Rockets vs. Warriors Game 2 Betting Preview: Will Unders Keep Hitting?

Rockets vs. Warriors Game 2 Betting Preview: Will Unders Keep Hitting? article feature image

Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: James Harden and Klay Thompson

Game 2 Betting Odds: Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors

  • Spread: Warriors -5.5
  • Over/Under: 220.5
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT
  • Series Score: Warriors Lead 1-0

>> All odds as of Monday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

If you missed it, there was … just a little bit of drama in Game 1 of Rockets-Warriors.

What’s in store for Game 2? Our analysts dive in.

Betting Trends to Know

Game 1’s over/under closed at 224, and the under hit by 20 points. In 36 meetings between the Rockets and Warriors in the Steve Kerr era, the under has gone 25-11, including 15-3 in the playoffs. – John Ewing

This season, the Warriors have played 18 home games directly after winning a home game. The Warriors are just 7-11 ATS in that next home game, failing to cover the spread by 6.9 points per game. One issue, though: The spread in Game 2 is just 5.5 points. Of the 18 home games in this spot this year, the lowest point spread for Golden State was 5.5 against the Bucks in November — a 134-111 Bucks win. – Evan Abrams

The zig-zag theory doesn’t work in the NBA; it’s been proven to simply not be profitable. But in small sample sizes and specific situations, a theory like it can be used to streak together a few situational handicapping advantages.

Since 2005, NBA teams are covering the spread 50.8% of the time in the playoffs after failing to cover the spread in their previous game. In that span, Steve Kerr is 23-16 ATS (59%) in that spot, while Mike D’Antoni is 27-18 ATS (60%). They are two of the six-most profitable coaches in that spot since 2005. – Abrams

Locky: How I’m Betting Game 2

This number has already had a point knocked off it from Game 1, which is an interesting adjustment considering I’m not sure anything particularly impactful happened in Game 1. The Rockets kept it close the whole time — and if they foul with less than 10 seconds left and the game lands on six, does this adjustment even happen?

It’s an odd one considering Golden State is still at home and just played a close game. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are going to play again. So with that in mind, as someone who had a winning Houston ticket in Game 1, I have no play here on the spread. This seems about right to me.

The total, on the other hand, remains interesting. These teams just play grindy games when they play each other. We saw it as the series went on last year, with Games 4-7 totaling 187, 192, 201 and 193 points. So many of the key players remain from that series that this feels more like Game 8 that just happened and Game 9 now tonight.

These teams know each other well, and there were so few shot attempts and so much deliberate offense that I am inclined to go under with a number like 220.5.

Yes, it was 224 in Game 1, so there has been an adjustment, but I think we all now understand that the familiarity between the teams is going to cause a lot of grind-it-out offensive possessions. Houston is going to shoot a little better from 3, maybe, and yes, of course, we’re all thinking about the foul calls, but even if they call a few more close-outs on 3-pointers, they could also NOT call some other area of the game as tightly. It’s not a guarantee this will be a parade to the free throw line.

Given the history between the teams and the totals/final scores in those games, I don’t see a high-scoring affair appearing all of a sudden, similar to late in last year’s series. I like the under at 220.5. — Ken Barkley

Mears: How I’m Handicapping Tonight’s Game

I agree with Locky here. As John noted above, Warriors-Rockets unders have been just about the most-profitable bets in sports. And I think there’s a good reason why that’s likely to continue.

The public thinks that because these teams are so good and efficient offensively that overs are sure to hit. On that point: The offenses are still pretty good, but these playoff defenses are definitely far superior to what we saw from these teams in the regular season.

To hit their implied point total in Game 1, the Rockets would have had to put up almost an identical Offensive Rating to what they did in the regular season. That’s just not going to happen in an NBA Finals Western Conference Semis matchup against the Dubs.

But more importantly, it seems the public is not really accounting for pace of play between these two teams. Last year, the Rockets averaged 99.7 possessions per 48 minutes. In the Western Conference Finals vs. the Warriors, they averaged just 91.3. It was the same thing for the Dubs: They were top five in pace in the regular season but dropped significantly against the Rockets.

Part of that is the defense, sure, but the biggest part is how these teams like to attack offensively in playoff settings. Matt Moore noted that Kevin Durant averaged 3.5 ISO possessions per game against the Clippers in Round 1. Against the Rockets last year? That number was TEN PER GAME.

These teams are ISO-heavy when they play each other, and those possessions tend to take longer than normal possessions. Per, the Rockets finished their possessions in the regular season with four seconds or less on the shot clock 10.9% of the time. In Game 1 against the Dubs, that was 17.6% of their possessions. That was the case for both the Warriors and Rockets last year, too.

As such, I’m going to ride the unders for this series for as long as they’re in the 220s. They won’t all hit — these teams could certainly have outstanding offensive performances — but I think they’ll continue to be immensely profitable at these numbers over the long run. — Bryan Mears

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.