The Golden State Warriors tangle with the visiting Houston Rockets at 9:00 PM ET (6:00 pm PST) at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California for Game 1 of the National Basketball Association's Western Conference finals playoff.
The Warriors and the Rockets are two opposing teams completely on opposite ends of the basketball spectrum in terms of their brand of game. The conference championship will also pit the league's Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry against his closest rival for the MVP plum, James Harden. Already, fans are excited with this conference finals sub-plot.
Is Curry really a more valuable player than Harden?
Curry's Warriors are coming into the finals with a much younger and hungrier team members. They have a much deeper bench, with plenty of 3-point shooters and energetic defenders. While the Harden's Rockets are comprised of proud rejects and castoffs who refused to shrink, but rather happy to deliver especially at crucial times.
Curry became the fastest player to reach 100 playoff three pointers at 28 games in Game 5 of the NBA playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies. Harden played inconsistently against the Los Angeles Clippers and was hardly a factor in the Rockets' miraculous comeback from 3 -1 deficit in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Harden was benched on Game 6 because of an illness.
But both teams want to reach The Finals. With only a heartbeat that separates the Rockets and the Warriors from that dream, each team knows they have to make a statement. Now.
It has been 40 years since the Warriors won their last championship. It reached the conference finals in 1976. Warriors coach Steve Kerr commented, "It's a credit to our organization and the moves that were in place well before I got here."
The Rockets burst into the limelight and won back-to-back titles in the mid-'90s (1994-1996) before falling into a deep slumber. The Tracy McGrady/Yao Ming nearly catapulted them again in the championship league but it never got to launch. But after General manager Daryl Morey scrapped unwanteds such as Josh Smith, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry, the Rockets are back in the conference finals for the first time since Hakeem Olajuwon was dream shaking
"The injuries through the year made us fight through adversity no matter what," said Harden. "There's nothing we feel can't do."
Comparing the two teams play their brand of plays, the Warriors move the ball faster and with more intensity that sometimes caused turnovers, while the Rockets are more comfortable with a steady diet of pick-and-rolls. They are more focused on allowing Harden more space to dribble, cross and swing through.
The Warriors are jacking up points with their three-point shots, while the Rockets must rely on a ragtag group of veterans.
To keep up to date, go to the NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals Schedule site to track how your favorite NBA team is doing.
For those interested in more NBA Playoff action, here is how and when to watch the games online. Go to the NBA Stream site for this action, and be sure to check to see if you are in the right time zone:
For those who are interested in watching these games on television, here are the stations they will play on according to the National TV Schedule on the NBA Site. Any Tuesday or Wednesday game will be on the NBA on TNT. For Thursday and Friday, check on ESPN. For Sunday and Monday, it is back to NBA on TNT again. As for radio times, check your area.
Those that want even more action on their phone, tablet, or computer might want to check out TNT Overtime, a way to watch enhanced coverage of the NB on TNT Live. This service allows the viewer to watch on a phone or tablet, vote for a favorite NBA player to watch live, watch live from multiple camera angles, and follow social buzz on the games and players.