A 2018 Western Conference Finals rematch will take place at the Toyota Center today as the 12-3 Golden State Warriors visit the 6-7 Houston Rockets (8 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT).
Both the Warriors and Rockets have been frequent members of the NBA news cycle recently. The Rockets have gotten off to a poor start this season with new addition Carmelo Anthony after 65 wins a year ago, but they are starting to turn it around and Anthony is now likely going to leave the team.
The Warriors have dealt with issues of their own. Stephen Curry is on the sidelines with a groin injury, and two other stars, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, are not getting along together on the floor.
Firstly this preview will take a look at some of the talking points that will affect these two star-studded teams. Finally, for those who want a bet on this NBA game, we will conclude with our Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets predictions with picks.
How Will Quinn Cook Fare?
The Warriors’ most important player, at least on offense, will be out today. Stephen Curry is dealing with a groin injury and will be reevaluated in 10 days.
That means a lot more of Quinn Cook for the Warriors. Cook will start at point guard, as he always does with Curry out. The 25-year-old former Duke standout played pretty well as a starter a year ago, averaging 14.6 points, 3.9 assists and 1.4 turnovers with a 49.3/47.1/85 shooting slash in 18 games with the first unit.
However, he will definitely be tested by the Rockets. With Curry currently sidelined, Chris Paul and James Harden form the NBA’s best backcourt duo. Cook will spend plenty of time trying to keep up with those two on the perimeter.
Will he be able to defend Paul and Harden admirably while also supplying efficient offense? The answer to that will play a big role in this game.
Will the Rockets’ Threes Fall?
This question may seem overly simplistic, but it is very relevant for the Rockets. They take the most three-pointers in the league. Many of them are very difficult shots from guys like James Harden, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul. Their shot quality seems pretty similar game to game, it’s just a matter of whether the shots go in.
In Houston’s six wins, it has averaged 15.3 made threes per game on a percentage of 36.2. In the seven losses, however, those numbers drop to 12.4 and 30, respectively.
One thing Houston would be wise to do is spread the shots around to a variety of players. P.J. Tucker, James Ennis, Gerald Green and Gary Clark (if Green and Clark end up playing in spite of their minor injuries) all need to get looks in addition to the ones Harden, Gordon and Paul get.
Will Warriors’ Internal Issues Impact This Contest?
Golden State teammates Draymond Green and Kevin Durant had a major altercation near the end of Monday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. In fact, the Warriors suspended Green for one game without pay as a consequence for words he directed at Durant during the altercation.
Green and Durant have had some issues in the past, too. It is becoming more and more likely that Durant will leave the Warriors next summer when his contract is up.
In this game, Green will return from his one-game suspension. The Green-Durant dynamic will be especially important with no Stephen Curry to help run the offense. Both Green and Durant will have to handle the ball a lot and have good chemistry to maximize the team’s ability to score.
Our Preview’s Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets Betting Picks & Predictions
This is the third game in four nights for the Warriors. The combination of that, no Stephen Curry and a Rockets team that is finding its stride playing at home makes me think Houston is the smart pick to win by at least a few points. So these are the Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets predictions for this NBA betting preview:
- Houston is a slight favorite with the top U.S. odds setters. Bet on the Rockets -1.5 @ -110 with Intertops. The spread is 2.5pts with most other sportsbooks and Intertops look a little out of line at the moment.
- The Warriors’ pace should be slower without Curry in the lineup to take transition threes. Golden State will also rely more on slower developing sets with isolation and post play without Curry. The Rockets will also make sure the pace isn’t too fast as they search for mismatches in Golden State’s switching defense. A good bet for this game ought to be taking the under 220 total points being scored @ -110 with Bovada or BetOnline.
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.