Houston, Golden State and Cleveland were expected to reach this semifinal stage. How about Boston? With Gordon Hayward injured in their first game and Kyrie Irving out during the playoffs, nobody expected the Celtics to advance this far.
What are the odds among the Big 4? The Warriors are -130. The Rockets are next at +247. The Cavs are pegged at +552 while the Celtics are +2070.
In the East, had Kyrie been healthy, this Batman vs. Robin face-off with LeBron would have us salivating. As their series unfolds tomorrow (3:30 a.m., Phil. time), it’s obvious that the Cavs are favored.
Mr. James has been Mr. Jordan-like this post-season, averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9 assists per game. And who can forgot that buzzer-beater in Game 5 against the Pacers or that one-handed, sideways-facing dagger in Game 3 versus Toronto? Cleveland in 6.
I’m more excited about the Wild Wild West. During the regular season when they met three times, Houston won twice. And, as if it’s a premonition of what’s to come, the two met during the regular season’s first game. The outcome: 122-121, with Houston victorious.
Was that result on the NBA’s opening night a sign of what we’re about to witness next week? Yes. This series will be close and will be absolutely thrilling.
Steph Curry was the MVP in 2015 and 2016 while James Harden is expected to win the coveted 2018 title. Houston stole the league’s best regular season record from Golden State, winning 65 against the 58 of GSW.
The usual trash talk and war of words was unleashed a few months ago when Clint Capela of Houston boasted that they’re superior to the champs.
Draymond Green’s reply? “Now you’ve got to play the game,” he said. “You wanted us, now you’ve got us.”
The players know each other well. In an NBA.com article, author Sekou Smith wrote: “Harden, Paul, Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all won gold medals together, be it on the Olympic or World Cup of Basketball stage. Harden and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder team that lost The Finals in 2012. Paul’s LA Clippers squad in 2014 was the last West foe to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs before The Finals. And the Rockets were the team the Warriors beat in the 2015 West finals to jump-start their would-be dynasty.”
Who’s favored? It’s still the Warriors. Now that Curry is healthy, this squad has reached the last four Western Conference Finals and won the NBA title twice. Their only disadvantage this year? They don’t own homecourt advantage. Will this matter? Maybe not.
Given that oddsmakers are pointing at a Part 4 of the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry, it’s interesting to cite that both favored squads don’t own homecourt advantages.
Houston has to win their first two games at the Toyota Center in Texas to have a chance at dethroning the champs. Same with Boston tomorrow.