Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins (left) and Klay Thompson react Sunday against the Suns (Jeff Chiu)
Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins (left) and Klay Thompson react Sunday against the Suns (Jeff Chiu)|Associated Press

NBA Wednesday: Time to Question Warriors Motivation?

Also Grizzlies-Hawks, Jazz-Suns

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

GRIZZLIES (Pick) at HAWKS (220.5), 7:30 p.m.
Pick: Hawks (Pick)

Just because both of these teams are lottery bound doesn’t mean there isn’t some value in betting this game. As a matter of fact, Atlanta has been surging when it comes to covering point spreads and we like that to continue here.

The Hawks (23-45) are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games. Included in that hot streak of covers are games against playoff teams like Brooklyn, Miami, Detroit and Houston. Now we only need the Hawks to win a game against a Grizzlies team (28-40) that has won just 10 road games all year?

Believe it or not, some of the lottery teams can be good bets at this time of year for a couple reasons. The whole world knows those teams are tanking which drives a point spread up too high. In other cases, the teams are young and begin to lose the training wheels and play with more cohesion. The latter is what led us to Cleveland Tuesday night in an easy cover against the Sixers and it’s also what we think is happening with Atlanta.

WARRIORS (+3) at ROCKETS (232.5), 9:30 p.m.
Pick: Rockets (-3)

The Golden State Warriors (45-21) are an underdog?! And we’re laying points against them?! Well, yeah and if we’re being honest, they deserve to be an underdog in this spot.

Golden State has covered just two of its last 13 games and for the season is a league-worst 26-39-1 ATS. After an outright loss as a 17-point favorite at home on Sunday to Phoenix, it’s fair to wonder if the Warriors are going to be more vulnerable than we all thought in the playoffs. At what point is this no longer the back-to-back defending NBA champions not being fully motivated in the regular season? We’re going to get our answer Wednesday because this would seem like a spot for which the Warriors are motivated. They just suffered an embarrassing loss at home and are now traveling to Houston to play a team that took them to seven games in last year’s Western Conference Finals and had a 3-2 lead in the series. But we think there’s at least some degree of concern for the Warriors beyond a lack of motivation which is why we’re taking Houston here.

If it is a convincing win for the Rockets (42-35), some may still give the Warriors a pass since Kevin Durant is out with an ankle injury. But, the degree of concern after another Warriors loss won’t matter for us as long as we cash our ticket.

JAZZ (-7.5) at SUNS (222.5), 10 p.m.
Pick: Suns (+7.5)

That Suns team that just beat the Warriors -- and before that beat the Bucks -- is now catching 7.5 points at home? Sign us up!

Phoenix (16-52) looks like another one of those lottery teams that is finding its stride late in the year. With new lottery odds in place this year, that might not be a bad thing anyway as the teams with the worst three records in the NBA now all have the same chance at the No. 1 overall pick. While a certain Utah Jazz fan has been in the headlines more than the team recently, the team isn’t worth laying this many points with on the road. Utah is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games and lost by double digits in Memphis in its last road game.

The Jazz (37-29) also lost to another lottery team in the Pelicans at home just over a week ago. We mentioned Phoenix’s two outright wins against teams that may meet in the NBA Finals, but it also has recent covers against a pair of playoff teams in Portland and Miami and its cover against the Heat was another outright win. The Suns have covered five straight and six out of seven. We like them to make it six straight and seven out of eight.

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