Welcome to the Wednesday, May 8 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)
- May 6: Rockets 112, Warriors 108 (Toyota Center)
5/8/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Golden State Warriors (57-25 reg. season, 6-4 postseason) vs. Houston Rockets (53-29 reg. season, 6-3 postseason)
This is one of the most incorrect lines we’ve seen in the NBA playoffs other than the Bucks only giving 1.5 points in Game 4 at Boston on Monday. Houston covered a six-point spread in both losses at Oracle Arena and looked to be the better team in two narrow wins at home.
Now the Rockets return to Oracle, where they won twice during the regular season, with the momentum. Steph Curry regained his form in Game 4, but Klay Thompson continues to struggle with his shot and neither Splash Brother is getting many good looks against a Rockets team that ranked second in opponents 3-point shooting (.340%) this season.
Both Game 3 and Game 4 followed a similar script with the Rockets shooting well from beyond the arc and threatening to pull away before the Warriors initiated a late comeback. The unstoppable talent of Kevin Durant was the only thing keeping Golden State in those games.
Durant’s true shooting percentage (.644%) continued to rise on Monday and the Rockets have few answers for the reigning Finals MVP. But no matter how good he is, one man is likely incapable of leading a blowout win in a battle between even teams.
The Rockets simply have more depth right now. Houston owns a 76-42 advantage in points off the bench and has found an additional playmaker down the stretch in Austin Rivers. Meanwhile, the Warriors are completely dependent on Durant and Curry to initiate offense with Draymond Green operating as a pass-first point forward per usual. Green and Andre Iguodala are relatively inconsistent shooters and that’s allowed the Rockets to sell out in preventing threes from Curry and Thompson.
Thompson did shoot 47.6% from the floor and 40.8% from downtown at Oracle this year and will almost certainly bounce back with a useful performance. If he catches fire, the Dubs might be able to pull away. But otherwise, we’re almost certainly looking at another close finish and potentially, another Rockets victory.
While the Warriors are ultra-dependent on Durant, the Rockets are obviously dependent on James Harden. But Houston’s offensive system has been built around Harden since Mike D’Antoni took over three years ago. The rest of the Rockets are quite comfortable acting as role players in support of Harden and many are starring in their roles.
P.J. Tucker has been invaluable with double-digit rebounds in consecutive wins, Clint Capela is making a tremendous impact on the defensive end, and Chris Paul is providing the occasional respite for Harden by running the offense at times.
Houston’s second option is clearly Eric Gordon, who posted a 25.1% usage rate over the two games at Toyota Center. Gordon actually shot better (38%) from downtown on the road this season and scored 25 points on 4-for-12 shooting from deep in his sole trip to Oracle. His aggressive approach is putting a lot of pressure on Curry to defend and that might play a role in Curry’s relatively poor shooting this series.
The Rockets won the rebounding battle, 54-34, in Game 3 and won it again (50-43) by a slim margin in Game 4. Houston is playing with a ton of confidence and aggression right now. The Rockets might deservedly feel as though the Warriors got lucky with a couple of non-calls to win Game 1 and won Game 2 thanks to Harden’s eye injury.
The Final Word
As you might have inferred, we’re leaning heavily towards the Rockets (+6 on FanDuel Sportsbook) in what should be another close finish. It is definitely worth considering Houston (+220 on DraftKings Sportsbook) on the Moneyline in a game that should have been assigned a point spread of 2 or 3 points rather than 6.
The Warriors are just 18-26-1 against the spread (ATS) as home favorites this season and postseason and 24-29 ATS when playing on 1 day of rest.
Houston is 6-3 ATS these playoffs and a solid 27-26-3 ATS when playing on 1 day of rest this season and postseason.
Since Game 4 literally hit the assigned point total (220) on some books, betting the Over/Under is a riskier proposition. We will point out that the Warriors averaged more PPG (118.1) an allowed more PPG (111.5) at home this season. Yet 27 of their 36 home games went Under the expected point total.
Houston will likely look to take the air out of the stadium with Harden taking the air out of the ball on every possession. The Rockets also went 17-26-2 against the Over/Under on the road with more of their games going Under the expected point total. So if you’re brave, parlay the Under (219 on BetStars Sportsbook) with the Rockets spread. Their defense is a weapon that has somehow held the Splash Brothers in check.
The Pick: Rockets (+6)