Yesterday’s Results: 0-4
All Time Results: 79-91-2, -7.9 Units
Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors Under 213.5 – 1 Unit
The Under has hit in 8 of the last 9 GSW games that Kevin Durant has missed. The average combined total in those 9 games is only 201.7.
Although Durant is one of the Warriors better defensive players, he is also such a stick of dynamite on offense that others teams often feel there only chance to keep up is to run and gun. Warriors games without KD these past few years have been more half-court based, largely because of the way their opponents have chosen to attack.
The Under is 17-5 in Warriors/Rockets Playoff games since 2014-2015.
While these teams are the two prime examples of the three ball revolution and both are known for their explosive firepower, they are also fiercely competitive and studied in the best ways to neutralize each other.
For example, the Warriors have not let James Harden get off quality threes in the 4th Quarter this series. They press, trap, double, wait on his left hand – anything and everything necessary to take away that option. Harden only took three shots total in the 4th Quarter of Game 5 not because he choked – as some have lazily concluded. He simply did not have the quality looks available to him. The Dubs effectively made the other Rockets try and beat them.
This has been a theme in the 4th quarter throughout the series. Harden went 0-1 in the 4th Quarter last game from distance, making him now 1/16 from three in the five 4th Quarters of the round so far. As they have forced him off the line, Harden is 8/13 on floaters and mid-range shots and 5/6 on layups in these quarters.
This is just one example of the preparation and discipline that helps teams take away each other’s best options in later games of a long series and leads to lower totals.
Despite the fact that Unders are 0-2 in Game 6’s so far this round of the playoffs and 0-4 in these playoffs in general, since 2005 Unders are 96-70 (58%) in NBA Game 6’s & Game 7’s. Teams know each other more intimately and the referees are even more disinclined from deciding the outcome of the game. They let them play.
I’ll add that although I haven’t seen the data, I’ve read that a similar phenomenon occurs in the NHL: That Unders are solidly profitable in Game 6’s & 7’s. The same principle applies. These games are scrappier, more rough & tumble and tighter than previous games of the series.
Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets Under 54.5 1Q (-120) – 1 Unit
Golden State +2.5 @ Houston Rockets 1Q – 1 Unit
The Warriors & the Under are both 5-0 in the 1st Quarter so far this series, with an average total of under 50 and an average Warriors lead of 6.8 points. The Warriors have been able to run efficient enough offense in this period to neutralize the Rockets transition game. I expect more of the same here.
Golden State Warriors +245 @ Houston Rockets – 1 Unit
Knowing that I’ve long been a Warriors fan, a friend asked me yesterday if I was worried about them. Well, I have been. I was worried about them all season, and the last few seasons too.
The last couple years, they are the only team I can ever remember where winning the championship is the neutral scenario. If they swept the playoffs they’d be better than expectations; if they won the championship that would be about right; and if they lost for any reason it would be a catastrophic failure. Durant and Curry can never reach the heights in the Pantheon that I believe they deserve unless they win it literally every year they are together.
All that’s flipped around now. All my worry has become excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have the security blanket of Kevin Durant out there – but his absence presents a tremendous opportunity.
For the first time in years the Dubs can upset someone. The Splash Brothers can neutralize all the noise about why they aren’t as good as their 3 rings would indicate. Go out and win tonight and you’re instantly untouchable.
If Steph Curry is a top 20 player ever, then go out and best James a Harden (a top 50 player ever) tonight on the road. That’s what the Greats do to other Hall of Famers. One night in 1995 Hakeem Olajuwon shook David Robinson to his core in San Antonio and no one ever questioned there respective places in history ever again. That’s in play tonight.
The Rockets have all of the pressure on them. All of the excuses they’ve pedaled out the past couple years – the injuries, the refereeing injustices – all those pleas turn to ash the moment that clock hits triple 0’s and they don’t have the lead.
History will weigh on their minds. A loss tonight would be a near exact duplication of their 2017 Game 6 failure, losing to the Spurs at home without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. This Warriors team has 4 multi-time all-stars and several Hall-of-Famers still. That squad just had LaMarcus Aldridge, really. The Rockets are better than they were then. But how much better?
The moment Steve Kerr declared Durant doubtful for Game 6 – another historical parallel has been on my mind.
1980. Kareem Abdul Jabbar is playing as well as anyone ever has – averaging 34 & 15 with 5 blocks in the Finals. He gets hurt in a Herculean Game 5 win, in which he goes for 40 on 24 shots. Kareem cannot travel with the team and stays in LA to rest up for a potential Game 7. The rest of the Lakers head to Philadelphia for Game 6. Magic plays the greatest game any 20-year old has ever played and the Lakers win the championship then & there. They of course dedicate it to their “Captain”.
Flash forward to 2019. Kevin Durant is averaging 35 on 50/40/90 splits in the playoffs. Goes down. Warriors take a 3-2 lead to Houston.
Is Steph Curry ready to drop 42/15/7 like Magic Johnson did in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals? Remember Magic had had some CLUNKERS in that series too, including a 4/13 performance with 10 turnovers in Game 5. If Steph Curry is the best point guard ever – prove it tonight.
Stephen A. Smith mentioned that Steph could drop 40 and the Warriors could still lose. I’m not sure if that’s true.
Best records when scoring 40 or more in Regular Season or Playoffs
Bird 46-6 (88%)
Shaq 52-9 (85%)
Curry 36-7 (84%) – including, 34-2 since the 2014-15 season.
Nowitzki 22-5 (81%)
These players have the ability not just to score, but to rip your heart out when they get hot. If Curry gets cooking to that degree, it’s all but impossible to stand the heat in the kitchen.
Then there’s always the possibility of a Game-6-Klay-Thompson sighting.
Since the 2016-17 season, the Warriors are 29-4 in games where Kevin Durant is out and Steph Curry plays, including 2-0 in the playoffs.
Worried? No, I’m excited. Everything is on the table for the taking. I feel the Warriors will feel the same way.
Houston Rockets -7.5 vs. GSW parlayed with HOU/GSW Over 213.5 (+264) – 1 Unit
There are two ways I could see this going. One is that it is a close, grind-it-out game where the Warriors are able to keep the Rockets in the half court and match or best them blow for blow with their still considerable fire power.
The other is that the thinness of the Warriors bench exposes itself early. The second quarter might be a bum rush. If the Warriors aren’t creating good looks, and Alfonso Mckinnie and Jonas Jerekbo are forced into taking tough shots, the Rockets might have a field day in transition. They might put up 40 points in the second quarter with 8 made 3’s and never look back. I feel that the Rockets are heavily correlated to the Over and that the Warriors are also heavily correlated to the Under in this one.