Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors – Game 1: David, Meet Goliath.

By Taylor Pate on April 15, 2016

On Saturday, the Houston Rockets will begin the opening round of the 2015-16 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors, fresh off of their record-breaking 73rd victory. The odds are stacked against the Rockets. They’re 14 point underdogs and the only bigger spread is the 14.5 point spread between the Spurs and Grizzlies (who are just short of a D-League team). Golden State finished 39-2 at home this season, with their two losses coming to Boston and Minnesota. The Rockets finished 18-23 on the road, which almost feels like a victory considering their overall record of 41-41.

The Good: If there’s something that bodes well for the Rockets, it’s that James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley, and Jason Terry all shoot above 34% from behind the arc on the road. The Rockets will need someone everyone to go nuts if they want to steal a game from the Warriors.

The Bad: There are four Warriors that shoot better than 40% from 3-point range, and another three who shoot above 36% when at home. Every single Warrior player that logs at least 15 minutes per game shoots above 50% from 2-point range, with Shaun Livingston, Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, and Festus Ezeli shooting over 57% inside the arc.

The Ugly: The Rockets are 25th in the league in Defensive Efficiency on the road, an area where the Warriors are 9th. The only playoff team worse than the Rockets in Defensive Efficiency are the Blazers. In other words, the Rockets give up a ton of points on the road.

What does it all mean? The Rockets face Death in the form of a basketball team. This Warriors team may be the best team that’s ever done it. The chances for victory here are slim at best. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that there are no expectations for the Rockets. The general consensus is that Golden State will sweep the Rockets, with some of the more polite media members giving the Rockets a shot at one win in the series. If the Rockets are going to compete with the Warriors, Game 1 is going to be their best chance to catch Golden State off-guard. One Achilles heel that the Warriors have is playing down to their opponents: they have losses to Milwaukee, Denver, the Lakers, and previously mentioned Minnesota. If the Rockets can come out swinging and stick it to the Warriors early, they have an opportunity to steal a game and make this a series.

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