The Warriors dominated the NBA for the majority of the season and have continued that level of play for the majority of the post season. Houston had an up and down season and had to deal with multiple injuries, however they played well enough to earn the 2 seed in the conference. Earning home court advantage in the conference semi finals proved to be critical as they were able to have game 7 at home after becoming the 9th team in NBA history to win a series after trailing 3-1. This included outscoring the Clippers 40-15 in the 4th quarter of game 6 to force a game 7 while MVP runner up James Harden was on the bench. This should lead to a great series between the two teams.
POINT GUARD- Jason Terry vs. Stephen Curry
Terry is listed as the point guard however Harden is the team’s primary ball handler. He is a proven veteran who is more than prepared to make the right play at the right time. Curry was the league MVP and he has been brilliant all postseason. His ability to score points in bunches is unmatched and the Warriors are never out of a game as long as he is in it.
ADVANTAGE- GOLDEN STATE
SHOOTING GUARD- James Harden vs. Klay Thompson
This is a matchup of arguably the top two shooting guards in the league. Harden was the runner up to the MVP award and has been playing the best basketball of his career. He is a ball dominant player who will usually have the ball in his hands down the stretch. Thompson is the most improved player in the league; he has evolved his game from a stand still shooter to an all around player.
ADVANTAGE – HOUSTON
SMALL FORWARD- Trevor Ariza vs. Harrison Barnes
Ariza is a fantastic defender whose 3-point shooting stretches the defense. He made 6 threes in their game 7 victory and he may be the X factor if the Rockets want to win the series. Barnes has been arguably the Warriors most consistent player. He will also slide over to power forward when the Warriors use smaller lineups
ADVANTAGE - EVEN
Power Forward- Josh Smith vs. Draymond Green
Smith appears to have finally found a home in Houston. He plays well with Dwight Howard and has adjusted his game to fit the team’s needs. Green is having a great post season and is in the midst of earning himself a big money contract in the offseason. Both players have the ability to knock down the three point shot.
ADVANTAGE- GOLDEN STATE
CENTER- Dwight Howard vs. Andrew Bogut
Howard has been looking like the Dwight Howard of old and has averaged over 20 and 20 over his last 3 games. He is not the focus of the offense but is a force on the boards and he anchors the team’s defense. Bogut is not the player he once was. Injuries have robbed him of what was already limited lateral quickness and he may find himself on the bench a lot in the series.
The Rockets bench came up huge over the course of game 6 and game 7 against the Clippers. Veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni was brilliant in game 7 and he may be assigned to defend Curry at times. Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones provide energy and athleticism at all times. Veteran Andre Iguodala is the teams 6th man and he will spend a lot of times defending Harden. Shaun Livingston and David Lee provide veteran depth. Don’t be surprised to see more minutes from Lee against the big Rocket front line.
This series has the potential to be epic. Both teams feature MVP candidates. Both teams rely on the three point shot. However the Rockets play inside out while using the size of their frontline. The Warriors are perimeter oriented and when teams are able to slow down Curry and Thompson they are unable to find alternative ways of scoring.