Should Cousins Injury Worry Warriors NBA Title Backers?
If you went to bed at halftime of the Warriors-Clippers Game 2, no one would have blamed you.
The Warriors led by 31 at home and despite a frantic rally from the Clippers in the third quarter, Golden State led by 14 entering the fourth quarter. The last 110 playoff teams to be leading by 14 or more entering the fourth had won the game. That streak is gone.
The Clippers stunned the Warriors and produced the largest comeback in NBA Playoffs history, knocking off Golden State 135-131 to even the series heading back to Los Angeles.
And adding insult to literal injury, the Game 2 defeat also came with a price tag, as center DeMarcus Cousins suffered a non-contact injury to his left leg in the first half.
Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins heads to locker room after sustaining non-contact left leg injury pic.twitter.com/1JZDeEC8Et— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 16, 2019
Cousins asked out of the game, went straight to the locker room and almost immediately was ruled out for the remainder of the contest. A Tuesday MRI revealed a torn left quad which is expected to sideline him the rest of the postseason much to the presumed alarm of fans of NBA betting.
It’s devastating news after Cousins worked so hard to return from a torn Achilles he suffered in the midst of a career year with the Pelicans in 2018. It’s another setback for an incredibly talented player who has been snake-bitten by injury lately, this time coming after he had made his playoff debut on Saturday.
Others Step Up in Cousins’ Absence
The Warriors have an embarrassment of riches in the frontcourt. Without Cousins, Steve Kerr turned to Andrew Bogut (3 points, 9 rebounds in 17 minutes), Kevon Looney (19 points, 5 rebounds in 19 minutes) and even Jordan Bell (4 minutes).
Plus, he has the luxury of simply playing Draymond Green at center in a small-ball lineup. That would have played fine on Monday, as Green was arguably the Warriors’ best player, finishing with 14 points, 9 assists, 2 blocks and a 2 steals in 37 minutes.
It’s impossible to replace Cousins but there’s one team in the league that can withstand his loss, and it’s one with four other All-Stars and two other centers who have NBA Finals experience.
Warriors Still Clear Favorites
The good news – and it really should be obvious news – is the Warriors will be just fine without Cousins. He missed the first 45 games of the regular season, a span in which the Warriors went 31-14 and had the best net rating in the Western Conference (6.1) by nearly 1.5 points.
True, the Warriors were even better with their fifth All-Star in the lineup, posting a net rating of 6.8 after Cousins’ return in mid-January. The Warriors were also just 3-4 in games Cousins sat out once he had returned injury.
But let’s remember the Warriors have won three titles, including the last two with largely the roster they have now, without Cousins. As much of a bummer as it is to see him sidelined, it doesn’t change the fact that the Warriors are still clear favorites with most top NBA sportsbooks .
They’ll have to make adjustments on the fly but that hasn’t been an issue in the past, as they’ve had to deal with injuries to Steph Curry two of the last three postseasons.
The Warriors’ odds rightfully haven’t changed in the wake of the Cousins news or the epic Game 1 collapse, as they’re still -210 to take home a third consecutive Larry O’Brien trophy and a whopping -5000 at 888sport to win the series against L.A. despite losing homecourt advantage for now.
Even with a likely second-round matchup looming with the Houston Rockets, a team that beat them twice in the regular season, it’d be unwise to bet against Curry, Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Even at those minuscule odds it’s still the correct play, Cousins or not.
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