Warriors-Rockets: Position-by-position breakdown and series prediction

Warriors-Rockets: Position-by-position breakdown and series prediction

HOUSTON -- After five days of feverish buildup, the Warriors and Rockets go to basketball war here Monday night. That’s the politically correct description, but this Western Conference Finals comes with the very real possibility for actual bloodshed.

Here is look at the matchups between the teams:

Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul: These two are old adversaries, dating back to the Warriors-Clippers rivalry. The question coming into this season was whether Paul could coexist with James Harden. Paul answered that with a solid season, including his 13th in a row with a assists-to-turnover ratio of better than 3-to-1. Curry missed 31 games, the most since 2011-12, and still is rounding into shape. Though Paul has a reputation for defense, he has difficulty containing Curry. Both will be subject to considerable cross-matching in this series.

EDGE: Curry, particularly if he gets to his physical peak.

Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: These two have battled since attending high schools in the Los Angeles area. Harden has been MVP runner-up in two of the past three seasons finished in the top five in three of the last four. He is one of the three best offensive players in the NBA and his defense has improved from indifferent to occasional. He is prone to inefficiency and over-dribbling. Though Thompson’s scoring average took a dip (22.3 ppg to 20.0) for the first time in his career, he posted career-highs in field-goal percentage (48.8) and 3-point shooting percentage (44.0). Thompson will be among a series of defenders on Harden, with the goal of keeping him off the foul line and making him a volume shooter.

EDGE: Harden by a hair, because he is the focus of his team’s offense. Thompson’s stellar defense is capable of offsetting Harden’s offensive bag of tricks.

Kevin Durant vs. Trevor Ariza: Ariza is a very good defender but has little chance of containing Durant, the purest frontcourt scorer in the league. Durant has been living mostly off his devastating midrange game. If his 3-ball starts dropping -- he’s shooting 27.9 percent from deep this postseason -- the Rockets may have to raise a white flag. Ariza’s offense comes and goes, as does his 3-point shot. He is often stationed in a corner, just beyond the line, as a bailout option for Harden or Paul. Ariza is shooting 33.9 percent from deep in the postseason.

EDGE: Durant, by a considerable margin. Houston has no legitimate answer for him.

Draymond Green vs. PJ Tucker: These two are equals in only one facet, and that’s toughness. They are fearless and relentless. That said, Green is vastly more versatile at both ends and a legitimate game-changer on defense. He may be the best in the league at foiling opposing offenses. Tucker’s primary role is to tighten team defense on one end, and he’s good at that, while standing around the corner opposite from Ariza as another bailout option for Harden and Paul. Tucker has been hot lately, shooting 45.8 from beyond the arc in the postseason. That said, the Warriors would dare the Rockets to try beating them with Tucker launching triples.

EDGE: Green.

Kevon Looney/Jordan Bell/Green vs. Clint Capela: This is where things get dicey for the Warriors, as Capela’s tremendous postseason has made him Houston’s X-factor. He’s averaging 14.4 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. Warriors coach Steve Kerr won’t divulge his starter, though we can rule out JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia and David West. We know the bulk of the minutes at center will be divided among Looney, Green and Bell. Bell is the closest physical match for Capela, Green the superior mental match and Looney falls somewhere in between. Bell during the postseason is averaging five minutes a game. Don’t be surprised if that figure rises to 15 or more against the Rockets. Bell may even get a start.

EDGE: Capela, unless Kerr starts Green, in which case Durant would move to power forward and Andre Iguodala to small forward.

Through 10 postseason games, Warriors reserves are second in offensive rating and third in defensive rating. Kerr’s use of Iguodala will factor into the overall usage of his bench. While players likely to get more minutes include Nick Young, Quinn Cook and Bell, those likely to play less include West, McGee and Pachulia. Houston’s bench makes no pretense about defending, but there are a number of scorers, beginning with Sixth Man Eric Gordon and Gerald Green. Ryan Anderson’s minutes have taken a steep drop, perhaps because his defense is dreadful. Key players for Warriors: Iguodala, Bell and Young. Key players for the Rockets: Gordon and Green.

