Programming note: Watch "Warriors Playoff Central" today at 11:30am on CSN Bay Area, and immediately at the conclusion of Game 1.
OAKLAND – The Warriors were, far and away, the best team in the NBA this season. Now they’ll try to duplicate that success in the second season.
The reigning champions begin their quest for back-to-back titles with Game 1 Saturday afternoon, when they play host to the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena. It’s a rematch of the teams that met in the 2015 Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors earned the No. 1 seed after concluding the regular season with a 73-9 record – best in league history. The Rockets, 41-41 in the regular season, didn’t nab the No. 8 seed until the last night of the season.
Though the Warriors are heavy favorites, the Rockets under interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff have enough offense to make things interesting.
Warriors by 13
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: The Rockets wouldn’t dare put Harden on Thompson, for that would invite a 40-point night. Thompson, however, will be the person most responsible for making the Bearded One doesn’t go for 40. In addition to Klay, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green also will get their chances on Harden.
Stephen Curry vs. Patrick Beverley: Beverley, out injured, was no factor when the team’s met last postseason. He wasn’t much of a factor when healthy this season, either. He does have a way of pestering Curry, who tends to raise his game when facing an opponent known for his defense.
Andrew Bogut vs. Dwight Howard: Bogut’s job is pretty simple. Success means limiting lobs and keeping Howard from owning the paint. If Howard turns back the clock, this series becomes appreciably more difficult for the Warriors.
Warriors: F Kevon Looney (R hip inflammation) is listed as out.
Rockets: F Sam Dekker (back tightness) is listed as out.
The Warriors defeated Houston in five games in the 2015 Western Conference Finals and also have won the last eight regular season meetings.
“We can’t fuel their offense with turnovers. They feast off of that. It’s the same formula as last year: try to keep things simple, have an edge, play hard and focus on keep them away from easy points.” – Curry, on the formula for success against the Rockets