Playoff basketball is a different beast, which is why we're taking a different approach to capping NBA action this postseason. Our daily NBA Playoffs 4-Point Play looks at the best ways to wager on Game 2 of the Western Conference finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, highlighting our favorite picks for sides, totals, props and alternative odds.
Third quarter Ultimate Warriors
Golden State is honoring Canadian rock legend Randy Bachman and Taking Care of Business in third quarters this postseason. The Warriors are outscoring opponents by 27.3 points per 100 possessions in the third frame in playoff games this spring. They outscored the Rockets by seven points in the first 12 minutes after halftime in Game 1 and The Athletic's Ethan Strauss thinks this trend will continue as the series progesses.
Strauss points to Houston style of play leading to tired legs in the second halves. The Rockets' iso-heavy offense is effective but also draining on James Harden. The soon-to-be league MVP shot 9-for-12 on his 15 isolation plays in Game 1 but he and Chris Paul had more dribbles than all the Warriors combined (959-810).
Take Golden State (-0.5) on the third quarter spread at Bet365.
James Harden and Chris Paul's mouths started watering when Kevon Looney checked in with eight minutes left in the first quarter Monday night. The big man has spent most of his three-year NBA career at the end of the Warriors bench, but he found a place in the rotation over the last few months because of his defensive versatility.
He did a decent job versus Anthony Davis in the last round, but Harden and Paul liked their chances of getting past the 6-foot-9 UCLA alum. The Rockets isolated against Looney 21 times in the 25 minutes he was on the floor in Game 1 and they scored just 17 points going at him.
That's very good defending. Two of the Rockets' three 24-second shot clock violations were a direct result of Looney's effort.
"Looney's out there for a reason," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. "He's an excellent 1-on-1 defender."
Golden State's defensive rating was a stingy 95.7 with Looney on the floor in Game 1 and he's likely to play a big part in Game 2. We think his presence and Houston's stubbornness in attacking him will have a negative impact on the home team's offensive production.
Sports Interaction lists Houston's team point total at 113. Take the Under.
And the winner is...
Golden State is -300 favorites to win the NBA title. There were some books that had them as high as -250 faves at the start of the season. They're now seven wins away from lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy and only slightly larger chalk.
The Boston Celtics are doing amazing things but the Warriors are not the Bucks, Sixers or Cavaliers. Each of those teams had flaws. If the Dubs and C's meet in the Finals, it'll be over in a hurry.
Take the Warriors at -300 at Bet365 because that price will jump to -500 if they leave Houston with a 2-0 series lead against the Rockets.
Houston coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't upset about Kevin Durant's big night. Many of KD's 37 points were scored on contested jumpers. D'Antoni's reasoning is Durant is a great player and he's going to make tough shots.
What D'Antoni can't live with is Klay Thompson being left alone at the 3-point line like he's Tony Allen and not a career 42.2 percent 3-point shooter. Thompson was allowed to shot 14 uncontested shots and hoist 15 triples en route to his 28-point performance in Game 1.
We think he won't find as much breathing room on the perimeter and Steph Curry will eat up some of his shot attempts in Game 2. Take the Under 20.5 on Thompson's point total at Bet365.