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Rockets – Warriors

Rockets Warriors Game 2 handicapping

The Houston Rockets will host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, after Golden State dominated the Rockets to take a 1-0 series lead two nights ago on Monday.

The Rockets had such high hopes coming into this series, having clinched the No. 1 seed ahead of the Warriors in the regular season, and having played great in the playoffs as well. Houston defeated both Minnesota and Utah 4-1 in the previous rounds and many were looking at them like favorites to win the title – but the castle of cards collapsed in Game 1, as the Rockets never seemed to have a chance against their rivals.

Golden State always seemed to be in control of Game 1, even when they trailed by 10 points early in the match. The Warriors kept chipping away at the Rockets and steadily built a decisive lead in the second half. Golden State didn`t even do anything special, they just played their game, and still won by 13 points even though Houston played really well. The Warriors are clearly pumping on all cylinders right now and are at their best level, after pacing themselves in the regular season and in the early rounds of the postseason.

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Team news: There are no new injuries to report, as both teams are healthy coming into Game 2.

Golden State’s win in Game 1 was really telling and not just because they won the game comfortably, but because of the way they did it.

Houston actually played a good game, Harden had 41 points, Paul had 23 and they shot pretty good percentages from the floor. What`s more, Steph Curry had a quiet night for Golden State. He was effective, but only scored 18 points, his lowest ever in a Conference finals game. Despite all these, and despite grabbing an early 10 point lead (which is always a big thing at home), Houston still lost the game and lost it clearly. And all this with Golden State simply playing at their usual level, maybe a bit better than that, but nothing out of this world. You can definitely see them (GS) maintaining the same level throughout the series.

THe Warriors did not allow Houston to move the ball, to play super fast offense, and to hit open threes early in the shot clock, as Houston usually likes to do. Instead, the Warriors (who have been the best team at defending the 3 point line for 4 straight years) forced the Rockets into playing ISO ball over and over.

As such, Mike D`Antoni’s renowned “7 seconds or less” offense was simply shattered by Golden State’s defense. James Harden alone had 28 possessions in which he held the ball for 10 or more seconds, often settling for contested shots at the end of the shot clock. The Rockets actually had 4 shot clock violations, something which normally is extremely rare for them.

What`s even more worrying for the Rockets fans is that coach D’Antoni didn`t seem fased at all by what happened, and he said that changes aren`t needed. He defended the gameplan and joked that he just needs James Harden to score 55 points instead of 41. This approach might explain why D’Antoni has always been known as a coach who is good in the regular season, but unable to deliver in big playoff games against good teams, because he can`t (or won`t) make adjustments.

The Warriors are the better team here and they definitely seem to have the Rockets figured out, so unless there will be a big gap in shooting percentages, Golden State looks good value to win Game 2. Having watched Game 1 and taking into account D’Antoni’s reluctance to change anything, there just seems to be nothing Houston can do aside from going absolutely bananas from the field (and they would probably need Golden State to have an off night too).

It`s true that this is a must win Game for the Rockets and that the Warriors now have margin for error, so that is a risk which must be taken into account. But Golden State has been waiting to teach Houston a lesson for the entire year, they were on a mission in Game 1, so you would expect them to come out with the same intensity in Game 2 – especially after smelling blood on Monday.

I expected a 5 or 6 game series in favor of the Warriors before Game 1, and I`m trying not to overreact after just one match, but the signs were there to see on Monday – and right now it looks like this could be a sweep. The Dubs are the best team in basketball by some stretch and when they also seem to have a matchup advantage, there`s little hope for their opponents winning even one game. I expect Game 2 to follow the same blueprint as Game 1, so my tip here is the Warriors to win. Prediction: Houston Rockets – Golden State Warriors 106 – 114.

Pick: Warriors
Odds: 2.14 @ 1xBet
Stake: 9
Possible profit: 10.26
Event date: 17 May

About Rostick

Former bookie & water polo player. Rugby Union expert. - EDITOR INFO & STATS
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