Programming note: Watch "Warriors Playoff Central" Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and immediately after Game 1 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Plus. Both shows will also be streamed live right here.
OAKLAND – The Warriors meet the Rockets in the Western Conference finals beginning Tuesday at Oracle Arena in a series that, on the surface, has the makings of a mismatch.
The Warriors were 4-0 against Houston this season: 98-81 on Nov. 6 in Houston, 105-93 on Dec. 10 in Oakland, 131-106 on Jan 17 in Houston and 126-113 on Jan. 21 in Oakland.
But the playoffs are in many ways a different game, one in which teams zero in on each other and make adjustments as they go along. And there is no doubt Houston gained a bit of swagger by coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to oust the Clippers.
We take a look at the starting lineups to see who has The Edge:
Point guard: Stephen Curry vs. Jason Terry. Terry is not a point guard. The veteran is in the starting lineup because Patrick Beverley is recovering from wrist surgery. Truth is, "Jet" is an old (37) gunslinger nearing the end of his career. He has no chance of defending or outplaying the MVP. Big Edge goes to the Warriors.
Shooting guard: Klay Thompson vs. James Harden. This is a classic battle . . . when Harden is on offense. Because Harden excels at getting to the line, Thompson has to be careful to avoid foul trouble. He'll want to rewind the Jan. 17 game, when he held Harden to 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Harden can't begin to defend Thompson. No Edge here, as this one is even.
Center: Andrew Bogut vs. Dwight Howard. Howard missed two of the regular-season meetings, and Bogut missed one of those two. So much of what happens here depends on how engaged Howard is. There have been game when torched Bogut and games in which he was invisible. Howard will have better numbers, but Bogut's value is at least as high. Because Howard likely will spend more time on the floor, a Slight Edge goes to the Rockets.
Power forward: Draymond Green vs. Terrence Jones. Jones missed much of the season, while Green has been a steady presence. Jones is more athletic and can be a force, but Green is more comprehensively productive – and a bigger factor on defense and in the locker room. Big Edge goes to the Warriors.
Small forward: Harrison Barnes vs. Trevor Ariza. Barnes is more likely to make the highlight clips, particularly in the postseason, but Ariza is sneakily productive. He also is the slightly better defender. Because Ariza is more consistently dangerous within his team's framework, I'm giving a Slight Edge to the Rockets.