Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors (-9.5, 210.5 o/u)
Steph Curry didn’t get to see his favorite football team, the Carolina Panthers, get crowned in Super Bowl 50. But his Golden State Warriors (46-4, 23-0 Home) will continue their quest to repeat as NBA champs tonight when they put their undefeated home record on the line against the Houston Rockets (27-26, 11-13 Away) at ORACLE Arena (10:30 PM Eastern).
Curry and the Warriors ran their overall win streak to nine on Saturday, beating Oklahoma City, 116-108. They led by as many as 17, but struggled to close out the Western Conference’s third-place team in what may prove to be a playoff preview.
“This was very playoff-like for sure,” Curry told the Associated Press. “The atmosphere, just the intensity, the adrenaline down the stretch. That’s what you expect for sure.”
The win put the Warriors one game ahead of the historic pace set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who ended the regular season with a record-breaking 72-10 mark.
Houston put together a nice run in last year’s playoffs, eventually bowing out to the Warriors in the conference finals, but they haven’t looked like the same team this year. The team has lost four of its last six and now sits just one game above .500. Currently seventh in the Western Conference, their 96-79 setback to Portland on Saturday may prove costly. The Trail Blazers are ninth, but trail Houston by just a game.
The Rockets didn’t have a strong defense last year, finishing the year 17th in the NBA in points per game. But things have gotten much worse this season; they’re allowing 106.3 points per game, third-worst in the association. Their offense is scoring about a point per game more this year, but is relying too heavily on James Harden on a nightly basis.
The Rockets had seven players average 11 points or more in 2014-15. This year, only Dwight Howard (14.2 PPG) and Trevor Ariza (12.2) have joined Harden (27.8 PPG) in that category.
Golden State has been great at limiting Houston’s one-man show in recent matchups, going 11-1 SU in its last 12 against the Rockets (including 4-1 ATS in the last five of those).
The Warriors’ defense hasn’t been lights out this year, by any means (102.8 PAPG), but they have the personnel (Shaun Livingston, Harrison Barnes, etc.) to contain a Harden-based offense. Take Golden State to cover again.
Pick: Golden State (-9.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)