Here are my NBA player proposition bets for Tuesday night as No. 2 Houston, which rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the last round against the Clippers, visits No. 1 Golden State.
How much should we take from the regular season meetings between these teams? NBA odds makers clearly are taking a lot in making Golden State a double-digit favorite for the opener and a huge series favorite. The Warriors did sweep the four games and all were by at least 10 points. It was their first season series win over Houston in eight years. The teams haven't met since January, however, and Houston star center Dwight Howard missed two of those games. Golden State is much better rested after finishing off Memphis in six games on Friday. The Rockets won Game 7 over the Clippers -- after one of the most unlikely rallies in NBA history in Game 6 -- on Sunday. The only injury of note is to Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley, who hasn't played in the postseason following wrist surgery and is doubtful to get back for this series. Maybe he could if the Rockets make the NBA Finals. Somehow, this is the first-ever playoff meeting between the franchises. The Warriors are in the West Finals for the first time since 1976 and the Rockets are back for the first time since 1997.
Who will record more points in the game?
Of course the big individual matchup in this one is 2014-15 NBA MVP Stephen Curry against the guy that finished second in the voting, James Harden. Some speculated that the Rockets struggled early in that Clippers series because Harden was pouting a bit because he didn't win the award. Both players are listed as a pick'em to have the most points, with Harden a slight -120 favorite. Harden is averaging 26.7 points in the playoffs compared to 27.4 during the regular season. He averaged 25.3 points in the four regular-season games with the Warriors. He had a high of 34 points and low of 12. Curry is averaging 28.2 points in the playoffs after 23.8 during the season. He averaged 25.8 points against Houston -- not having Beverley will hurt most here because he was a very good defender.
NBA Playoffs Props Pick- Harden. The Houston Rockets need him to score more than the Warriors need Curry to because Golden State also has Klay Thompson.
Total made 3-point shots
Curry is given a total of 4.5, with the 'under' a -145 favorite. Harden is at 2.5 with the 'over' a -135 favorite. Thompson is at 3.5, with the 'under' a -165 favorite. No teams in the NBA rely more on the 3-pointer than these two. Houston led the NBA in attempting a whopping 32.7 3-pointers per game while Golden State was No. 4 at 27.0 per; the Warriors led the league in 3-point percentage. Curry led the NBA with a record 646 3-point attempts while Harden was No. 3 with 555 and Thompson No. 5 with 545. Curry led in makes at 3.6 per game, Thompson was No. 2 with 3.1 and Harden No. 5 with 2.6. Curry set an NBA record for made 3-pointers in a four-game playoff series with 20 against the Pelicans and then set the record for a six-game series with 26 against the Grizzlies. Curry is the fastest player in NBA history to reach 100 career playoff 3-pointers. The Warriors essentially let the Grizzlies shoot 3-pointers in the final three games of that series; they can't replicate that strategy here.
NBA Playoffs Props Pick- Curry 'under,' Harden 'over,' Thompson 'over' with your NBA picks.
Will Dwight Howard score more than 28.5 points? Will he have a double-double?
No is a huge -1600 favorite on the points, while yes is a -350 favorite on the double-double with no at +275. This series could swing on whether Howard can dominate Andrew Bogut down low and perhaps get Bogut into foul trouble because he is the key to the Warriors' defense. Howard was a new man in the Clippers series once Houston was down 3-1; he was terrible in the Game 4 loss. Howard scored at least 16 points and had at least 15 rebounds in each of the final three games. In his two regular-season games against the Warriors, Howard averaged 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds.
NBA Playoffs Props Pick- No on the points and yes on the double-double.