus money on the futures board is the best way to handle the defending champions moving forward.
During their three-year reign atop the Western Conference, the reputation of this team’s greatness has been built just as much on the defensive side of the ball as it has the offensive. Golden State has finished no worse than fourth in defensive rating in any of the last three seasons but ranks 21st in the stat category over its last 15 games. The recent decline in defense isn’t a talent problem – it’s an effort one. And that should be solved once the stakes are raised in the playoffs.
“I think our guys will tell you that was a pathetic effort out there,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters following his team’s 30-point outright loss to the Utah Jazz as a 7.5-point road fave. “That was disgusting basketball. We played with no sense of urgency, no sense of purpose.”
Golden State is sending four players to the NBA All-Star Game and possesses two of the Top 5 players in the league in Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. The separation in quality between the Warriors and their opponents will appear again in the postseason. Don’t forget: Golden State went 16-1 straight up and 11-6 against the spread in the playoffs last spring.
Kerr might not have much faith in the effort his players are putting forth right now, but the sportsbooks still list the Warriors as 11-point home favorites against the Spurs on Saturday night.