NBA Playoff Preview – Game 5: Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets
The Golden State Warriors might be scratching their heads a little as they ponder how they are going to deal with the Houston Rockets with the possibility of Andre Iguodala missing another game. Iguodala, a defensive stalwart who also is a past winner of the MVP award in the NBA Finals, was out with a knee contusion and inactive for Game 4, as the Rockets came back from a double-digit deficit to defeat a tired Golden State crew. Now we have Game 5, where Houston can exert its home court advantage and take a lead in the series. Game time is 9:05 PM ET at the Toyota Center, and if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can place wagers even after the game tips off, as you access the state-of-the-art software from Live Betting Ultra.
Houston led the league this season, averaging 29.5 first-quarter points, but it was Golden State the got off to a 12-0 lead on the way to 20-19 in the first quarter. Houston overcame that with a 34-point second-quarter burst, but the Warriors hit back by outscoring the Rockets 34-17 in the third quarter, and we mention all this because the defending champs had a twelve-point lead early in the final stanza, before they went cold. On their own home floor, with a 16-game home playoff winning streak, Golden State made just three field goals out of 18 attempts in the fourth quarter, and literally gave the game away.
James Harden (30) and Chris Paul (27) did the bulk of the scoring for Houston, which went with a seven-man rotation. It’s likely they will at least try that same approach in the early stages of Game 5, and they will adjust if it doesn’t work.
In the NBA playoff odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Houston is the slight favorite at home:
Houston Rockets -1
Golden State Warriors +1
Over 219 points -110
Under 219 points -110
Mike D’Antoni applauded his team for having “a lot of heart” in coming back twice from big deficits to win on the road. And there has to be no doubt in the minds of observers that the Rockets are not “soft.” Through their defensive scheme, they forced Golden State into using more isolation plays that they probably intended, and that put rather off-balance for the Warriors. Golden State has some size, but big men like JaVale Magee, David West and Zaza Pachulia sat for the whole game. Kevon Looney, who started the game at center and logged 26 minutes, did manage to get six offensive rebounds, but he found himself in foul trouble, and without Iguodala, the Warriors did not have the flexibility on hand to push a matchup advantage.
Paul had been downplaying a foot problem in the early stages of the series, but did finally admit that he feels “much better” and was immeasurably more effective as a result. If this is the case, that’s not great news for Golden State. But let’s consider a few other things here.
The Warriors got just 37.5% shooting from Kevin Durant and 30.8% from Klay Thompson. Even Steph Curry, who had six triples, made only four out of is 13 attempts from two-point range. In Game 4 they went to the line only 14 times, compared with 27 for Houston. And they committed 16 turnovers against just fourteen assists. Still, they had a chance to tie this game at the buzzer with a Curry-three-pointer that missed. In other words, a lot of things went wrong for them, including Iguodala’s injury, but they were still in a position to win the game.
We think they are in a position to win this one as well. We’re not sure about the status of Iguodala; Steve Kerr reported that he is “making progress,” and that could mean anything. If he plays, and can be reasonably effective, he gives the head coach a lot more latitude. Under the circumstances, we kind of like the Warriors’ chances to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
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