- The Golden State Warriors’ 2018-19 win total is once again tops in the NBA.
- Shouldn’t a team with five All-Stars win at least 65 games?
- Not so fast: Golden State’s focus probably won’t arrive until after Game 82.
The 2018-19 Golden State Warriors have the greatest collection of talent since the 80’s Lakers and Celtics. If they put in a solid effort every night, they would threaten the single-season wins record (73). But for the back-to-back defending NBA champions, the regular season isn’t something that can be “won.” It’s an 82-game grind that has to be survived before the games that actually matter.
That can be frustrating for fans hoping to witness history, but it can also be good for bettors, if you’re making the right wager on their win total this upcoming season.
Let’s take a closer look at things you should be looking for.
2018-19 Golden State Warriors Win Total Odds
|Over 63.5 Wins||Under 63.5 Wins|
This season will mark the fifth straight year the Warriors will likely be playing into late June. They’re gunning for a three-peat, and their fourth ‘ship in the last five years. You don’t get there by going all-out in the regular season.
Just learned that Steph Curry has the lowest MPG for a season averaging 30 or more points at 34.2MPG ? wicked fast scorer
— I aint “Grant-ing” nothin’ (@MidrangeMalone) August 17, 2018
If you’re on the G-State roster, you’re going to get regular-season minutes. Last year, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were the only players on the team that logged more than 30 minutes a game. (Thompson’s 34.2 ranked 20th in the NBA.)
Ten other players averaged double-figure minutes in the regular season, led by Andre Iguodala’s 25-plus MPG, all the way down to David West’s 13.7 MPG.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) August 15, 2018
It’s a sensible formula: stagger your stars’ minutes so you always have star-power on the floor but don’t overwork any single player. Of course, the downside is that you don’t get the full might of playing the starters to their limit, and it’s how a team as talented as Golden State can wind up with a 58-24 record.
BOOGIE-LESS TILL THE BREAK
Bettors leaning towards the OVER will point to the 2016-17 Dubs, who blasted teams en route to a 67-15 regular-season campaign, which culminated in their third straight Finals appearance and second title in three years.
There were two distinct factors that had Golden State’s attention two years ago: (a) the filthy taste of losing to the Cavs in the 2016 Finals (more on that in a second), and (b) signing Durant and assimilating the deadliest scorer in the world into their lineup.
Kevin Durant really is unguardable ?pic.twitter.com/ozFhn08vzU
— yo (@TheNBASoul) August 13, 2018
Any championship team that has been together for a while will tell you, with no new faces, it gets stale. Winning apparently doesn’t cure all ills. It just masks them.
It’s definitely a big part of why Golden State signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year mercenary deal this offseason.
Forget what Boogie brings to the court (which, if he’s healthy, is … good God, it’s terrifying to think about). The only playoff action he’s ever seen has been when he’s purchased a ticket. Unless something goes terribly wrong, the 2018 playoffs will mark Cousins’ first taste of postseason basketball, and that will give both him and the team hunger, motivation, and purpose.
Eric Bledsoe probably isn't the only one who's not a fan of DeMarcus Cousins wearing Warriors gear pic.twitter.com/Qevu1GVpGu
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) August 14, 2018
But he’s coming off an Achilles tear and won’t be ready before the All-Star break. Until then, it’s the same band. And that’s not fresh.
If not for blowing a 3-1 Finals lead to LeBron and the Cavs in 2016, the Warriors would be gunning for a five-peat, something only the Bill Russell-era Celtics have ever accomplished.
Steve Kerr knows that his team authored its own undoing in 2016. By starting off the year 24-0, they set themselves up to set the single-season wins record, and they went full bore to the end, finishing an astounding 73-9. But by the end of the playoffs, they looked gassed and didn’t have the juice to win a second straight title.
-Bill Simmons: "It felt like the last two years, every time Kevin Love got switched on to you, you had a flashback to Game 7 '16 and you wanted to score on him. Is that fair?
-Steph Curry: "Yes. That is very fair. I spent a whole year hearing about that one possession."
— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) August 16, 2018
There’s no more chasing regular-season accolades. They’ve become the ultimate on/off-switch team.
Last season, they lost twice to Sacramento, and once each to the Pistons and Hornets, as well as the Grizzlies and Clippers when they had depleted rosters.
No one remembers those setbacks, though, or the 7-10 mark in their last 17 regular-season games, because once the real games began, the Warriors rained holy hell on the West.
No team has ever been able to “flip the switch” quite like that. But then again, no team has ever assembled quite so much talent.
Can a 58-win team really fly under the radar? People – mainly fools, like myself – pointed to their bottom-five tally in turnovers, and the fact that they were dead last in the NBA in surrendering offensive rebounds as signs of their lack of focus and effort. The eye test was reliable too. They really didn’t bring it every night.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) August 10, 2018
However, they were still tops in the league in scoring, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, and the runaway leader in assists per game. How can you be all those things and not a 70-win team?
That’s a rhetorical question, and it’s also why the Warriors are my lead-pipe lock to finish under 63.5 wins this year.
They’ll show the full repertoire in big-game showdowns, but you’ll be able to count on your hands and feet the number of games they pour in a full 48-minute effort.
Their biggest competitor, again, will be themselves, and they will lose that battle more often than you’d think.