1. GOLDEN STATE
67-15 (Home: 39-2; Road: 28-13)
56-26 (Home: 30-11; Road: 26-15)
Season series: Golden State, 4-0.
Key stat: During this postseason, the Warriors lead all teams in three-pointers attempted (29.9) and made (11.5), while the Rockets are third in threes taken (28.5) and tied for second (9.9) in three-pointers made.
Outlook: Look for both teams to rain down three-pointers and look for the fireworks to start with Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Houston’s James Harden, the league’s most valuable player and the runner-up, respectively. This marks the 22nd time in NBA history that the top two in the MVP voting have met in the playoffs. Curry is averaging 28.2 points in the playoffs, while Harden is averaging 26.7 points. Curry gets plenty of help from guard Klay Thompson (20.7 points per game in the playoffs). And Harden has gotten assistance from center Dwight Howard, who ranks first in the playoffs in rebounds (13.8) and second in blocks (2.50). The Warriors are a deep and versatile team: forward Draymond Green and center Andrew Bogut will defend Howard, small forward Harrison Barnes came alive in the second round against Memphis and swingman Andre Iguodala leads the reserves. The Rockets can counter with versatile small forward Trevor Ariza, who’ll probably defend Thompson and Curry at times and knock down three-pointers as well. Forwards Josh Smith and Terrence Jones and guards Jason Terry and Corey Brewer have given the Rockets production at the right time in the playoffs.
Prediction: The Warriors, who beat the Rockets by an average of 15 points per game in their four regular-season meetings, have too many weapons. Golden State will reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1975 — when the Warriors won the championship — by beating the Rockets in five games.
— Broderick Turner