For the first quarter of Game 6, it looked like the Houston Rockets might actually upset the Golden State Warriors to advance to the NBA Finals. However, the Warriors gradually erased the Rockets’ early 17-point lead before sprinting out to a lead of their own in the second half to win by a score of 115-86.
Houston clearly ran out of gas with its short rotation minus point guard Chris Paul, and now the squad is facing a very tough contest at home in the decisive Game 7 today (9 p.m. ET Monday on TNT).
The Warriors are the USA bookmakers’ favorite on the road with a banged-up and possibly absent Paul. It is little surprise given how dominant they were to close Game 6. However, home-court advantage is a relevant factor here, and Paul is a tough competitor who could end up helping the Rockets quite a bit.
This preview will first be examining some important questions that will have significant impact on Game 7. Then we will offer our betting picks and Warriors at Rockets Game 7 predictions with recommendations on the game’s spread and over/under for the total points likely to be scored.
What’s Going to Happen With Chris Paul?
At this point, Paul is likely going to be a game-time decision to play in Game 7. The Rockets’ All-Star point guard is dealing with a hamstring injury that took him out for Game 6, and his absence certainly affected the Rockets.
By the end of the game, it was apparent that James Harden was exhausted. In his first 29:30 of game time on the floor, he scored 30 points on 9-of-18 shooting with six turnovers. In his last 10:30, however, he put in just two points on 1-of-6 shooting with three more turnovers. Three of his five missed shots were blocked by Warriors players.
Even if Paul is back, he needs to be more than just 50 percent healthy. Houston needs a second trustworthy ball-handler who can penetrate and draw in help defenders to create looks for the Rockets’ role players. For the sake of wanting a good game, hopefully Paul can return and be close to his normal self.
Is Klay Thompson Going to Keep Killing the Rockets?
Thompson is sort of the third scorer that Houston can’t match when he catches fire. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are usually an automatic 20 to 25 points, and James Harden and Chris Paul (if he’s healthy) can consistently reach a similar number.
However if Thompson goes off for something close to the 35 points he scored in Game 6, which Rockets player will be able to respond with a similar performance? Eric Gordon has the most potential to do so, but his high in these playoffs is 27 points. It may need to be a few players who pick up the slack, such as Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela.
Houston needs to hope Thompson is his Game 2, 3 and 4 self. In those games, the All-Star wing averaged 10.3 points per game on just 34.2 percent shooting from the field. If Thompson gets back to his Games 5 and 6 form (29 points per game on 56.8 shooting from the field and 61.9 percent from three), Golden State is a lock to win this game.
Can Rockets’ Transition Attack Stay Strong Throughout Whole Game?
Houston looked amazing in the first quarter of Game 6. The Rockets pushed the ball up the court on every Golden State miss and turnover. They scored 19 fast-break points en route to a 39-22 lead at the end of the quarter.
For the rest of the game, the Rockets had a measly five fast-break points and were outscored 93-47. Now, some of that has to do with both teams’ shooting regressing to the mean, but Houston was also much less aggressive attacking in transition once the second quarter started.
The Rockets’ rotation is shorter than the Warriors’, especially if Chris Paul is out, so fatigue should be a factor as the game wears on once again. But maybe the Rockets’ home crowd and the prospect of making a first NBA Finals in 23 years will spur the team on to keep attacking in all four quarters.
Our Preview’s Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets Game 7 Betting Picks & Predictions
Golden State is the rightful favorite for me on the road. That said, I think Chris Paul is too competitive to sit out this game and his mindset will inspire his team and the Houston crowd.
The Rockets are not a great bet to win, but they are a good bet to at least hang in this game for a long time based on how badly they want to make the Finals and their home crowd. The picks of this preview reflect that and these are our Game 7 betting predictions:
- Golden State is generally a 6-point favorite in this contest. This preview advises betting on the Rockets +6.5pts @ -115 with Bovada.
- Once again, Game 7s are very often defensive struggles where both teams are nervous, but give a bunch of effort. The betting lines for this contest reflect that historical trend. However, there is too much offensive talent in this game for the score to be too low. Also, Houston will likely make more of an effort to score in transition throughout the entire game. Put your bet on the over 208pts @ -110 with Bovada 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.