Saturday NBA Free Pick: Golden State at Philadelphia

My how things have changed. Less than three years ago, the Sixers were two-point favorites over Golden State and won that game in Philadelphia by seven. One NBA Championship and a 42-4 start later, something tells me the Sixers won’t be favorites in this one. The Warriors visiting the City of Brotherly Love is our Saturday NBA free pick.

Date: Saturday, January 30th 2016
Start Time: 5:00 p.m. ET
Location: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Golden State -17; O/U 217.5 (Track line moves as they happen here)

They don’t mean much, but a few fun trends heading into the game courtesy of OddsShark

  • The Sixers are 7-1 against the spread at home against Golden State.
  • Philadelphia is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games, including 4-1 ATS at home.
  • The Warriors have been favored by 15 points or more eight times this season. They are 3-5 ATS in those spots.
  • The over has been the correct total in eight of Golden State’s last 11 games.

Who to Watch: Any time the Warriors are playing, the answer to “Who to Watch” is always Steph Curry. But we’ll be keeping an eye on Sixers’ big man Jahil Okafor, who’s missed the previous two games with illness. The rookie from Duke has only posted one game in January with a shooting percentage less than .500. He’s shooting .597 this month and averaging 17.5 points per game for the Sixers, who have taken big steps toward regaining some respect around the league recently. Assuming Okafor plays tonight, it’ll be the third time this season where he returns following a brief layoff (once for a sore knee, once for a suspension). In those previous two return games, he only scored 10 points in each on 7-for-25 shooting. The Sixers will need a much bigger performance from their big man if they want to keep this one close against the NBA’s best.

What’s the Key: The Sixers can’t get sucked into going three-for-three with the Warriors. Philadelphia is a respectable, but certainly not great, three-point shooting team. The Sixers are shooting 33.2-percent from three on the season, connecting on 8.3 per game, which is good for 16th in the NBA. In the last four games between these two teams, Philadelphia has shot 23.3-percent from three. Robert Covington and Ish Smith can’t try to go toe-to-toe with Curry and Klay Thompson, and need to run the offense through Okafor and Nerlens Noel down low.

Where We’re Leaning: Each time you think the Warriors have hit their peak, they find a way to climb another level. Following a four-game ATS losing streak that had two straight-up losses, Golden State has returned to its blistering form. In their last five games, the Warriors have beaten the Cavs by 34, Bulls by 31, Pacers by 12, Spurs by 30 and Mavs by 20. The West-to-East roadtrip is never easy, but Golden State hasn’t played since Wednesday and will be well-rested and adjusted. Last season’s 89-84 Golden State victory in Philadelphia looks a lot closer than it was. The Warriors led by 18 in the fourth quarter of that game, and won the three previous ones in this series by 40, 43, and 20. The Warriors train will slow down eventually, but it won’t be Saturday night. We’ll be laying the points with the Warriors in our Saturday NBA free pick.

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