NBA Playoffs Preview: Rockets vs Warriors; Upset or Clean Sweep?

NBA Playoffs Preview: Rockets vs Warriors; Upset or Clean Sweep?

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NBA Playoffs 2016 — It’s hard to believe that the two teams facing off in the first round of 2016 NBA Playoffs are the same teams that battled it out in the Western Conference Finals last season. That series ended 4-1 in favor of the eventual NBA Champions. The Golden State Warriors followed that championship season with the most dominant season the sport has ever witnessed. The Rockets, on the other hand, have gone the complete opposite direction ending the season at .500 and sneaking into the playoffs. What does that mean for this series?

It means a lot. And it means nothing. That’s what makes the playoffs so special. Now will the Dubs be heavy favorites? Of course they will. They should be favorites to win every series here on out, IF  they get past the first round. Should they continue to play their unselfish signature brand of Globetrotteresque basketball and maintain their defensive efforts it’s highly unlikely Golden State loses more than one game to an imploding Rockets team that ran their coach (Hall of Famer Kevin McHale) out of town.

For Houston it’s simple. Don’t turn the ball over and don’t give up a ton of fast break point to the highest scoring team in the league who averages the most fast break points per game (20.5). The Rockets happen to struggle in this area surrendering 14.4 fast break PPG (9th worst in the league).

Head to head this season it was a sweep for the Warriors who went 3-0 against HOU. This is really a bad draw for a Rockets team that has lost ten of the last eleven versus a historically good Warriors team who is, dare I say it, hitting their stride right now.

Golden State is not only dominating with the ball in their hand but on the defensive side of the ball as well. The Warriors finished the season third in the league in defense, holding opposing squads to a 43.5 FG%. Even better than defensive powerhouse San Antonio.

Houston will need it all to go their way if they hope to make this a series. It will take terrible shooting from the Warriors and exceptional shooting every game by them for this to be a series. No team shot more 3’s than Houston (30.9/G) except Golden State (31.6/G). The difference lies in the 3PFG%. While the Warriors led the league with 41.6% shooting behind the arc, the Rockets slide to 19th with a below average 34.7% mark. If they haven’t done it all year I just don’t know how they can hope to maintain it over a 7 game series. One game, maybe two but that’s if all goes perfectly well for them and horribly bad for Golden State.

We know what Steph Curry has done with his 402 3PFG and averaging over 30 PPG. Draymond Green was 7th in the league in assists. A PF that was better than 24 starting PG. James Harden has put up great scoring and assist totals once again as well for the Rockets but quite simply, it won’t be enough.

Prediction: 4-1 Golden State

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