Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were able to outduel James Harden and company, although the Rockets were limited without the presence of Chris Paul. Revenge will be firmly on the minds of Mike D’Antoni’s men to prevent the Warriors from securing a third NBA Championship on the bounce.
Golden State were given a tough time in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers, earning a 4-2 win over Doc Rivers’ side. Durant had to be at the peak of his powers to see off Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari, who had been the foundation of a rugged Los Angeles’ outfit.
The Warriors displayed their championship credentials, although they’re not the imperious outfit many predicted at the start of the season. There are vulnerabilities and Houston will be determined to expose them after they were able to dispatch the Utah Jazz with relative ease, dropping only one game of their series.
It promises to be thrilling series and given the other matchup in the Western Conference – the winner could well be heading to the NBA Finals.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were forced to battle past the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. There were concerning performances given that it was not the Los Angeles team of old that boasted top quality. Gallinari and Williams are good players, but quite the standard of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Curry and Durant ensured that their side advanced 4-2, although it required a special effort from the latter in game six, putting 50 points on the board.
It’s not an encouraging sign that Golden State are having to dig that deep to put a team of the ilk of the Clippers away. Curry and Durant have already spent significant time on the court and the lack of rest could be a factor. The Warriors’ experience last year against Houston was vital in their victory. In the clutch moments they were able to come to the fore. The Rockets will be wiser for the experience and will be desperate to knock Steve Kerr’s men off their perch.
Only Golden State’s best effort will be good enough to compete with and defeat Houston. Durant and Curry along with Thompson cannot be forced to carry the team. Draymond Green has not been at his best this term. However, the 29-year-old will have a vital role in stymieing the threat of Harden. It may only take one or two stops per game, but those could be the crucial ones that could decide a series. The Warriors are more vulnerable in 2019 compared to past years, although their individual quality can still not be matched.
Opportunity knocks for the Rockets as they have a huge opportunity to see off the Warriors. Golden State have stood in their way in the Western Conference for three of the last four seasons. D’Antoni’s men came close last term to defeating their rivals in the Conference Finals last term.
Paul is fit and firing this time around, enjoying solid performances against the Jazz, although there’s plenty of room for improvement. The 33-year-old has be at his best to ease the burden on Harden. In the Conference Finals last year, the Rockets were on the front foot when the two players were operating in tandem. However, when Paul went down Harden – as he has done in the past – tried to carry the team alone.
Harden is an outstanding player and could be named NBA MVP for the second year in a row, but in the playoffs he has not enjoyed a signature moment. He was measured in the series against the Jazz to guide his team through. The pressure is on the 29-year-old to thrive in the series and knocking out the reigning champions would enhance his reputation, besting Curry and Durant in the process.
Head to Head
Games Played: 217 Golden State Warriors: 93 Houston Rockets: 124
Although the Warriors won the Conference Finals last year, Houston go the better of them over the course of the campaign, securing a 3-1 series win in their four games. In the absence of Curry, D’Antoni’s men put Golden State to the sword with ease in November on home soil.
The Rockets claimed another victory on the road in February even without Harden in their ranks as Eric Gordon led the way. Golden State’s only win of the season over Houston came without Durant as Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins were vital in the triumph at the Toyota Center.
The Warriors will be vulnerable after being forced to play game six of their series against the Clippers just three days prior to game one. Durant and Curry spent time on the court and could be fatigued. Houston have to sense their opportunity to strike to put Kerr’s men on the back foot. It could be their best hope of causing an upset. Back the Rockets at odds of 19/102.90+1901.901.90-0.53 to take game one at BetOnline.
However, the Warriors will be able to respond to take the series even if it goes the distance to seven matches. It could be the final ride for Durant, Green, Curry and Thompson together on the court and they will be determined to go out on a high note. Take them to advance to the Western Conference Finals at odds of 9/251.36-2800.36-2.800.36 with BetOnline at a scoreline of 4-3 at odds of 7/24.50+3503.503.50-0.29 with TopBet.
Houston Rockets To Beat Golden State Warriors Game One
Saturday 28th April 2019 15:30 EST (Sunday 28th April 20:30 BST)
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