(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Houston Rockets
Regular seasons series: Warriors won 3-0
Key matchup: Stephen Curry (30/6/5) vs. James Harden (29/7/6)
Warriors are easily the most dominant team in the NBA right now. They have already set the NBA record for most wins in a season with 73, following a win over the Memphis Grizzlies at home in the last game of the season. Golden State was led to this milestone by reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who is having one of the best individual seasons offensively in NBA history.
Now look at the other side of the coin, the Houston Rockets. Led by James Harden, the Houston Rockets' season has been a roller-coaster ride. The Rockets have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this year.
Last year's second seed in the West barely qualified for the Playoffs this year, getting in based on a tie-breaker with the Utah Jazz, who had an identical record.
This Warriors/Rockets series will be a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals that saw the Warriors win 4 games to 1.
By the looks of it, this matchup is "The Best Season in NBA history vs. The most disappointing NBA team this year", but it's not! Both team’s standings, stats, and records are all back at 0.
Houston is a team that can score with volume in short amounts of time. Although they are not the most consistent team, they can score in bunches, especially when it’s most needed. Most of their play is based on isolation plays, mainly with the focal point of the team, James Harden.
James Harden, together with Dwight Howard will be a big problem for the Warriors if these 2 can heat up together and help each other out, both on the offensive side of the ball, and defensively.
The Key Factors
For the Warriors, the pair of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, also known as the Splash Brothers, just need to stay hot shooting the ball, just like they have been all regular season. This series will depend on how well Stephen Curry can perform and how well he can run the offense of the Golden States Warriors. On the defensive end, I think we will see Draymond Green and AndreIguodala try to guard and lockdown James Harden.
Let's talk about the both team's star players, James Harden and Stephen Curry. James Harden can do it all on offense, with his great shooting ability, ball-handling skills, drives to the basket and ability to create contact and draw fouls.
But we all know that James Harden's defense is just as bad as Howard's shooting free throws. He's big a problem on the defensive end for the Houston Rockets, especially considering he will be tasked with guarding Klay Thompson. Onto Stephen Curry, the leading MVP candidate for the season. He is a solid scorer, leading the league during the regular season averaging 30.1 points a game, and the arguably the best shooter in NBA history.
He is a master of running the floor in transition, especially when Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are running the floor with him. He knows where his teammates are going to be and can locate them quickly and with pinpoint precision.
He is a legitimate problem for the Houston Rockets. His only relative weakness is his defense. Can we see Patrick Beverly try to expose this weakness?
Let's talk about the coaching. We all know that the Warriors coaching staff are the best in the NBA. We all saw that in the first half of the season where Luke Walton took over and recorded the best start in NBA history. Who would have thought that Luke Walton could have done that? Luke Walton as an assistant coach and Steve Kerr holding down the Head Coach role are an integral part of how Golden State are so good at running the system put in place by Kerr.
Prediction by Edbert Pasamba: Golden State Warriors 4-1 Houston Rockets