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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, May 24, 2015 at 7:00 PM

The Western Conference Finals may not come to an end Monday night in Houston. The Golden State Warriors could conceivably get so complacent with a 3-0 series lead that they lose focus before then wrapping things up Wednesday night in Oakland. But, it’s virtually impossible to imagine the Houston Rockets coming back to win the series…or to even make things interesting. They fired their two best bullets in the first two games, before getting obliterated 115-80 Saturday night in Game Three.

The Rockets did rally from 3-1 down to the Los Angeles Clippers back in the second round. But, the Clippers were dealing with injuries…had a very bad bench…and were due to cool off shooting wise. Golden State is probably 5-6 points better than shorthanded LAC in Power Ratings (remembering the hamstring injury to Chris Paul), is much deeper (which means they won’t wear down), and doesn’t need to be red hot to win! In fact, the Warriors only shot 45% from the field when winning by 35 points!

Golden State is going to the finals, where they will be at least a 2-1 favorite over their presumptive opponent from Cleveland.

Let’s see if there’s anything worth handicapping in Monday’s Game Four. If Houston has thrown in the towel, then Golden State could be a game-day lock given how often they win convincingly. If Golden State slows their engine back down…maybe Houston can spring an upset to cash an easy ticket. First, a review of Game Three…

 

GAME THREE STATS

Golden State 115, Houston 80

Shooting Pct: Golden State 45%, Houston 34%

Three-Pointers: Golden State 11/28, Houston 5/25

Free Throws: Golden State 16/20, Houston 19/31

Rebounds: Golden State 60, Houston 39

Turnovers: Golden State 13, Houston 15

Vegas Line: Houston by 1.5, total of 216

So much to talk about. Let’s start with the market. Wise Guys were absolutely POUNDING Houston during the day…driving a line that probably should have been -4 (based on the Memphis series) but which opened at -1.5 all the way to Houston by -1.5. Hard to know what was keying that because it sure didn’t show up on the floor. Sharps have struggled thus far in the conference finals…particularly in Game Threes where they missed the mark by a mile with the new hosts.

In the boxscore…you can see that this was mostly about Houston NOT scoring. Golden State made some defensive adjustments that absolutely crippled the Rockets’ attack. James Harden was 3 of 16 from the field. Houston could only make 5 of 25 trey attempts. People forget that Golden State had the best DEFENSE in the league this year after you made adjustments for pace. The market forgot that too because we had another Under!

Defense and Rebounding wins championships. Golden State won rebounding 60-39 while also building a brick wall in front of the basket. Truly a championship performance. Golden State has a peak that nobody else in this league can get to.

Monday’s Vegas Line: Golden State by 4.5, total of 214

The Warriors are still only 6-7 against the spread in the postseason because they pick and choose when to make a run at that peak. That line may not be enough for the first quarter if the best version of the Warriors shows up. Remember that all four victories over Memphis were by double digits (15-17-20-13) and now we have that 35-point whopper over the Rockets. Still, backing GS hasn’t been a money-winning strategy overall. There’s a chance for a nailbiter or even a Rockets victory

JIM HURLEY is confident he’ll have the right side (and/or total) on Memorial Day. You can purchase the final word for Monday (this game plus the best from baseball) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to check on combination packages that include the upcoming Belmont Stakes. There are plenty of ways to make money as you wait for football to return!

NBA Playoff coverage continues tomorrow. Looks like we’ll be adding in some baseball in very short order given the one-sidedness of the Conference Finals. Here’s a look at the current NOTEBOOK itinerary.

Tuesday: Game Four Preview…Atlanta at Cleveland

Wednesday: Game Five Preview…Houston at Golden State or MLB Big Game Preview Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs if Warriors finish off sweep Monday

Thursday: Game Five Preview… Cleveland at Atlanta or MLB Series Preview Detroit Tigers at the Los Angeles Angels

Friday: MLB Series Preview: Kansas City Royals at Chicago Cubs

Saturday: MLB Big Game Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

Our NBA Finals Preview will go up Wednesday June 3 for the spectacle that begins Thursday June 4.

Are the Golden State Warriors ALREADY the NBA Champions…and the rest is just a formality? No questions about the world of handicapping…JIM HURLEY is your WORLD CHAMPION!

 

Be sure to follow:

Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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