Counterpoint: Confident Rockets to Take Out Wobbly Warriors

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 6:07 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 23, 2018 6:07 PM UTC

Game 4 was what NBA fans were waiting for -- a close, competitive contest and as improbable a playoff victory as you could imagine. Now we have a best-of-three in the West finals.

<h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Warriors vs. Rockets"><strong>Warriors (67-28 SU, 39-53-3 ATS) vs. Rockets (75-20 SU, 49-44-2 ATS)</strong></a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>Free NBA Pick: Rockets -1</strong></h2><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=Betphoenix" title="Top Rated Sportsbook">BetPhoenix</a></strong></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3468652, "sportsbooksIds":[1389,19,180,93,169], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>By now you have seen these win probability sites relating to how a game should play out. Twice in Game 4, Houston was left for dead. After trailing 12-0 to start the contest against Golden State, there was a 91 percent chance the Rockets would lose. After making a stirring comeback to back a 10-point halftime lead, Houston faced a torrent of Warriors points to trail 80-70 after three quarters. At that juncture, the Rockets had a five percent chance of winning.</p><p>Funny how life works (ask SBR colleague Swinging Johnson about this after having Golden State -8), just because something is all but certain to happen, it doesn't always. Two elements gave Houston a chance to win: James Harden's facial dunk in the second quarter on Draymond Green (think of it as Swinging Johnson trying to match wits with me), and the Rockets' fourth-quarter defense, in which they surrendered 12 points.</p><p>[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]</p><p>With the Western Conference Finals tied at 2 after the Rockets' 95-92 road win, the <a href="" target="_blank" title="NBA Odds">NBA odds board</a> listed Houston as a one-point home favorite for Game 5 on Thursday night. Here is how coach Mike D'Antoni's team will get within one victory of the NBA Finals.</p><p> </p><h2>Is Golden State Having Cleveland Flashbacks?</h2><p>Let's face it, the Warriors don't blow double-digit leads at Oracle in the fourth quarter. But in the last eight minutes, in particular, Golden State played in very similar fashion like they did almost two years ago against Cleveland, when they were up 3-1 in The Finals, only to lose.</p><p>You might remember, Stephen Curry was hurting and so were other Golden State players. Flash forward to Tuesday night when "The Fixer," Andre Iguodala (contemporary reference), could not play because of a bad knee. Klay Thompson tweaked his knee and was unable to go either way off the dribble on offense and didn't trust himself as a long-range shooter. With these two not making contributions, Curry and Kevin Durant's shot selection was curious at best when it counted the most, and both played panicky. (Just asking, does this seem like Swinging's selections?)</p><p> </p><h2>D'Antoni Will Play Important Role</h2><p>Houston had to win last contest to stay in series. With that, D'Antoni used just seven players and five of them played 41 or more minutes. With only one day between games and now traveling back and forth between H-Town and Oak-Town, D'Antoni has to play others or he will empty the tank of his best players.</p><p>It might not matter in this encounter, but it could, but if this series goes seven games, the Rockets need at least to break even on the plus/minus ratings from bench players. This means playing three or possibly four guys to save James Harden and Chris Paul in particular for the fourth quarter. It's not an easy decision for D'Antoni, but it's the right one.</p><p> </p><h2>The Choice</h2><p>Hard to put into words how big that win was for Houston. Because of this, for my <a href="" target="_blank" title="Free NBA Picks">NBA picks</a> I'm taking the Rockets, who earned their big confidence boost and might not see the Warriors at 100 percent physically. Plus, as SJ probably knows when posting angles on his articles, Golden State is 11-23 ATS against winning teams since Game 42 this season.</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="">Read why Swinging Johnson thinks he'll be the one smiling after Game 5.</a></h2>
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