San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors – Oracle Arena at 03:30 live on BT Sport 2

Two of the premier NBA franchises in recent years lock horns in the early hours of Wednesday. Last year’s NBA finalists the Golden State Warriors welcome San Antonio Spurs in what will be an enticing game and a great way to kick off my NBA Handicap Betting previews.

Duncan-less Spurs

After 19 spectacular years with the Spurs, the unassuming Tim Duncan bowed out in typical fashion. Without major fuss in comparison to his peers Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. He is arguably the best power forward of all time and the stats back him up: 19.0 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game.

Duncan was not only the face of the franchise, he was the heart and soul of it. His leadership skills were integral to their success (5 NBA Championships). However, the Spurs will be in safe hands with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge taking the mantle from Duncan. Leonard is debatably the best two-way man in the game right now and also fits into Duncan’s modest but high-producing demeanour. The acquisition of Aldridge has also paid dividends. He achieved career bests in field goal percentage and free throw percentage: (.513 and .858 respectively). The international old guard of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are still around although they are unsurprisingly not as formidable as before. Their leadership skills will be invaluable for Gregg Popovich’s outfit.

The Fantastic Four – The arrival of Kevin Durant

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since July, the biggest news in basketball was the arrival of Kevin Durant on the west coast. It has caused furore across the sporting world, with many believing that he’s joined for an easy ride. His character has come into question after leaving behind his long-time and accomplished buddy Russell Westbrook at Oklahoma.

The Warriors should have won the Finals having been 3-1 in the series against Cleveland. They also created history with their 73-9  record in the regular season.

With the signing of Durant, Golden State had to relieve some of their salary, that led to the departures of Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. Other notable subtractions from Oakland include Festus Ezeli, Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa and Brandon Rush.

Chemistry was a slight concern coming into the season. How could the Warriors fit 4 superstars into their starting 5? The pre-season wiped any notion of that happening with a 6-1 record. Incumbent MVP Steph Curry will be looking for vengeance this year having come so close to winning back-to-back titles. The Davidson alumni was disappointing in the finals, by his lofty expectations. In the regular season, Curry reached career highs in PPG (30.1), steals per game (2.1) and free-throw percentage (.908).

The Warriors’ worst enemy could be themselves as they have all the ingredients for a dynasty. With the previously stated Durant and Curry, alongside Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, expect to hear a lot of noise in the Bay Area for the foreseeable future.

Prediction

Although San Antonio are a strong outfit I do expect the Warriors to win this encounter. The home fans will be buoyed by the summer acquisition of Durant as the side will hope to put on a clinic.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Warriors -8.5 at 1.87

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @The_Drewse

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