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Game 1 Preview: Rockets and Warriors Clash in Western Conference Finals

2018 Western Conference Finals

Will any Defence Be Played in the Western Conference Finals?

The Western Conference Finals will see Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets clash on Monday at Toyota Center. This is the matchup that the entire NBA nation has been wanting to see all season. Both teams have high-powered offenses, the only question is will they play defense?

Oddsmakers opened the Rockets as -2-point favorites versus the Warriors, while the game’s total opened at 225. The line has held steady so far. TV: 9 p.m. ET, TNT

With these teams you have the Splash Brothers and point guards with Hall of Fame credentials sharing a backcourt. You have an MVP and Sixth Man of the Year. You have a versatilely skilled forward and a burgeoning big that are due HUGE pay raises.

The Rockets are helmed by one of the best offensive minds in NBA history. The Warriors are led by a former player and executive who has enjoyed great success on the bench. And by the way, he learned much of his coaching craft from the Rockets head honcho.

NBA fans have wanted this spectacle of the rim runs and fast break, breakneck offenses.  The hail of 3-pointers and video game passing. Both teams have their otherworldly talent.

Teams Stepped up Defense in Early Rounds of Playoffs

The Rockets and Warriors have no secrets. But One of them could have one. They could prove they can play defense. The team that does will most likely win the best-of-seven tilt.

Both teams closed the season ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency. Both have possibly ratcheted up their efforts in the playoffs. Their improved stats could be because of playing weaker teams. It is easier to clamp down playing the same team over several games. That is why some teams are built for the playoffs and some for regular season.

Golden State is first in defensive rating at 99.3 ppg.  The Rockets are second at 102.1. Points may not be at a premium. The question could be answer by how Draymond Green, P.J. Tucker, and Clint Capela defend.

Houston Offense Primed for Western Conference Finals

The Rockets have outscored their foes by 13.8 points per game on 3 pointers in the playoffs. They are also averaging 52 drives to the hoop per game. That also tops the NBA this postseason. Their offensive is built on isolation out of the pick-and-roll. Harden and Paul are exploiting matchups off the dribble or feeding teammates slipping behind the arc.

Houston led the NBA averaging 1.12 points per possession on isolations during the regular season. 14.1 percent of their possessions in the playoffs have been isolation. That is the highest among theteams left in the playoffs.

James Harden continues to stuff the stat sheet. He has joined Michael Jordan (1988-89 and 1990-91) as the second player in NBA history to average at least 28 points, seven assists, five boards and two steals while playing more than five games in a postseason.

Chris Paul averaged 21.8 points through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Defending the Warriors “Hampton Five” Lineup is Critical

Steve Kerr turned to his “Hamptons Five” lineup once all were healthy. The lineup of Curry, Durant, Green, Thompson and Andre Iguodala have outscored their opponents by 41 points per 100 possessions over 54 minutes. The lineup has assisted on 75 percent of its field goals. They are playing at a torrid pace of 114 possessions per 48 minutes.

Defending the Warriors gives opposing teams a multitude of challenges. The starting point is with Kevin Durant. He shot 41.9 percent on 3s during the season. He is shooting 60.9 percent from midrange in the playoffs.

Golden State had a robust 61.8 effective field goal percentage against the Rockets during three regular-season matchups. This leaves the onus on Houston to defend at a better clip.

Stephen Curry came back from a knee injury in Game 2 of the semifinal series against New Orleans. The two-time MVP showed little rust. He averaged 24.5 points while making 44.1 percent of his 3-pointers during the series.

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Dirty has been an employee or owner of some of the top online sports gambling forums since 1998. He worked at EOG.com from it's inception until 2008 when he left and opened GamblingIQ and then in 2012 opened Handicappers Hidaway. He has written hundreds af articles over the years and always has his "Dirty Dozen" College Football poll up starting the first week of October.
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