Reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors will take on the Rockets in Houston on Monday night, in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Houston, the first seed in the West, pretty much cruised towards these conference finals. The Rockets were dominant against both Minnesota and Utah, losing only 1 game in each series, and backing up their regular season form. There were questions about Houston’s ability to perform in the playoffs given the fact that their star duo of Harden and Paul has chocked in the postseason before (coach D`Antoni as well), but so far it has all been good for the Rockets.
The second seeded Warriors also lost just two games so far. The team was a bit shaky entering the playoffs, but defeated the Spurs 4-1 in the first round and really kicked into gear in the semifinals, easily defeating an excellent Pelicans side 4-1. Once Steph Curry returned in Game 2 of the semifinal series, the Warriors instantly started to look like the all time great team they are. The Dubs are definitely looking scary good right now.Bet on Rockets vs Warriors and claim your 100% (100 Eur) freebet at Ohmbet now!
Team news & lineups: Both teams are healthy and have no new injuries. Fringe player McCaw (Warriors) is the only absentee for either side, as he is out for the season.
The Rockets had a better season overall so far, and many experts are hyping them up as the team to beat in the NBA this year. However, like every great team, the Warriors know how to pace themselves. While Houston pushed all year, the Warriors weren`t very interested in forcing the issue during the regular season, and only now have they reached their top level. They are peaking when it matters.
There will be a lot of pressure on Houston to deliver in Game 1 after all the hype, and after they tried so hard all season to get home court advantage. It remains to be seen if Harden and Paul (who has never played in a Conference final before) will continue this year`s good postseason play under this pressure – or if they will choke, as they often did in their careers.
The Warriors will be well aware of this pressure on Houston and will undoubtedly view this Game 1 as having particularly importance. They know a win would be huge in deciding this series and they will be out to make a statement – showing they are still the best team in basketball, while also taking Houston`s heart and home court advantage.
One thing that will be a massive advantage for the Warriors in terms of matchup is their ability to defend the three point line. The Warriors have led the league in opponent 3 pt. FG% for 4 straight years, including so far in these playoffs. This will be a big problem for Houston, as the Rockets don`t really have a Plan B if their threes aren`t falling (unlike the Warriors).
The Dubs were excellent against the Pelicans, they are peaking at the right time, and there`s no doubt we will see the best from them in this series against the Rockets. No matter how good the Rockets are, the Warriors are just better, and they will be out to prove a point in Game 1. I reckon they will do just that with big games from Durant and Curry, so my tip here is Golden State to win.
The point spread is set at just +1.5 points for the Warriors, so I see no reason to lose value in the odds by backing the handicap. As such, I`ll go with the straight Golden State win. Prediction: Houston Rockets – Golden State Warriors 107 – 117.