So what do you do if you are the Golden State Warriors? It's now pretty clear that the Houston Rockets just don't care and aren't going to put up much of a fight in their first-round Western Conference series. So does Warriors coach Steve Kerr allow Steph Curry to play in Game 3 on Thursday as the series shifts to Texas? Or does he give Curry a few more days to heal that ankle/foot. Curry had an MRI on Tuesday and it came back clear. He is currently listed as questionable. The Warriors will not beat the Clippers in the next round without a fully healthy Curry. I probably sit him at least one more game.
Free $60 in Member NBA Picks No Obligation Click Here
Game 3: No. 3 Thunder at No. 6 Mavericks (+9.5, 196)
Just when you think you know what you are doing as a bettor, something like Game 2 of this series happens. The Thunder absolutely destroyed the Mavericks in Game 1. So of course Dallas, minus injured guard J.J. Barea and with fellow guard Deron Williams very limited with his own injury, upset the Thunder 85-84 in Game 2. Raymond Felton stepped in for Barea and had one of the best games of his career with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Who saw that coming? As of now, the Mavs don't know if Barea or Williams will play in Game 3. Ditto forward David Lee, who has yet to go in this series with a heel injury.
Was Dallas much better on defense in Game 2? No question about it. The Mavs, especially Wesley Matthews, were way more physical on Kevin Durant. But good defense or not, you couldn't have predicted Durant going 7-for-33 from the field. Those 26 misses were a career-high for him and tied Michael Jordan for the most in an NBA postseason game in the past 30 years. Durant had a shot to win in the final seconds on a contested layup after Felton missed two free throws on the other end. But Durant missed, a tip missed and then Steven Adams' made putback came a blink after the final buzzer. Russell Westbrook also struggled, going 8-for-22. The two stars combined for 11 turnovers.
Series line (BetOnline): Thunder -3000, Mavericks +1500
Key trends: OKC is 3-9 against the spread in its past 12 Thursday games. The Mavs are 9-4 ATS in their past 13 vs. the Western Conference. The "over/under" has gone under in nine of the Mavs' past 11.
Early lean: I'll take the points. Clearly Durant and Westbrook will be better and probably lead a win, but that's a lot of points to give a decent team at home. Go under as both games have in this series thus far.
Game 3: No. 2 Raptors at No. 7 Pacers (+1.5, 193)
Toronto has to be happy with a 1-1 split heading to Indianapolis. Why? For one, the Raptors got a big monkey off their backs with Monday's 98-87 win. Toronto had lost seven straight playoff games -- two in 2014 when leading Brooklyn 3-2 in the series, four straight last year to Washington and then this series opener by 10. The reason I think the Raptors are OK at 1-1 right now is because All-Star DeMar DeRozan has done very little thus far. He has combined to score 24 points on 10-for-37 shooting (27 percent) while attempting just six free throws. DeRozan averaged 23.5 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting during the season and ranked third in the NBA in free throw attempts per game (8.4). Also a positive for Toronto: Indiana has had no answer yet for Jonas Valanciunas, who is averaging 17.5 points and 17.0 rebounds in the series. Indiana just can't match up with him.
Paul George has been great in both games of the series for Indiana and he will need to continue to be. He might be the best player in the series, but Toronto has at least the next best three in DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Valanciunas. George got very little support in Game 2. Monta Ellis added 15 points but the other three starters combined for 11 points. The bench wasn't much better. Indiana starting center Ian Mahinmi was limited to 21 minutes with a sore lower back in Game 2 and did not play in the fourth. He is day-to-day. Indiana was 1-1 at home vs. Toronto this season.
Series line: Raptors -250, Pacers +210
Key trends: The Raptors are 2-6 ATS in their past eight following an ATS win. Indiana is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 after a loss. The under is 4-1 in Toronto's past five road games. It is 9-3 in Indiana's past 12 at home.
Early lean: Pacers and under.
Game 3: No. 1 Warriors at No. 8 Rockets (+5.5, 217.5)
Curry warmed up for a few minutes ahead of Game 2 on Monday before walking back into the locker room clearly perturbed. I watched that whole game and the Rockets truly are a disjointed, disinterested bunch. So many stupid shots -- hello Josh Smith -- and turnovers. At least twice I saw Dwight Howard grab a rebound nearly under the Warriors basket and instead of trying to dunk or something didn't even look up and instead threw out to a 3-point shooter. The only guy who seems to give max effort all the time is Patrick Beverley. James Harden cares on offense but is still a joke on defense at times. On multiple occasions he simply stood there while his opponent rolled baseline on him for either a layup or a dunk. And then Harden would point at Howard and criticize him. Those two clearly don't like each other and it's 100 percent that Howard won't be back next season.
Golden State won 115-106, actually scoring more points than they did with Curry (for a half) in Game 1. The Warriors' offense ran through Klay Thompson in Game 2 and he was solid with 34 points and five assists. Draymond Green added 12 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists without a single turnover in 39 minutes. Shaun Livingston started for Curry and had 16 points and six assists.
Series line: TBA because of Curry
Key trends: The Warriors are 9-0 ATS in their past nine Thursday games. Houston is 5-2 ATS in its past seven following an ATS loss. Golden State is 5-1 ATS in its past six in Houston. The under is 7-3 in the Warriors' past 10 after a win.
Early lean: For all I just said about Houston, maybe the home crowd draws a big effort for one game; the Rockets did get one game there in last year's West Finals vs. Golden State. So I'd take the points if Curry sits. Only then. Wait on Curry for total choice as well. Over if he plays.
Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please on any of our top NBA handicappers here. Also, for a limited time only, you can get three handicappers NBA picks for the price of one! Click Here for more details!
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NBA Handicapping Articles
- Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Home and Road Differences
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Utah Jazz Off to Rough Start
- NBA Betting and Handicapping: Studs and Duds Against the Spread
- 2019 NBA Championship Odds and Expert Predictions
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Betting Teams Out of Playoff Chase Already
- NBA Betting Advice: Handicapping the Golden State Warriors Drama
- NBA Betting and Handicapping: Los Angeles Clippers for Real After Hot Start?
- Expert NBA Handicapping: The Cavaliers Post-LeBron
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Toronto Raptors True Contender in East