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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:04 PM

Game 6 - Rockets at Warriors

Game 6 Winners | Daily Projections

Western Conference Finals – Game 6 (Rockets lead 3-2)
Houston at Golden State (TNT, 9:05 p.m. ET)

The Houston Rockets are one win away from reaching the NBA Finals and the offseason acquisition of Chris Paul has certainly attributed to that goal but unfortunately an injury to the veteran guard has cast concerns for the club moving forward.

For the second straight game in the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets stifled the Warriors and captured a 98-94 win in Game 5 on Thursday. While Houston wanted to celebrate the win and its 3-2 lead over Golden State in the series, the late-game hamstring injury to Paul has many concerned as he limped off the court and didn’t play the final 23 seconds.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni addressed the media after the game. He said, “He’ll be evaluated tomorrow. But obviously you saw him limp off, and he’s a tough guy. So they’ll do whatever they can do. If he’s there, great, good for him. If he isn’t, we have enough guys and it’s time for somebody else to step up. We’ve got plenty of guys over there that will have some fresh legs, that’s for sure. So we’ll be all right.”

D’Antonio’s presser after the game was a positive spin but the bad news became official for the Rockets nearly a half-day later and Paul was ruled ‘out’ for Game 6.  

Tony Mejia, NBA Expert on VegasInsider.com, weighed in on the CP3 injury quickly after Thursday’s outcome.

“Oddsmakers supplied no wiggle room to get in cheap, apparently projecting that Chris Paul will miss Game 6 and installing Golden State as a double-digit favorite as a result. Don’t be bluffed off by the large number,” said Mejia.

“I’m of the belief Paul won’t play again in the series and would be a defensive liability if he’s cleared to participate due to a lack of mobility. If he’s ruled out, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has already said he’d utilize Eric Gordon in more of a playmaker role, which probably means we’ll be in for another grinder and the Warriors would really have to shoot poorly at home to put themselves in danger of not returning to Houston.”

As Mejia noted, the Paul injury factor can’t be taken lightly especially when you look at the records. In the regular season, he missed 24 games and the Rockets went 15-9 without him. With him in the lineup, Houston was 40-8.

[...] was the first major global shop to open Game 6 on Thursday night and they sent Golden State out as a 10 ½-point home favorite. As of Friday the number moved to 11 and after Houston officially announced that Paul was ‘out’ for later in the afternoon, the majority of books are holding the Warriors as low as -11 ½ and as high as -12.

Mejia believes Game 7 will happen on Monday between the pair and the value is on the Warriors for the series and in the futures market.

He explained his position, “The Warriors are heavily favored to win Game 6 and would likely be in a favorite’s role on the road in Houston if Paul is unavailable for the series finale, so there’s really no time like the present to get behind them to win a championship for value’s sake. There’s no question they’ve looked lost down the stretch in consecutive games but I agree with Kerr that they’re in a good spot, no longer underestimating their opponents and sufficiently motivated to battle back and make good on a golden opportunity to win a third title in four years from slipping away.”

“After winning a game by 41 points, Golden State has now fumbled away a pair of opportunities to essentially put the series away. Down to their final strike, it’s time to put up or shut up for both team and bettors alike. Believe this group is an all-time team? Back them to rally in the series and ultimately, to win a title. All is most certainly not lost,” added Mejia.

As Golden State attempts to win its third championship in the last four seasons, some pundits will point to the “Battle of Attrition” that the Warriors seem to always win. Going against a short-handed squad in the playoffs is nothing new for the Warriors, who can now add CP3 to the list of stars (Kyrie, Kawhi, Love) that they've avoided in key games of key series over the last few years.

Despite facing a 3-2 deficit, Golden State remains the favorite (-165) to win the series while the takeback on Houston to win is plus-140. The Warriors are also 5/7 (Bet $100 to win $71) favorites to win the NBA Finals and that’s as cheap a price as you can get on them to capture the title.

Back to Game 6, bettors could be and should be hesitant to back the Warriors as double-digit favorites.

While it’s fair to say Golden State played well below its standards in the back-to-back losses and the two setbacks only came by a combined seven points, you can’t dismiss the fact that Houston played just as poorly yet they earned the ‘ugly’ wins.

When you look at the Game 5 numbers for James Harden, 19 points on 5-of-21 attempts, you’re still scratching your head how Houston won. The league’s likely Most Valuable Player this season has been anything but in this series, shooting 41 percent from the field and an abysmal 24 percent from 3-point land, which includes a streak of 20 misses in a row heading into Game 6.

Houston shot 37 percent as a team on Thursday, compared to 44 percent from Golden State but the Warriors doomed themselves with turnovers, coughing up the ball 16 times in each of the last two losses.

The eye-opener for me in this series has been Houston’s defense, which has held Golden State to 107.2 points per game and 47 percent shooting.

Prior to this series, Golden State had won 15 of the previous 20 encounters against Houston and the Rockets only notched five wins because of their offense, which averaged 119 PPG in the victories. To see them capture not one but two wins in this series while scoring less than 100 points is very impressive.

Backing the Warriors with a full squad off a loss was a good investment (13-2 SU) prior to the loss in Game 5 and the offensive production (124.7 PPG) in those games was off the charts.

Should bettors go back to that angle again? At the end of March, Golden State did drop three straight games and that was the only time they did so in the regular season. Outside of that minor skid, the Warriors went 3-0 both SU and ATS this year off back-to-back setbacks while outscoring opponents by an average of 16 PPG (118-102).

Houston hasn’t been listed as a double-digit underdog since the 2016 regular season and coincidentally they defeated Golden State 132-127 as an 11 ½-point pup on the road. As underdogs this season, the Rockets have gone 4-6 both SU and ATS and all four wins have come against the Warriors. Make a note that Houston didn’t cover in any of the six losses but the lines were much shorter than this spread (-12).

VI NBA expert Kevin Rogers checked out the VegasInsider.com playoff betting archives and dug up situations that apply to Game 6 tomorrow.

“Golden State is definitely in a rare point-spread position as this heavy of a favorite in a game that can end its season. In 2017, the team listed as the highest favorite with their backs against the wall was coincidentally the Rockets, who laid nine points to the Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. San Antonio crushed Houston at the Toyota Center, 114-75 to advance, while cashing at +425 (Bet $100 to win $425) on the money-line,” said Rogers.

“Rewinding back to 2016’s Western Conference Finals, the Warriors won and covered in their two home games facing elimination against the Thunder by barely covering as 7 to 7 ½ point favorites in Games 5 and 7, respectively.”

As a double-digit home favorite in the playoffs, Golden State has gone 16-1 SU since 2015. However, the Warriors have burned bettors with a 5-12 ATS mark and that includes three non-covers in matchups against the Spurs (0-1) and Pelicans (0-2) in this postseason.

Based on our closing numbers, the ‘under’ has gone 4-1 in this series and the last three results have been ‘never in doubt’ to the low side. Including those results, the ‘under’ is 17-8 in the last 25 encounters between the pair and that includes a 12-3 (80%) in playoff matchups. The total for Game 6 opened 213 ½ and is sitting at 212 as of Friday evening.

While the Paul injury is huge, bettors should keep an eye on the status of Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (knee) for Game 6. He’s sat out the last two games in this series and also missed two regular season games against the Rockets. Golden State has gone 3-1 with him in the lineup against Houston and 1-4 without him.

If necessary, Game 7 will take place on Monday at the Toyota Center from Houston.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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