olden State (68-27 straight up, 41-53-1 against the spread) took a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals against Houston on Sunday night. Steph Curry emerged from a 2.5-game slump and exploded in the third quarter of Game 3, draining all seven of his shots and scoring 18 of his game-high 35 points.
Curry had been held to 34 combined points in Games 1 and 2 at Houston. The ninth-year guard and two-time NBA MVP out of Davidson College made 13-of-23 field-goal attempts, 5-of-12 attempts from 3-point range and 4-of-4 free-throw attempts.
Kevin Durant added 25 points, six rebounds and six assists without a turnover for the winners. All five Golden State starters were in double figures in the 126-85 victory as a 7.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The 211 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 226.5-point total.
Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala scored 13, 10 and 10 points, respectively. Green had 17 rebounds, two steals, one blocked shot and six assists compared to just one turnover. Thompson finished with three assists and a pair of blocks.
Golden State head coach Steve Kerr summed up Game 3 like this: “Tonight was all about defense and taking care of the ball. That’s it. When we defend at that level and take care of the ball, we’re usually in pretty good shape.”
Golden State had a 20/8 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Warriors forced 19 turnovers and held Houston to 32-of-81 shooting from the field (39.5%), and they enjoyed a 49-41 rebounding edge.
In the losing effort, James Harden scored a team-best 20 points and had nine assists and five rebounds. He committed four turnovers and was a complete non-factor at the defensive end, however. Chris Paul contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal, but he buried only 5-of-16 FGAs and 2-of-8 launches from 3-point land. Clint Capela finished with 13 points, eight boards and one block.
The 41-point victory was the largest for Golden State in its franchise’s postseason history. Likewise, the lopsided defeat was the worst loss in Houston’s postseason history.
The trio of Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon combined for 68 points in Houston’s Game 2 triumph. However, this group was limited to 23 points in Sunday’s Game 3 laugher. Gordon had 11 points, while Ariza and Tucker settled for six apiece.
The Westgate SuperBook opened the Warriors as 8.5-point home favorites for Tuesday’s Game 4 at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The total was sent out at 224 points but was down to 223.5 by Monday night. As of early this morning, however, most spots had Golden State favored by 8.5 points with the total up to 224.5. The Rockets were +350 on the money line (risk $100 to win $350).
For first-half wagers, the Warriors were favored by 4.5 or five with a total of 114 points. Houston was available on the money line for a generous +210 payout. Meanwhile, for first-quarter bets, Golden State was a three-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 57.5. The Rockets were available to be leading at the end of the opening quarter for a +175 return (risk $100 to win $175).
Sportsbook.ag has the updated series price, listing the Warriors as enormous -850 ‘chalk.’ The Rockets can be had to rally and advance to the NBA Finals for +600 odds (risk $100 to win $600).
The offshore shop also has five different series futures. Gamblers can take the Warriors to wrap up the series in five games for a +125 return. The other options are the Warriors to win in six (+120), the Warriors to win in seven (+850), the Rockets to win in six (30/1) or the Rockets to win in seven (+700).
In addition, Sportsbook.ag has odds on who will score the first point in tonight’s game. Harden is the +400 ‘chalk,’ while Durant and Curry share the second-shortest odds (+500 apiece). Next, there’s Thompson (+600), Paul (+650), Capela (10/1), Green (10/1), Houston’s P.J. Tucker (12/1), Iguodala (15/1) and Trevor Ariza (15/1).
Iguodala is listed as ‘doubtful’ for tonight’s Game 4 due to a knee injury. The MVP of the 2015 Finals banged knees with Harden in the fourth quarter of Game 3. According to multiple reports, Iguodala will underdog an X-Ray early today and if it comes back clean, his status could be upgraded.
Kerr’s club is 36-12 SU and 20-27-1 ATS at home. Golden State has won an NBA-record 16 consecutive home playoff games, surpassing the 15 in a row won the Chicago Bulls in 1990 and ’91. The Warriors are 8-6 ATS as single-digit home favorites this year, but they are 4-0 ATS in four such spots during these playoffs.
Houston (74-21 SU, 48-46-1 ATS) has a 34-12 SU record and a 27-19 ATS mark in its road assignments this season. The Rockets are 3-2 both SU and ATS in five road assignments in this postseason to date. They’re 1-5 both SU and ATS in six games as road underdogs this year, with the lone win and cover coming on Oct. 17 in a 122-121 triumph at Golden State as 9.5-point ‘dogs in the season opener.
If Houston is going to pull even tonight, Paul must play at a higher level in his first career appearance in a conference-finals series. He has only 13 assists compared to six turnovers through three games. Paul has made merely 19-of-47 FGAs (40.4%).
Including the victory in Game 2 of this series, we’ve now seen Houston go 9-0 after a loss in the second-half of the season and that includes a perfect 3-0 mark in the playoffs. During the regular season, the Rockets won by an average of 12.8 PPG after a loss and that number has been pushed up to 20.7 PPG in the playoffs.
“Knowing Golden State has won 16 straight playoff games at home since dropping Game 7 to the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals could have you backing off Houston on Tuesday. However, the profits on the Warriors during this span (8-7-1 ATS) haven’t been earth-shattering.”
After watching the Rockets score a season-low 85 points in Game 3, many might expect a rebound from the offense in Game 4. David added his thoughts on that and believes bettors might want to pump the brakes on that obvious thought.
It’s rare to see the Rockets held under 100 points, yet alone below 90 but it did happen eight times in the regular season. Delving into those numbers further, the team did eclipse triple digits in the very next game but the average (106.3 PPG) wasn’t that high and it included a 120-point effort in one of the matchups. The Rockets only went 4-4 in those games and if you look at their previous 11 trips to the Bay Area, the team is only averaging 100.5 PPG and the number was helped by two monster offensive nights (122, 132) which turned into victories.
Houston’s Team Total for Game 4 is listed at 107.
The ‘under’ is 55-39-1 overall for the Rockets, 29-16-1 in their road assignments. The ‘under’ has cashed at a 6-2 clip in their past eight road outings.
The ‘under’ is 50-44-1 overall for the Warriors, 24-23-1 in their home games. Golden State’s totals in seven postseason home games to date have been a wash (3-3-1).
Tip-off for tonight’s Game 4 is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. Eastern on TNT.