Tuesday night is pretty quiet for NBA basketball, with just 4 games taking place. 2 of those are key games for seeding at the top of the Western Conference. First, the James Harden-led Rockets will head to Sacramento for a match with the Kings. The night caps off with a banger, with the Nuggets heading to Golden State for a date with the Warriors. Tonight is all about the gritty Western Conference, and considering how close we are to the playoffs, these games against one another matter more than usual!
Game 1: Houston Rockets (49-28) @ Sacramento Kings (38-39)
The Rockets and Kings are no strangers to each other, as Houston has dominated the season series so far, 3-0 and just played a few days ago. None of the games have even been close, with the slimmest margin of victory just 11 points for Houston in their previous meeting. Sacramento missed the playoffs this season, but the Rockets want to win tonight so they can finish with a better record than Portland.
The Rockets have created some separation from San Antonio, and are rewarded with Southwest Division title. They’re a whole 5 games ahead of the Spurs, and share the same record as the Trail Blazers, but Portland leads the season series against the Rockets, so Houston finds themselves in 4th rather than 3rd in the standings. Depending on where they finish, they’ll likely play against the Jazz or the Clippers.
- 20-18 on the road this season.
- Exception play has continued as of late, going 4-1 in their last 5 games played, and 12-3 overall in March.
- Expect another James Harden fireworks display! He collected his jaw-dropping 5th 50-point triple double, finish with 50 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists last game against these very Kings.
- Quite potent against the rest of the Western Conference, currently sitting at 29-19.
- Houston has been an excellent cover team the second half of the season. They covered the point spread their last 2 games, and 4 of the last 5 overall. In their last 10 games, they’ve covered 6 times.
Well, it’s a good thing Buddy Hield didn’t really bet his house on the fact that Sacramento would make the playoffs this year. Buddy can stay nice and warm, but the Kings can’t be feeling too good knowing none of the remainder of the year matters much. They missed by quite a longshot too, currently 6 games behind 8th seeded OKC. That’s not to say these young Kings can’t still win a basketball game!
- 23-15 in home games this year.
- Struggling to find any consistency lately, going just 2-3 in their last 5 games and 5-7 in their last 12.
- Rookie Marvin Bagley III has seemed to find his rhythm in the NBA, posting quite impressive numbers the past two months. In February, he averaged 17.5 points and 9.4 rebounds on 48% shooting from the field and 28% from downtown. He was even sharper in March, averaging 18.5 points and 8.2 rebounds on 55% shooting from the field and a cool 44% from three.
- Fairy lackluster against the West, sitting at just 21-27.
- Although they did cover the point spread last game, they’ve covered just twice in the last 6 games. Across the last 10, they’ve managed to cover 5 times though.
Pick: Houston Rockets -5.0
James Harden just exploded against these same Kings, and quite honestly has had Sacramento’s number all year. None of the previous 3 games these teams have played have been close and tonight will not be a new story. James Harden is simply playing scintillating basketball and nobody can stop him. The Kings do have some promising talent to look forward to, but talent doesn’t mean anything when you run into a superstar with a beard. Expect Houston to win tonight.
Game 2: Denver Nuggets (51-25) @ Golden State Warriors (52-24)
Although they’re 2 very different teams, the Nuggets and Warriors come into tonight with almost identical records, and are both 7-3 in their last 10 games. The similarities seem to stop there, considering Golden State leads the season series 2-1, and has averaged 120.7 points across the 3 games while Denver has averaged just 105.3. Denver’s only win came in the first week on the regular season, a time when the Dubs didn’t have DeMarcus Cousins (but should they really need him to win a basketball game?). Tonight’s game can essentially clinch 1st place for Golden State, but will give Denver a shooter’s chance of stealing it back from them if they win.
After a 3 game losing streak towards the beginning of March, Denver responded well with a 6 game winning streak in the middle of the month. Their last 5 games haven’t been so pretty though, going just 2-3 in those contests. Their recent blunders have cost them the 1st seed, and have made it quite difficult for them to reclaim it. After tonight, the Nuggets still have 4 games remaining against Western Conference playoff teams.
- Just 20-18 in road games on the year.
- After some fantastic play in January and February, guard Malik Beasley struggled in March, averaging just 8.7 points on 34% shooting from the field and 29% from three. He averaged 14.2 points on 55% from the field and 46% from three in January, and 16.5 points on 54% shooting from the field and 48% from three in February.
- Jamal Murray is probable to play tonight, currently plagued by an ankle injury. Murray has struggled against the Warriors this season, averaging just 11.7 points and 3 assists on 34% shooting in the 3 skirmishes.
- Better than anyone else against the rest of the West, currently at 31-15 on the year.
- Did not cover the point spread last game, and haven’t been a good cover lately at all, covering just 3 of their last 10 games overall.
While the Warriors have lost a fair amount of games this year, but when they look locked in and engaged, they’re a scary team. The important part of the playoffs is that each round is a best of 7, perfect for a motivation-based team like Golden State to win when they really need to. If the Dubs win tonight, they’ve basically locked up the 1st seed, with only 1 game remaining against a playoff team.
- Surprisingly just 27-11 at home this year.
- Keep a close eye on Klay Thompson! The overshadowed splash brother is averaging 28.3 points and 2 steals on 58% shooting from the field and a blazing 60% from downtown across 3 games.
- Andre Iguodala is questionable to play tonight. Even though he averages just 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists against Denver this season, he’s shooting 75% from the field and has played lockdown defense, averaging 1.7 steals and 1 block per game in the 3 matchups.
- 2nd best team against the Western Conference (after Denver). They are 31-16 this year.
- For the past 4 years the Dubs have been a solid cover team, and right now is no different. They covered last game, and have covered 6 of their last 10 games overall.
Pick: Golden State Warriors -8.0
The season series between these two teams perfectly describes the Warriors season. The Dubs have absolutely looked and played like the superior team for 2 of the games, but then looked pretty lazy and lost a close game they probably should’ve won. With the playoffs looming, Golden State now has a reason to put effort into playing basketball. Tonight’s game will basically lock up the 1st seed for them, so the Warriors will actually put together a quality performance tonight. Expect Golden State to win tonight.