Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) dribbles against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

PACERS VS WARRIORS, JAN. 20

Mike Shara

Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors
Thursday, January 20 at 10pm EST
Chase Arena, San Francisco

POINT SPREAD: Warriors -11.5 (PointsBet)
OVER/UNDER: 217.5 (BetMGM)
MONEYLINE: Pacers +520 (FanDuel)

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For NBA bettors, this entire season feels like it has been a constant check-in to keep updated on teams juggling rosters and player availability due to Covid and an unusually high level of injuries to star players. Tonight’s game between the Pacers and Warriors is no exception – both teams will be missing key cogs – especially on the defensive end – for this clash of the Blue and Yellow Clans.

INDIANA
This team is in turmoil, roster-wise, and not just because of injuries or Covid. Right now, they are stuck in the dreaded middle ground of the NBA – not among the league’s young, rebuilding franchises and not remotely among the serious playoff contenders. Pacers management has let it be known they are willing to trade away key pieces in an attempt to recalibrate their roster, but Myles Turner, the key piece teams were most likely to want to trade for, will now miss several weeks with a stress reaction in his left foot. The absence of hope and direction is clearly having a deleterious effect on the team, as they’ve won just 2 of their last 12 and haven’t held an opponent to under 100 points in a game in nearly six weeks. It’s now not inconceivable that by season’s end they could finish in last place in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division, behind even the rebuilding Detroit Pistons. They rose from their doldrums last night to defeat the Lakers in L.A., with Caris LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis all playing very well despite the distractions. Playing their second game in two nights in San Francisco provides a significantly larger challenge. Even though this Pacers team is over .500 against the spread on the road this season, they still have only actually won 4 of 21 away from home thus far.

GOLDEN STATE
Most preseason prognosticators did not have the Warriors listed among the top 3 or 4 teams in the West this season. The prevailing sentiment seemed to be that Steph Curry was past his prime, that their younger players weren’t ready yet and who knew what Klay Thompson would be once (if) he actually returned to the lineup after almost three years away. Golden State has answered doubters pretty definitively thus far in 2021-22, among the teams competing for the NBA’s best record through the season’s first half. Curry has looked reinvigorated early and Thompson appears to have lost little if anything during his long injury absence. Lately they have staggered slightly, losing 5 of their last 8 with Steph Curry’s usually peerless shooting slipping over the last few weeks, perhaps due to a nagging hand injury. They will be missing all-World defender Draymond Green for the next few weeks with a back injury, an absence as big as any that any NBA team currently faces. The Dubs are 4-1 vs. the spread in their last 5 despite their struggles, though they have scored less recently, going over the number in just 12 of their last 27. As a home favorite, they have covered 15 of 22.

THE MATCHUP
The Pacers are facing a steep uphill battle tonight, having to travel last night (it’s a short flight from L.A. to San Fran, but still…) and then face a rested -if banged up – Golden State squad at home. The Warriors’ recent string of losses are at least partly because of an absolutely brutal road trip last week that saw them play at Milwaukee, Chicago and Memphis within a four-day span, so perhaps their relative struggles have been overstated. The score of their last win vs. Detroit was misleading, with the game never in doubt beyond the second quarter they cruised to a comfortable win, with Curry playing limited minutes down the stretch. I like the Warriors to win this game comfortably and to cover. They coasted to defeat Detroit by 16 on Tuesday night and the Pistons might be better than this road weary Indiana team right now. 

PREDICTION

Golden State 118 Indiana 102

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