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Warriors Kevin Durant (left) laughs with teammate Damion Lee during practice on June 1 (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Warriors Kevin Durant (left) laughs with teammate Damion Lee during practice on June 1 (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)|Associated Press
NBA

NBA Monday - Frank Picks NBA Finals Game 6, Raptors v Warriors, Durant, Kerr, 

Bob Vetrone

Bob Vetrone

Warriors (+2) at Raptors (214.5)
Pick: Warriors First Half +1

Will he or won’t he suit up? That’s the big question surrounding Kevin Durant, who the Warriors are suddenly in dire need of as they face elimination tonight North of the border. The mere speculation of Durant playing his first game in a month has resulted in some movement on the spread and the total for tonight’s Game 5. To no surprise, books were hit with Warriors and Over money after word got out over the weekend that Durant was cleared to practice on Sunday in Toronto.

Whether the 10-time All-Star gives it a go or not, Golden State can ill afford the same kind of slow starts it had in the first halves of Games 1 and 2 in Toronto. Granted, the Warriors rallied with a monster third quarter in Game 2, but with the exception of that third quarter, the Raptors have flat-out outplayed the Warriors most of this series. We’ve yet to see a complete effort from Golden State and it better come tonight or there’s going to be a lot of partying in Toronto.

From a gambling perspective, I’m not sure I trust the Warriors enough to back them for the entire game catching the deuce. It’s the first time under Steve Kerr that the Warriors are facing a deficit of two games in the NBA Finals. They’re normally the frontrunners and now their backs are against the wall and I’m not sure they can win this game unless Durant comes right back looking like himself. With that said, I do think they come out with good juice in the first half as they must take the crowd out of it early on. I’ve mentioned the zig-zag theory a lot in the playoffs, which for those who aren’t familiar, is simply betting against the result from the previous game. The Raptors covered the first half spread in Game 3 after losing Game 2 and the Warriors covered the first half number in Game 4 after their Game 3 loss. I’d expect similar defensive intensity early on from Golden State tonight like we saw on Friday making my play on tonight’s game on Golden State in the first 24 minutes plus the point.