Western Conference Semifinals
Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets
It’s the series everyone wants just a round too early.
Much shouldn’t be made by the Warriors being pushed to six by the Clippers. Stylistically, the Clippers and the Rockets don’t come resembling each other.
The series could come down to how the Rockets handle Kevin Durant. Nothing I said “handle” not “stop”. There’s no stopping the serial tweeter… on the court anyway. What the Rockets will have to do is find a way to make him work hard on offense and hopefully have that take away from Durant’s defense. Durant doesn’t get enough credit as a rim protector.
Another key for the Warriors will be Draymond Green. Statistically Green has struggled with his shooting. He’s shooting career playoff lows in 3 point percentage (16.7%) and True Shooting percentage (51.3%). The Rockets could rotate their defense away from Green if he’s on the perimeter and live and die by Green’s jumper. We saw this a lot in the 80’s especially when the Lakers played the Celtics. The Lakers rotated the perimeter defense to help off of Dennis Johnson.
One area of concern for the Warriors could be their play in the second half. In their first round series against the Clippers, their Offensive Rating and Net Rating dipped each quarter while the Turnover Percentage increased.
The Rockets weren’t all aces in their series with the Jazz either. You’re already hearing questions about whether Harden is “fatigued”. This has become an annual conversation. Harden’s playoff 2-point percentage is the lowest of his career since his first year in Houston. His playoff true shooting percentage is the second lowest of his career.
Harden gets that blame but is this annual problem on his or Mike D’Antoni’s system? Is it the front office and their inability to build a roster around Chris Paul’s oft-injured annual ritual?
While many point out the potential match up of Harden-Steph Curry in isolation, the key could be Clint Capela vs Andrew Bogut. When the Warriors lost DeMarcus Cousins, it made Bogut’s play that much more important. The one place teams can exploit the Warriors is at the position. This is provided that your action pulls Kevin Durant from a position of help. Capela’s board work will be essential.
In their first series, the Rockets stats were up and down. While though Offensive Rating dips in the first three quarters, unlike Golden State, it rises in the fourth quarter.
PJ Tucker has been more than capable in stepping in the Trevor Ariza on the defensive end but it still comes down to who has the best player on the floor. That would be Kevin Durant
Prediction: Golden State in six