Golden State Warriors Durant
Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors is congratulated by Draymond Green #23 and Andrew Bogut #12 after he dunked the ball against the Denver Nuggets at ORACLE Arena on April 02, 2019 in Oakland, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The team that was supposed to be the biggest threat to the defending champs are now in a must-win situation in Game 3. The Houston Rockets will host the Golden State Warriors Saturday night as they look to avoid a 3-0 second-round series hole.

The Warriors won both games at Oracle Arena, and those contests didn't inspire much confidence in the Rockets' chances of actually upsetting Golden State.

MVP candidate James Harden has, once again, failed to live up to expectations in the postseason. Chris Paul looks like his days of playing at an All-Star level might be behind him. Houston hasn't even been competitive with Clint Capela on the floor.

All of that is probably going to add up to a short series. Golden State is too good to lose four times over the next five games against a Rockets’ team that isn't putting up historic numbers the way it did during the regular season.

Game 1 came down to the final few possessions and Game 2 wasn’t a blowout. The Rockets can certainly improve in a few areas and at least make this a competitive series.

It starts with Houston’s backcourt, which combined to average 57.1 points on fewer than 40 field-goal attempts per game to go along with 15.7 assists in the regular season. If Harden and Paul are going to come close to reaching those numbers against Golden State, it’ll happen Saturday night when the Warriors don’t necessarily need a victory.

Golden State’s season has been characterized by underwhelming performances in games that they could afford to lose. It happened twice in the first round when the Los Angeles Clippers stunned them on the road behind big games from Lou Williams.

L.A. scored at least 129 points against Golden State in their two first-round wins. Houston dropped a combined 240 points on an elite Utah Jazz defense in two straight first-round home games. For a Warriors’ defense that tends to lose focus when things are going well, Saturday’s contest has all the makings of another head-scratching loss.

That’s part of the reason why the Rockets are favored at home in Game 3. Houston is laying 3.5 points against Golden State, according to the betting line at OddsShark, and the total is 221.5.

It’s been a while since Harden had a hot shooting night. Don’t be surprised if the guard puts up one of his efficient 40-plus-point performances.

Eric Gordon has been really good in the playoffs for the Rockets. Maybe he’ll have a big night when Houston needs it most. It was just a year ago that the shooting guard was Houston’s leading scorer with 24 points on 15 field-goal attempts to give the Rockets a 3-2 series lead over the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Stephen Curry has been held relatively in check this series, and he dislocated the middle finger on his non-shooting hand in Game 2. Kevin Durant has been the best player this postseason, but the Warriors have lost a game in the playoffs when he scored 45 points.

Prediction Against The Spread: Houston over Golden State, 123-110