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NBA SO/UP Bets and Analysis: Warriors-Pelicans, Clippers-Suns

The top two teams in the NBA take the court Wednesday night against lesser Western Conference opponents.

The Warriors look to rebound against the lowly Pelicans after a 17-point loss Wednesday night. And in Phoenix, the Suns and Clippers meet for the second time this season.

Pat Benson of FanNation’s All Hawks joins me as the guest picker for Thursday. Let’s get into the games.

Season record: 64-59-1
Guest pickers: 44-74

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dishes off against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, in Phoenix.

Golden State Warriors (29-8) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (13-25)

Time: 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Warriors -2.5 (-110) | Pelicans +2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Warriors (-120) | Pelicans (+143)
Total: Under 214.5 (-110) | Over 214.5 (-110)
Injuries: Warriors F Andre Iguodala—Out; Warriors F Otto Porter Jr.—Out; Warriors C James Wiseman—Out

Golden State lost for the first time in 2022 Wednesday night after scoring consecutive wins to begin the New Year. It was an uncharacteristic loss for the Warriors, who scored just 82 points against the Mavericks on a night where Steph Curry shot 5-of-24. Thursday’s game against the Pelicans could reportedly be their final game this season without Klay Thompson, who hasn’t played since the 2019 Finals and is expected to return Sunday.

The Warriors won 125-86 when these teams met for the first time back in November. In recent weeks, Golden State’s offense has slid to No. 11 (110.5 PPG), though it still holds the honor of being the NBA’s stingiest defense (101.4 PPG).

The Pelicans’ schedule doesn’t ease up when they welcome the Warriors to New Orleans. They dropped three games in a row to the Bucks, Jazz and Suns—all by 10 or more points. Still playing without Zion Williamson, New Orleans is led by Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas in the scoring department. The Pelicans are getting scoring contributions from all over the roster with a different leading scorer in six games in a row.

New Orleans is in the basement of the Western Conference without its star and ranks in the bottom third of the league in offense (105.4 PPG) and defense (110.7 PPG). One facet of the game the Pelicans have the Warriors beat in is rebounding—they rank fourth in the league, grabbing 46.8 boards per game.

Kyle Wood’s bets

Spread pick: Warriors -2.5

It’s hard to imagine Golden State losing two games in a row for the first time this season, even after its lifeless performance in Dallas. The Warriors have been phenomenal Against the Spread (ATS) with a 23-13-2 record. New Orleans is among the league’s worst teams ATS (16-22). The previous meeting this season and the Pelicans’ recent performances against the league’s best teams don’t inspire much confidence in them, even on their home court.

Over/Under pick: Over 214.5

The Pelicans have scored 100 or more points in nine straight games, which isn’t much of an accomplishment in the modern NBA. However, when pitted against a team like the Warriors, who average better than 110 PPG, breaking triple digits is all New Orleans needs to do to go over this low total. Both teams’ games go under more than half the time, but I like them to buck that trend.

Prop: Josh Hart Over 7.5 Rebounds

Hart is second on the team in rebounds, snatching up 7.4 per game. He’s gone over this figure in his last four games and reached 10 or more rebounds in three of those games, all while playing big minutes. I also like Hart to go over 4.5 assists—he’s done so in seven of his last 10 games.

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Guest picker Pat Benson’s bets

As soon as you thought the Warriors dynasty died alongside Oracle Arena, the team reanimated like Michael Meyers on Halloween night. They are tied for the best record in the NBA and have won seven of their last 10 games.

Sure, Stephen Curry is still putting up 27 points per game, but this iteration of the Warriors is a different beast. Not only do they have the second-best net rating, but they have the best defensive rating in the league. General Manager Bob Meyers and head coach Steve Kerr have assembled the perfect supporting cast around Curry. Don’t forget Klay Thompson is about to make his long-awaited return next week.

Meanwhile, in the Big Easy, basketball ops couldn’t be worse. The Pelicans had an unproductive offseason, botched the Zion Williamson situation, and are speeding toward the draft lottery. Brandon Ingram has been thrust in the role of number one option, which is one of the few reasons for watching this team until Zion returns.

Spread pick: Warriors -2.5

Take the Warriors. They cover the spread nearly 63% of the time, third-best in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Pelicans are a disheartening 16-22 against the spread (24th in the NBA). Even worse, their bottom-six defense will be outmatched by the revamped Warriors.

Over/Under pick: Over 214.5

The Warriors don’t need much help to nail the over. They score 110.5 points per game. Meanwhile, the Pels are riding a three-game losing streak where they’ve given up an average of 125 points per game. This game is going over 214.5 points.

