Warriors vs. Rockets Preview
*Photo via USA Today
Starting tonight on ESPN, both of these teams will be playing in the Western Conference Finals for the first time this century as the Golden State Warriors (1st seed) take on the Houston Rockets (2nd seed) at Oracle Arena.
This will be a fast paced uptempo series as the Golden Warriors ranked first in points per game at 110 and the Houston Rockets sixth at 103.9 points per game. during the regular season, according to bkref.com. The series should be entertaining as the MVP, Stephen Curry, faces off against the runner-up, James Harden.
During the regular season, the Warriors dominated the series. This is how it played out:
11/08 - GSW 98 @ HOU 87
12/10 - HOU 93 @ GSW 105
01/17 - GSW 131 @ HOU 106
01/21 - HOU 113 @ GSW 126
The Warriors clearly have the edge in this series. They have superior three point shooting, great defensive wings (Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson), and a great bench, all of which the Houston Rockets lack.
However, the Rockets should not be counted out as they have a bonafide star in James Harden and as we've seen in the Clippers series, the Rockets play with heart and passion and that can never be disregarded.
The X-factor for the Golden State Warriors is their bench. The Warriors bench is better than the Rockets and they can use their depth to deal with players such as Josh Smith, who torched the Clippers in Game 6 and 7. With Andre Iguodala leading the second unit, look for the bench to pick up where the starters left off.
The X-factors for the Houston Rockets are Dwight Howard and James Harden. As the two main stars on the team, these two are going to have to have a big series. James Harden only shot 39 percent from the field against the Clippers, which won't be enough against the offensive juggernaut Warriors. As for Dwight, he is clearly the best center in this series and he's going to have to be just that for the Rockets to advance. With the Warriors lack of true big men, Howard should dominate.
Final Take: In order for the Rockets to come away this series they are going to have to forget the Clippers series and maintain focus as this will be their greatest challenge. They must also find a way to stop one, if not both, of the Splash Brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson). On the other side, the Warriors need to do what's been working for them which is getting out in transition, moving the ball, making plays, and playing defense.
Final Prediction: The Rockets are no match for the Warriors and will most likely lose this series in five or six games.
Game One is tonight!
Game Two: 5/21
Only on ESPN!