NBA Playoff Preview — Game 1: Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets, as an organization, are a great proponents of analytics, and we would not argue about the fact that it has brought results. When you are the top seed in the Western Conference, beating out the defending world champion Golden State Warriors, you have definitely accomplished something. But now we are in a whole other world, and the Rockets are now going to have to defeat the three-time defending conference champs four games out of seven. We get to see that starting on Monday night at 9:05 PM ET, and the Rockets, by virtue of their 65 victories, get to host the first game at the Toyota Center. BetAnySports gives its customers an opportunity to place wagers even after the game tips off, as they take advantage of what is available through Live Betting Ultra.
Every move the Rockets have made over the past couple of seasons has been designed to close the gap between themselves and the Warriors. Now they get to test whether they have done just that. Of course, the major acquisition was Chris Paul, acknowledged as one of the better point guards in the NBA, and someone who can light up the scoreboard given the opportunity, as evidenced by his 41 points in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz, clinching a series in which Houston was able to create some defensive havoc against an opponent that did not have its point guard.
The Warriors got back Steph Curry, the two-time MVP, during their last series against the New Orleans Pelicans, and he has had enough rest that he is ready for the grind. If Curry and Paul are matched up against each other, that would be a classic confrontation. But the more interesting one may involve James Harden, a leading MVP candidate, against Klay Thompson, who can not only shoot threes but play some defense as well.
In the NBA playoff odds posted on Game 1 of this series at BetAnySports, Houston is the slight favorite:
Houston Rockets -1.5
Golden State Warriors +1.5
Over 225 points -110
Under 225 points -110
One might suggest that the winner of this series might come down not to who can shoot threes better, but who can defend them better. Remember that the Rockets conduct much of their existence from beyond the arc, with 50.2% of their shots coming from there, easily the highest percentage in the league. They defend it just a little better than the Warriors do, but not enough to make a substantial difference. G-State has been relatively successful at chasing its opponents off the three-point line, as they have taken 32.4% of their shots from there, but that isn’t likely to deter the Rockets, who, for example, have taken just 4.4% of their attempts from between 16 feet and the arc.
Another fascinating matchup here will involve Clint Capela, the Rockets’ highly efficient center, who was among the NBA’s top five in Offensive Rating and tops in shooting percentage, and not a guy who is terribly big, but can block shots anyway (2nd in the league), against Draymond Green, who is one of the most versatile players in the NBA and will play center in the configuration that was formerly referred to as the “Death Lineup” but is now the “Hamptons 5.” When the Rockets want to run, they aren’t necessarily going to beat the Warriors down the floor, especially in the pivot position, which is something that can create so many opportunities.
With Harden, and support from Paul, the Rockets are always going to have a chance, particularly since they can play some defense now. But can the Warriors make Harden work hard enough on the defensive end that it takes away from the offensive game? They have the capability to do that. And that is the kind of stratagem that makes for championships, which is a place the Warriors have been that the Rockets haven’t. And that may be the difference here.
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