Beard and the Rockets are even with the defending champs as Game 5 tips off tonight on TNT.
Golden St. at Houston
Time: 8 PM CT, TNT
Odds c/o 5dimes
Many had already written off the Houston Rockets as the Golden State Warriors leaped to a 2-1 advantage with a game still to go at Oracle. Well, people are starting to re-think things after the Rockets tied the series two games apiece, as it now shifts back to Houston’s Toyota Center for a crucial swing game.
NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes have set the line EVEN, with a betting total of 219.5 points. Games 1 through 4 saw an average of 214.5 points. Game 4 was a rather large anomaly, as Houston won by a low tally of just 95-92. It is unlikely that both teams are below the century mark again, and oddsmakers consider it equally unlikely in setting the total 27.5 points higher than the Game 4 mark.
James Harden and Chris Paul, predictably, carried the Rockets to its game 4 victory. Paul scored 27 (which was over the player prop bet set by Bovada of 17.5 points) and Harden was good for 30 points, as the tandem combined to shoot 21 of 46 from the field and 8 of 21 from behind the arc. The rest of the Rockets were far less impressive, though sixth man Eric Gordon did deliver 14 points on 4 of 14 shooting off the bench in his 35 minutes of play. The difference in this game, for Houston, was its outstanding defense. It put the clamps on the seemingly unstoppable play of Kevin Durant, who was held to 27 points on 9 of 24 shooting.
Stephen Curry had a huge third quarter, but after the Warriors controlled the third quarter (34-17) it went cold in the fourth and Houston outscored Golden State 25-12 in the final quarter. It is tough to imagine the Warriors managing just a dozen points in 12 minutes, but that is what happened, and Golden State shot a very uncharacteristic 39.3 percent from the field while committing 16 turnovers to its mere 14 assists. It was as atypical of a game as one expects from the Dubs, and the slower pace did not at all suit the Warriors. Also, the absence of Andre Iguodala made things difficult and the Rockets’ backcourt going simply bananas illustrates how important “Iggy” is to Golden State.
The Rockets are going to need more help from its supporting cast with only its 3-guard rotation really providing much offense. A 95-point effort is unlikely to produce another win, and some takeaways can be made for Houston’s (still necessary) improvement in Game 5.
Among these are:
1- The Rockets must control the glass again. It held an 8—rebound advantage in Game 4, and it needs every aspect it can win, won.
2- Houston cannot shoot 39 percent and expect another win, most likely. Subtracting Chris Paul and James Harden, and the Rockets were just 9 of 31 from the field. That is remarkably poor.
3- Deepening the rotation: It is up to Mike D’Antoni to dig a little deeper and get some play from the likes of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Houston played just 7-players in Game 4, and Harden and Paul were on the court for a combined 85 minutes. That is not a sustainable model of winning.
Golden State, meanwhile, must look to rebound better, commit fewer turnovers, and get better backcourt defense. Expect a higher scoring game than what we saw in Game 4, with the Rockets more likely to emerge the victors simply because it is at home.
A team wins 85.9 percent of the time after taking a 3-2 series lead, so if Houston can snag this ‘W’ at home, it bodes very well for it pulling off the series upset. Houston did lead the NBA in wins (65) during the regular season, but we are now seeing that it was hardly any form of “fool’s gold.”