Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
|Date & Time||Saturday April 27, 2019, 1:00 AM (EDT)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
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The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors meet in the second round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference playoffs. Here is a series breakdown position by position.
Point Guard - As a pure point guard, I’ll take Chris Paul over anybody. CP3 is an old school player who is the ultimate floor general, sets his teammates up and takes care of the ball. Paul is also an above-average defender for his position and can still make shots when needed. The problem is Stephen Curry is coming off one of the best offensive seasons in NBA history and is still the scariest shooter on the talent. A game is never over when Curry is on the court. To run my team I want CP3, but in this series, Curry has the edge.
Shooting Guard - Eric Gordon was terrific defensively against the Utah Jazz and is still one of the more underrated shooters in the league. If Gordon plays the way he played in the first round, the Rockets win this series with no question. Klay Thompson is capable of matching whatever Gordon brings to the table offensively and is still a respectable defender capable of guarding multiple positions. Gordon thrives in his role with Houston, but Thompson is the more consistent and better player overall.
Small Forward - Debating Kevin Durant and James Harden is like deciding on a date between Mila Kunis and Kate Upton. It’s a win either way. I will say that this is the best version of Harden we’ve ever seen and he’s probably playing better than anybody in the league at this very moment. Harden has the pulse of these Rockets figured out and is getting whatever he wants on every possession. Because of that, I side with the Bearded One.
Power Forward - Draymond Green is the bigger, stronger and more annoying player, but P.J. Tucker does a lot of similar things and hasn’t exactly disappeared at times this season the way Green has. Green can allow his emotions get the best of him and it really takes him out of the game for stretches. Tucker is also a much more reliable shooter and doesn’t pass up the open shots the way Green has done all season. This may surprise some folks, but I give the edge to Tucker.
Center - Whether it was DeMarcus Cousins or Andrew Bogut, the Warriors are much better off without a big man due to it slowing down their tempo. The issue is the Rockets can play with an athletic center in Clint Capela due to him getting up and down the floor quickly. Capela is a force down low and should be even better than he was against Utah with time off for those virus issues to go away. The Rockets have a major advantage at the center position, and it’s going to cause matchup problems for a Warriors team that doesn’t like to go big.
Bench - I’ve said it before, but the Warriors aren’t nearly as deep as they’ve been in years past. Andre Iguodala can still chip in and defends well, but he’s not the player he was years ago. Kevon Looney provides respectable minutes and Quinn Cook can provide some offense when he’s on the floor, but nobody on this Warriors bench is scaring anybody. Kenneth Faried is an energy spark off the bench for the Rockets, while Austin Rivers, Gerald Green and Danuel House fit perfectly with their ability to knockdown the outside shot. Mike D'Antoni usually plays his starters into the ground, but nine players played all five games against the Jazz and seven of those players averaged 17 or more minutes. The Rockets are deeper than they’ve been during this title contention stretch.
Series Prediction: Rockets in 6. I’ll give the Warriors a couple of games because they’re the Warriors and extremely top heavy in elite talent. However, the Warriors have been shaky all season long and those issues have leaked into the playoffs. The Warriors simply don’t have the same feel as they’ve had in years past and everybody can see it. There’s always usually a nasty ending to dynasties and this is probably the end. The fact Rockets’ players have come out publicly and said they want the Warriors tells a lot. The Rockets are a better team than they were a year ago and are finally healthy. The Rockets take a monster step towards winning an NBA title, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished this series off sooner.