Can Warriors crush Rockets in Game 1?
Golden State made NBA history on Wednesday by winning its 73rd and final game of the regular campaign. Now, the real grind begins.
The Warriors open their title defense with a 3:30 p.m. ET matchup against eighth-seeded Houston. Online sports book BetDSI lists Steve Kerr’s squad as a 13-point favorite, with an over/under total of 225 points.
With Stephen Curry heading the attack, Golden State also became the first group to complete an entire year without dropping consecutive contests. The league’s preeminent scorer and his teammates sealed the deal in style, too, thumping Memphis by 21 three nights ago. Curry finished with 402 3-point baskets in 2015-16 – 116 more than he canned last season.
Such numbers suddenly fall by the wayside, though, as Kerr tries to plot a path through the brutal Western Conference again. The 41-41 Rockets come first, and they’re arguably as tough to figure as any unit in the playoffs. A tumultuous October led to coach Kevin McHale’s dismissal, but replacement J.B. Bickerstaff never managed to truly unify the equally talented and mercurial parts.
James Harden’s propensity for filling it up notwithstanding, Houston would seem to be in a particularly difficult spot here. The Rockets, having launched 2,533 3-point attempts, ostensibly mirror the Warriors’ style. Efficiency, however, eludes H-Town. Unless Dwight Howard can turn back the clock in the middle and offer a legitimate halfcourt presence, this first-round probably ends in four.
SATURDAY NBA FREE PICK: ROCKETS/WARRIORS OVER 225 POINTS