NBA Picks for Thursday, January 4

Each day Contest General offers you the opportunity to pick head-to-head NBA matchups from some of the league’s top games. Thursday night offers a TNT doubleheader with Houston hosting Golden State and the Clippers entertaining Oklahoma City.

Below is a guide on which teams to select.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets

This game is as close to appointment television as it gets for NBA regular season matchups.

Their first meeting in Oakland was a 122-121 Houston win in what was one of the best opening night performances you’ll see.

These two teams are the best offensive units in the league — and it’s not even close.

They’re virtually tied with an NBA-best 115.2 points per game with the Rockets holding a slight edge in offensive rating (points per 100 possessions). Houston also leads the league in three-point field goals made by nearly 100, while the Warriors have the top field goal, three-point field goal and free throw percentages in the NBA.

All this has been done with two of the league’s top point guards, Stephen Curry (Warriors) and Chris Paul (Rockets), missing significant time due to injury.

Golden State has dominated this series as of late, much like it has dominated the rest of the NBA, winning 11 of the last 13 meetings. Oddly enough, both losses came in Oakland. The Warriors have averaged nearly 116 points per game in the most recent 13 meetings.

Houston has struggled to defend in ways that Golden State (which ranks fifth in defensive rating) has not, largely because of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. Gordon’s individual defensive rating sits at 112 and Anderson’s is 110. They simply struggle to defend elite NBA players, while the Warriors have multiple different lineup combinations that can get stops.

The Warriors are finally healthy again, so this is another potential statement game. Dubs win.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers

On paper it’s easy to assume that this won’t be much of a contest, but let’s ignore the majority of what each team has done this season.

For the Thunder, there was an adjustment period after acquiring Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. That seems to be ancient history at this point with the Thunder winning 10 of their last 15 games before the calendar flipped to 2018.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have dealt with injuries to everyone not named DeAndre Jordan, with 13 different players starting already this season. Blake Griffin missed 14 games and new additions Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic have played in just 11 of the team’s first 35 games.

While the Clippers still aren’t completely healthy, you can see it coming together. They won five of their last six to end 2017, including beating the Rockets on the road. Thursday’s game is the first in a string of barometer games for the Clippers with seven of their next 12 coming against teams currently in the playoff picture.

As for this game, it’s hard to pick against Oklahoma City, but the Clippers should make things interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *