Rockets draw first blood in crucial series with Spurs to tighten NBA Finals odds

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Por Andrew Ryan
BETCRIS NBA  Golden State Warriors vs Utah Jazz betting odds

The opening round of the NBA playoffs didn't really give us much in the way of surprises. The second round? It's already proving to be a barnburner.

The most interesting result, of course, was the massive victory Houston posted in Game 1 over San Antonio. The Rockets entered the Western Conference semis as the decided underdogs against a San Antonio team that won 61 games in the regular season and won 34 of its first 44 games at home.

But it's not just that Houston won in San Antonio that was so notable. It's that it won a game in which it was up by 30 at halftime. Gregg Popovich was literally lost and ran out of lineup combinations to use to try to slow down Houston's awesome perimeter shooting.

That said, even after getting blown out in Game 1, the Spurs are still the favorites to ultimately win this series. We need to remember that it's just one game, and no matter how wicked that first blowout was, they all count as for just one loss.

The team that has to be smiling the most about this result is Golden State. The Warriors have already gotten a bit of a break in the form of the Jazz upsetting the Clippers in the opening round of the playoffs, and now, it sure looks like they're going to be playing against a team that has been through a war when it comes time to get into the Western Conference Finals.

But before we write off the Jazz, let's remember that they did go on the road and win three games in LA. That doesn't mean they have the goods to even remotely threaten the Warriors, but with Rudy Gobert now healthy and Gordon Hayward playing some great basketball at the end of the first round, there's at least something here to work with.

Still, the Warriors had over a week to get ready for this series against Utah, and we would expect nothing less than a dynamic effort in a relatively short series. The last thing the Dubs want to do is to take a second trip back to Salt Lake City after being there for Games 3 and 4.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the top seed, Boston was put on notice right out of the blocks by Washington. The Wizards scored the first 16 points of this series, but the fact of the matter is that they were never really convincingly ahead like Houston turned out to be against the Spurs. John Wall and Bradley Beal cooled off quite a bit, and that opened the door for the Celtics to barge through and take Game 1 in relatively easy fashion by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

The biggest question is whether either of these teams is going to be able to stop the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. With apologies to the Raptors, they aren't ultimately playing with Cleveland in this series. The Cavs took Game 1 116-105, and the game was never truly that close. Toronto had to outscore Cleveland by 11 in the final stanza just to make it look that good.

The bottom line is that the two overwhelming favorites, the Warriors and Cavaliers, seem destined for a somewhat unprecedented third straight matchup in the NBA Finals against each other, and if that's how this turns out, it'll be a fantastic rubber match between two franchises who have been on fire these last several seasons.

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