The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets finally went OVER in the Western Conference Finals. But they had to set a league record to beat the NBA odds.
Jason’s record as of May 25: 79-82-5 ATS, 19-21 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML, 6-2 Series (plus-4.0 units)
It's no fun being a party-pooper. We had the UNDER in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, just like we did for the first three games of the series. Then we gathered 'round the ol' Philco Seventeener and watched the Dubs and Rox make NBA history. They combined for 37 made threes in a 128-115 Houston win, trampling the 214-point total underfoot in the process. Were we upset? After getting to watch James Harden score 45 points? Not so much.
We're still taking the UNDER for Game 5 Wednesday night (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN). As we go to press, there's a total of 216 points on the NBA odds board, up a smidge from 215.5 points at the open. Our early consensus reports show an even split; maybe the betting public will come in and bump the total up another half-point with a customary run on the OVER, especially after Monday's display. We'll take every half-point we can get, but our basketball pick stands as called.
We're happy with the logic behind sticking with the UNDER in Game 4. As expected, Stephen Curry didn't score 40 points Monday night – he was held to 23 points on 7-of-18 shooting, although Curry also sank six of his 13 trey attempts. This was after playing just 31 minutes, mind you; Curry nearly landed on his head at one point and had to leave the game for a while. When he came back, he wasn't quite himself at first. We'll continue not to expect 40 points from Curry in Game 5.
We were also right to expect James Harden to have a bounce-back game Monday night after scoring just 17 points on 3-of-16 shooting in Game 4. But 45 points? That's not normal, either. Harden shot 7-of-11 from downtown, and the Rockets as a team were 17-of-32 (53.1 percent), while Golden State was 20-of-46 (43.5 percent). Hey, if they can do that again on Wednesday, more power to them. We're betting they won't.
Before we go any further, we need to address the Dwight Howard situation. There might not be a situation; as we go to press, we still haven't heard anything about the NBA front office stepping in and suspending Howard for Game 5, after he threw an elbow at Andrew Bogut's head that was called a flagrant-1 at the time. If the league decides to upgrade Howard's foul to a flagrant-2, he faces an automatic one-game suspension for accumulated technicals.
When we were faced with uncertainty about Howard's status for Game 2, that time because of his strained right knee, we made two NBA picks: UNDER if Howard played, OVER if he didn't. We're going to make the same contingency pick for Game 5, just in case, but the general feeling at press time is that Howard will avoid further punishment in this instance.
Let's Play Seven
How great has this series been, by the way? It's almost certain the Warriors will advance to the NBA Finals at this point – although we've already seen the Rockets come back from down 3-1 against the Los Angeles Clippers, so who knows. But whichever team wins this series should be heavily favored to win the title, given the way both the Eastern contenders have been put through the wringer.
We're hoping the Warriors and Rockets have a few more games left in them. It's been excellent basketball from a spectator's standpoint, and these two teams have a profitable dynamic going from a betting standpoint. May the sphere be with them.
Free NBA Pick: Take UNDER 216 at BetOnline if Howard plays; take OVER if he doesn't.