Counterpoint: Playing Great Defense Key for Upset-Minded Rockets

Sunday, May 27, 2018 3:57 PM UTC

Sunday, May. 27, 2018 3:57 PM UTC

At least in theory, getting to a Game 7 makes all the sense in the world for the West finals. The path we took certainly was not expected and the possible loser could have "what if" thoughts.

<h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Warriors vs. Rockets">NBA Monday:</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Warriors vs. Rockets">Warriors (69-29 SU, 41-54-3 ATS) vs. Rockets (76-22 SU, 50-46-2 ATS)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Free NBA Pick: Rockets +5½</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=BetOnline" rel="nofollow" title="Top Rated Sportsbook">BetOnline</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3468654, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,19,238,169,1389], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>After 12 and 24 minutes of Game 6, a stunner was in the work, with Houston leading by 17 points after the first period and by 10 at the half. From that point, it didn't simply go downhill for the Rockets, they flew into the black hole and were not seen again. In the second half, Houston scored 25 points, total. Golden State scored 64, and by early in the fourth quarter everyone knew a Game 7 was on for Monday in H-Town.</p><p>Houston's Chris Paul is not expected to play. If he did, it likely would be in an extremely limited role. He would need a Willis Reed moment like in 1970 (Google it) for Houston.</p><p>Most sportsbooks' earliest opening <a href="" target="_blank" title="NBA Odds">NBA odds</a> had the Rockets as +4 point home underdogs and that quickly shot up to +5.5. What is it going to take for Mike D'Antoni's team to generate an improbable upset without Paul?</p><p> </p><h2>Attitude and Defense</h2><p>After the first quarter of the Saturday's contest, I knew SBR colleague Swinging Johnson was thrilled with his "over" selection after 61 points were tallied. Even I was caught off guard and my wager and choice against SJ looked in serious danger. But Golden State changed their defensive attitude and held the Rockets to an unimaginable 47 points over three quarters.</p><p>In Game 7 Houston has to play outstanding defense and hold the Warriors to less than 100 points to have a chance to win or at least cover the spread. By all accounts, the 48-point turnaround did not bother Rockets players, who said they were looking forward to a Game 7 on their home court. Their attitude appears in the right place; now they have to bring the defensive intensity.</p><p> </p><h2>Win Turnover Battle and Find Ways to Score Unexpectedly</h2><p>Without Paul, James Harden is the primary ball-handler and he had nine turnovers on Saturday, which was the overall difference in that category for Golden State (21-12). The Beard cannot have another such game and his team needs a +6 edge in turnovers, as that typically is a one-to-one ratio in points scored differential.</p><p>If you have been making <a href="" target="_blank" title="Free NBA Picks">NBA picks</a> all season, you understand Houston is a three-point shooting team. Their other preferred method of scoring is driving for layups. That is why when they head toward the orange circle 10-feet above the ground, they have to do this with purpose and get fouled. A measly 17 attempts like in Game 6 will not cut it (nor will only 9 made free throws). They need to be at least in the mid-20s, converting on 80 percent in dead-ball situations.</p><p>Let's be honest, Houston is hamstrung without Paul (pun definitely intended). You know it, I know and Swinging Johnson knows it. Harden will have to score in the 40s and other starters' contributions should take the Rockets into the low 80s. If Gerald Green can reach double digits again, Houston will have a chance to win if they have played tremendous defense, to not only beat the number but win the game.</p><p>If this happens, I would pay someone good money to have a picture of Swinging Johnson's face, which I could post on Instagram.</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="">Read why Swinging Johnson has visions of Game 1 for Game 7.</a></h2>
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