Warriors vs. Rockets NBA Picks: Go 'Under' 210.5 If Curry Is Out

Kevin Stott

Thursday, December 31, 2015 5:13 PM GMT

After losing to the Mavericks in Dallas on Wednesday night, the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors head across the Lone Star State to Houston to face James Harden and the Rockets in a huge Western Conference showdown on New Year’s Eve.

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NBA Pick: Under 210.5

Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

This could be a big test for the visitors. But possibly without star Stephen Curry for a second straight night on back-to-back games on a tough Texas Road swing could be too much for the record-setting Globetrotters of the NBA. Let’s take a look at all of the particulars and try to find a pick or to in what could be a very close and entertaining game from the Toyota Center in Space City.

 

Odds Overview
Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets [Friday 00:00] (CSN-B, TSN, NBA League Pass 3, NBA League Pass 4 (US), 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST): The Golden State Warriors (29-2, 14-2 Road) head to the Toyota Center in Houston on Thursday night (New Year’s Eve) to face Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets (16-17 SU, 10-8 Home) in a Western Conference showdown and big game for the hosts who need to show they can beat this juggernaut that is the Warriors in the Regular Season. This is the second of three meetings between the two teams this season. Oddsmakers have opened the Rockets 1-point favorites (Pinnacle, now up to 1½) here with the game’s Total (Points) set at 211½ (Pinnacle, now down to 210). The Money Line odds sees Golden State priced at -128 (Bookmaker) with host Houston lined at +106 on the takeback. The Houston Rockets Team Total Points has been set at 106 (Under -110, BetVictor) with the Golden State Warriors Team Total Points at 104 (BetVictor). The 1st Half odds see the Rockets as 1-point favorites (-105, Titan Bet) with the Total set at 106½u -120 (Marathon).

 

Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors (19-11-1 ATS Record, 10-5 ATS Road) and interim Head Coach Luke “Give that man a raise!” Walton face the daunting task of the second straight night of that dreaded Texas Road Trip here on Thursday in Houston (possibly without MVP Stephen Curry) when they play a team in the Rockets they faced in last year’s NBA Playoffs (Golden State won 4-1, 2-3 ATS in series). Walton the Junior has been filling in more than admirably for Steve Kerr while the Warriors Head Coach in on an indefinite Leave of Absence because of a Spinal Fluid Leak and Kerr is reportedly traveling with Golden State on this Dallas-Houston Road trip and may return the sidelines soon as rumors are cropping up that Walton may be a candidate for the Phoenix Suns Head Coaching job should the team decide to part ways with Jeff Hornacek. Against Houston at the Toyota Center, Golden State’s (+175 to win NBA Championship, Ladbrokes) wonderful Starting 5 (PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Harrison Barnes, PF Draymond Green, C Andrew Bogut) could again be without two key cogs with Brandon Rush possibly filling in for the  injured Harrison Barnes (Ankle) and Shaun Livingston (8 points in Loss to Mavs) trying to fill Curry’s (Bruise, Lower Left Leg) big sneakers. And besides Curry and Barnes, Warriors teammate SG Leandro Barbosa (Shoulder) and backup C Festus Ezeli are also hurt.

There is no solid timetable for Barnes return, but like Keer, it feels like sooner than later is the answer and 2016 seems like the perfect time to get you starting Small Forward and beloved head coach back, no matter how well young Luke Skywalker is doing manning the X-Wing Starfighter that is the Warriors. To get over that proverbial hump here, the Warriors will have to get much better production from Barnes’ fill-in’s Brandon Rush (6 points, 3 rebounds in 122-103 Win at Sacramento on Monday night against the Kings) and Andre Iguodala (0 points, 6 rebounds vs. Kings) as their combined 6 points as Sacramento would usually be (not) enough to doom Golden State (W5-6) backers as well as Curry (and Barnes) not be able to go (Curry is Listed as Questionable on Wednesday morning, thus the Point Spread). But logic says without Curry and Barnes and on the second night of this dreaded trip every team in the NBA hates, maybe the decision to rest Curry (23 points vs. Kings on Monday)—who sat out Tuesday night’s, 114-91, blowout setback against the Mavericks—may already have been made. So to win, Thompson and Green will have to lead the Warriors (18-1 SU vs. Western Conference) and this team may have to play the perfect game now because without Curry (as well as Barnes, Ezeli and Barbosa), this mighty team from the Bay Area is beatable on the Road and Houston is catching this train at the perfect time.

