The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets know each other well. They’re two of the best teams in the NBA, and they played an amazing Western Conference Finals series in 2018. It looked like Houston had Golden State on the ropes, but a Chris Paul injury hurt the Rockets chances and allowed Golden State to win the series.
This year the tables have turned. Chris Paul is healthy, but both Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are banged up for the Warriors. Golden State sneaked past Houston to win Game 1 of the second-round series on April 28, but that was just the opening shot in what could be a marathon series. Who do you expect to win the series? Keep reading to check out our outlook of Warriors vs. Rockets.
- Game 1: Warriors 104, Rockets 100
- Game 2: Tuesday, April 30, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
- Game 3: Saturday, May 4, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
- Game 4- Monday, May 6, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
- Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, May 8, TBD, TNT
- Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, May 10, TBD, ESPN
- Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, May 12, TBD
Regular season results
Although the Warriors endured spells of disinterest during the regular season, they still finished with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 57-25 record. A tough first-round matchup against the Clippers ended in six games.
The Rockets won the Southwest Division with a 53-29 record, but they had to settle for the fourth seed in the West behind the Warriors, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers. Houston made easy work of the Jazz in round one, winning in five games with three blowout victories.
During the regular season, Houston won three of four matchups against Golden State. The first was a 21-point blowout, then the Rockets won close contests before the Warriors won a close on in March. Based on record and seed, Golden State gets the nod. Edge: Warriors
These teams are littered with stars, and this should be the best second-round series of the playoffs.
Golden State has Kevin Durant, the reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP who has taken his game to another level this postseason. And don’t forget about Stephen Curry (a two-time league MVP), Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green (a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year). Although Green’s numbers have all dropped since Durant joined the Warriors, he is still one of the most versatile players in the NBA.
Houston has potential MVP James Harden, who averaged more than 36 points per game during the regular season. They also have Chris Paul, one of the toughest guards in the NBA. The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley made life tough for the Warriors, and we expect Paul to do a lot of the same. Will that be enough for the Rockets to get over the hump? Edge: Warriors
Team depth is where things could be in the Rockets favor. The Warriors bench is full of veterans, but most of them are pushing the wrong side of 32. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston can still provide a few valuable minutes here and there, but they can’t be counted on to play 10 to 15 minutes without becoming a liability. The Warriors signed Andrew Bogut for the playoff push, but DeMarcus Cousins’ injury hurts the rotation.
Houston has Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers as their main pieces coming off the bench. Gordon is a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year and provides instant offense when he steps on the floor. Say what you will about Rivers, but he has built up a serviceable career as a starter in the NBA, so having him as a backup point guard gives the second unit a significant boost. Edge: Rockets
The Warriors won three championships in the last four years, and if it wasn’t for an amazing LeBron James performance in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, they could be going for five championships in a row. Outside of Gregg Popovich is there a better coach in the league than Steve Kerr?
Kerr helped revolutionize the style of play that has been adopted by several teams around the league, and he manages the personalities on this team better than anyone else.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni has always been outstanding in the regular season, but he has never got over the hump in the playoffs. You have to wonder if last year was the Rockets’ best chance at dethroning the Warriors. Edge: Warriors
Warriors on upset alert?
Until a team can beat Golden State four times in a seven-game series, we aren’t betting against them. Topping the Rockets could be tougher than ever depending on how healthy Curry and Thompson are, but we have the Warriors winning in six.
What do you think? Does Houston have what it takes to win the series? Are the cracks in the Warriors armor starting to show? We’ll know the answers soon.