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2018 NBA Playoffs: 5 factors that will determine the outcome of the Western Conference Finals

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1.24K   //    11 May 2018, 21:14 IST

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets

The Western Conference Finals this year is slated to be the most exciting Conference Finals matchup in recent memory. The Rockets are coming off a historic regular season campaign, stacking up 65 wins for the first time in franchise history after seamlessly weaving together the transcendent talents that are Chris Paul and James Harden.

The Warriors, on the other hand, are the defending champions of the league. By all accounts, they have been the cream of the league for the large part of the last 4 years. Under Steve Kerr, they play a brand of unselfish basketball and ball movement that makes watching even their blowout wins an enjoyable experience. Nor are they light on the win count, having won over 80% of their games this season with a fully-fit Fantastic Four.

In a tactical battle between two great coaches, we will see a number of interesting tactical plays by the pair of them. Some of them are fairly obvious to the average fan and onlooker, and they will play a huge factor in determining who will emerge victorious from this series and take on the Eastern Conference champions in the Finals.

Let's take a look at 5 of these pivotal, series-altering factors:

#1 Will Stephen Curry be switched onto by the Rockets?

2016 NBA Finals - Game Seven

Stephen Curry's defensive deficiencies were put under the microscope in the closing stages of their previous regular season game, which the Rockets went on to win 116-108. Harden knocked down one of his signature step-back threes in the 12-4 run the Rockets made late in the game to close it out.

While Curry is not an objectively bad defender, he is liable to gamble for steals on occasion. His footspeed is also run-of-the-mill, and once a player gets by him, the Warriors have to send help defense and risk breaking down completely for the possession.

The Cavaliers employed the same tactics in the 2016 NBA Finals to great effect, continually pitting Curry as the primary defender against Lebron and Kyrie. Currently, Chris Paul and James Harden are balling out, and Curry will probably be toast against these two ballhandling wizards.

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Started as an Arsenal fan at the age of 6. Became a Ronaldo and a Real Madrid fan after the 2002 World Cup. Bandwagon Celtics fan this season, though I've watched the NBA with increasing frequency over the past 14 years or so. Played both games with my high school team at some of the highest levels there are in India. Played against East Bengal u-17s in college. A member of Mercurial FC, 1st division Amateur League team in Bangalore.
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