It appears as if the Golden State Warriors are well on their way to making another deep playoff run. Consistency was an issue earlier in the season but it certainly hasn’t been a problem over the past couple of months. The Houston Rockets have been a bit more hot and cold and have their work cut out for them if they are going to reach their projected season wins total of 55.5.
On Saturday, these two teams will meet up for the third time this year. The Rockets won the first two games, as well as four of the last five regular season meetings, although the sting from their series loss to Golden State in last year’s playoffs still lingers. James Harden has been lights out, leading the league by a long shot in points per game with 36.6.
Will Harden will score over 33 points in Saturday’s game? Since that ‘sub-par’ 29-point performance against Portland on December 11, Harden has reached the 33-point mark 27 times in 31 games leading into the All-Star break. In the four games that he failed to do so, Harden scored 32 points twice and then 30 and 31 points. Keep in mind that the 30 and 31-point games both happened in his last few games. In his first game against Golden State, which was played in Houston, Harden scored 27 points but he followed that up with a 44-point game in Golden State in the second meeting.
During last year’s playoff series versus the Warriors, Harden averaged 28.7 point and his 41-point Game 1 was the only game in the series that he totaled 33 points or more. Harden scored 27 points in his first regular season game against the Warriors last year, he missed the second meeting, and then notched 22 points shortly after returning from injury. Harden scored 29, 17, 24 and 17 points in his games against Golden State in 2016-17, which were all below his season average.
On the surface, it might look like a no-brainer to assume that Harden will score more than 33 points on Saturday but his recent history against Golden State, and the fact that he has uncharacteristically failed to reach that benchmark a couple of times this month, should make bettors think twice.
My Pick: No, James Harden will not score over 33 points.
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