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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Golden State enters the Western Conference Finals well-rested, after dispatching with the Memphis Grizzlies late last week. Their opponent had to survive a high energy Game Seven Sunday, then come back just two nights later to play on what might currently be the toughest home floor in the NBA!

Great spot for the Warriors…horrible scenario for the Houston Rockets.

But, the betting markets know it’s a great spot, and have priced Game One accordingly. Before you make any final decisions on how Tuesday’s flow may go…let’s take a look together at JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats for this matchup. Remember, all numbers are from the regular season…


Offensive Efficiency

Houston: 104.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #12 in the NBA)

Golden State: 109.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)

Golden State really lost their focus in Games 2-3 of the second round against the Grizzlies. They kept making bad passes and launching up ill-conceived treys. Once they remembered they were in the playoffs rather than a traveling circus, the offense returned to its lethal regular season form. Remember…Memphis was built for the playoffs, particularly on defense! Yet Golden State made short work of them three straight games with double digit victories. Houston’s defense isn’t quite as lethal as the media reports. A fast tempo and occasional hot games from three-point land have created some illusions. Overall…once you adjust for tempo, the Rockets are only fractionally better than league average. Big edge here to the Warriors…though Houston will probably have some hot runs.


Defensive Efficiency

Houston: 100.5 per 100 possessions (ranked #6 in the NBA)

Golden State: 98.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)

It’s becoming a big better understood that Golden State has the most efficient defense in the NBA. They guard the rim very well as long as they’re not in foul trouble. They get a lot of steals if opponents try to pass over or through traffic. And, they run at shooters (before continuing on in case there’s a fast break). Playing at a very fast pace hid that from people…then too many TV commenters were focused on size rather than the ability to make actual defensive plays! Right now, it would seem widely understood that the Warriors enter this series with the superior overall team defense. Houston didn’t play up to their regular season defense against the Clippers until the last couple of games.


Pace Ranking

Houston: #2

Golden State: #1

Get ready for one of the fastest paced NBA Playoff series in decades. Could be a very fun series to watch unless the referees force themselves onto the scene (or if Coach Steve Kerr decides to play around with hack-a-stuff).  Very bad news for Houston because they’re preferred pace plays right into the strength of the Warriors.


Against the Spread

Houston: 48-34

Golden State 47-34-1

Both teams were a great bargain most of the season. It took forever for the betting markets to accept that Golden State was championship caliber…and that Houston wasn’t going to have trouble sweating offseason personnel losses. Golden State didn’t play with much urgency vs. New Orleans in the first round. And, you know they lost two of the first three games vs. Memphis straight up. Once getting their heads on straight…they’re 3-0 ATS with cover margins of 13, 10, and 8. Handicappers basically have to decide if they’re going to see “regular season” Golden State who re-appeared late in the Memphis series…or “overconfident” Golden State that has a tendency to take its foot off the gas if they think things are going to be easy. Houston is playing on borrowed time, which means they can get some wins of GS loses focus.

Tuesday’s Game One Line: Golden State by 10, total of 219

Given that price, Golden State is seen as about 6-7 points better on a neutral court, and will probably be about -3 to 4 when the series moves to Houston later in the week.

JIM HURLEY had plenty of times to map out plans for this one since the host was known all weekend. You can purchase the final word for Tuesday (this game plus the best from baseball) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to check on combination packages that include the upcoming Belmont Stakes. Will we finally have a Triple Crown winner this year?!

Today marks Day One of extended Conference Championship coverage The Eastern Finals matching Cleveland and Atlanta begin Wednesday. The two conferences will alternate days through the week…which means we’ll be alternating big game previews here in the NOTEBOOK!

Wednesday: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Series Preview

Thursday: Game Two Preview…Houston at Golden State

Friday: Game Two Preview…Cleveland at Atlanta

Saturday: Game Three Preview…Golden State at Houston

Sunday: Game Three Preview…Atlanta at Cleveland

There have been a few surprises so far through the NBA Playoffs…but you can’t really say that the Final Four is much of a surprise. The top two seeds advanced in both conferences! The full NETWORK team had its eyes on these potential matchups during the final third of the regular season. We know what to expect. Slide up to the table for some BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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