Houston Rockets Or Golden State Warriors: Who Has The Advantage In The Western Conference Finals?8 min read

The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors will be facing off in the Western Conference Finals for a spot in the NBA Finals. These are the two best teams in the Western Conference. The Warriors are looking to make it back to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, while the Rockets are looking to knock them off and eventually become the defending champs. I’m excited for this matchup. I think it’s a matchup most of us have been wanting and waiting to see all season, and it’s almost here. During the regular season, the Rockets won two of the three meetings, but will it play out the same this time around? I’ve broken down some major categories and compared these two teams in each of them, determining who has the advantage in each.

SCORING

One of the biggest reasons why the Warriors and Rockets are the two best teams in the Western Conference, is because they can score in bunches. During both the regular and postseason, the Warriors ranked first in points per game. Houston ranked second during the regular season, and are currently ranked third in the postseason. Even though the Rockets are ranked below the Warriors in both the regular and postseasons, they’ve only averaged one less point per game. When you look at the rankings for playoffs teams, the Rockets rank 11th in field goal percentage (44.6%), while the Warriors rank 5th (46.9%). It may seem like there’s a big difference here, but it’s only about 2%. Their field goal attempts per game are right there with each other, with the Warriors attempting 88.3 shots per game and the Rockets attempting 87.4. You could say the Warriors have the advantage because their numbers are slightly higher, but the Rockets are within 1-3 points of each one. No significant difference.

Advantage: Even

THREE POINT SHOOTING

When I think of both these teams playing against each other, I can see a three point shoot out happening. With Curry, Durant, Thompson, Harden, Gordon, Paul, and more, there are going to be a lot of three point shots taken in this series. Houston is shooting 35.3% and the Warriors are shooting 32.9% from three point range in the postseason. Houston’s percentage is just over 2% better, so not a significant advantage. The biggest difference comes in three point attempts, which is where the Rockets hold the advantage. The Rockets take an average of 39.9 three point shots per game, while the Warriors average 29.8. That’s 10 more attempts per game for the Rockets. With their 39.9 attempts and 35.3% shooting, the Rockets make about 14 three point shots a game. If you take the Warriors 32.9% shooting and 29.8 attempts, they make about 10 three point shots per game. With four more three points shots made per game, that’s 12 more points on average the Rockets score from three point range.

Advantage: Houston Rockets

ASSISTS

Sharing and moving the ball is one of the most important factors for a successful offense. Both teams can move the ball, but they do it in different ways. The Warriors had three guys this season who averaged five or more assists, plus four other players who averaged two or more. This translates to a lot of success as a team, as they’re averaging 28.9 assists per game during the postseason. Houston’s way of getting assists is different. They had two guys who averaged about eight assists, but then only one other player averaged two or more. Their postseason assists number as a team is 20.6. The Warriors have several players who are always moving the ball to find the best shot, while the Rockets have a couple guys who make the passes and the rest catch and shoot. Both styles are obviously working for these teams, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the Conference Finals. While both styles do work, I find the Warriors style to be more effective.

Advantage: Golden State Warriors

DEFENSE

Houston allowed an average of 100.1 points per game to their opponents. Golden State has allowed an average of 101.6 points per game. While Houston has allowed less points, they’ve allowed a higher field goal percentage (45.9% vs the Warriors 43%). When it comes to three point percentage allowed, the Warriors have the clear advantage over the Rockets. 32.0% three point percentage is what the Warriors are allowing so far in the postseason. Houston is allowing 38.2% to their opponents. This is perfect for the Warriors. One key to beating the Rockets is to get them shooting a low three point percentage. We know they’re going to take a lot of three point shots, but if they’re missing a lot of those shots, there goes a big chunk of their scoring. The Warriors have been the best team during the postseason of shutting down their opponents from three point range. Both teams average about eight steals per game, so they’re even there. Houston holds an advantage in block per game (6.7 to the Warriors 5.4), but that’s not enough to outweigh the Warriors defensively. Houston has improved defensively this season, but I have to give the advantage to the Warriors.

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