For those whose memories extend all the way back to last June, remember when the Houston Rockets had a 3-2 lead on the Golden State Warriors but lost Chris Paul to injury? In the first halves of Games 6 and 7, the Rockets played well, shared the ball and got balanced scoring.
In the second half of those two games, James Harden tried to do too much by himself and things went south … which is part of the reason why the Golden State Warriors are the two-time defending NBA champions.
Well, this will not come as welcome news to those living in Utah, but second-round lines for a Houston-Golden State second-round matchup have already been posted by DraftKings Sportsbook despite the fact that both teams are playing Wednesday night in a TNT doubleheader. Golden State is a -375 series favorite over Houston at DraftKings.
Golden State will try to close out the Los Angeles Clippers (the line is -14), and Houston will try to finish off the Utah Jazz (the line is -8).
So a second-round matchup seems like a fait accompli, although teams on the brink of elimination tend to play with a sense of desperation … which is why contrarians will likely take the Jazz and the Clippers on the moneyline tonight.
Heck, the Thunder played with a sense of desperation Tuesday night and may have been the victim of an egregious non-call on Russell Westbrook’s final drive to the basket, and then Damian Lillard happened from 35 feet.
So the next question in regards to Houston and Golden State is which of them will win in the second round if they both get there?
- In their first meeting on Nov. 15 — three games after Carmelo Anthony disappeared — Steph Curry was on the shelf as Houston cruised to a 21-point victory at home.
- In their second meeting on Jan. 3, Harden scored 44 points in a 135-134 OT thriller.
- In their third meeting on Feb. 23, Harden was on the shelf but the Rockets still won 118-112 despite 20-point games from Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
- In their fourth and final meeting on March 11, the Warriors prevailed 106-104 behind 27 points from DeMarcus Cousins to end the Rockets’ nine-game winning streak. Safe to say that won’t be happening if these teams both move on, what with Boogie on the shelf.
So in the category of “you’ve gotta do this before you do that,” both Houston and Golden State have to take care of business Wednesday in order to meet up in a second-round series that will get people talking about something other than the Lakers, Luke Walton and/or Jim Dolan. We’ll get closer to that answer tonight.
Let’s have a look at what else DraftKings Sportsbook has on the board in the Eastern Conference:
Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Coming off their Game 5 takedown of Brooklyn, the Sixers are opening as a slight series underdog (+150) vs. Kawhi Leonard and Co Here is why:
- In Game 1 on Oct. 30, the Sixers went up to Toronto and got destroyed by the Raptors 129-112 behind Kawhi Leonard’s 31 points.
- In Game 2 on Dec. 6, Leonard had 36 points in a 113-102 Raptors victory.
- In Game 3 on Dec. 22 in Philly, Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas all sat out as Philadelphia won 126-101.
- And in Game 4 on Feb. 5, Toronto dropped 40 first-quarter points on the Sixers and cruised to a 119-107 victory.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee (-305) is a pretty heavy series favorite as both teams are coming off opening round sweeps.
The teams have not played since Feb. 22, when the Bucks won by one point at Milwaukee in a game that kept the Last 2 minute report folks at NBA headquarters quite busy.
Milwaukee lost the first meeting on Nov. 1, 117-113, and won the second 120-107 in a game that Kyrie Irving sat out.
The teams played each other only three times — an NBA scheduling quirk that happens from time to time (usually, teams in the same conference play each other four times in a season).