It's on to the Western Conference Finals and I will have a free pick in Game 1 between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors, which will take place at Oracle Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The game has a start time of 9:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Current Vegas betting odds have the Warriors listed as 10 point favorites, while the total is set at 219.
Analysis: The Rockets had an easy time of it in round 1 vs Dallas, but in round 2 they were in a 7 game war vs the Clippers. Houston almost didn't make it to the Western Finals as they were down big at LA in the 4th quarter of game 6 before they had an amazing comeback to win that game and force a game 7, which they won rather easily. The Rockets have gone 27-8 on the road this year, but lost both games at the Oracle by DD. Houston has gone 17-8 ATS in their last 25 games playing on 1 days rest, but they are also 0-5 ATS the last 5 in the series. The Rockets have scored 104.8 ppg on 44.5% shooting overall and 34.3% from long range on the road this year. Defensively they have not been so good away from home, where they have allowed 105.1 ppg on 45.6% shooting overall and 35.2% shooting from long range.
The Warriors have really been the best team in the NBA and took out the Pelicans in 4 games, before having a 6 game battle with the Memphis Grizzlies in round 2. The Warriors took that series 4 games to 2 and now have their sights on a Rockets squad that they went 4-0 vs during the regular season. The Warriors are 43-3 at home this year and that includes beating Houston by 13 and 12 points here during the regular season. Golden State has gone 19-6-2 ATS in their last 27 home games vs. a team with a winning road record, but just 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games. The Warriors have scored 111.7 ppg on 49.2% shooting overall and 41.0% from long range at home this year. Defensively they have been decent at home as they have allowed just 97.7 ppg on 43.2% shooting overall and 33.9% shooting from long range.
Pick: I have to believe that the Warriors will put a hurtin on the Rockets in this one. The Warriors won both regular season games here by double digits and are in a very good spot in this one as they are off a little rest, while the Rockets were in a 7 game war with the Clippers and now have just 1 day's rest for this game. Terrible spot here for the Rockets. Both teams have very strong offenses, but the big edge is at the defensive end of the floor where the Warriors actually do play some defense. Yes they played lockdown defense vs a bad Memphis offense, but they are really locked in on that end of the floor right now and it should carry over to at least game 1 here vs a Houston team that should be a bit tired and may not run as much. Houston just won't get enough stops on defense to keep this one close.
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Why The Golden State Warriors Win The West
Steve Fezzik from Pregame.com gives his reasons why he feels the Golden state Warriors will win the Western Conference, with added insight from Teddy Covers.