Despite falling behind by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, Golden State beat visiting Houston 110-106 -- failing to cover the 10.5 points. Here are my player prop picks for Game 2.
First, let me recap my Game 1 recommendations -- not my greatest game (as opposed to a great Game 1 between Cavs and Hawks). I took James Harden as a slight-120 favorite to outscore Steph Curry in a matchup of the MVP runner-up and winner. I figured Harden would have to score more for Houston to have a shot. And while Harden nearly had a triple-double, he finished with 28 points to Curry's 34. I also missed on 'under' 4.5 3-pointers for Curry as he hit six and 'over' 2.5 for Harden as he made only one. In fact, about the only thing I got right was that Dwight Howard wouldn't sniff 28.5 points. I did have him for a double-double, and he probably would have gotten it except that Howard collided with teammate Josh Smith in the first quarter and injured his knee. Howard played through it for a while but just a few seconds in the fourth quarter. He finished with seven points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes.
Howard is being called questionable with a left knee sprain. I gave Houston maybe a 20 percent chance of winning this series with a healthy Howard. Without him, that drops to zero. On Wednesday, Howard said he could not play in Game 2 if the pain didn't ease up but had “no doubt” he would return at some point to the series. Tough to project some player props without Howard because of how important he is, but I'll assume that even if he does play that he's very limited. Houston played without him 41 times this regular season. The Rockets won 27 of them but were outrebounded 16 times.
Josh Smith Points + Rebounds -- 'Over/Under' 20
Smith Made 3-point Field Goals -- O/U 1.5
Trevor Ariza Total Points -- O/U 14.5
Ariza Rebounds + Assists -- O.U 8.5
I'm going to focus my NBA picks on these two instead of Harden because you know Harden will step up and have his typical big game. But for Houston to have any chance at all without Howard or with a 50 percent version, Smith and Ariza have to be huge. In Game 1, Smith was pretty solid with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, although he has to forget about the 3-point arc. He shot six from out there and made two. Ariza was 7-for-10 from the field in the opener for 20 points with three rebounds and two assists. He was the only Houston starter with a plus-rating (+1). Smith will have to crash the boards much more and not linger on the perimeter. The last game where Howard was barely a factor was Game 4 against the Clippers where Howard played only 18 minutes due to foul trouble and the Rockets were slaughtered 128-95. Smith was still coming off the bench then and had just one point and four rebounds. Ariza had 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
NBA Free Picks: 'Over' on all except Smith's 3-pointers.
Draymond Green Points + Rebounds -- 'Over/Under' 24.5
Harrison Barnes Points + Rebounds + Assists -- O/U 17.5
The turning point of Game 1 was when the Warriors were down those 16 points and Coach Steve Kerr inserted the 6-foot-7 Green at center in a small lineup and that spurred a 25-6 run. Golden State wouldn't trail again. I'm curious if that would work against a Howard-less lineup. In 43 minutes, Green had 13 points and 12 rebounds, his second straight double-double in these playoffs. Barnes had 14 points, one rebound and one assist. If Howard is out, I would imagine that Andrew Bogut plays more than 16 minutes, as he did in Game 1, which could mean fewer minutes for Green -- at least at center. Of course no Howard also could open up more rebounds for Green. Barnes is averaging 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the playoffs.
NBA Free Picks: Go 'Over' Green and 'Under' Barnes.