Arguably the two best teams in the NBA this season will face each other In the second game of the NBA’s opening night double-header. The new-look Houston Rockets visit the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Tuesday in one of the most highly-anticipated matches of the early season (10:30 p.m. ET on TNT).
Both these teams get a lot of attention for their offenses, and for good reason. Each squad has great playmaking, shooting and finishing at the rim and should be some of the most efficient scoring units in league history this year.
However, Golden State is also an elite defensive team, and the Rockets upgraded on that end during the offseason by bringing in Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.
How will this potential Western Conference Finals matchup play out on Tuesday night? Let’s ask some of the most important questions and then make our betting predictions for the game. We’ll conclude with those picks, bearing in mind the best odds available from the legal offshore sportsbooks.
Which Team Will Begin the Game With More Energy?
It’s no secret that both the Warriors and Rockets both like to play at a fast pace. Both squads were in the league’s top four in total possessions per game last season.
Of course, playing at a fast pace requires coming into the game with a lot of energy. If one of these teams is playing with more heart than the other, they’ll get the shots they want in transition while limiting the other squad’s fast break points. This is because they’ll be moving faster up and down the court.
The team playing with more energy is usually the one that has more motivation to win. Which squad will that be on Tuesday?
Will Any of the Minor Preseason “Injuries” to Stars Be Factor?
In the preseason, teams often list their key players as having injuries to get them out of games. The injuries are usually legit, but many of the time, they are exaggerated — if the players had the same issues in the regular season, it wouldn’t be enough to keep them out of game action.
In the final game of the preseason, the Warriors didn’t play Kevin Durant and Draymond Green because of an illness and back strain, respectively. The Rockets kept Chris Paul out due to a knee injury, also. All three are likely to play on Tuesday.
At first glance, Paul’s issue seems like it could affect him the most. He’s dealt with knee problems over the last few seasons, while the health problems for Green and Durant are not recurring. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t significant.
Can Clint Capela Be a Force When the Warriors Go Small?
The Warriors don’t start the game with a small-ball lineup, but they often end up playing plenty of it throughout the game. The 6’7” Draymond Green plays center and often punishes opposing bigs with his quickness.
Clint Capela, the Rockets’ starting center, is not as good as Green. However, he is a long 6’10” and 260 pounds with good explosiveness. He’ll have to pound the glass and finish high above the rim to prevent the Warriors from running away when they have their “Death Lineup” on the floor.
A frequent problem for Capela is foul trouble. He’ll need to stay away from that if he wants to make a significant impact against Golden State.
Our Preview’s Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors Picks & Betting Predictions
The Warriors are the home team, but I think the Rockets will be the team playing with more motivation. Remember, Golden State looked lifeless in its opener a year ago, losing to the San Antonio Spurs by 29 points.
Another outcome along those lines is extremely doubtful. But Houston should at least keep things close on the road, proving to the rest of the league that they are a force to be reckoned with.
- The Warriors as favorites by either 9 or 9.5 points. This preview recommends taking the Rockets +9.5 @ -110, which are the best odds, offered by 5Dimes or BetOnline.
- Every top sportsbook has 232 total points as the over/under for this game. These teams are great offensively and play a fast pace, but I expect a close game where, at least in the second half, teams value every possession and play strong defense. Bet under 232pts @ -110 with either 5Dimes, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.