The stretch run in the NBA begins when teams come back from the All-Star break on Thursday, and everyone is chasing the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors will try to further solidify their standing as the top team in the Western Conference when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
The Clippers are one of several teams active on the trade market as they try to add an impact piece to help close the gap between themselves and Golden State, but the return of point guard Chris Paul from a thumb injury might be the only thing the team needs to make things interesting. Paul is expected to be out until the middle of March after undergoing surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament in January, but Los Angeles may have finally figured out how to win without their leader during a string of four straight victories prior to the break. The Warriors are not big players at the trade deadline after making their key acquisition with the signing of Kevin Durant last summer, and they enter the final stretch of 26 games with a 12-game lead over the Clippers in the Pacific Division and a four-game gap over the San Antonio Spurs atop the West. Golden State got less rest than most teams during the break as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Durant all played in the All-Star game.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 11.5-point home favorites against their Pacific division rivals, but that number wasn’t high enough and was quickly bet to 12 and as of Thursday morning has made it to 12.5. The total opened at 231 and has dropped a full point to 230. Check out the complete line history here.
Clippers – PG Chris Paul (Questionable, thumb), PF Brice Johnson (Out indefinitely, back)
Warriors – PF David West (Questionable, thumb), C Zaza Pachulia (Questionable, shoulder)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Clippers (-6.9) – Warriors (-15.3) + home court (-3) = Warriors -11.4
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (35-21 SU, 29-27 ATS, 31-25 O/U): Perennial All-Stars Paul and Blake Griffin were left out of the All-Star game after injury-plagued first halves but center DeAndre Jordan represented Los Angeles and even earned some playing time with all four Warriors in the West’s 192-182 triumph. Griffin missed 20 of the first 56 games but is making up for lost time while averaging 25.5 points on 52.1 percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists in eight games this month. Griffin, who can become a free agent this summer, is drawing plenty of interest on the trade market but is considered unlikely to move.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (47-9 SU, 27-27-2 ATS, 25-31 O/U): Golden State is unlikely to reach last season’s record 73-9 regular season but is just as dominant while leading the league in scoring (118.2), field-goal percentage (50.1), assists (31), point differential (plus-12.8) and 3-point defensive field-goal percentage (32.5) while ranking second in defensive field-goal percentage (43.6). Durant is proving to be a seamless fit while averaging a team-best 25.8 points on a career-high 53.9 percent shooting. Durant showed off during the All-Star game by collecting a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while Curry added 21 points, Thompson scored 12 and Green collected seven rebounds and six assists for the West.
* Clippers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games.
* Warriors are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Over is 5-1 in Warriors last 6 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 4-1 in Warriors last 5 games following a straight up win of more than 10 points.
* Clippers are 0-4 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 63 percent of Covers users are siding with the home favorite Warriors and Over is picking up 60 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.