NBA Playoffs: Rockets Find Themselves in a Must-Win Spot

May 22, 2018

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Oskeim Sports previews Game 4 of the Western Conference finals between the Rockets and Warriors. Will tonight’s Game 4 of the NBA playoffs be another blowout?  Be sure to visit Oskeim’s blog on a daily basis for more coverage of the NBA playoffs, including free picks.

Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni called his team “soft” following Sunday’s 126-85 loss at Oracle Arena. “It’s just one thing led to another,” D’Antoni said. “Played soft, actually. I mean, you can’t do that with these guys. These guys are good.”

Houston was not only soft; the Rockets’ 2nd-ranked offense shot just 40 percent from the field and committed a staggering 20 turnovers, which were converted into 28 points by the Warriors.  If the Rockets finish Game 4 with a 20.6% turnover rate as they did on Sunday, this series is all but over.

The Rockets are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in games this season after committing 19 or more turnovers in their previous affair.

After scoring 129.7 points per 100 possessions and posting a 62.8% effective-field goal rate in Game 2, the Rockets managed to score just 87.6 points per 100 possessions and a 46.3% effective field-goal mark on Sunday.

The first half of Game 3 was a nightmare for Houston’s offense. The Rockets shot 34.9 percent from the field, 4-of-15 (26.7%) from three-point territory and 9-of-21 (42.9%) from the restricted area.  Houston finished the game shooting 13-of-27 in the restricted area.

“We didn’t make shots, didn’t make plays,” D’Antoni said. “It looked like the air seeped out of our balloon.” James Harden and Chris Paul began the game 3-for-14 and finished shooting a combined 12-for-32.

Houston’s 3rd-ranked defense was equally atrocious as the Warriors shot 52.2 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.  Golden State’s main lineup of Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Andre Iguodala-Kevin Durant-Draymond Green posted a +44.8 net rating in Game 3.

Golden State’s offense returned to its trademark style in Game 3, abandoning isolations with Kevin Durant (15 isolations in each of the first two games) and returning to the pick-and-roll between Steph Curry and Draymond Green.

The Warriors ran that particular pick-and-roll 13 times in Game 3 after using it just 11 times in Games 1 and 2 combined.

Sunday’s blowout loss actually sets up Houston for a strong bounce-back effort in Game 4. Specifically, the Rockets are 20-7 ATS on the road after allowing 115 points or more in their previous game, 21-9 ATS away from home with revenge and 20-8 ATS with road revenge after yielding 100 or more points.

No. 1 seeds in the NBA playoffs coming off a double-digit loss are a 64.7% ATS winning proposition in their next game (77-42-2 ATS). This trend was triggered in Game 2 when the Rockets bounced back from a 119-106 loss in Game 1 with a 127-105 victory.

Let’s not forget that the Rockets are 53-9 SU this season in games in which James Harden and Chris Paul both play.  Houston was 42-3 SU in the regular season when Harden, Paul and Capela played together.

The Rockets averaged a league-best point differential of 8.5 points per game and a 50-8 SU mark when limiting opponents to under 110 points.  Houston’s veterans also understand the importance of tonight’s game; a loss would essentially end the Rockets’ postseason run.

However, the Rockets may not possess the pedigree of a team capable of overcoming the adversity being thrown at them in this series.

More good news for Houston: Golden State head coach Steve Kerr announced that Andre Iguodala was doubtful for Tuesday’s game after sustaining a leg contusion in Game 3.  Sources indicated that the bruise worsened overnight and Iguodala did not practice on Monday.

Iguodala is averaging 8.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in this series (averaging approximately 27 minutes per game).  Without Iguodala, the “Hampton Five” lineup no longer exists.  With Iguodala on the floor in this series, the Warriors have outscored the Rockets by 4.3 points per 100 possessions.

However, the Warriors have outscored Houston by 27.3 points with Iguodala on the bench!

And, Golden State is 45-3 SU and 32-16 ATS in postseason play as a favorite of six or more points under head coach Steve Kerr.  The Warriors are 27-0 SU in their last 27 games under these circumstances, winning by an average of 17.7 points per game.

Since 2005, NBA playoff teams coming off a humiliating loss by 40 or more points are 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS in their next game. Not surprisingly, the majority of betting tickets for Game 4 are on the Warriors.

Since 2005, when .650 or greater teams receive fewer than 45 percent of bets, they are a profitable 143-87 ATS, including 34-16 ATS when getting fewer than 35% of the wagers.

Oskeim Sports has you covered for the NBA playoffs.  Oskeim provides sports bettors with the best NBA Playoffs coverage in the handicapping industry.