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WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS PREVIEW

May 19, 2015, Queens, NY  After a winning a convincing game seven against the Los Angeles Clippers the Houston Rockets are headed to the Western Conference Finals to face the high-powered offense of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors fresh off their game six and series winning victory versus the Memphis Grizzlies have the luxury of having the first two games of this conference final at home.

The Warriors have some of the best fans in the league and they will come out in droves to support their team rain or shine. Because they had the best record in the western conference and in the NBA the Warriors’ have the home court advantage in this series. In these playoffs they are 4-1 on their home floor with their only loss coming at the hands of the Grizzlies. The Warriors’ high-octane offense allows them to never be out of a game regardless of the deficit. They swept the season series 4-0 against the Rockets and would like for that success to continue in this finals match-up. They averaged 115 points per game against the Rockets, however they seemed to struggle from behind the arc during their regular season matchups. The Warriors also have the dynamic duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Their incredible ability to make shots is a staple of this offense that has carried them throughout the playoffs. For the Warriors to win this series they have to contain the penetration of James Harden and keep him off the foul line and they must limit the Rockets defensive rebounds, which in itself may be a task with the re-emergence of Dwight Howard in the paint. They need to capitalize on any second chance opportunities off the glass. Their x-factor will be the play off the role players, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Harrison Barnes will need to continue the offensive efficiency that this team has shown that they possess. Draymond Green also has to play confident against the Rockets. The Warriors must also avoid offensive stupors like they had in games 2 and 3 of their second round match up.

The “Clutch City,” Rockets led by MVP runner up James Harden come into this series with an abundance of confidence. They dispatched the Dallas Mavericks in their first round match up and embarrassed the LA Clippers, winning that series after trailing 3-1, while over coming a 20 point fourth quarter deficit in game 6. The new editions of Josh Smith and Corey Brewer seem to be the catalysts for this run that they are having. The acquisition of Trevor Ariza during the offseason has been a major factor in their play as of late. His defense and ability to shoot the 3 has made Houston a surprise story in these playoffs. Lets not forget that Dwight Howard has also been productive and has played well in his role on the team. He has been protecting the paint and has given the Rockets some offense in the middle. Coach McHale has this team playing together and efficiently and they also have their primary weapon, James Harden leading them offensively. To win this series they must contain Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, they are without defensive specialist Patrick Beverly for the remainder of the 2015 playoffs so they will have to give a team effort defensively to accomplish that.  They must also establish Dwight early and often in this series, if they can control the boards they can limit the amount of offensive possessions the Warriors have. If there is an x-factor for the Houston Rockets it may be Josh Smith, he can contribute so many things on the court, he can also be a great defender especially at the SF position.

Regardless of who wins this series it may turn out to be very entertaining, as this may come down to an all out battle between the superstars, Stephen Curry and James Harden as they both look to impose their will on this series.

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