Round three of the NBA Playoffs begins tonight with the Houston Rockets traveling to Golden State for game one of this best of 7 series. NBA odds makers favor the Warriors by 10 points. The series winner will face the winner of the Cleveland vs Atlanta series for the NBA Title.
Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors (-10) 9:00 PM EST ESPN
Round three of the NBA Playoffs begins tonight with the Houston Rockets traveling to Golden State for game one of this best of 7 series. The series winner will face the winner of the Cleveland vs. Atlanta series for the NBA Title. Houston and Golden State met four times in the regular season (with the last meeting coming January 21st). Golden State totally dominated the series, winning by an average of 15 PPG, with every victory coming by double digits. For those who love up-tempo basketball, this series is for you. Each of these teams loves to push the pace on offense and shoot three pointers. Figure each team to launch at least 30 triples per game. The series winner may simply be determined by who makes more triples. In their just completed series, Golden State shot 40% from behind the arc, while Houston converted just 35%.
The Houston Rockets are in a poor scheduling spot tonight. Tonight’s tip will come a little more than 48 hours after Houston defeated the LA Clippers 113-100 in a hard fought game 7. To clinch the series, Houston had to win the final 3 games, including an exhausting comeback last Thursday in game six when, after trailing by 19 points, they outscored the Clippers 51-20 to end the game, including 40-15 in the fourth quarter. With just 48 hours to regroup, it may well be a tough turnaround for Houston. Before you hang your hat on the angle, however, remember that in the previous series it was the LA Clippers just two days removed from defeating the defending Champion Spurs in 7 games, who pulled the 117-101 upset over these Rockets in game 1 of the following series. The stars shined brightly for Houston in the last three games in their series victory against the Clippers. In the last three games, Howard went for 20/15, 20/21, and 16/15. Lead guard Harden, the MVP runner-up to the Warriors’ Curry, was even more impressive. In game five, Harden’s line was 26/11/10. In game six, he had 23 points, while in the game 7 closeout Harden went for 31/7/8. But NBA odds makers know that the Rockets will need more than their stars if they are to win this series. A supporting cast of Ariza, Smith, Brewer, Jones, and Prigioni will all need to contribute if the Rockets are to survive an advance.
Golden State appeared to be in trouble in the previous series when they fell behind Memphis, two games to one. But once Golden State found their rhythm in game four, they quickly lowered the boom with wins of 17-20-13 points to close out the series. No such issue with the Rockets slowing the pace. That of course plays right to the wheel house of Golden State, as the numbers from the season series will attest. But not only must the “Splash Brothers” (Curry and Thompson) come up big, but there must be contributions on the interior from Bogut and Lee, and on the wings from Iguodala, Livingston, and Barbosa.
Class A road teams, such as Houston, have been a high percentage play as road underdog vs home teams who come off three consecutive ATS victories, such as the Warriors. But the most overwhelming situational evidence is that game one home playoff teams in this price range have been a lofty 70%+ winner if facing teams they dominated in the regular season. In what will be one of the most entertaining recent playoff series, look for Golden State to take an early lead with a double digit victory.