The battle within the NBA Western Conference has narrowed down to only two teams, the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. Both teams have maintained their regular season stance as the No.1 and No.2 teams in the conference, but in the end there can be only one. The Houston Rockets are coming off an epic playoffs series versus the LA Clippers in which they overcame a 3-1 deficit en route to winning two consecutive games in a row topped off by the closeout victory at home in convincing fashion. The Rockets now face a deeper challenge against a Warriors team that swept them four consecutive games during the regular season.
The Warriors are coming off an impressive semi-finals victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in which MVP Stephen Curry and Co. dominated both inside and outside. Head coach Steve Kerr will look to continue his impressive and historic run as a rookie coach by being among the short list of first year coaches to lead his team to the NBA Finals.
Will the Rockets continue to surprise the naysayers or is this the end of the road? Which team will move on the final stage, the NBA Finals? Team S.U. predicts which team will hoist the Western Conference title.
Western Conference Finals Predictions: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors
Steve Turner (NBA Contributor) – The Warriors and Rockets match-up in the Western Conference Finals is going to be interesting. The Rockets proved against the Clippers that they are a deadly team, but I don’t think this Rockets team has what it takes to beat the Warriors in a 7 game series though. Golden State has proved all season, and in the playoffs, that they are the best team in the NBA.
The Rockets roster is pretty banged up and they’re missing two starters. If they had Patrick Beverly and Donatas Motiejunas, they would stand a chance. The Warriors are pretty much healthy though, and I’m really looking forward to watching James Harden this series. He’s facing the league’s MVP, Steph Curry– keep in mind Harden finished 2nd in the MVP voting. Harden has a chance to make a statement.
Prediction – Overall though, I think this Golden State team is going to overwhelm the Rockets, like they did all season. The Warriors were 4-0 against the Rockets this season. I don’t think this series will be a sweep. Houston will fight a hard battle, but I’m going with GSW in 6.
Keith Rivas (Editor) – The Rockets are my pick to win this series after their incredible comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers. L.A. all but had the series in the bag heading into Game 5 following blowout victories in Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center.
But then Houston caught fire.
After holding their own in Game 5, the Rockets came all the way back from a late 19-point deficit to force a decisive Game 7.
Oh yeah, and they did it without James Harden on the floor (illness).
While James Harden and Steph Curry are the obvious players to watch in this series, I would also like to note that both respective benches will come in clutch in determining the series winner and West representative in the NBA Finals this season.
In the end, I pick Houston. There’s just no way Golden State will be able to shake the confidence the Rockets got coming out of the second round alive.
Prediction: Houston 4, Golden State 3
Sauping R. Arguello (NBA Contributor) – It seems the Houston Rockets keep proving me wrong as they came from behind, facing a 3-1 series deficit and defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in game seven of the Western Semis. The Clippers’ performance can be labeled a classic choke job as they had numerous opportunities to put away a resilient Rocket team. This is when mental toughness comes into play. It’s ironic that a “reputable source” questions the criticism of this ball club yet they’ve proven (yet again) why mental toughness is “a thing”.
The Golden State Warriors will be rested and ready to start game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in their home court. The Warriors swept the season series versus the Rockets (4-0) and outscored them by an average of 15 points. The top two MVP vote getters in Steph Curry and James Harden will be leading their respective teams in this series. Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni will have their hands full trying to stay with Curry. Houston may try switching Trevor Ariza or Corey Brewer on Curry to limit his offensive efficiency. Klay Thompson must be at his best defensively trying to contain Harden’s penetration and limit his free-throw attempts. The Warriors can also give Harden different looks by putting Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala on him. These are two teams that love the three ball so expect a shooting spectacle.
Houston’s big men of Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Terrence Jones came up big in the second round. Andrew Bogut is a center that likes to mix it up so I foresee things getting physical down low. I still don’t see Houston being able to match the uptempo pace and intensity of a deep, hungry, determined Golden State squad.
Prediction – The Rockets exerted a lot of energy getting to the Western Conference Finals and unfortunately, that’s where their journey ends. I’m picking the Warriors to advance to the Finals in 5 (4-1).
Jr. Williams (NBA Editor): I must say that I am looking forward to this series as we will get a chance to see the league MVP Stephen Curry battle it out with MVP Runner-up James Harden. If the Rockets play with the same desperation and mental toughness as they have during the Clippers series then I think they have a really great shot at extending this series as far as seven games. The Warriors have been an excellent team thus far into the postseason, however, I think they rely too heavily on Curry to score. If the Rockets can keep up their bully-ball act and limit Curry’s offensive output, then I can see them winning this series.
Now lets talk reality, the Rockets aren’t exactly the most polished offensive team, and the Warriors dominated them throughout the regular season. Not to mention the Rockets have a huge hole at the point guard position due to the injury of Patrick Beverly, so who will take on the daunting task of stopping the ‘Splash Bros’ from torching the nets? I guess we will discover the answers to those questions in game 1, hopefully the Rockets will have enough fuel in the tank to give the Warriors worthy fight.
Prediction- I guess I’m drinking the Houston Rockets’ kool-aid because I think they have the personnel to defeat the Warriors, but only if they are the toughest and most physical team on the court. In the end I got the Rockets winning the series 4-3.