Prop: Brandon Ingram Under 22.5 Points

Ingram averages 22.2 points per game. He’s not exceeding his average against the best defense in the league. Take the under on him scoring 22.5 points.

devin booker

Los Angeles Clippers (19-19) vs. Phoenix Suns (29-8)

Time: 10 p.m. ET, TNT
Spread: Clippers +10.5 (-110) | Suns -10.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Clippers (+450) | Suns (-599)
Total: Under 220.5 (-110) | Over 220.5 (-110)
Injuries: Clippers F Paul George—Out; Clippers C Ivica Zubac—Out; Clippers F Nicolas Batum—Out; Clippers G Luke Kennard—Out; Suns C Deandre Ayton—Out; Suns F Jae Crowder—Out; Suns C JaVale McGee—Out; Suns G Landry Shamet—Out

In recent weeks, wins have been hard to come by for Los Angeles, which is 3-7 in its last 10. The Clippers lost last time against the Timberwolves on Monday night to fall to .500. That marked their fourth consecutive home loss. Their last win at the Arena actually came on Dec. 13 against the Devin Booker-less Suns. Paul George, who has missed the last six games while recovering from a torn ligament in his elbow, also did not play in that 111-95 L.A. victory.

Without George for a third of the season already and no Kawhi Leonard, coach Tyronn Lue has relied on Reggie Jackson, who leads the team in scoring, Eric Bledsoe, Luke Kennard and Terance Mann. The Clippers are the league’s No. 24 offense (105.5 PPG), though they compensate with the seventh-ranked scoring defense (105.7 PPG).

The team has stumbled over the last two weeks by Phoenix’s sky-high standards, going 3-3 in that stretch. However, two of those losses came to the Warriors and the surging Grizzlies, with the other occurring on the road in Boston. There’s little cause for concern for the Suns, who are tied for the best record in the NBA and have the league’s No. 3 offense (112.6 PPG) and No. 5 defense (104.9 PPG).

Having Chris Paul and Booker available seems to be all Phoenix needs to keep its elite offense humming. Even down centers Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee, Jalen Smith and Bismack Biyombo have stepped in to score around the rim and clean up the boards. The Suns’ secondary wings—Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder—are doing exactly what’s needed of them and what they did on the road to the Finals in 2020: hit threes and play defense.

Kyle Wood’s bets

Spread pick: Suns -10.5

Phoenix beat its last two opponents by 34 and 13 points on the road. Now the Suns return home, where they are 16-4 and won their last game by 18. Despite the large spread, I’m still taking Phoenix—they’re 20-17 ATS. The Clippers are 17-21 ATS and are coming off a blowout loss on their home court.

Over/Under pick: Over 220.5

I couldn’t pick the Suns to cover this large spread and not go over on this total. If Phoenix is winning by double digits, it’s likely putting up in the neighborhood of 115-120 points or more.

Prop: Chris Paul Over 10.5 Assists

Paul leads the league in dimes per game, and he’s been on another level in the last two games, totaling 31 dimes in that stretch. He’s gone over 10.5 assists in three of his last five games, though it had been a while since he went over that figure before this tear.

Guest picker Pat Benson’s bets

Despite not having Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers got off to a fast start. Paul George averaged career highs across the board and looked like a legitimate MVP candidate. However, in December, George tore the UCL in his right elbow and missed significant time. Since then, the cast of role players has let the team sink to the .500 mark with the fourth-worst offensive rating in the league.

The Suns haven’t missed a beat since sprinting to the NBA Finals last year. They have won seven of their last ten games and are tied with the red-hot Warriors in the standings and close in every key team statistical category.

At 36 years old, Chris Paul leads the NBA with 10.1 assists per game. The recipients of those dimes are often the Suns’ two leading scorers, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton (the combo accounts for 36% of the team’s offense).

Spread pick: Clippers +10.5

The Suns’ multi-pronged attack makes them the clear favorite in this matchup. Like most good teams, they are top-ten in covering the spread. Meanwhile, the Clippers have lost seven of their last ten games and are dangerously inconsistent. But with all that said, 11.5 points is too many points to give up against any NBA team. The Clippers lose, but not by double-digits.

Over/Under pick: Over 220.5

Both teams are top-four in defensive rating. However, both teams consistently hit the over. The Suns have gone over 55% of the time as home-favorites, while the Clippers have gone over 57.1% when road-dogs. Let’s go over 220.5.

Prop: Devin Booker Over 25.5 Points

Devin Booker has been on a mission this season. He’s averaging a career-high 23.9 points with a jaw-dropping 42% three-point percentage. Scoring 25.5 points is a big ask for most players, but not Booker and not tonight. ‘Book’ is about to go off.

DFS Value Plays

(Prices based on 7:30 p.m. main slate)

PG/SG Devonte’ Graham, Pelicans (FD: $6,300 | DK: $5,900)
SG/SF Alec Burks, Knicks (FD: $6,000 | $5,900)
SF Andrew Wiggins, Warriors (FD: $7,200 | $6,800)
PF Brandon Clarke, Grizzlies (FD: $5,600 | $4,400)
PF/C Jalen Smith, Suns (FD: $5,900 | $4,300)

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