The Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-94 in Game 2 of the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday despite a 42-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound effort from Cavs superstar LeBron James. All five Boston starters finished with double-digit scoring figures, led by Jaylen Brown with 23.
Now the attention shifts back to the West as the Houston Rockets look to avenge an opening loss in the Western Conference Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors. Here's a look at the Vegas odds, schedule and predictions for Wednesday evening's game.
The Rockets are two-point favorites over the Warriors, per OddsShark, with the over/under total set at 225 points.
Game 2 will tip off at 9 p.m. ET in the Toyota Center in Houston. TNT will televise the game, and fans can live-stream the contest via the TNT app. The pregame show starts at 8 p.m., with Inside the NBA beginning postgame.
The primary problem for the Rockets in this series reared its head in Game 1, and that's the fact that they simply don't have a defensive response for Kevin Durant.
The Warriors forward dropped 37 points on 14-of-27 shooting (including 3-of-6 from three-point range). He presents a significant matchup problem for most teams, but the Rockets don't have anyone who can match up with Durant's size.
KD is listed at 6'9", but in reality he is seven feet in shoes. The Rockets' starting forwards (PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza) are tough defenders, but they stand 6'6" and 6'8", respectively, and can't provide much of an answer for Durant's height and length. Both of those attributes enabled KD to drop mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper over defenders Monday.
The fact of the matter is that Durant is going to get his production every game. What the Rockets need to do is prevent scoring outbursts from the other Warrior stars.
That didn't happen in Game 1, as Klay Thompson got hot from the field, scoring 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting (including six three-pointers). Anthony Slater of The Athletic broke down four of those three-pointers, noting that Thompson was wide-open on each of them.
Defensive breakdowns are inevitable every game, but they simply can't happen as much as they did against Golden State on Monday.
There is hope for the Rockets, of course. An odd scoring disparity occurred in Game 1, as four Rockets (James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon) scored 91 of the team's points in the 119-106 loss. The rest of the Rockets scored just 15, and a few rotation players failed to make a field goal; Luc Mbah a Moute missed all six of his shots, while Tucker went 0-of-3.
It's highly unlikely the rest of the team goes ice-cold for the remainder of their conference finals. Multiple players outside that quartet are capable of getting hot from deep and have done so in the playoffs.
For example, Tucker shot 52 percent from three-point range in the second-round series against the Utah Jazz, and Gerald Green dropped 21 points in just 26 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round.
That's partially why it's hard picking against Houston in Game 2. The performance of those other Rockets seems like an outlier, as do the defensive breakdowns against Thompson. Houston also didn't become a 65-win team in the regular season by accident, and it is 50-6 when Capela, Paul and Harden all play.
Look for Houston to bounce back in Game 2 in a high-scoring, back-and-forth game.
Pick: Houston 116, Golden State 114