NBA Western Conference Playoffs - Will Houston Rockets Win the West?

The Houston Rockets are +510 to win the Western Conference as the playoffs begin. Will the Rockets get another shot at the Golden State Warriors and get redemption to win the West? Professional handicapper FairwayJay offers some insight on Houston’s play and playoff chances.

NBA Playoffs Begin and Houston Rockets Ready for Run

The Houston Rockets are the No. 4 seed in the 2019 NBA Western Conference playoffs, and the Rockets are +510 to win the West at BookMaker, a leading online sportsbook. After taking the big favorite Golden State Warriors to 7 games in last year’s Western Conference finals, the Rockets return to the playoffs on a roll finishing the regular season on a 20-4 run with three losses by 2 points or less.

Houston is healthy as the playoffs begin, and recall PG Chris Paul was injured in last year’s playoffs during the West finals. James Harden is playing at an elite level after leading the league in scoring (36.1 PPG), and along with Clint Capela and Chris Paul, the Rockets may have the warriors and will to take out Golden State this season.

Houston Rockets NBA PlayoffsSince the start of last season, Houston is 92-26 SU when Harden and Paul both play. The Rockets open the playoffs against a surging Utah team, but Houston is 8-2 against the Jazz when Harden and Paul both play. The winner of that series likely plays Golden State in the next round, and the Rockets are 6-3 SU vs. the Warriors the last 2 years when Harden and Paul both play. Houston is also 5-1 vs. both Denver and San Antonio and 4-1 vs. Portland with their dynamic duo in the lineup together.

The Golden State Warriors are a prohibitive favorite to win the West and another NBA Championship, but the Houston Rockets offer up some value with a sensible shot to win the West at +510

2019 NBA Playoffs and Series Odds (provided by BookMaker)

Eastern Conference

#6 Brooklyn at #3 Philadelphia - 76ers (-670), Nets (+485)
#7 Orlando at #2 Toronto - Raptors (-900), Magic (+614)
#5 Indiana at #4 Boston - Celtics (-430), Pacers (+337)
#8 Detroit at #1 Milwaukee - Bucks (-8000), Pistons (+1810)

Western Conference

#8 LA Clippers at #1 Golden State - Warriors (-13000), Clippers (+2000)
#7 San Antonio at #2 Denver - Nuggets (-270), Spurs (+222)
#6 Oklahoma City at #3 Portland - Thunder (-150), Trailblazers (+130)
#5 Utah at #4 Houston - Rockets (-290), Jazz (+237)

Odds to win Conference and NBA Championship (provided by BookMaker)

Team Odds to Win Conference Odds to Win Championship
Milwaukee +148 +720
Toronto  +200 +985
Philadelphia  +400 +2000
Boston  +430 +1900
Indiana  +6500 +25000
Orlando +9000 +32000
Brooklyn  +9500 +45000
Detroit  +12500 +52500
Golden State -425 -230
Denver  +1500 +4000
Portland  +3750 +7700
Houston  +510 +900
Utah  +2700 +5700
Oklahoma City +2000 +4000
San Antonio +9500 +18500
LA Clippers +11500 +30000

Opening Weekend Match-ups, Lines and TV Times

NBA PlayoffsSaturday, April 13

Brooklyn at Philadelphia (-7, total 232) ESPN, 2:30 ET
Orlando at Toronto (-8.5, 212) ESPN, 5:00 ET
Los Angeles at Golden State (-12.5, 231.5) ABC 8:00 ET
San Antonio at Denver (-6.5, 211) ESPN 10:30 ET

Sunday, April 14

Indiana at Boston (-7, 209) TNT 1:00 ET
Oklahoma City at Portland (-3.5, 225) ABC 3:30 ET
Detroit at Milwaukee (-12.5, 219.5) TNT 7:00 ET
Utah at Houston (-6, 214.5) TNT 9:30 ET

Rockets star James Harden posted gaudy numbers this season scoring 36.1 points per game. He led the league in scoring by 8.09 points per game, the largest margin since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1962-63 season. He became the first player to average 36 points and seven assists in a season. Harden also makes 88% of his free throws and makes nearly 5 three-pointers per game on 13 attempts per game (36.8%). Yet Harden is expected to be the league MVP runner-up to Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Still, Harden’s tremendous scoring season included nine games of scoring 50 points or more - the most since Kobe Bryant totaled 10 in the 2006-2007 season. Only Wilt Chamberlain (multiple) and Michael Jordan had at least eight 50-point games in a season.

The Rockets finished 53-29 this season and went 6-3 when Harden scored at least 50 points. But reaching the NBA summit and winning a NBA Championship is the focus for Harden. While Harden and Paul will be the focus of the Jazz, Capela will be a key inside and he averaged 13 points on 59.2 percent shooting along with 10.2 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots in the five games against the Jazz in last year’s playoffs.

The Portland Trailblazers rallied from 28 points down to beat Sacramento 136-131 in the last game of the regular season Wednesday. The Kings rested more starters, but the Blazers had plans of losing and being the No. 4 seed. Instead, Portland is No. 3 and plays Oklahoma City in the opening round. And Portland is the only higher seed that is a series underdog in Round 1.

Houston now plays Utah, and the winner will likely play Golden State, where a rematch of the Rockets and Warriors would be one to watch. But the Rockets/Jazz series is compelling, and Utah has the defense, perimeter players and depth to make this a most competitive series. The Jazz have the best defensive rating in the NBA, and since the All-Star break, Utah has the second-best point differential in the NBA behind the Warriors. The Jazz defensive rating vs. the Rockets this season was exceptional, and since the All-Star break, Houston (#1) and Utah (#2) rank 1-2 in best NET rating (team's point differential per 100 possessions). Both teams are bet on and buy on, and it’s too bad they match-up in the opening round.

But a key statistical note regarding Rockets point guard Chris Paul is that in the three games he played against the Jazz this season, Houston played slower and the Rockets pace rating ranked bottom three in the league.

That makes Game 1 UNDER 214.5 a play even with the drop in price as sharps have made their money position known.

Here are the exact number of games series prices for the Rockets and Jazz

UTA Jazz to Win Series 4 - 0 (+1800)
UTA Jazz to Win Series 4 - 1 (+1100)
UTA Jazz to Win Series 4 - 2 (+450)
UTA Jazz to Win Series 4 - 3 (+650)

HOU Rockets to Win Series 4 - 0 (+1100)
HOU Rockets to Win Series 4 - 1 (+400)
HOU Rockets to Win Series 4 - 2 (+500)
HOU Rockets to Win Series 4 - 3 (+325)

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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