The Golden State Warriors are the NBA’s hottest team with nine consecutive victories and are on the verge of getting All-Star forward Kevin Durant back from a knee injury. Golden State has thrived without the sharpshooter and has opened up a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place San Antonio in the Western Conference with just seven games remaining as it enters Friday’s home contest against the Houston Rockets.
Durant has missed the last 15 games but has picked up his training and it appears he will return to the team prior to the start of the playoffs. “It would be nice for him to get a couple games in before the end of the regular season,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters, “but everything is going to be based on his health and how he goes along.” Houston opened a three-game road trip with a 117-107 loss to Portland on Thursday but still possesses a solid five-game lead over Utah as it closes in on clinching the No. 3 seed in the West. “I think mentally you can tell, sometimes on the defensive end we just have our ups and downs, and there’s not an urgency in what we’re doing,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters after the defeat.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, ROOT (Houston), CSN Bay Area (Golden State)
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 7.5-point home chalk over the Rockets and that line has been bet up half-point to an even 8. The total hit the betting board at 231 and has been faded a full point to 230. Check out the complete line history here.
Rockets – PF Montreal Harrell (Probable, personal), PF Ryan Anderson (Mid April, ankle)
Warriors – SF James Michael McAdoo (Questionable, head), SF Kevon Looney (Doubtful, hip), SF Kevin Durant (Mid April, knee)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Rockets (-9.4) – Warriors (-15) + home court (-3) = Warriors -8.6
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (51-24 SU, 42-33 ATS, 38-36-1 O/U): All-Star point guard James Harden is dealing with an ailing wrist and is just 16-of-50 shooting with 12 turnovers over his last two games. Harden has struggled in three meetings with the Warriors this season, shooting 33.9 percent – including 3-of-25 from 3-point range – and committing 6.7 turnovers per game while averaging 23.3 points. D’Antoni has long lived and died with 3-point attempts, and Houston drained eight in the loss to Portland to raise its season total to 1,083 – surpassing the NBA-record 1,077 Golden State made last season.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (61-14 SU, 35-38-2 ATS, 28-47 O/U): All-Star point guard Stephen Curry has been stellar with 14 20-point efforts in his last 15 games – including 32 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in Tuesday’s 113-106 road victory over the Rockets. Curry has drained 289 3-pointers this season, surpassing his 286 in 2014-15 as the second-most in NBA history but well behind the record 402 he knocked down last season. Kerr said he plans to manage his players’ minutes closely over the final seven games, and travel also will be minimal with Golden State home for six of those contests.
* Rockets are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Warriors are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win.
* Under is 7-1-1 in Rockets last 9 road games.
* Under is 7-0 in Warriors last 7 home games.
* Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.
* Rockets are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 61 percent of Covers users are taking the pup with the visiting Rockets and Under is picking up 51 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.