Clash of the Titans: Warriors-Rockets Was Destined to Happen

warriors rockets

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 10, 2018 1:20 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 10, 2018 1:20 PM UTC

With all due respect to the Eastern Conference Finals, the West matchup between the Warriors and Rockets is the de facto NBA Finals this season.

It’s rather fitting that the season for the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets will end against one another because that’s how the 2017-18 campaign began.

On the opening night of the season, Oct. 17, the Warriors raised their latest title banner to the rafters of Oracle Arena and the players got their championship rings. The Rockets ruined things a bit, winning 122-121. It appeared that Warriors star Kevin Durant won the game at the end, but officials (correctly) ruled that the shot left his hand just after the buzzer.

The Warriors and Rockets have been on a collision course ever since, and they open one of the most anticipated Western Conference Finals in years on Monday in Houston. On the BetOnline series line, Golden State is the -180 favorite with Houston at +160.

Monday will be interesting in one regard for the Dubs because they will be opening a series on the road. The Warriors had finished with the NBA’s best record since 2014-15, thus having home-court advantage in every series. They won every Game 1 at home last postseason, were 3-1 in Game 1s in the 2016 playoffs, and 4-0 in 2015. Golden State last opened on the road in the first round in 2014, and while it won at the Clippers, L.A. took the series in seven.

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This will be a historic offensive matchup, not to mention featuring three NBA MVPs in Steph Curry (2015 & ’16), Durant (2014) and James Harden (almost surely going to win this season’s). It also features guys who have combined for six scoring titles: Durant with four, Curry with one and Harden with one (this year’s).

In modern NBA history (since 1973-74) this is the first playoff series featuring two offenses that averaged more than 112 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. The Warriors ranked first in offense at 112.24 points per 100 (No. 7 all-time); the Rockets were second at 112.23 (No. 8). The teams both rely heavily on the three-pointer but are vastly different otherwise as the Warriors are all about sharing the ball, while the Rockets run isolation for Harden and Chris Paul. This is Paul’s first-ever trip to the conference finals and the reason he forced a trade from the Clippers to Houston this past offseason.

The Rockets won the season series 2-1, but at least one key player missed each game: Andre Iguodala the first and last, and Harden and Durant the second. Golden State is 2-0 in its playoff history vs. Houston, eliminating the Rockets in five in 2016 and five in 2015.

BetOnline’s favored series outcome this time around is Warriors in six at +300, followed by Golden State in seven (+400) and Houston in seven (+500). That the series ends in a Game 7 is a +190 favorite. The favored result after three games is Golden State leading 2-1.

Houston needs to hold serve at home considering the Warriors have won 15 consecutive home playoff games, tied with the 1990-91 Bulls for longest streak in NBA history. The Warriors haven’t even lost four total playoff games since Durant signed as a free agent; the team is 24-3. In addition, Golden State has won a road game in each of its last 17 playoff series, two shy of Miami’s NBA record of 19.

Monday can’t get here soon enough … we will have point/counterpoint NBA picks stories on each game of the East and West Finals here at SBR.

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