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Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets vs. 4) Utah Jazz

The Jazz might be “en fuego” in recent outings, but the Rockets have been leaving a trail of scorched earth throughout the entire 2017-18 campaign.

Impressive as the second-half run in Salt Lake City may be, the Rockets are now 41-4 when both Chris Paul and James Harden set foot on the hardwood. With the two guards together, PBPStats.com shows they’re torching their adversaries to the tune of a 13.7 net rating. That’s before we factor in the ever-growing excellence of Clint Capela, the three-and-D prowess of Trevor Ariza and the usefulness of an improved bench.

Houston is a wholly complete team, capable of emerging victoriously even when its best players are experiencing off nights.

Could the Rudy Gobert-led defense potentially slow down the Rockets’ historic offensive machine? “Potentially” is the operative word, but it’s a legitimate possibility. Even if they do, they’ll nfl need to generate points against a unit ranked No. 7 in defensive rating. Houston isn’t a one-way juggernaut.

Donovan Mitchell has served as an impressive scorer all year, but the Jazz don’t have the attacking pieces necessary to keep up with even a tempered version of Houston’s high-powered assault.

Prediction: Houston in five

2) Golden State Warriors vs. 3) nfl store Portland Trail Blazershi-res-d74483f3711beda0af4fb8baf226a796_crop_exact

Let’s assume Stephen Curry is healthy by the time the Warriors are ready to take on the Trail Blazers in the second round. Majority owner Joe Lacob is already “hopeful” the star point guard can return by the end of the first, but he noted the Dubs will be conservative with his timetable because of his importance to the franchise, per 95.7 The Game.
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If that’s the case, the Blazers are in trouble.

Golden State hasn’t had the same air of invincibility this year, sleepwalking through more contests and often refusing to exert the necessary effort on the defensive end. But we know what this squad can do when it emerges from its somnambulatory state in full working order, and it’s already outscoring opponents by a dozen points per 100 possessions when Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant are all on the floor, per PBPStats.com.

Damian Lillard is a deserving secondary MVP candidate this year and should be able to steal a game from the No. 2 seed. But Golden State boasts significantly more talent from top to bottom,nfl nikeĀ  especially when it’s motivated to defend its title and isn’t staving off boredom during an uninspired regular season.nfl hats