 

Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets (13-20 ATS, 7-11 ATS Home) and interim Head Coach JB Bickerstaff aren’t exactly having the season they expected, now sitting under the .500 mark (16-17) after getting beat by the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday in Houston. And whereas Golden State gets nothing but production and energy from their starting Power Forward spot, the Rockets are working with young Clint Capela there, he of the 7.7 ppg and 7.0 rpg—although Capela had a really nice game Tuesday (17 points, 10 rebounds)—a nice fit between SF Trevor Ariza and three-time Defensive Player of the Year and C Dwight Howard, but in games like this one against the defending NBA champions where they may a true Green-Capela or Green-Terrence Jones (Questionable, Illness) or a Green-Marcus Thornton (10.9 ppg) matchup at PF, Golden State is always going to get that grind going and have the edge down low. And when Barnes is back, few NBA teams can matchup with the Warriors front three in the paint.

So to beat the Warriors, Houston will hope Curry and Thompson have off shooting nights on the same night and hope SG James Harden (28.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 6.0 apg) and PG Patrick Beverley (8.5 ppg) are on for them. And that’s a lot of hoping there. The Rockets (66/1 to win NBA Championship, Ladbrokes) does have some nice components on its Bench, but the scoring guys like Donatas Motiejunas (5.8 ppg), PG Jason Terry (5.6 ppg), PG Ty Lawson (6.2 ppg) and SG Corey Brewer (6.9 ppg) contribute just hasn’t been enough to make this feel like a balanced Rockets (L2) team to date, thus possibly the firing of Head Coach Kevin McHale back in November just 11 games in the season. Maybe the franchise wishes they still had Mr. McHale around. One never knows.

 

Series Trends, Logical Reasoning and ATS Pick
When these two teams last played earlier this season in the second game of the year here at the Toyota Center in Houston, the Warriors won and covered ATS, 112-92 (HOU -2) and Curry (30.5 ppg, 6.4 apg, 5.7 rpg) and Golden State have covered 6 straight games ATS in the Regular Season against Houston (8-3 ATS L11 vs. Rockets) winning by a healthy average of 14.0 ppg. But that’s with Curry playing. And with Thompson and Golden State covering ATS at a 66.7% clip on the Road (10-5 ATS) it’s tough to make a case for off-and-on Houston even at Home, even on the second night of Road back-to-backs for the Warriors in this precarious spot on the schedule and even with Curry maybe siting a second straight night.

From examining some Box Scores, it seems the Rockets are an incredibly schizophrenic team which will play one really good quarter—like they did against Atlanta in the 1Q on Tuesday, putting 41 points on the board (to Atlanta’s 25)—and then fall apart the next one or the one thereafter, making that dead-even 16-16 SU Record heading into that game perfectly understandable. The Over is 10-2 ATS the L12 Warriors games, but the Under is 10-4 ATS the L14 meetings in this series in H-town.

On Tuesday, the Rockets were defeated by the the Atlanta Hawks in Houston in a high-scoring affair, 121-115, as Howard scored 30 and team-leader Harden added 26—after being up 41-26 at the end of the 1st Quarter. McHale? McHale... Kevin McHale are you still in the building? If so please report to Team Manager Daryl Morey’s office.

So the Rockets will not only have the advantages of being at Home and not having had to travel after Tuesday night’s game and having 1 Day Rest (Houston 8-10-1 on 1 Day Rest) along with the fact that Golden State will be playing on 0 Days Rest (5-2 ATS) and will have had to make the trip from Dallas to Houston. Still, that 5-0 ATS mark the L5 in this series and that 14.0 ppg average margin of victory along with the 10-4 ATS Road Record (71.4%) for Golden State, Houston’s weak overall 13-20 ATS mark (39.4%) and the likelihood Golden State will be Mad after Wednesday’s Loss in Big D, backing these road Warriors the call as at least this team can be counted on to be consistent, even as Barnes has healed. And consistency matters. And they key here may be to see if Curry plays, with an announcement likely not coming when oddsmakers or the bettors want.

That makes putting any large amount on this basketball game potentially a hardwood crapshoot a the Warriors without Stephen Curry are like The Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger. Assuming Curry sits, the play here is the Rockets but if the Davidson product laces them up and goes, best flip sides and take the Warriors. This Injury to Curry and him playing or not playing is everything for this handicap and decision to bet. Best wait and see what that reality it is before wagering here.

Final Score Prediction: Rockets 105 Warriors 97