Rockets vs. Warriors NBA Picks: When Did Houston Stop Caring?

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 6:08 PM GMT

The Warriors begin life without Steph Curry in Game 5 at home against the Rockets as the Warriors look to reach the West semifinals. They are -9.5 on the NBA odds with a total of 211.5.

Rockets Facing Interesting Offseason
If the Rockets lose this game as expected, they are likely to look a lot different next season. If you have watched this series  closely, it truly appears the Rockets just don't care most of the time. Like they are going through the motions and ready for the offseason to begin. The only sure thing to return next season is guard James Harden, the NBA's second-leading scorer. But he also has appeared very nonchalant on defense against the Warriors.

Dwight Howard is 100 percent playing his final game in a Houston uniform on Wednesday if the Rockets lose. He will opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. Howard won't be back with Houston because he doesn't like playing second fiddle to Harden. Apparently Howard doesn't realize he's not a dominant player any longer. He has symbolized Houston's lack of effort in this series. 

Houston needs a perhaps strong-minded coach to revamp the attitude of whichever players stay. Interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is not expected back. Jeff Van Gundy reportedly is a leading candidate to take over. Van Gundy was 182-146 with the Rockets and resigned as coach in 2007 after four seasons and still lives in the city. Houston might have had interest in Tom Thibodeau but he has taken over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Rockets aren't sure if starting point guard Patrick Beverley will play in Game 5. He's dealing with a hamstring injury and was a non-factor in the 121-94 Game 4 loss with two points, two fouls and two turnovers in 16 minutes. If Beverley can't play, that puts more pressure on Harden in terms of handling the ball. Jason Terry also would see more minutes.

Houston was 17-24 against the spread on NBA odds on the road this season and 24-17 'over/under' away from home.

 

Wild Monday For Warriors' Fortunes
What a crazy 8 hours or so it was for Golden State on Monday. The NBA world waited as the Warriors announced the results of the MRI on the knee injury that Steph Curry, who will repeat as NBA MVP this season, suffered at the end of the first half of Game 4. It was actually pretty good news that Curry suffered only a Grade 1 strain and would be re-evaluated in two weeks. That there were no torn ligaments was huge.

With that news, sportsbooks everywhere quickly moved San Antonio into the favored role to win the NBA title. The thinking was that the Warriors might have trouble beating the Los Angeles Clippers in the next round with Curry missing anywhere from three games to the series. But luck smiled on the Warriors late Monday night when Clippers superstar Chris Paul broke his right hand vs. Portland, likely ruling him out the rest of the playoffs. Plus Blake Griffin re-injured his quad. It's highly unlikely the Clippers could beat the Warriors without Paul. L.A. might not even beat the Blazers in that series now. Portland probably isn't good enough to beat the Warriors even if Curry misses a large chunk of the series. Sportsbooks like BookMaker have since readjusted NBA odds with the Warriors back as -110 favorites to repeat as NBA champions.

The Warriors are 3-2 this season in games Curry has missed, including Games 2-3 in this series. During the regular season, the Warriors were outscored by 3.7 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the bench. He has been worth about 5-6 points on the spread this season. The Game 4 spread in Houston rose five points to Warriors -8.5 once it was announced Curry was available.  It was -13 when Curry played  in Game 1 at home.

Certainly the Warriors can't afford another injury in Game 5. The offense will now run through guard Klay Thompson and do-everything forward Draymond Green. Shaun Livingston will start in Curry's place. He averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in the two games Curry missed in this series. And it should be noted that if Beverley sits for Houston, he's the team's best perimeter defender.

Golden State got some good news on Tuesday when Steve Kerr was named NBA Coach of the Year despite missing the first 43 games following back surgery. Shouldn't Kerr have to share that with assistant Luke Walton? He led the Warriors to a 39-4 record without Kerr.

The Warriors were 22-19 ATS on NBA picks at home during the season and 22-18-1 O/U there.

I have little doubt the Warriors win -- they want this series over to rest up as much as possible for the next round and  hope Clippers-Blazers goes seven games. Will Houston show any fight? I am going to give the Rockets the benefit of the doubt and say yes, so  I'll take the points. Go 'over.' The Warriors are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after a double-digit win. Houston is 5-2 ATS in its past seven after a loss. The 'over' is 8-1 in Houston's past nine following a double-digit loss. 

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Free NBA Pick: Over 211.5
Best Line Offered: at YouWager