NBA West Playoffs — Go “Low” With Warriors vs. Rockets in Game 2


I think that with all of the awesome offensive talent that is on display in the NBA Western Conference playoff series between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, folks might have a tendency to expect a high-flying shootout whenever they meet. Indeed, there is the possibility of such a thing happening. But if you take a look at what has taken place when these teams have gotten together, you’d realize that the emphasis has been on defense.

Might that be the case when they get together for Game 2? It tips off at 10:35 PM ET at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Game 1 was a struggle for the defending world champions, who had to go to seven games in beating Houston last season. It was a 104-100 final, ending in controversy as James Harden was sore about getting fouled on a three-point attempt. It was another instance where the Rockets through they got “jobbed.” But this piece is not about the officials. It’s about a pattern, and the way we have to proceed, according to that pattern.

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Here are the numbers on Game 2 of the NBA West playoffs, as posted at BetAnySports, and they include reduced juice, which offers the best deal in the online sportsbook industry, as you can avoid laying the customary -110 on basketball:

Golden State Warriors -5.5 (-103)
Houston Rockets +5.5 (-107)

Over 220.5 points (-103)
Under 220.5 points (-107)

The image most of the public has about coach Mike D’Antoni of the Rockets is that he is a practitioner of racehorse basketball. And they wouldn’t be all that wrong; if it’s his choice, his team is going to get rid of the ball in seven seconds or less, the way they did in Phoenix. Of course, those Suns had the right personnel to do it. In his other stops, D’Antoni encountered “superstars” that didn’t necessarily fit in to all that. In Houston, the Rockets have gradually slowed the game, with Harden and Chris Paul, to the point where they were 26th in the NBA in the “Pace” category this season. So D’Antoni, who sure knows how to adapt, is running a team that is in no hurry at all, but shoots as many threes as possible.

Harden probably needs to shoot fewer triples; in his last eight playoff games against Golden State he is below 25% from beyond the arc. And in fact, looking at the last ten meetings between these teams, neither one of them has really put on a three-point explosion. In those meetings, only three times has any team shot 40% or better from long range (all of that was G-State).

Nine of the last ten games have gone under the total, and eight of those they have gone at last THIRTEEN points under the total. Eight of the last ten encounters have gone under the total that is posted in Game 2. And interestingly enough, free throws – which stop the clock and offer high-percentage yield – did not help the “over” players very much in Game 1. The teams combined for 56 shots from the charity stripe; that’s the most in these ten meetings we are spotlighting, and they made 45 (that’s 80.4% – pretty high).

So make no mistake about it; these guys aren’t gliding. They’re grinding. And we wouldn’t be shocked if they grind some more, as we feel we have no choice but to follow the numbers to another “under’ play on Tuesday night.

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