- With Stephen Curry sidelined for a feuding Warriors team, put your money on Houston and the under.
With another 2-1 night on Wednesday, Three at 3 has now cashed 27 of its last 36 bets. Here are three more plays for Thursday, including two for the much-anticipated matchup between the Warriors and Rockets.
1. Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets (-3)
2. Total: 218.5
8:00 pm ET
The Rockets have an opportunity to get back to .500 tonight, and they can make a significant statement in the process. Houston gets a crack at the Golden State team that beat it in the Western Conference Finals last year, a series that the Rockets feel they would have won if Chris Paul hadn't been injured in Games 6 and 7.
Houston is getting the Warriors at the right time: Stephen Curry is sidelined with a groin injury, and Draymond Green and Kevin Durant have more interest in challenging each other than they do their opponents. The Rockets have also raised their level of play in recent days. Houston is coming off back-to-back wins (both straight up and against the spread), and those victories came over two excellent teams in Indiana and Denver. One of the big reasons that Houston is playing so well again is the fact that James Harden and Chris Paul have found their grooves. Over the last two contests, Harden is averaging 31.0 points, 10.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, after not being able to hit a shot early in the year, Paul averaged 23.5 points per game on 60% shooting and 75% three-point shooting in those contests. As long as Houston’s two stars continue to play up to their standards, the Rockets are going to be one of the West’s best teams. And it’s hard to envision a short-handed Golden State team leaving Houston with a win.
The total in this game also sticks out. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, the under is 21-7 when the Rockets take on teams that are averaging 110 or more points per game, and 12-2 when they face teams with a winning percentage of 70% or better. The reason for that is likely due to a false perception about how Houston actually plays. Head coach Mike D’Antoni is known for running an up-tempo offense that plays at a quick pace, but that’s not exactly the reality these days. The Rockets still shoot a ton of threes, but this team turns to isolation sets on offense more often than pretty much anybody in the league—a proclivity that tends to slow the game down. Seven of the last eight games played between these teams have gone under the total, and the Warriors obviously lose a good deal of offensive firepower when Curry sits.
Picks: Rockets (-3), Under (218.5)
3. San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers (-5.5)
Since the start of last season, the Spurs are just 7-18 against the spread in road games against teams with a winning record, and 7-21 ATS in road games versus teams that average 106.0 or more points per game. As evidenced by its blowout defeat at the hands of the Phoenix Suns last night, it’s safe to say that this San Antonio team simply isn’t very good on the road. Meanwhile, the Clippers are 30-17 against the spread when playing teams that allow at least 106.0 points per game since the start of last season. Los Angeles also comes into this game having won and covered in four of its last five games. The two most recent victories came against the Bucks and Warriors, proving that this Clippers team can play with anyone.
A primary reason for L.A.'s success this year is its balance. The Clippers are currently ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and head coach Doc Rivers has done a masterful job with a team that carried few expectations after trading Blake Griffin a year ago. Two players to keep an eye on for Los Angeles here are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Montrezl Harrell. Gilgeous-Alexander has been one of the most effective rookies in basketball this year, as his ability to change the games on both ends of the floor is a breath of fresh air. Look for him to spend a lot of time defending DeMar DeRozan, and don’t be surprised if DeRozan has some trouble with the rookie’s length. Meanwhile, Harrell’s energy makes life difficult for opposing big men. He’ll force LaMarcus Aldridge to earn everything inside, and likely get the crowd going by throwing down a lob or two. Los Angeles has everything it needs to easily handle San Antonio at the Staples Center.
Pick: Clippers (-5.5)