Rockets, Warriors Renew Rivalry as NBA Playoffs Reach Second Round
Posted on: April 28, 2019, 10:05h.
Last updated on: April 28, 2019, 10:05h.
It’s perhaps the most anticipated series of the NBA Playoffs, and it will tip off Sunday afternoon when Golden State hosts Houston for Game 1 of the best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal.
It’s a rematch of last year’s conference final, which saw Houston up 3-2 with two chances to win the series. Despite holding a 17-point lead in Game 6 at home and a 15-point lead in Game 7, the Rockets could not get the final win they needed to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1995.
Instead, the Warriors advanced to their fourth straight final and won their third championship in those four seasons by sweeping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This season, the Rockets beat the Warriors in three of their four matchups, but Golden State still finished with the conference’s best record to earn the top seed. Houston won the Southwest Division but finished tied overall with Portland at 53-29.
Because the Trailblazers won their season series with Houston, Portland earned the three seed, which is why the Warriors must face the Rockets earlier in the playoffs than many expected to go into the season.
Warriors Still Favored
Even though Houston won three of the four games against Golden State, the sportsbooks still believe in the defending champions.
FanDuel offers the Warriors at -280 for the series, meaning a bettor would need to wager $280 to win $100, while a $100 bet on the Rockets would win $215. At PointsBet, the Warriors are -286 to the Rockets +230. Meanwhile, offshore book 5Dimes has the Warriors at -275 and the Rockets +235.
For Game 1 in Oakland, the Warriors are a 5.5-point favorite. Oddsmakers initially made Golden State a 6.5-point favorite, but the line has since dropped after two of its top players may not play Sunday.
Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have injuries to their right ankles. Both were injured in the Friday’s series-clinching win in Los Angeles over the Clippers.
I’m not going to make a definitive statement on whether they’ll both play,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday. “Let’s just call it questionable. And there’s nothing implied there. They both came in today and got some work, and we’ll see how they’re doing.”
If neither can play to their All-Star capabilities – or play at all – it will put a bigger burden on Kevin Durant, who is coming off one of the best games in his career. In Friday’s 129-110 win, he scored 50 points, with 38 of those coming in the first half.
NBA Title Odds
Golden State remains the heavy favorite to win their third consecutive title and fourth in five years. PointsBet offers odds of -143, while FanDuel gives -135 odds. However, both books have the Rockets as their third choice on their boards, at +600 and +550 respectively.
Part of the reason is Houston has one of the best offenses in the game. Besides James Harden, who led the league with a 36.1 scoring average, the Rockets had five other players average at least 12.9 points a game this season.
“We are one of the few teams in the NBA that just worry about (ourselves) on any given night,” Rockets guard Chris Paul said in a USA Today article.
In addition, Houston comes into the series with more momentum. The Rockets dispatched of the Utah Jazz in just five games. Meanwhile, the Warriors went into their series with the Clippers as heavy favorites. However, they needed six games to eliminate the pesky Clippers after Los Angeles took two games in Oakland.
Game 1 starts Sunday at 3:30 pm ET. Game 2 will take place Tuesday night at 10:30 pm ET, and the series will move to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday night.