The Golden State Warriors were stomping a mudhole in the Houston Rockets Wednesday night. Then Kevin Durant felt something in his right leg. He left the floor, didn’t return, and the Rockets nearly took Game 5 before losing 104-99. At least Houston beat the NBA odds as 6-point road dogs; they’re 4-1 ATS in this series, and with Durant out of commission, they’ve got a great chance to even things up at 3-3 SU when they host the Warriors this Friday.
So why are we putting Golden State in our NBA picks? Because Durant isn’t going to play – and because bettors appear to be overcompensating, as they often do when a superstar gets injured. The Warriors opened at +6 for Game 6, and they’re already available at +7.5 as we go to press. How high can they go? Let’s see what happens now that Durant has essentially been written off for Friday night.
AI > KD
That’s according to Dubs head coach Steve Kerr, who told reporters after Game 5 that Durant is “not playing Game 6,’ even though he’s officially considered doubtful at press time. This is before the results of Thursday’s scheduled MRI were known, but word is Durant won’t even make the trip to Houston.
It’s hardly ideal for Golden State, of course. Durant (plus-5.1 BPM in 11 playoff games) was playing at a very high level, but it’s not like he’s been torching people the way he did two years ago in his first postseason with the Dubs (plus-8.7 BPM). You could even argue that Andre Iguodala (plus-5.6 BPM) has been their real MVP thus far. Let’s not forget about Andrew Bogut (plus-5.9 BPM) and the work he did against the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening round, even if he’s glued to the bench now.
More Points, Please
We need some numbers to back up this speculation. Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today projected Houston as a 1.71-point favorite using his eigenvector analysis, which won’t cover for Durant’s absence. Is he worth another 5-6 points to the Dubs? Maybe not; using their Elo-based formula, FiveThirtyEight have the Rockets pegged at –6.5 now that Durant is out of the mix.
Really, we’d like to see Golden State fall to +8.5 or more before jumping in, so we’ll have that profit margin we’re looking for. But we’re on the right track at +7.5, and there’s a good chance the betting public will get us the rest of the way there when they start pouring into the marketplace after work is done on Friday – especially if that MRI turns out really bad. In the meantime, 60 percent of early bettors are on the Dubs, so we’re confident we’re on the sharp side here at the home office.