Warriors Big Game 1, Series Favorites Over Rockets In Western Conference Finals
Despite an epic rally from a 3-1 series hole in the Western Conference semifinals, the BetOnline oddsmakers don’t give the second-seeded Houston Rockets much of a chance in the Western Finals against Golden State. The Warriors are 10-point favorites for Game 1 and -800 series favorites, with Houston at +600.
How They Got Here
The Warriors certainly are better-rested as they finished off Memphis in six games last Friday in their series, while Houston completed their rally against the Clippers on Sunday. The Rockets became only the ninth team in league history to come back from a 3-1 series hole. The Rockets won Game 6 at the Clippers on May 14 behind a furious second half comeback. Overcoming a 19-point second half deficit marked the largest playoff comeback for the Rockets since overcoming a 20-point deficit vs. Orlando on June 7, 1995. Additionally, Houston became the first team in the NBA to overcome a 12+ point deficit entering the fourth quarter since the Spurs did it in 2003.
Rockets guard James Harden is averaging 26.7 points per game in the playoffs, ranked third among all players and ranks second among all players in assists as well at 8.0 per game. Harden has scored 20+ points in 13 straight postseason games, the longest stretch by a Rocket since Hakeem Olajuwon did it in 17 straight 5/11/1995-4/25/96. The combination of Harden’s points scored and points created through assists equals 45.5 points contributed per game (third among all players in the playoffs). Harden ranked second in the regular season in this category at 44.5 points contributed per game. Harden of course finished second to the Warriors’ Steph Curry in the MVP voting.
The Western Conference Finals marks the first time the Warriors and Rockets are meeting in the postseason. The Warriors are appearing in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1976, while Houston earned its first conference finals berth since 1997. This series is the first time that the top two vote-getters for Most Valuable Player are meeting in a playoff series since LeBron James, the 2011-12 MVP, and Kevin Durant, the runner-up that season, met in the NBA Finals in 2012.
Dating back to the 2013-14 season, the Warriors have won five-straight regular season games against the Rockets, which is Golden State’s second-longest winning streak against the Houston franchise (longest: eight-straight from 1972-74). The Warriors won the season series (4-0) against the Rockets in 2014-15 for the first time since 2006-07 (2-1).
Regular-Season Game Recaps
Nov. 8, 2014 at Houston: Golden State 98, Houston 87
Curry scored 23 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter as the Warriors went on a 22-4 run to get the win over a Rockets team playing without Dwight Howard (flu), Terrence Jones (leg) and Pat Beverley (hamstring). With Howard out, the Warriors outscored the Rockets 56-32 in the paint, and Warriors center Andrew Bogut dominated the glass with 18 rebounds. Harden led the Rockets with 22 points.
Dec. 10, 2014 at Oakland: Golden State 110, Houston 93
Klay Thompson scored 21 points and Curry added 20 points, seven assists and seven rebounds to power an 11-0 run in the final minutes and turn a tight game into another comfortable win. Harden played through back pain to finish with 34 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who were again without Howard.
Jan. 17, 2015 at Houston: Golden State 131, Houston 106
Thompson and Curry had 27 points each but it was Thompson’s defense that made the difference as he held Harden to just 11 points. Harden went 4 of 15, including 0 of 4 on 3s, to finish well below his season average of 27 points a game. The Warriors led by five at halftime and used a 38-point third quarter, with 15 points from Curry, to take a 22-point lead into the fourth. The 38 points were the most the Rockets have allowed in a quarter all season.
Jan. 21, 2015 at Golden State: Golden State 126, Houston 113
Trevor Ariza picked up a technical foul for a bump on Curry as tempers flared during another rout by the Warriors, who were ahead 72-49 at the time. Curry finished with 22 points and 10 assists as the Warriors outscored the Rockets 30-13 in the second quarter and coasted the rest of the way.
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