Welcome to the Saturday, May 4 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for today’s Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets playoff matchup I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Regular-season series results:
- Nov. 15: Rockets 107, Warriors 86 (Toyota Center)
- Jan. 3: Rockets 135, Warriors 134 (OT) (Oracle Arena)
- Feb. 23: Rockets 118, Warriors 112 (Oracle Arena)
- March 13: Warriors 106, Rockets 104 (Toyota Center)
Playoff series results:
- April 28: Warriors 104, Rockets 100 (Oracle Arena)
- April 30: Warriors 115, Rockets 109 (Oracle Arena)
5/4/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Golden State Warriors (57-25 reg. season, 6-2 postseason) vs. Houston Rockets (53-29 reg. season, 4-3 postseason)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Rockets -3.5 (o/u: 221.5)
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Rockets -3.5 (o/u: 221.5)
888 Sportsbook Odds: Rockets -3.5 (o/u: 221.5)
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Rockets -3.5 (o/u: 221.5)
Bad luck seemed to doom the Rockets in Game 2, as James Harden missed most of the first half and was ostensibly hampered by an injury to both eyes. He still shot 9-for-16 from the field after returning and his temporary absence seemed to spark the Rockets offense a bit by putting more onus on Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and reserves Austin Rivers and Gerald Green.
Houston will look to carry that momentum into a must-win situation at home, where they went 31-10 and averaged 116.8 PPG (vs 111 PPG on the road) this year. The Rockets hit 16.8 threes and attempted an absurd 46.4 threes per game at home this season, so we can expect the pace to pick up in Game 3. You have to go all the way back to Oct. 30 to find a Rockets home game in which they failed to top 100 points, and that includes their playoff series with Utah’s second-rated defense.
After some inconsistency earlier this season, Golden State turned into the seasoned road Warriors we’ve come to know, winning 10 of their last 13 games away from Oracle. That includes a 106-104 over the Rockets at Toyota Center and three wins at Staples Center over the Clippers last round.
Kevin Durant averaged more PPG (26.4) on a higher usage rate (29.7%) in road games this season. Then he averaged 40.3 PPG on 41-for-70 FG shooting (58.6%) to lead the Dubs in those three wins at Staples Center. With Steph Curry (ankle, hand) and Klay Thompson (ankle) both hobbled, it will fall on the reigning Finals MVP to try and silence the Rockets crowd and provide key daggers on the road.
The resurgence of Draymond Green has certainly played a role in Golden State snaring a 2-0 lead. Even while his streak of missed 3-pointers continued, Green provided a stellar line with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals in Game 2. Green and Andre Iguodala (154 offensive rating) actually led the Dubs starting lineup in efficiency and helped frustrate the Rockets into 17 turnovers.
For the Rockets, shooting 17-for-40 (.425%) from 3-point range and still coming up short is a bad sign. We expected positive regression from the NBA’s most three-happy team, but it wasn’t enough since the Warriors shot 46.2% from the floor and won the turnover and rebounding battle by a slight margin.
The key is obviously Harden, who averaged more PPG (37.9) with an incredible 123 offensive rating and 41.1% usage rate at home this season.
Chris Paul also posted a 123 offensive rating while seeing lower volume in home games. Yet CP3 has been great offensively in this series and turned up his efforts with a .657% true shooting percentage in four regular season meetings with the Dubs.
P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela rebounded from quiet Game 1 performances to nearly give the Rockets enough for a road win and both players will have to contribute big efforts on the boards.
The aggressive nature of Harden, Gordon, and Paul led to foul trouble for both Durant and Curry last game. Curry nearly (and should have according to the 2-minute report) fouled out in Game 1 and the Rockets might be able to pull away if they get either of those superstars into trouble.
The Final Word
Houston covered in Game 1 and came extremely close or covered in Game 2 depending on the line on each particular sportsbook. Now favored, the Rockets (-3.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook) are certainly capable of bouncing back against a Warriors team that will be far less desperate.
Houston went 25-17-2 against the spread (ATS) at home for the fifth-best percentage in the NBA this year. However, the Rockets were 14-16-1 ATS after a loss, and Golden State was 4-2 when rarely listed as road underdogs.
This game is being played with ample rest, which should play in favor of the Rockets and Harden. It also helps a veteran in CP3, who posted a 124 offensive rating on 3-plus days rest this year.
We lean towards taking the Rockets (-3.5) given the likelihood they get favorable whistles at home with the NBA certainly invested in seeing this series go six or seven games. The sharps are on Houston with 60% of bets coming in on the Warriors, but 70% of money coming in on the Rockets.
The stronger bet may once again be the Under (221.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook). The point total is up from opening at 219.5 and sharps are starting to hammer the Under with that extra leeway.
Dating back to last playoffs, the past four Rockets-Warriors games at Toyota Center have only averaged a combined total of 197 PPG.
The Pick: Under (221.5)