Houston Rockets vs Golden State Warriors (Game 1): Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

What: Houston Rockets at Golden State Warirors

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

When: Sunday, April 28th at 3:30 PM EST

How (TV): ABC

Series Standing: 0-0

Houston Rockets (Away)

Head Coach: Mike D’Antoni {All-Time 628-499 | PHX, NYK, LAL, HOU}

Season Record: 53-29

Projected Starting Five: (G) Chris Paul – (G) James Harden – (G) Eric Gordon – (F) P.J. Tucker – (C) Clint Capela

Top Performers:

  • G James Harden – 36.1 PPG | 7.5 APG | .368 3P%
  • C Clint Capela – 16.6 PPG | 12.7 RPG | 1.5 BPG
  • G Chris Paul – 15.6 PPG | 8.2 APG | 2.0 SPG

The Houston Rockets took care of the Utah Jazz is effective fashion. A 4-1 series victory helped them gain some much-needed rest before taking on their greatest competition, the Golden State Warriors.

The Rockets are taking this matchup incredibly seriously. To the point that they traveled to San Francisco to train, even before the Warriors’ first-round matchup was completed.

In this rematch of last years Western Conference Finals, the Rockets look to show that they are an improved team. Harden has had the year of his life and the Rockets have overhauled their roster to overcome this point. Game 1 will be representative of their progression.

Golden State Warriors (Home)

Head Coach: Steve Kerr {All-Time 322-88 | GSW}

Season Record: 57-25, 1st in the West

Projected Starting Five: (G) Stephen Curry – (G) Klay Thompson – (F) Kevin Durant – (F) Draymond Green – (C) DeMarcus Cousins

Top Performers:

  • G Stephen Curry – 31.3 MPG | 25.0 PPG | 7.8 RPG | 5.3 APG
  • F Kevin Durant – 33.5 MPG | 28.8 PPG | 5.0 RPG | 5.3 APG
  • G Klay Thompson – 35.3 MPG | 18.3 PPG | 1.3 BPG | .476 3P%

Not much should be taken from the Warriors’ six-game series with the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s not that they didn’t execute, but the Clippers laid their heart on the court to put on a tremendous first-round performance.

But the spurts of inefficiency and loss of focus for the Warriors won’t go unpunished by the Rockets. Golden State was shaken when they lost DeMarcus Cousins, but they go into this series knowing exactly what they have.

The Warriors defense is like nothing Harden has faced this season in consecutive games. Every player, save for Curry, can likely match him one-on-one so they will surely look to swarm him and force the Rockets role players to convert.

What’s At Stake?

The rivalry between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors runs deep. In 190 regular season games, the Rockets lead the Warriors 112-78.

In terms of playoff series though, the Warriors hold the edge. They’ve met in three playoff series since 2015, which the Warriors have won 3-0.

The rivalry between these two sides is intense, so both teams are likely to come out with fierce intentions to take Game 1 for themselves.

The Rockets Showed Adjustment

The Houston Rockets displayed a side of their game, rarely seen by NBA fans. While they blew past the Jazz with their shooting in Game 1 and 2, they were able to counter the Jazz’s adjustments in subsequent games.

When the Jazz looked to turn the series into a grind by putting their grittiest defenders on Harden, the Rockets were able to respond in turn. They relieved pressure off of their star and punished the Jazz when they overcommitted.

It’s rare you see Mike D’Antoni move away from his game, but they were incredibly successful. When they face off against the Warriors, they can’t be purely offensive. They’ll have to be equally capable on the attack and defense if they want to overcome Golden State this year.

All Things Go Through Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant put on a masterful performance in his series against the Los Angeles Clippers. A gritty Los Angeles defense was made to look like a schoolyard game by KD, proving himself to be an all-world professional.

Even his opponents had nothing but praise and awe for his performance:

 

 

With the likes of PJ Tucker, Iman Shumpert, and Kenneth Faried, the Rockets have more pieces they can throw at Durant than LA did. But he’s proven that there are few that can stand in his way. How Houston executes despite his brilliance will be key.

Houston Rockets Roster Notes

The Houston Rockets have no roster changes of note.

Golden State Warriors Roster Notes

C DeMarcus Cousins – 17 Apr 2019 – Out (Torn Right Quad) – Cousins reportedly has a six-week timetable for return but may still sit out the remainder of the postseason.

C Damian Jones – 8 Mar 2019 – Out (Torn Left Pectoral) – Head coach Steve Kerr said it’s doubtful that Jones returns during the playoffs, according to a report from Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

X-Factors: James Harden (HOU) vs Klay Thompson (GSW)

Two of the NBA’s premiere wing players face off when the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors meet for the second year in a row in the playoffs. James Harden has put together a legendary scoring season, but he hasn’t faced a two-way threat like Klay Thompson in this seasons playoffs.

James Harden

Shooting Guard | 6-5, 220lb (196cm, 99kg) | Arizona State | Exp. 9 Years

36.1 PPG | 7.5 APG | 6.6 RPG | 2.0 SPG | 0.7 BPG | 5.0 TOV | .442 FG% | .368 3P%

Harden’s playoff scoring numbers are significantly lower than those of his regular season numbers, but it is nothing to concern himself with. Teams are focusing in on him as expected, but he is still performing.

Where Harden can improve though is his ability to keep his teammates involved. While he is averaging eight assists per game in the post-season, the numbers are rather superficial.

As a team, the Rockets struggle without production from their auxiliary pieces. Harden has the ability to unlock their potential. Whether he can do that against a swarming Warriors defense is another question.

Klay Thompson

Shooting Guard | 6-7, 215lb (201cm, 97kg) | Washington State | Exp. 7 Years

21.5 PPG | 2.4 APG | 3.8 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.6 BPG | 1.5 TOV | .467 FG% | .402 3P%

Klay Thompson put together a respectable first round for the Golden State Warriors but was overall too up and down for the Warriors in what was a longer than expected series against the Clippers.

Thompson is an elite shooter but what will be more important is his defense on Harden. His length and athleticism are enough to bother Harden in a way Rubio and Crowder couldn’t do for the Jazz.

Add on to that that Thompson can punish Harden by wearing him out around screens and Thompson becomes an integral player in shutting down Harden. Whether he can maintain consistency is another question.

Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Predictions and Odds

This is a hotly contested series as the Rockets think they’re above the Warriors and Golden State is coming off of a shockingly difficult first-round. It will be hard to pick this one, but it is tough to bet against the reigning champions.

If you are in New Jersey you can bet on the Rockets vs Warriors game, here:

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