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Rockets Gain Back Respect in NBA Championship Odds After Game 4 Win

Ryan Murphy

by Ryan Murphy in NBA Basketball

May 23, 2018 · 2:53 PM PDT

Rockets James Harden takes a shot.
James Harden has been the league's toughest check in 2018-19. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr) [CC License].
  • Don’t write off the Rockets! Houston’s odds have improved after evening the Western Conference Finals at two games apiece
  • Can Chris Paul earn his first trip to the NBA Finals?
  • Will the Cavs continue to play bully ball against the Celtics?

Vegas is beginning to warm up to the Rockets.

Houston’s average odds to win the 2018 NBA Finals have improved from +490 on May 16th to +230 on May 23rd across a number of top online betting sites. The Rockets are currently available as short as +225 and as long as +240.

Oddsmakers clearly saw something they liked on Tuesday night as the Rockets turned up the heat defensively in a 95-92 win in Oakland. Houston forced 16 turnovers and limited Golden State to just 12 points during the game’s final 12 minutes.

It was easily Houston’s most complete game of the series and Mike D’Antoni couldn’t stop gushing about his team’s effort afterwards. “I thought this is the highest level we’ve ever played defensively, without a doubt,” he told reporters. “[The Warriors] got a little tired in the fourth quarter, and that’s because they felt us for three quarters.”

Trevor Ariza, in particular, did a masterful job on Kevin Durant, holding the four-time scoring champ to nine field goals in 43 minutes. He consistently chased Durant off the three-point line and prevented him from getting into any kind of rhythm.

PJ Tucker also came up big, using every inch of his 6’5” frame to haul in 16 rebounds. His gritty play set the tone for Houston and spilled over to the rest of the lineup.

PJ Tucker also came up big, using every inch of his 6’5” frame to haul in 16 rebounds.

The Rockets and Warriors are now tied at two games apiece, with Game 5 scheduled for Thursday night at the Toyota Center. Only time will tell if Houston can steal another game with the same defensive formula that allowed them to even the series.

Team Avg Championship Odds on 5/16 Avg Championship Odds on 5/23
Golden State Warriors -320 -160
Houston Rockets +490 +230
Cleveland Cavaliers +1200 +790
Boston Celtics +870 +1600

Over in the East, the Cavaliers have also experienced a reversal of fortune. Cleveland’s average odds to win the NBA Finals have improved from +1200 on May 16th to +790 on May 23rd across numerous online betting sites.

Like the Rockets, the Cavs also have momentum on their side. Cleveland has won two straight thanks to a decidedly more aggressive approach on offense. LeBron James and Co. are shying away from deep threes and instead are pounding the rock inside.

That was especially evident on Monday night as the Cavs scored 50 points in the paint and out-rebounded the Celtics 60-45. Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart all picked up five fouls as Cleveland repeatedly fed James in the post and let him go to work against Boston’s overwhelmed defense.

The four-time MVP scored 44 points on 17-28 shooting and appears to be picking up steam as the series wears on.

The Cavs scored 50 points in the paint and out-rebounded the Celtics 60-45 on Monday night.

Game 5 is Wednesday night at TD Garden, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason. The Cavs are favored to win the series, but they’ll have to beat the odds to do so, as only 19 other teams have ever overcome a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Conference Finals.

Check out our 2017-18 NBA Championship Odds Tracker to see how the odds of all 30 teams have fluctuated since the beginning of the season.

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