NBA Betting: As Harden continues to shine, the Warriors really should ‘Fear the Beard’

January 3, 2019January 6th, 2022

IT'S a mark of just how dominant James Harden has been over the Christmas period that he has vaulted back into the race to be the NBA’s MVP.

Sell Steph Curry stock. Wave off LeBron (this column’s pick). Kevin Who?

The Beard has underlined why he is the league’s Greatest Offensive Threat – GOT for short – with four consecutive 40-point games for the Houston Rockets heading into Thursday’s Western Conference Finals re-match at the Golden State Warriors.

Only Giannis Antetokounmpo is shorter-priced for MVP at 3.00, with Harden suddenly slashed for an award repeat at 4.00. The Greek Freak has spectacularly carried the Milwaukee Bucks up and into the powerhouses of the East.

But the Rockets play in the West! Where the really good teams (OK, most) reside. And the NBA’s leading scorer in the primary reason why his side is 21-15 and in the conversation for potential threats to a Warriors' three-peat rather than back whence they came, out of control and out of the running.


Consider this: You have to go back 15 games for the last time Houston had game-high scoring from anyone else. Take out a pair of point-punishings from Clint Capela, and no-one else has headlined the box score since November 2.

Over his last ten appearances, Harden has averaged 40.8 points on 43% shooting. He’s also added 8.9 assists and 6.8 rebounds. An all-time rate during a spell in which the Rockets has lost only once – a close upset to the Miami Heat – with some very decent foes in that mix.

All of which, one could argue, counts for little against the champions, particularly with Chris Paul still sidelined and Eric Gordon a doubt with a knee problem. The champs’ inconsistency suggests no team in the NBA will obtain the magical mark of 60 wins in this regular season.

Too unpredictable for comfort, the Dubs have been one of the worst bets against the spread this term. And they are just 9-10 against opponents with .500 records or better this term (Houston is 14-5) and a mere 3-4 in contests decided by 3 points or fewer. The Rockets, 4.00 for the win, remain outstanding value even on a handicap of +7 at 2.12.

The Warriors are 2.35 to do anything other than retain their championship and a fully-healthy Rockets might ultimately again be their primary menace.

But if Harden keeps firing on all cylinders to boost their cause, everyone else has good reason to Fear The Beard.

Best bet: Go under 224.5 points in Golden State – Houston at 2.05


GAMEDAY • 5PM CT • @nbcschicago

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Sunday brings the Chicago Bulls to the Brooklyn Nets in a reunion of two of the NBA’s forget-me-nots.

Revenge is sought by the visitors who lost 96-93 to the Nets on their own court two weeks ago as Brooklyn capped a surprise seven-game winning streak.

Since then, the Nets have regressed and Chicago, under the stewardship of Jim Boylan, were demonstrating an ability to pick off those mired around them until Wednesday’s hammering by Orlando.

With both on the second night of a back-to-back come the weekend, look for another defensive slugfest (under 203.5 total points) with the Bulls primed to be good value at –2.5.