The Warriors and the Celtics face off in arguably the biggest match of the season being the two top sides in the respective conferences so far.
Boston are on an incredible run of 13 consecutive wins despite Al Horford and Kyrie Irving both missing games.
The All-Star duo are expected to feature for the Celtics, although Irving will be sporting a protective mask after suffering a facial fracture against the Charlotte Hornets.
But the biggest question mark heading into the game is for the Warriors and whether Curry will be fit to play.
The 29-year-old missed just three games last season including a loss to the San Antonio Spurs but the Warriors managed wins over the New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trailblazers.
However, Curry attempted to play down his injury situation after practice yesterday by stating he expects to be ready to play.
“It’s all right,” Curry said. “Everybody’s gone through this at some point when you play basketball. You just push through it, continue to get better and hopefully I’ll be ready to go tomorrow. You just keep it moving.”
The sportsbooks opened with the Warriors giving seven points to the hosting Celtics and the total set at 214.5. That’s the second lowest Over/Under line in a Golden State game this season and it’s the second highest total for Boston.
It’s not just a meeting of the teams with the two best records in the league – it’s also a matchup of contrasting styles. The Warriors own the league’s best offense with an average of 116.2 points scored per 100 possessions. Boston, meanwhile, is first in the NBA in defense with its opponents netting just 95.8 points per 100 possessions.
The top spot in offensive rating is nothing new for Dub Nation. Golden State finished first in offense in each of the last two seasons and placed a close second behind the Los Angeles Clippers three years ago.
The Celtics, on the other hand, allowed a full 10 more points per 100 possessions and finished 12th in defensive rating last campaign. The turnaround can be contributed to the C’s getting serious on the glass. Boston finished 27th in rebounding last season cleaning up only 48.5 percent of missed shots whereas this year the team is second in rebounding by collecting 53.1 percent of balls coming out.
Keeping the glass clean is limiting the amount of second chance points allowed. Last year Brad Stevens’ crew gave up 13.9 points per game coming off opposing team’s offensive rebounds. The number has dropped to 9.7 this season – or a 4.2-point boost to the squad’s defensive effectiveness.
Boston’s new-found friskiness on the defensive end of the court has helped the Under go 10-5 in the club’s first 15 games.
We wanted to see what’s happened in previous seasons when the top offense matched up against the best defense to find out if there was any trend beneficial for totals bettors. The data we collected confirms what we already knew: oddsmakers are really good at setting lines.
The Over is 13-14 in the last 27 regular season matchups between the best offensive team and best defensive team. The Under is 7-4 since the start of the 2014-15 campaign – all games that involved the Warriors. The defensive team is 15-11-1 against the spread in all the meetings over the last 11 seasons.
Most oddsmakers say pace is the most important factor when trying to determine an Over/Under line for an NBA game. The quicker the pace means more possessions and more possessions means more shot attempts. More shot attempts usually equal more points on the scoreboard.
The Warriors are fifth in the league in pace at 104.54 possessions per game while the Celtics are 24th at 98.89. The total points averaged – both scored and allowed – per game in Golden State games this year is 227.3 and 197.2 in Boston’s contests. Splitting the difference between the two would give an Over/Under line of about 212 – or about two points lower than the total listed in Thursday’s game.
Both matchups last season finished well below the total with the Celtics holding the Warriors to 104 at Boston and 86 points at Golden State.