The Houston Rockets came out flat in Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors. Will they get steamrolled one more time by the basketball odds in Monday's Game 4?
Jason’s record as of May 23: 78-81-5 ATS, 19-19 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML, 6-2 Series (plus-4.0 units)
Wait, wasn't there supposed to have been a great basketball game Saturday night? Apparently the Houston Rockets didn't get the invitation, because they didn't show up for Game 3 of their Western Conference final against the Golden State Warriors. Golden State took it straight to the Rockets, winning 115-80 and easily covering the NBA odds as a 1.5-point road dog. Phooey. At least we had chips and dip.
That was the first payday for the Warriors in this series. Will there be another? With Houston already facing elimination, the NBA odds for Monday's Game 4 (9:00 p.m. ET) have shifted quite dramatically, making the Houston Rockets a 4.5-point puppies at most of our featured online sportsbooks. You can get the Rox +5 if you shop around. But according to our consensus reports at press time, only 39 percent of the betting public is interested in Houston, even at that bargain price.
The pessimism is entirely understandable. After two very close games in Oakland, the Rockets had the opportunity to “hold serve” with a couple of home wins at The Showroom. Instead, the Warriors shot 11-of-28 from long range on Saturday, while Houston exploded on the launch pad at 5-for-25. It was a waste of another solid game from Dwight Howard, who was healthy enough to post 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting with 14 rebounds – four of those on the offensive end.
Maybe the Rockets need a couple more Howards on the floor. Golden State had a monster game on the boards Saturday night, dragging down 60 rebounds (!) to Houston's 39. All 13 Warriors who played had at least one rebound. James Michael McAdoo had a rebound. Brandon Rush had two of them. Cleaning up those boards (including 17 on the offensive glass) led to 17 added shot opportunities for the Warriors.
You don't want to give Stephen Curry too many extra shots. He scored 40 points in Game 3, and it was a very efficient 40 points on 12-of-19 from the floor. Curry sank seven of his nine trey attempts; he's shooting 44.8 percent from behind the arc in these playoffs, up a hair from his 44.3-percent clip during the regular season despite the tougher level of competition. We'll probably be handing Curry the Finals MVP award once all is said and done.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, though. We went into this series thinking it was closer than advertised, and although the Rockets are down 0-3 straight up, they're still winning 2-1 as far as our NBA picks are concerned. A “normal” game from the Rox would give them an excellent shot of making it 3-1 ATS on Monday. Those extra 6.5 points don't hurt, either.
We've seen the Rockets man up before. They were down three games to one in their Western semifinal against the Los Angeles Clippers, who put the boots to Houston in back-to-back games at The Stapler before losing the next three games SU and ATS. Of course, coming back from a 0-3 deficit is another matter. It has yet to be done in the history of the NBA. We're talking 116 series here.
Too bad. We don't need the Rockets to win the series – okay, it would be nice. But for the purposes of this pick, we only need them not to lose at home by more than four points Monday night. Sure, Houston could come out with zero energy and let the Warriors roll all over them. We'll take our chances that the “true” talent levels of both teams will be displayed in Game 4, in which case, there might even be a Game 5 on Wednesday.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Rockets at The Greek