The series will stay in Golden State for Game 4 today (9 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT), but at what point is this Western Conference Finals series going to produce a close game?
The Golden State Warriors have jumped out to a 2-1 lead through three contests against the Houston Rockets, but the winner’s average margin of victory has been a whopping 25.3 points.
Game 3 on Sunday was the biggest blowout. Golden State gradually built its lead throughout the first half, then put its neck on the throats of the Rockets to win by a score of 126-85. The Rockets looked nothing like the team that won 65 games in the regular season.
For today’s Game 4, the Warriors will likely be without starting forward Andre Iguodala due to a knee injury, but some of the Rockets (most notably Chris Paul) have looked pretty banged up too.
Let’s take stock of some important factors leading up to Game 4 before we give this Houston Rockets vs Golden State Warriors preview’s betting predictions. As is customary at USAbetting, we will conclude with our picks, taking consideration of the odds from the American sports betting sites.
Is Mental Bounce-Back In The Cards for Houston In Game 4?
What happened in Game 3 goes past the simple factors of strategy and the basketball skills of the players on both teams. The Rockets looked completely defeated mentally, and it showed in everything they did.
Houston played extremely tentatively, missed easy shots near the basket and played with no aggressiveness on either end of the floor. Golden State is normally the more talented team, but it also had the advantage of being much more relaxed and on its game in Game 3.
Everything went wrong for the Rockets in Game 3. With another game on the road, they need to get back to the mentality that they had at home in their Game 2 blowout win. Houston can’t afford to go into another game with absolutely no mental toughness or resolve. If it does, the Warriors will win easily again.
Will Warriors Get Another Individual Scoring Explosion?
Stephen Curry was special in the third quarter of Game 3. He made all eight of his field-goal attempts en route to 18 points in the frame, helping extend the Warriors’ halftime lead from 11 points to 21 points.
The scary thing for the Rockets is that Golden State has three players who can go on similar scoring binges: Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. In the Warriors’ best games, one of those guys usually has one of those amazing quarters like Curry did in the third quarter of Game 3.
With the Warriors at home, these individual scoring binges are the most effective way of raising the Oracle Arena crowd’s volume level to deafening. It is extremely tough for the visiting team to concentrate on their game plan and play confidently when there are 20,000 fans screaming for the opposition. Houston needs to hope that one of Curry, Durant or Thompson doesn’t go bananas and ignite the crowd.
Will Rockets’ Ariza/Tucker/Gordon Trio of Role Players Produce in Game 4?
While none of the Rockets’ three main stars of James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela played particularly well, the barometer for the Rockets’ success is usually the performance of the main other guys: Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon. All three guys play big minutes for Houston, but the team’s ceiling depends on whether they are being helpful or detrimental to the offense.
In Games 1 and 3 combined, the Ariza/Tucker/Gordon trio totaled a modest 47 points combined on 35.4 percent shooting from the field and 29.6 percent shooting from three-point range. But in Game 2 alone, those same players had 68 points on 69.7 percent shooting from the field and 66.7 percent shooting from downtown.
Early on in Game 4, Houston needs to prioritize getting good looks from the outside for its three main role players. The team’s star power is not good enough to beat Golden State on its own, considering the Warriors have even better stars.
But if the Rockets can have a similar offensive attack to Game 2 where the role players hit shots and opened things up for the stars, this game could be another Houston win.
Our Preview’s Rockets at Warriors Game 4 Betting Picks & Predictions
Expecting another 41-point blowout is probably foolish. However, the Warriors seemed to really distance themselves from the Rockets at Game 3 after a poor Golden State performance in Game 2.
The Warriors, even though they are possibly without Andre Iguodala, are just a better team and get an extra boost from arguably the best home crowd in the NBA.
- So for our first Game 4 betting prediction, Golden State should still win by a decent margin, though not close to 41 points. Bet on the Warriors -8.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes, Bookmaker or Intertops.
- With this being a very important game for both squads, I think the defensive intensity will hit a whole new level. Also, with players banged up on both sides, I think the pace could slow down a bit. The second of our picks is for the total points to be scored in this Game 4: Place your bet on the under 224.5pts @ -110 with BetOnline, 5Dimes or Bookmaker.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.