Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

Tuesday's Playoff Tips

Western Conference – Game 5
Utah at Houston (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)

The Rockets are one victory away from their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 2015, while point guard Chris Paul is one win shy of the first conference finals trip of his 13-year career. The anticipated Houston/Golden State showdown for the Western title is upon us, but both teams need one more victory to advance.

Houston bounced back from a surprising Game 2 loss to Utah as 11-point favorites to trounce the Jazz in a pair of road blowouts to grab a commanding 3-1 series lead. After torching the Rockets for 116 points in Game 2, Utah couldn’t find that same scoring touch back in Salt Lake City by managing 92 and 87 points in the last two losses to fall to 0-4 SU/ATS at home in the Western Conference semifinals the last two postseasons.

In Sunday’s 100-87 setback to the Rockets as six-point underdogs, the Jazz were limited to 38.6% shooting from the floor, including a 7-of-29 performance from three-point range. Donovan Mitchell bounced back from a 10-point effort in Game 3, but the dynamic Utah rookie fouled out and shot 8-of-24 from the floor for a team-high 25 points in Game 4.

The Rockets didn’t set the building on fire either, but Houston received 51 points from its All-Star duo of Paul and James Harden, while Clint Capela posted a double-double with 12 points and rebounds. Although Paul and Harden combined for 2-of-13 shooting from long range, the Rockets never let their lead dip below five points over the final three quarters, while taking a 17-point advantage late in the third quarter.

The Jazz have seen the UNDER hit in five of the past six games, while being limited to 99 points or fewer five times. The only OVER occurred in the Game 2 upset at Houston as Quin Synder’s club knocked down 15 three-pointers, including seven treys and 27 points from Joe Ingles in a 116-108 victory. From the defensive side, the Jazz have allowed at least 107 points in four of five road playoff contests, as the UNDER is 3-2 in those games.

Since a 1-2 ATS start in the playoffs, Mike D’Antoni’s team has covered in five of the past six games. When Houston wins in the postseason, the pointspread hasn’t mattered in six of seven victories, while the Rockets pulled away from the Timberwolves in their first round close-out game, 102-82 as 10 ½-point home favorites.

Western Conference – Game 5
New Orleans at Golden State (TNT, 10:35 p.m. ET)

The Warriors have reached the Western Conference Finals in each of the last three seasons and captured the conference title each time. Golden State seeks a fourth consecutive appearance in the third round of the playoffs as Steve Kerr’s squad tries to shut the door on New Orleans at Oracle Arena.

The defending champions own a perfect 5-0 record at home in the playoffs, including a pair of wins in the first two games of this series. New Orleans grabbed Game 3 in the Big Easy, 119-110 as 4 ½-point underdogs to creep back in the series, at least temporarily.

Golden State rebounded from that blowout loss in which it shot 38% from the floor to crush New Orleans in Sunday’s Game 4 as six-point favorites, 118-92. The Warriors shot 10 percentage points from the field in Game 4, led by Kevin Durant’s 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting, while Stephen Curry pumped in 23 points. The Pelicans couldn’t buy a shot from long distance by hitting only 4-of-26 attempts from three-point range, as Anthony Davis paced New Orleans with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

With Sunday’s victory, the Warriors improved to an amazing 27-3 SU in the last 30 meetings since December 2012, including a 13-2 mark at New Orleans in this stretch. However, Golden State owns a 5-5 ATS record in its last 10 home matchups with New Orleans, including a 1-1 ATS mark in this series after not covering in Game 2 as 11-point favorites.

The Warriors are the fifth team to be listed as a double-digit favorite in a close-out game this postseason. Philadelphia pulled away from Miami in the opening round, while Houston blew out Minnesota to advance past the quarterfinals. The only team not to cover was Golden State, in its 99-91 victory over San Antonio in the opening round as 11-point favorites, although the Warriors held a double-digit second half lead. The fourth club in this category is Houston, who tries to eliminate Utah in Game 5.

The total for Game 5 opened at 229 and that number has dropped to 228 and as low as 227 ½ at a few books as of Monday evening.

Chris David believes the number is in the right neighborhood and based on what we’ve seen from the Pelicans, he’s expecting their offense to rebound on Tuesday.

“Since big man DeMarcus Cousins went down in late January, the Pelicans have had to play faster and they rely much more on the 3-point shot. When New Orleans connects from the outside, it can beat anybody and it proved that in Game 3’s 119-100 win in this series. However, they don’t stand a chance to beat the worst team in the league when they aren’t falling and that was evident in Game 4 when they finished 4-of-26 from downtown,” explained David.

“The good news for New Orleans is that the offense has shown the ability to rebound after a tough outing. Including Sunday’s effort, the Pelicans have been held under 100 points eight times without ‘Boogie’ in the lineup. New Orleans has averaged 114.1 PPG in the first seven games after being held under triple digits. The Pelicans have gone 4-3 in those games and while the point-spread appears to have value Tuesday, I believe the more sound investment is the Team Total Over on New Orleans (107 ½).”

The Pelicans dropped to 6-2 ATS in the playoffs following the Game 4 loss, while being listed as a double-digit underdog for only the fourth time all season. New Orleans owns a 2-1 ATS record in this pointspread range, including a 1-1 ATS ledger against Golden State with the cover coming in Game 2 of this series thanks to a late 10-2 run in the final two minutes to cash as 11-point ‘dogs.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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