The Golden State Warriors have done everything right en route to a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. The Houston Rockets gave them a minor scare in game one and a legit scare in a one-point defeat in game two. While a sweep has to be on the mind for everyone involved, the Rockets have done enough to this point to show that they belong at this stage. Now back home in Houston, it’s entirely possible they can regroup and find a way to get in this series. Let’s break down how they can do that and see if the Rockets have a real shot at being the safer pick when the 2015 NBA playoffs continue on Saturday night:

Golden State Warriors (1) @ Houston Rockets (2) on ESPN at 9:00 pm ET

The Rockets have tried to beat the Warriors two ways – by running with them in game one and slowing them down in game two. They were close both times, but ultimately neither worked. A huge reason why is because no matter how close the Rockets got, Stephen Curry (67 total points in this series) kept burning them. What makes it worse is that Klay Thompson hasn’t even caught fire yet, so it’s possible Houston hasn’t even had to handle Golden State’s offense at it’s best. Toss in a banged up Dwight Howard (although he looked good in game two), and there’s plenty of reason to cave on Houston.

All of that being said, the Rockets are so close to a win that they can taste it and now they’re back home where they’re much more comfortable. They can worry about beating Golden State at Oracle Arena in game six. Right now they just need to extend this series. The best way to do that is to allow Golden State to play at a faster pace and to continue playing sound defense to help force turnovers. When the game gets faster there is the obvious risk of the Warriors sliding into their element and hitting every shot they take, but the speed also creates more passes and more turnovers. When that happens, Houston tends to be at it’s best and it can get out in transition and get easy baskets.

Another key aspect is James Harden getting to the free throw line and penetrating to create for others. He’s been solid at it, but he messed up big time at the end of game two and he needs to be smarter and have a plan of attack when he works his way inside. Stopping Curry is obviously at the top of the list, but that seems impossible at this point. Houston may just want to force him to take those tough shots even more than usual and hope they finally stop falling.

Houston’s backs are against the wall and they are going to be +1 underdogs in this one. That makes this one basically a pick’em game and a really tough game to feel good about when it comes to NBA betting. That being said, we know these Rockets have a lot of fight and judging by these first two games, they are not a complete level below the Warriors. I think they can get a win and with the razor thin line here, you might as well go for it. I’ll take Houston straight up and ATS, but the 214 Total might be a tad too ambitious. These two could combine for an insane, explosive Total eventually, but so far I’m not seeing it.

Pick: Rockets 105, Warriors 102

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