Here come the Golden State Warriors.
There were signs that perhaps the four-year dynasty run was coming to an end. An early-season losing streak, locker-room arguments that became public and uncertainty over Kevin Durant’s future plans all created headlines for a team looking to three-peat for the first time in nearly two decades.
But the Warriors have responded with two gutty performances at home to go up 2-0 on James Harden and the Rockets. They’re now -670 to win the series and move on to the Western Conference Finals. Houston, needing four wins in their next five games to win the series, is +500 to upset the two-time defending champions.
Teams trailing 2-0 in best-of-seven series are just 20-262 entering this year’s postseason, so Houston will need plenty of things to go their way to have a chance.
The more likely outcome is a Golden State sweep. The Warriors will need wins in Games 3 and 4 in Houston to get it done but the production they’re getting across the board makes it a distinct possibility.
You can check out Game 3 odds here.
Does Curry’s Injury Open Door for Nuggets?
The victory included a scare early in the first quarter when Steph Curry appeared to dislocate a finger on his left hand. He headed immediately to the locker room and didn’t return until the second quarter.
Curry hurts his left hand. Perhaps a dislocated finger? Anyone else see it sticking out strangely? pic.twitter.com/uNn5bRKaaf— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) May 1, 2019
When he did return – with two fingers taped together – he pushed through the injury to score 20 points in 33 minutes. His teammates picked up the slack. Kevin Durant continued his incredible playoff run by scoring 29 points, while Klay Thompson added 21 of his own.
Steve Kerr’s group is starting to click just as we thought they would. They’re +375 to sweep the Rockets – the lowest odds are the Warriors winning in five games (+180), otherwise known as a gentleman’s sweep. Given the animosity between these two teams, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Golden State keep their foot on the gas and end this series before it comes back to Oakland.
While Curry’s finger doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue, it’s something that could linger. That may not matter against the Rockets given they’ve got the commanding 2-0 lead, but a potential matchup against the Nuggets in the West Finals may be a different story.
Remember, the Warriors are already without DeMarcus Cousins, who would have been the key defender against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. Already having to adjust to that absence, the Warriors would need to change their strategy up on the other end of the floor if Curry isn’t his usual sharpshooting self.
The Warriors are still very much the favorite to come out of the West with -400 odds, but keep an eye on the Nuggets. They lead the Portland Trail Blazers 1-0 and seem to have found an offensive rhythm, so their +900 odds to win the West could become enticing as we learn more about Curry’s finger.
Harden’s Eye Injury Could Further Doom Rockets
Gross! James Harden bleeds from his eyes, Stephen Curry dislocates his finger (VIDEO) https://t.co/VsDekEBPYe— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) May 1, 2019
Curry wasn’t the only star to suffer an injury in Game 2. James Harden was hit in the eye by Draymond Green just six minutes into the contest and, like Curry, also headed to the locker room for an extended period of time.
Harden finished with a gutty 29-point performance but it was clear both eyes were affecting him the entire night. He was 9 of 19 from the field and had six turnovers, admitting after the game that he ‘could barely see.’ The good news is the Rockets and Warriors don’t play again until Saturday, but Harden’s eye will be something to watch. The Rockets go as Harden goes, and if he isn’t fully healthy the Rockets don’t have a chance against a heating-up Warriors team.
James Harden has left the game after getting hit in the eye by Draymond Green.— Sam Hustis (@SamHustis) May 1, 2019
As he was leaving the court both Green and Kevin Durant went over to check in on him. pic.twitter.com/yxBQDe5s4j