Last Updated: 2019-05-08
The No. 4 seed Houston Rockets outlasted the No. 1 seed Golden State Warriors 112-108 in Game 4 to even their Western Conference semifinal series that heads to Oracle Arena in Oakland for Game 5 Wednesday night. All four games of the series were decided by six or fewer points, and we saw overtime in Game 3, so the next one should have a similar scenario that promises a tremendous battle. Last year, Golden State defeated Houston in the conference finals, winning Game 7 at Toyota Center in Houston, so the Rockets look keen to get a payback.
Houston could miss Danuel House who’s recovering from a toe injury, while Golden State will be without DeMarcus Cousins (quadriceps). Andre Iguodala had some problems with his knee in Game 4, but the Warriors hope he’ll be ready to go.
The Warriors opened as 6-point favorites with the total at 219.5 points and the Rockets at +215 money line odds. The over has hit in the previous three games of the series after the opener was finished in the under. The Rockets are 3-1 ATS over the previous four contests, covering on both occasions at home along with a 6-point spread in Game 1 when they lost 104-100.
What’s at Stake?
This is a huge game for the Warriors who blew a 2-0 lead in this series and will be in big trouble if they suffer another loss, as the series heads to Houston for Game 6. On the other side, the Rockets have a great opportunity to take the lead and play for the conference finals in front of the home audience.
The Rockets won two straight games and will try to keep the momentum on their side, but it will be a tall task against the Warriors who are 22-3 in their last 25 playoff games at Oracle Arena. However, two of those three defeats came against the Clippers in the first round this postseason.
James Harden went off in the previous two games which is the main reason for the Rockets’ success. The Beard had 41 points in Game 3 and 38 points in Game 4, carrying the Rockets’ offense on his back. Eric Gordon is another offensive force in this series, and after scoring 30 points in Game 3, Gordon accounted for 20 points in Game 4, but he made just two of his 12 attempts from deep.
On a team level, the Rockets adapted to the Warriors’ style of play. The reigning champions tortured the Rockets over the first two games with their small ball lineup, but the Mike D’Antoni founded the right answer. P.J. Tuckers spent much time at center in the last two contests, and he had a big night on Monday with 17 points, ten rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a net rating of +11.
On the other side, Kevin Durant is leading the way for the Warriors, averaging 36.0 points a night in this series. Stephen Curry has struggled over the first three games, but he scored 30 points on Monday. However, Klay Thompson had just 11 points in Game 4, while the Splash Brothers are throwing bricks from beyond the arc. Thompson shot 1-of-6 from deep, while Curry made just four treys out of 14 attempts.
The Rockets are doing a great job at the defensive end, especially when it comes to defending a 3-point line. The Warriors shot 38.5% from downtown in the regular season (3rd in the league), and the reigning champions are making just 32.2% of their 3-pointers in this series. The Rockets were allowing their rivals to shoot 34.0% from beyond the 3-point line in the regular season (2nd in the league), while their opponents are making only 28.7% of their 3-pointers this postseason.
Each of the first four games was a real thriller that could go either way, so I expect to see another one Wednesday night. The Warriors are favorites for a reason, playing on the home court, but they are really struggling against the Rockets’ defense, so I’m backing the visitors to cover a 6-point spread. Houston has improved significantly at the defensive end, while James Harden is ready to step up in clutch time even if the Warriors improve their shooting. I expect the Warriors to start knocking down some threes, but the Rockets should respond, as they are taking the most 3-point attempts in the league this season. Hereof, I would take the over on the totals, despite the fact that both teams are playing tough, physical defense.
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