The NBA playoffs roll on and Saturday brings us what could be the final game before the Western Conference Finals. Here’s what stands out to me on DraftKings Sportsbook for Saturday.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets
Rockets +6 (-110)
It is do-or-die time for the Rockets and the stakes feel even higher than normal for this team. Not only does their season end with a loss but it seems likely that the personnel will change if Houston doesn’t win today. Players, coaches and front office, nothing is really safe. The Rockets went all in on Russell Westbrook this season and, in hindsight, it certainly seems like this team was better off with Chris Paul. Never mind that the Rockets also gave up a pair of first-round picks along with CP3 to land Russ.
While I expect the Lakers to win, I think the Rockets will play with enough desperation to keep this game close. James Harden might play close to the entire game and there is no reason for the Lakers to extend LeBron James or Anthony Davis to play that many minutes with a 3-1 cushion. This is the main reason I think this game stays a bit closer than the spread indicates.
UNDER 215.5 Total Points (-109)
The Lakers are playing terrific defense in the playoffs. They are making it extremely difficult for opponents to get off good shots, which is why the fantasy production for Harden and Westbrook is somewhat tempered in this series, at least compared to their normal levels. This is also slowing down the pace of the game and causing some lower final scores. Of the four games these teams have played in the playoffs, the point totals have been 210, 216, 214 and 210. At this number, the under has hit in three of the four games, so I think the number is set slightly too high. Nothing egregious but I think it should be 1.5 points or so lower.
James Harden Points
OVER 30.5 (-122)
I am siding with the over on Harden’s points simply due to the situation. He has gone over 30 in two of the first four games of the series, averaging 29.25 points per game for the series, so on paper, this line looks fair. However, I think we see Harden play a few extra minutes tonight, as I mentioned above. He has yet to play over 40 minutes in a game this series and as long as he doesn’t get into foul trouble, I think Harden is on the court for almost the entire game. Against the Thunder, Harden played as many as 43 minutes in a game and that is more in line with the kind of workload I expect from him today. In addition, it stands to reason that the magnitude of the game could force him to take matters into his own hands, inflating his usage.
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