Our Tuesday NBA playoffs preview highlights Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, with the Rockets looking to take the early ascendancy against the defending champions at home.
11:00 (AEST), Tue 15th May @ Toyota Center, Houston
History: Played 223: Rockets 123 V Warriors 100.
Last meeting: January 20, 2018: Rockets 116 d Warriors 108 at Toyota Center.
Final Thoughts: It’s the match-up everyone has been salivating over, with the winner of the Western Conference Finals series between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors expected to go on and take out the NBA Championship.
The top-seeded Rockets get home-court advantage and will be desperate to make the most of it. After crafting a 65-17 regular-season record, they powered into the Conference Finals with 4-1 series wins over the Timberwolves and Jazz.
James Harden has been typically prolific but Chris Paul really stepped up in the second round, racking up 41 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists in the series-sealing Game 5 defeat of the Jazz.
The Warriors, 58-24 in the regular season, have been similarly dominant, routing the Spurs and Pelicans 4-1 to reach this stage.
Steph Curry’s return from a lengthy injury absence during the Pelicans series has added another dimension to the defending champs’ play.
The Warriors have won 20 of their last 25 against the Rockets, including 4-1 playoffs triumphs in 2015 (Western Conference Finals) and ’16 (First Round). But Houston prevailed in two of three encounters with Golden State in the regular season.
The Rockets are 39-8 at home this season, including 5-1 in these playoffs. The Warriors are 31-14 on the road but only 2-2 during the playoffs.
Houston need to find a way to limit Curry’s effectiveness, but with Harden and Paul on fire the home side shape as solid value as only slight favourites.