The Golden State Warriors just keep rolling over their opponents. According to the NBA odds, the Houston Rockets don't have much of a chance in the Western Finals.
Jason’s record as of May 18: 76-78-5 ATS, 14-19 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML, 6-2 Series (plus-4.0 units)
The Memphis Grizzlies had us going for a while there. They won two of the first three games of their Western semifinal against the mighty Golden State Warriors, after Mike Conley made a dramatic early comeback from multiple facial injuries. But Conley wasn't at his best wearing that protective mask, and once Tony Allen's hamstring injury started flaring up again, it was all over for the Grizz.
The Houston Rockets also had to come from behind in their series against the Los Angeles Clippers, although the circumstances were much different. Houston looked like a write-off after falling behind 3-1, and the funeral route was being planned when the Rockets were down 19 points late in the third quarter of Game 6. Instead, here we are with the top two seeds in the West about to lock horns. So do the Rockets have anything left in them? Not according to the NBA odds at GT Bets, where Golden State is a massive –800 chalk to advance to the NBA Finals.
Spoiler alert: We're auto-betting the Rockets (64-30 SU, 55-39 ATS) at +600. Of course, if we were making predictions instead of NBA picks, we'd take the Warriors (75-17 SU, 52-39-1 ATS) in a heartbeat. They're one of the strongest teams ever assembled, posting a Net Rating of plus-11.4 during the regular season. The Warriors have slipped a bit to plus-8.6 during the playoffs, but that can be expected in the face of tougher competition.
Golden State has also enjoyed a remarkable run of good health this year. True, Marreese Speights (19.5 PER) suffered a calf injury against Memphis and won't play in Tuesday's opener (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) against the Rockets. But Speights was already playing limited minutes in the postseason, and David Lee (17.8 PER) is still around to pick up the slack – remember him?
Besides, the Warriors have been idle since Friday, while the Rockets had to play the full seven games against Los Angeles. And Houston comes into this series with injury concerns at key positions. Patrick Beverley (11.3 PER) still isn't expected to return from his broken wrist, although we've seen stranger things happen lately. And Donatas Motiejunas (14.4 PER) has a ways to go before he's recovered from last month's lumbar microdiscectomy. Not pleasant.
But there's no way we're going to pass up a bargain like the Rockets at +600. They were underdogs in each of the last three games against the Clippers, including twice at home. They've still got plenty of talent at all five positions, including the one man who could make a legitimate case as the league's MVP over Stephen Curry:
James Harden: 26.7 PER, 8.4 BPM, 7.8 VORP
Stephen Curry: 28.0 PER, 9.9 BPM, 7.9 VORP
Curry obviously has the edge in those numbers, but Harden had to play large swathes of the regular season without Dwight Howard (19.2 PER) and Terrence Jones (18.3 PER). And let's not forget that Josh Smith (15.2 PER, plus-2.1 DBPM) only arrived on the scene in late December. Personally, I would have been content with either man winning the MVP award, but that's neither here nor there. Point being, Harden has performed at pretty much the same level as Curry this year.
Again, we still expect the Warriors to win this series. They took all four regular-season games SU and ATS, after all. But none of those games had Harden, Howard, Smith and Jones all available at the same time. Note that Houston's three straight wins over the Clippers came after Smith was put into the starting lineup. Perhaps the Rockets have found the right formula for success. At +600, we're willing to take the chance.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Rockets +600 at GT Bets