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May 16, 2018

There is one NBA pick tonight.

Take Houston Rockets -1 spread (buy the half point) against Golden State Warriors for 3% of the bankroll.

The Rockets find themselves in what is essentially a 'must-win' situation tonight. Having lost the first game of the Western conference finals, their chances would take a huge hit mathematically if they were to fall down 0-2 in the series! What makes that even worse is that these first two games were in Houston and it goes without saying that there aren't many teams in playoff history that have managed to advance after losing the first two games at home! Expect Mike D'Antoni's crew to know the full significance of this matchup therefore and play accordingly, with a great sense of urgency. 

Houston finished the regular season as the #1 seed in the West and with the best overall record in the NBA! That didn’t happen for no reason. They are not the perfect team but they are a dangerously talented group that has learned to play extremely well together. They improved tremendously on the defensive end after bringing in the likes of PJ Tucker and Chris Paul and watching Clint Capela make a case for ‘Most Improved Player’ with his growth as a legitimate rim-protector. In the series opener, they didn’t do a good job of slowing down the Warriors, allowing them to put up 119 points but we believe they will make the right adjustments in this game to even up the series. Houston has an extremely high-powered offense themselves and led the league in a number of important categories! This could be another high-scoring game but one that sees Golden State struggle to keep up. 

The Rockets hurt themselves with 16 turnovers in Game 1. The Warriors scored 17 points off those turnovers and that was one of the main decisive factors in the opener as Houston only managed 9 points off turnovers themselves! Look for Houston’s normally reliable ball-handlers like James Harden, Chris Paul and Eric Gordon to do a better job of protecting the ball than they did in that matchup. Gordon had 4 turnovers off the bench and was not as efficient as the reigning 6th Man of the Year can be. Harden scored 41 points but the rest of his teammates didn’t do enough. We expect the others to step up in this game and play more like they have all season. 

A lot has been said about the ‘Hampton’s 5’ lineup of Warriors that goes truly small-ball with Draymond Green playing at Center! It is no doubt an effective group on the floor but we believe it is a lineup that is best used sparingly and in short spurts. Steve Kerr and the coaching staff have been going to it all too often recently and while the results have been good, it is only a matter of time before the weaknesses of this particular combo is exposed. We believe Clint Capela can do a better job in this game than he did in Game 1 for example, as can other role players like Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker and Gerald Green off the bench. Capela has the size and athleticism to grab offensive boards off missed chances for Houston and should trouble whoever’s guarding him in the post. The Rockets didn’t do a good job of capitlizing on mismatches in the series opener but should make up for that tonight.

Another decisive factor in Game 1 that saw the visitors come out victorious was the difference in fastbreak points. Golden State pushed the ball up the floor quickly and scored 18 points on the break while the normally up-tempo Rockets had just 3 fast-break points all game! Some of that obviously is credit to the Warriors’ excellent transition defense but some of it came down to poor execution and uncharacteristic turnovers. When all is said and done, we believe Houston will have done a much better job in this game than in the opener and should even up the series at one game apiece. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Houston is 28-8 when the total has been set at 220 points or higher! 
  • Houston is 19-6 when seeking revenge for a loss! 
  • Houston is 13-3 after allowing 115 or more points to an opponent! 

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