Point: Rockets' Defense to Show Up vs. Warriors in Game 2

rockets harden

Swinging Johnson

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 3:04 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 15, 2018 3:04 PM UTC

Houston got a taste of its own medicine in the series opener when Golden State's offense proved too much to handle. Let’s see where there’s value for Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Warriors (67-26 SU, 39-51-3 ATS) vs. Rockets (73-20 SU, 47-44-2 ATS)Free NBA Pick: Rockets -1½Best Line Offered: BetPhoenix

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  • Houston is 15-11 ATS versus good offensive teams -- scoring 106+ points per game -- in the second half of the season.
  • Houston is 5-1 ATS in their last six after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
  • Houston is 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 Wednesday games.
  • Golden State is 2-5 ATS as an underdog.
  • Golden State is 8-20 ATS after three or more consecutive wins.
  • Golden State is 16-24 ATS after a win by 10 points or more.

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.@JHarden13 🚀 ⤵️
🏀 41PTS
🏀 7AST pic.twitter.com/1IQYsRNfc7

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) May 15, 2018
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The Rockets apparently forgot what got them to the conference finals and the league's best regular-season record when they fell to the Warriors 119-106 on Monday night. It’s a little thing called defense, and it took a holiday in Houston in Game 1 as there was little effort exhibited around the rim or containing the perimeter. Kevin Durant was immense as he scored 37 points to lead the way for Golden State, as the Rockets had no answer for the nine-time All-Star. Houston’s James Harden led all scorers with 41 but he, like his teammates, showed little interest in the defensive side of things which told the tale of the lopsided win for the visitors.

As many of you know, my SBR colleague Doug Upstone and I are taking opposite views on this series and on the Eastern Conference series, and Doug has moved in front with his winning NBA picks in both Game 1 contests. However, before we get too enamored with Doug’s handicapping prowess, it should be noted that he is on a first-name basis with all of the Golden State players. No, he has never met them but he calls them by their first names because he’s never met a professional jock that wasn’t worth sniffing. Now, that may be harsh but let’s just say that Mr. Upstone is blinded by celebrity and watches most of these postseason games in his living room adorned with glossy pictures of guys like Steph, Kevin, Klay, and Draymond in action photos. It’s a teenage boy's dream but it’s not mine, dammit. I cap the games based on the situations, and right now I am going back to the previously poisoned well with the Rockets.

So here’s the deal. Houston shot nearly their regular-season average of 46 percent from the field and slightly below their three-point season percentage of 36.2 percent on Monday night. It was not a horrific offensive game by any means, but as I said before the series began, if the Rockets get into a track meet with the Warriors it will get ugly for Houston. Let’s understand that Golden State was smokin’, connecting on more than 52 percent from the field, but it was because the Rockets gave them open looks and allowed them to distribute the ball without disruption.

Houston is too good and too tight on defense to deliver a repeat performance. The tide turned significantly when Houston defender Trevor Ariza was sent to the bench after his fifth foul shortly after the second half began. At that point the Rockets had closed the gap to just three points but afterward, the Warriors took over. A check of the NBA odds board reveals that the home team is still the favored team despite its dismal showing in the series opener, and we will trust that this game will be a reversal of Monday night. It will be a Disappointed Doug on Wednesday night but he’ll still have his framed friends to keep him company.

Read How Doug Upstone's Take On Series Is Wrong ... In Any Language
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