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Warriors vs Rockets: Western Conference Finals Game 1 Preview

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry and the Warriors are facing their biggest postseason threat in the Houston Rockets. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • West powers get to the showdown everyone is waiting for
  • Can Chris Paul be the difference maker for the Rockets?
  • Tip of is set for Monday, May 14th at 9pm EST

Buckle up. It’s Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, as the defending champions from Golden State come to Houston trying to unseat the regular season’s best squad, with a berth to the 2018 NBA Finals on the line.

It’s the showdown everyone has been eyeing since Golden State won their second title in three years, and Houston followed by reloaded with Chris Paul, making it clear they’re a franchise not content in playing second fiddle to the Warriors.

Paul was the necessary force to ride alongside MVP candidate James Harden on this current run. Despite some unbelievable performances this postseason, Harden has had some duds along the way.

It’s never a bad thing to fall back on one of the game’s great guards, who will make his conference finals debut.

As for the Warriors, they didn’t skip a beat with Steph Curry sitting out their first six games of the playoffs.

Of course, few teams have the luxury of trotting out a top-two player in Kevin Durant (averaging 28 points per game), one of the game’s best shooters in Klay Thompson (21 points per), and a defensive force in Draymond Green, who’s spent this playoffs filling stat sheets like water.

This is why Golden State is the heavy favorite to win the 2018 NBA Championship.

This series brings star wattage, and the combined resume accolades are utterly ridiculous. It will feature:

  • Two MVPs
  • One future MVP in waiting
  • Six All-Stars
  • One Defensive Player of the Year
  • Three regular season scoring champions
  • And no less than 20 All-NBA Team appointments since 2011-12.

It is not a stretch to say this might be the most star-studded series in NBA history.

Warriors vs Rockets Team Playoff Stats

OFFENSE

Warriors
VS
Rockets

108.8 Offensive Rating 111.1
110.3 Points 109.5
28.8 Assists 20.6
46.9 Field-Goal Percentage 44.6
32.9 Three-Point Percentage 35.3
+8.7 Plus/Minus +9.4

DEFENSE

Warriors
VS
Rockets

99.3 Defensive Rating 102.1
101.6 Points 100.1
+5.9 Rebounding Differential -0.2
+0.5 Turnover Differential -4.6
43.0 Field-Goal Percentage 47.8
32.0 Three-Point Percentage 38.2
37.6 Points In The Paint 43.4

Head-to-Head Results – Regular Season

Date Location Score Winner
Jan. 20 HOU 116-108 HOU
Jan. 4 HOU 124-114 GS
Oct. 17 GS 122-121 HOU

Notable Injuries and Absences

Warriors Rockets
Patrick McCaw (back): OUT No injuries

 Game 1 Moneyline Pick: Rockets (129-125 OT)

These are the two highest scoring teams in the playoffs. But while Golden State is playing at a fluid, almost devastatingly efficient pace, there’s still places for them to take it up another level.

One area is from three point range, where they are shooting a pedestrian 32.9% for the playoffs – second to last in the playoffs. They’ve found points in other areas, leading in points off turnovers (17.9 per game) and quietly gaining possessions through offensive rebounding, nearly 10 a contest.

Steve Kerr may break out his Hamptons 5 right off the bat – there is no time to feel this out. The threat to their reign is real.

Because of the opposition and stakes, head coach Steve Kerr may break out his Hamptons 5 (Durant, Curry, Klay, Draymond and Andre Iguodala) right off the bat – there is no time to feel this out. The threat to their reign is real.

Warriors Series Price at Bovada Rockets Series Price at Bovada
-220 +180

Houston will continue to use Harden and Paul as their two-headed option, with young Clint Capela emerging as the third star, while the rest of their guys dot the arc waiting for their turns to splash. The Rockets have shot it at better than 35% from distance, but will need to probably raise that up to 40%.

If they can reach that number, expect the Rockets to put the Warriors behind the 8-ball early in the series.

Team Trends

Warriors Rockets
Golden State is 31-14 SU on the road Houston is 39-8 SU at home
Golden State is 8-2 SU in its last ten games Houston is 8-2 SU in its last ten games
Golden State is 1-5 SU as an underdog Houston is 71-14 SU as a favorite
Golden State is 24-40-1 ATS after a win Houston is 38-33-1 ATS after a win
Golden State is 38-53-1 ATS this season (41.8%) Houston is 47-44-1 ATS this season (51.6%)
Golden State is 20-25-0 ATS on the road Houston is 27-18-0 ATS at home

Catch all the current odds for every game during the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

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Vancouver born and bred, Eric is a print and broadcast journalism graduate now based in TO. His current project involves getting his wife to join him on the couch this fall to watch football on Sundays from 1pm kickoff till the Sunday night game expires.