The NBA is back after a nice All-Star break. Houston’s James Harden and Russell Westbrook both played in the game scoring 11 and six points, respectively. Now, it’s back to the Rockets’ quest for an NBA title.
Houston is currently fifth in the Western Conference standings and just 2.5 games out of second place. A No. 2 seed would present a much nicer first-round playoff opponent. The road to No. 2 begins Thursday with a bettor’s paradise at Golden State.
Game: Houston Rockets (34-20, 26-28 ATS) at Golden State Warriors (12-43, 27-27-1 ATS)
When: 10:30 ET, Thursday, February 20, 2020
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
Current Line: GS +10 Total: 232.5
TV Coverage: TNT, Sportsnet One
Harden Leads League in Scoring
Houston won five of its last seven games before the All-Star break. That included a win over the Eastern Conference’s third-place team, Boston. Harden, who continues to lead the NBA in scoring, went for 42 points and Westbrook added 36.
Golden State, on the other hand, has the worst record in the NBA at 12-43. The Warriors lost their last four straight before the break and have just two wins in their last 11 games. The two victories are nothing to shout about either. They came over Washington (20-33) and Cleveland (14-40), which has the worst record in the East.
After five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the Warriors are hurting.
Kevin Durant peaced out to Brooklyn (with a torn Achilles tendon). Klay Thompson tore an ACL in the final game of last year’s NBA Finals and Steph Curry remains out of the Warriors lineup after suffering a broken hand on Oct. 30. Without their stars, Golden State has become the league’s doormat.
All About Betting Value
That’s fine for Coach Rick because what the Warriors do offer is some betting value.
The Warriors score 106.3 points per game. That is 26th out of the 30 NBA teams. In their last four games before the All-Star break (remember, all losses), Golden State averaged just 101.2 points per game. They scored just 88 points in a blowout loss to Brooklyn.
Now, Golden State is playing at home on Thursday, but Coach Rick doesn’t see that as an advantage. The Warriors simply don’t score a lot of points relative to the rest of the league. Houston does. The Rockets average just over 118 points per game.
The two teams have played twice already this season. Houston won the first game in November 129-112. When the Rockets and Warriors played on Christmas Day in San Francisco, Damion Lee scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a 116-104 Golden State victory. Note the Total – 230 points.
WARRIORS SHOCK ROCKETS WITHOUT CURRY & KLAY | CHRISTMAS DAY | 2019 NBA SEASON
UNDER is the Trend
In Houston’s last seven games as a favorite of at 5.0 points and no more than 10.5, the Under is 5-2. The Under is also 4-1 in Houston’s last five games against Golden State. If we stretch it back even farther, the Under is 11-5-1 in the last 17 Rockets-Warriors meetings.
While Harden and Westbrook – who average a combined 62.5 points per game – will play on Thursday, guard Eric Gordon likely will not. That’s 15.3 points per game that the Rockets will be lacking. Will the bench make up for it? Meh…likely not.
So, to recap: Golden State doesn’t score a lot. In their last four games, they have scored even less. Houston might play without one of its top scorers on Thursday and remember the Under’s record in this series.
Today’s NBA Free Pick: Houston-Golden State UNDER 232.5
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.