Welcome to the Monday, May 6 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for today’s Golden State-Houston 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)
- May 4: Rockets 126, Warriors 121 (OT) (Toyota Center)
5/6/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Golden State Warriors (57-25 reg. season, 6-3 postseason) vs. Houston Rockets (53-29 reg. season, 5-3 postseason)
The Warriors nearly overcame lackluster performances from both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to take a 3-0 lead over the Rockets Friday. That was largely because Kevin Durant continued to showcase why he is the most unguardable man on the planet.
Durant is now averaging 41.8 PPG on 54.5% FG shooting over four road games this postseason. His presence makes it very difficult to bet on a point spread against the Warriors. It’s only a matter of time before he finds his rhythm and wills the Dubs into a close finish.
Defensively, Golden State was keyed by Draymond Green and Durant in Game 3. Yet they were dominated on the glass (55 to 35 rebounding advantage for Houston) and might have to go away from the “Hamptons Five” lineup of Green, Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Andre Iguodala.
The Warriors also allowed Houston to shoot over 42% from long range for a second consecutive game. They just couldn’t match threes with Thompson and Curry going a combined 4-for-15 from deep.
Curry’s struggles against the Rockets continue. He’s now 21-for-67 (.313%) from 3-point range over seven meetings with Houston this season, including the playoffs. Curry also struggled in three road games at Toyota Center during last year’s playoffs, shooting a putrid 3-for-21 before he broke out in Game 7 when Chris Paul (hamstring) was unavailable.
Golden State’s lack of depth puts the defending champs in a tenuous position. The Dubs need Durant to carry their offense when teams are able to lock down the Splash Brothers on the perimeter. Yet that workload proved too much for KD in Game 3: he deferred down the stretch and was unable to complete the comeback.
The Rockets got back to their game on Saturday: shooting threes and lay-ups while avoiding mid-range shots at all costs. Houston hit 18 of 42 attempts (42.9%) from deep, and James Harden finished the barrage with a huge step-back three over Iguodala in overtime.
While the percentage is good, the approach may be unsustainable. Few of Houston’s 18 threes were assisted. Many were difficult looks that looped in over the hand of a defender. If those bombs aren’t falling, the Rockets could get into trouble in Game 4.
Chris Paul posted a meager 13% usage rate in Game 3, and Houston might need more aggression from the veteran PG to keep the Warriors defense from selling out on Harden and Eric Gordon. Those stars are reliable, but Iman Shumpert (who started 3-for-3) and Austin Rivers (2-for-4) might not cash in their looks from deep as efficiently.
P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela, and even Nene gave the Rockets a tangible advantage down low on Saturday and provided 20 points in the paint. Will the Warriors adjust by giving more minutes to Kevon Looney? Or will they try to exploit the Rockets with better spread offense and ball movement than they demonstrated throughout most of Game 3?
The Final Word
The Rockets did what they had to do in Game 3, playing a nearly perfect game on both ends of the floor. Yet it almost wasn’t enough because of Durant’s brilliance.
With Houston likely to regress toward the mean in terms of difficult three-point shooting, while Curry and Thompson could get hot at any moment, we prefer the Warriors (+2 on FanDuel Sportsbook) with a little bit of leeway. That line could grow even closer by Monday night with 70% of bets and slightly over half of the money coming in on the Warriors.
This series is particularly appealing for platforms with live betting. The Rockets could get out to a lead and thrive off emotion from their home crowd. But the Warriors are almost never rattled. If Houston gets up by double digits, as happened on Saturday, bet the Warriors to cover a growing point spread.
Game 3 went over the projected point total (221.5) in regulation and went way over in overtime. While we expect some regression in Game 4 in terms of 3-point shooting from both sides, these teams are likely too talented offensively to produce fewer than 110 points apiece.
The Rockets will look to dictate pace at home and prevent the Warriors from getting rolling in a fast-paced game. Still, you can bet Steve Kerr has some adjustments in place to get his offense flowing and help the Over (221 on BetStars Sportsbook) hit once again.
The Pick: Warriors (+2) and Over (221)