Steph Curry Returns, Golden State Warriors Now Division Favorite
Steph Curry returned to the Golden State Warriors after the superstar shooting guard missed several weeks of action with a left shoulder injury. With Curry back in the starting five, the Warriors are currently the betting favorite to win the Pacific Division at +170 odds.
The short-handed Warriors survived a stretch of the season without two All-Star starters. Small forward Andrew Wiggins missed 15 games, while Curry missed 11. With Curry and Wiggins playing again, bettors jumped back on the Warriors’ bandwagon.
Curry averages 29.7 points, 6.7 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game this season as the team’s leading scorer. He also shot 42.9% from 3-point range.
Wiggins averages 18.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. On a team stacked with excellent shooters, a selective Wiggins leads the Warriors with a 43.1% success rate from 3-point range.
Wiggins emerged as the Warriors’ top defender during last season’s championship run. He drew the most difficult defensive assignment every playoff series, including Luka Dončić from the Dallas Mavericks and Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics, both of whom are MVP candidates.
The Warriors are 20-21 this season, and despite dipping below .500, they’re the consensus favorite to win a tight Pacific Division race. The Warriors are in third place in the division, but two games out of first place. Only three games separate first and last place in the division, which has been cannibalizing itself over the last few weeks.
The Sacramento Kings are the surprise team in the Western Conference this season, and they lead the division with a 21-18 record. The Los Angeles Clippers are playing some of their best basketball of the season after a lackluster start. The Clippers hold down second place with a 22-21 record.
The Suns improved to 21-21 after picking off the Warriors on Tuesday night. They’re 1.5 games out of first place.
Even the lowly Los Angeles Lakers are in the thick of a division title with a 19-22 record. They’re three games behind the Kings and if the season ended today, the Lakers would bubble the Western Conference Play-In Tournament as the 12th-place team.
The Warriors are the favorite on DraftKings’ NBA futures board at +170 odds to win the Pacific Division. The Clippers (+330), Suns (+350), and Kings (+350) all have similar odds. Meanwhile, the Lakers are long shots to win the division at +1200 odds.
Curry and Wiggins Finally Return
Curry missed 11 games with a partially dislocated left shoulder, which occurred during a freakish defensive play against the Indiana Pacers. The subluxation injury wasn’t on his primary shooting arm, but he needed more than three weeks to recover. The Warriors went 6-5 without Curry in the lineup.
Wiggins missed over a month of action with a right leg injury and a bout of COVID-19. He last played on December 3 and returned to the Warriors last Saturday against the Orlando Magic. He missed 15 games and the Warriors went 7-8 without him.
The Phoenix Suns, playing without injured All-Star Devin Booker, spoiled Curry’s return with a 125-113 victory on Tuesday. Curry scored 24 points in his first game back since December 14. Curry might need a few games to shake off the rust after missing 11 games. He shot 8-for-22 from the floor against the Suns and missed 10, 3-point shots.
There are no easy days in the league,” head coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic. “The combination of that dynamic, getting some guys back and trying to find our rhythm, really got us off to a slow start.”
Wiggins only scored 10 points against the Suns and missed all four of his 3-point shots. He posted five steals though, so his defense remains top-notch, but he’s still trying to find his shot after a month-long layoff.
The Warriors lost three games in a row and seek to end their skid at the start of a five-game road trip. The Warriors face three losing squads in their next three games: the San Antonio Spurs (13-28), Chicago Bulls (19-22), and Washington Wizards (17-24). They’ll end this five-game sojourn with tough back-to-back games against the Boston Celtics (29-12) and Cleveland Cavaliers (26-16) next week.