Game 6 – Warriors at Rockets

Playoff Results | Game 6 - Expert Picks

Western Conference Semifinals – Game 6 (Warriors lead 3-2)
Golden State at Houston (ESPN, 9:00 p.m. ET)

The NBA Playoffs will have at least two Game 7’s on tap this Sunday and if Houston can avoid elimination tonight to Golden State, then bettors will be looking at three decisive matchups over the weekend.

The Warriors took a 3-2 lead in this series after capturing a 104-99 win in Game 5 on Wednesday but that victory turned out to be bitter sweet for the two-time defending champions.

The club lost All-Star Kevin Durant to a calf injury late in the third quarter and it was announced yesterday that he’ll miss tonight’s game and a possible Game 7 on Sunday as well. Durant has been out of this world in the playoffs, averaging 34.2 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 51 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point land and 90 percent from the free-throw stripe. In a nutshell, he’s been unstoppable. NBA expert Tony Mejia considers the diagnosis of a calf strain instead of something far more significant a fabulous break for Kevin Durant and anyone holding a Warriors’ ticket on any futures. Although the Eastern Conference champ would be a major obstacle to overcome without Durant’s length, Golden State’s familiarity with its West foes should aid its cause in buying the two-time Finals MVP time to recover.

“The Warriors won’t win a championship without Durant but can get out of the Western Conference without him if they can get out of this series,” Mejia said. “Golden State won three of four games without him during the regular season, losing only in Orlando (96-103) on Feb. 28 after blowing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead. The Dubs scored just 15 points against the Magic over the final 12 minutes as they fell victim to Orlando’s length, but they defeated the Rockets (106-104) and Thunder (110-88) without Durant in March and obviously thrived and survived a crucial fourth quarter without him on Wednesday.”

“DeMarcus Cousins scored 27 points and hit 11 of 16 shots in imposing his will in that win over Houston, so the Warriors won’t be able to follow the same blueprint without Durant, but Klay Thompson scored 30 in that win and must factor heavily in stealing a Game 6 in Houston or surviving an elimination game back at Oracle on Sunday. Thompson is going to face a heavy workload as one of the primary defenders on Harden in addition to a larger load on the offensive end, so it’s vital that he stay out of foul trouble and engaged.”

“Even though Stephen Curry has shot just 26 percent from 3-point range (15-for-57) in this series, a more defined role as the catalyst makes him worth backing in any individual player props involving his scoring total,” Mejia said. “His high for this postseason is 38 points, attained back in Game 1 of the first round against the Clippers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he posts only his second 40-point game since February if he can get it going early.”

As Mejia mentioned, the 3-1 record without Durant in the regular season was produced on the road and the unlikely win over Houston was impressive. Cousins not only went for 27 but he added eight rebounds and seven assists too while the ‘Splash Brothers’ (Curry & Thompson) combined for 54 in the win. Since Cousins was lost in the first round of this year’s playoffs, it makes you wonder who could possibly step up for the Warriors on Friday without the big man and KD.  

Under the assumption that KD was ‘doubtful’ for Game 6, the oddsmakers opened Houston as a 7 ½-point home favorite and that line has held steady after his status was downgraded to ‘out.’

Are bettors still doubting the Rockets? If the game was on the road, you can certainly see why but the recent trends from the Toyota Center all lean to Houston. Mike D’Antoni and company have gone 5-0 straight up and 4-1 against the spread in this year’s playoffs at home and since the head coach arrived in 2016, the team is 17-6 SU and 12-11 ATS in the postseason as hosts.

While those numbers are solid, NBA expert Kevin Rogers dug into them further and you could be pumping the brakes on Houston tonight.

He explained, “The Rockets own an 0-3 record both SU and ATS in the last three playoff games when facing elimination since 2016. Two of those losses came at Toyota Center, including a 114-75 drubbing at the hands of the Spurs as nine-point favorites in Game 6 of the 2017 second round.”

Of the six losses that Houston has had under D’Antonio at home in the playoffs, three of them came to Golden State and that includes the 101-92 loss in Game 7 of last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Rogers noted, “The Warriors have wrapped up each of their last three postseason series away from Oracle Arena, all victories by nine points or more. Granted, Golden State is without Durant, but under Steve Kerr, the Warriors have not lost three road playoff games in a series dating back to 2015.”

As an underdog, Golden State has gone 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS this season, which includes the Game 3 setback (126-121) to Houston (-3.5) in this series. Since Kerr took over the coaching duties in 2014, the Warriors have been listed as underdogs eight times in the playoffs. The club has gone 4-4 both SU and ATS while the totals have also gone 4-4. Friday’s line is the largest amount of points that Golden State has ever received in the postseason with Kerr on the sidelines.

The total on Game 6 opened at 210 but has been pushed up to 214. The ‘over’ has gone 3-2 in the first five games of this series and that includes both games going high in Houston. The Rockets have been averaging 115.8 PPG at home in the playoffs. In the four games without KD this season, the Warriors averaged 104 PPG while only allowing 99.5 PPG. Not surprisingly, the ‘under’ went 4-0 in those contests. 

From a futures perspective, Golden State was the odds-on 5/7 favorite (Bet $100 to win $71) to pull off the “Three-peat” and capture this year’s NBA Finals prior to the Game 5 victory. As of this morning, the Warriors are now a 5/4 (Bet $100 to win $125) betting choice to win the title.

The series price still has Golden State (-185) listed as a favorite but the return on Houston (+160) was adjusted.

If necessary Game 7 will take place on Sunday from Oracle Arena and if that happens, it will be the first time since 2014 that the NBA Playoffs will have three Game 7’s on the same day.

Chris David can be reached at