EDGE: Warriors, slightly, because of their ability to defend.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni spent a season as coach in Phoenix under Kerr, who was the general manager, which makes it particularly spicy that the two are matching wits in the postseason for the first time. Kerr and his staff have proved fairly agile in the postseason, fearlessly making lineup changes based on analysis and hunches. They tend to work out more often than not. D’Antoni has been wedded to his system, which is designed to create 3-point shots. Though he has modified it to slow the pace, it’s still about spacing the floor to open avenues for guards to drive and kick. We know the Warriors can adjust between and during games. Can the Rockets be as flexible?

EDGE: Warriors

Warriors in six.

Swaggy Champ tries to downplay 'Everybody needs to do cocaine' remark

Swaggy Champ tries to downplay 'Everybody needs to do cocaine' remark

Basking in the glow of winning his first NBA championship last week, Nick Young got himself into a bit of hot water on Tuesday night.

While coming out of a nightclub in Los Angeles, Young was approached by TMZ Sports for comments on Canada legalizing marijuana.

"I want people to pass cocaine. Everybody needs to do cocaine," Young said as he got into the passenger side of a car outside the club.

As you can imagine, that comment caused quite a stir.

More than five hours after TMZ Sports posted the video, Young went on Twitter and Instagram to try and put the fire out.

Chill. You know I was just joking

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Adam Silver talks competitive balance: 'Gotta give Golden State their due; on the other hand...'


Adam Silver talks competitive balance: 'Gotta give Golden State their due; on the other hand...'

How dare the Warriors.

They have completely ruined the NBA by...

... executing a plan and winning three of the last four championships.

It's just rude.

On Wednesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined the Golic and Wingo show on ESPN and the topic of competitive balance was discussed.

"I get it in terms of Kevin Durant going there. It was a bit of an aberration in our system; we had a spike in our cap, it enabled them to have additional cap room," Silver explained. "The Warriors will tell you they would have figured out a way to get it done anyway. I don't know.

"But even if Kevin Durant hadn't gone to Golden State -- and let's just say he had stayed at Oklahoma City, or let's say he had gone to another team, maybe in the East -- you clearly would have had a third team (in addition to the Cavs) that would have been much better; any team that has Kevin Durant will be -- but then you still have 27 other teams.

"So, you gotta give Golden State their due. I've said repeatedly, let's also celebrate excellence. Ownership, the job Bob Myers has done as a GM, Steve Kerr, of course, one of the great coaches in our league. Steph Curry, drafted; Klay Thompson, drafted; Draymond Green drafted 35th by Golden State.

"I don't think as a league we want to go about breaking up teams just to break them up -- just to force some sort of parity that is kind of unnatural."

In July 2016, Silver said that Durant joining the Warriors  was "not ideal from a league standpoint."

After all, he represents all 30 teams. And as a collective, the league wanted to "smooth the cap" over several years to prevent one giant spike -- which did provide the Warriors the ability to sign Durant.

"I can understand doing some things different in the system that may not have allowed a player like Kevin Durant to go to a team that was already so good.

"There's always a next collective bargaining agreement and over the years we've talked about a harder cap than we have now. The NFL has a much harder cap than we do; ours is somewhat soft. Obviously, it allows teams to go significantly above the cap and the tax level and that's the case with both Golden State and Cleveland. They are significantly above where our tax level is right now.

"So we'll continue to look at it. But in the meantime, hats off to Golden State and Cleveland for that matter. They are competing within the system. I'm still at the stage of celebrating the basketball we have right now.

"But I hear people. Listen, the 28 other teams, you know, they're the biggest complainers in terms of the fact that these two teams have met four times in a row."

Here's an idea -- stop complaining and keep trying to get better.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller