The Warriors and Rockets are tied, 3-3, in the Western Conference finals.
But these teams haven’t played each other evenly.
Golden State has won the series’ two most lopsided games (Game 3 by 41 and Game 6 by 29) and lost the two closest games (Game 4 by three and Game 5 by four). Overall, the Warriors have outscored Houston by 54 points – the largest margin ever through six games of a seven-game series.
If a few more shots fell for the Warriors, they might have already won this series, maybe even in five games. If a few more shots fell for the Rockets… they’d still be heading to a Game 7.
That difference matters when assessing these teams and their odds in Game 7 tonight.
Home teams have won 79% of Game 7s, and Game 7 of this series is in Houston. But Game 7 road teams that have outscored their opponent by more than 35 during the first six games have won 75% of the time:
This is a small sample of just four games, and the only case in the last 40 years went to the home team. But it’s another data point that favors the Warriors.
They’ve outplayed Houston – and know it. They’re historically talented with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Their status as defending champions who lazed through the regular season suggest they’re better than the version of the team that didn’t beat the Rockets in the standings to secure home-court advantage.
That Golden State has outscored Houston by so much just isn’t shocking. Houston forcing a Game 7 is the bigger surprise.
The Warriors are the rare Game 7 road favorite. Though Game 7 home teams have won at an overwhelming rate overall, even by just historical context, proper framing might suggest Houston deserves to be the underdog.