There have been a bevy of twists and turns and injuries along way, but really, the 2017-18 NBA season has always been spiraling towards this exact moment: the Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets in the West finals.
Game 1 is scheduled for Monday at 9 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on TNT. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, including TNT. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: TNT is included in all four of DirecTV Now’s channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
There have been some other interesting stories along the way, but this has always stood out as by far the best potential playoff series.
Offensively, there’s no one better. The Warriors finished the season first in offensive rating with 112.3 points per 100 possessions, while the Rockets were right behind at 112.2. During the regular season, among players who averaged 20 or more minutes per game, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Kevin Durant, James Harden and PJ Tucker ranked 1st through 6th in the entire league in offensive rating.
This series is just going to be a beautiful blur of threes, transcendent individual performances, endless ball movement and sharp offensive execution.
What makes things even better is that both teams are at full strength. The Rockets went 44-5 (an 82-game pace of 73.6 wins) with both Chris Paul and James Harden in the lineup, while the Dubs were 31-10 (an 82-game pace of a measly 62 wins) with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green all in the lineup.
As for Game 1, the Rockets are favored by 1.5 points at home. They’ve certainly earned that respect after going 34-7 at home during the regular season (23-2 with both Paul and Harden), but they’ve also had the Warriors’ number this year.
In the two head-to-head matchups with all the main players healthy, the Rockets won both, prevailing by one-point in Oakland way back on opening night and winning by eight at home on January 20. Houston dominanted the fourth quarter in each game, out-scoring the Warriors, 58-37 in those two periods.
Of course, that’s a very small sample size, and both of those games came down to the final minutes. It’s very likely that most–if not all–of the games in this series play out in a similar fashion, and it could very well come down to who performs better in the clutch.
You could give the advantage to Golden State due their immense playoff experience over the last three years, or you could give it to the Rockets, who owned the league’s best net rating (+23.3) in clutch time this season (the Warriors were seventh at +9.7). Then again, Golden State could have the advantage because they have two assassins in Curry and Durant, but oh wait, Houston also has two assassins in Harden and Paul.
Therein lies the beauty of this matchup. There is so much ridiculous talent on both sides, and there are countless different ways you can see it playing out. No matter who ultimately prevails in the end, this has to stand as one of the most anticipated series in recent history.