NBA

NBA Playoffs betting: Durant the difference as Houston struggle to cope with Golden State

May 3, 2019January 6th, 2022

IT'S a numerical trend but also stark history. No team has ever overturned a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Playoffs. Which effectively means the Houston Rockets are playing for survival when they host the Golden State Warriors on Saturday in Game 3 of their Western Conference semi-finals.

And although the champions won the opening two contests by four, and then six points, there is a swagger and poise that bodes well, not just for closing out the scrap with their most dangerous rivals but also a three-peat in due course.

A season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins? No problem. A dislocated finger for Steph Curry? No disruption. Too deep, too strong and with one key advantage. That Kevin Durant has maybe never looked better.

The All-World forward is averaging 34.3 points this post-season, eight above his regular season mark, and although the Rockets did a solid job in restricting him from three-point range prior to this series, he has been cold and efficient to give the Dubs an additional head start.

Durant has had bigger numbers in other years, primarily 2013-14 when he put up 32 points per night. But this campaign has brought his highest shooting percentage thus far, of 52.1%, and these are his best playoff scoring stats on top.

Not that anyone has ever overlooked Durant. His spot in the Hall of Fame is secure. But even as he rests on the cusp of a decision to stay or go this summer, never have these Warriors looked more like his Warriors. No longer the ring-chasing interloper joining the existing crew, more the totem that befits his rich talents.

And while Draymond Green has been the undoubted x-factor with his energy and drive against the Rockets, it is KD who has out-shone James Harden to put Golden State in command ahead of the series’ move to Houston with the champs 4.75 to take two on the road for a 4-0 sweep.

Harden, and his cohorts, are surely too good to fall meekly, and the Warriors – now 1.28 to win the West – are 2.45 underdogs on prevail in Game 3. If Mike D’Antoni and his band of merry men wish to extend, they’ll need a monster showing from Harden – sore eye or not – and a means to limit Durant, somehow.

Best bet: Go over 223 points in Houston – Golden State at 2.23

 

Game 3 of Portland Trail Blazers – Denver Nuggets on Friday will surely be pivotal with the series level at 1-1. The Nuggets were pinned back in Wednesday’s Game 2, losing 97-90, and it was the supporting cast which proved decisive for Portland.

No surprise for two teams with one bona fide A-Lister, one second banana, and a cast of unsung heroes. Could this be where experience comes to the fore? Denver have betrayed no nerves from a lack of prior playoff runs in unison and are good value at 2.50 to pinch the advantage back on the road.

East Beasts

As expected the Eastern Conference playoffs is combative and unpredictable. The chips might yet fall either way in both semi-finals. Game 3 between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks comes on Friday with the Cs favoured at 1.82 on their home court.

Milwaukee were excellent in their 123-102 Game 2 victory and the impending return of Malcolm Brogdan could tip them over the edge. He will still sit out this duel but if the Bucks get him reintegrated and clicking offensively by the conclusion, a 4-2 series triumph – available at 4.50 – still appears the hot tip.

The Philadelphia 76ers have the opportunity to take a 3-1 lead when they host Toronto Raptors on Sunday and are 1.89 favourites after Thursday’s 116-96 demolition. There has been the familiar site of Kyle Lowry disappearing and while Kawhi Leonard is superlative, too many other Raps need to rouse themselves if their team is not to stare extinction in the face.

And if Toronto cannot break out their full offense, this might stick under 212 total points once more.