HOUSTON ROCKETS (0-0)
at GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (0-0)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: Golden State -9.5, Total: 229
The Warriors get their rings, and CP3 makes his Rockets debut on Tuesday.The second game of the 2017-18 NBA season will take place in Oakland on Tuesday night, when the reigning champion Golden State Warriors will raise the second championship banner of the dynasty they appear to be currently building. SF Kevin Durant, who joined the team in summer 2016, will finally get the ring after which he has long thirsted. In town for the crowning will be the Houston Rockets, one of the teams in the Western Conference that closest resembles competition for the dominant Warriors. After a revelatory 55-win regular season last year--and a disheartening second round playoff exit--Houston made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by trading for one of the greatest point guards of all time in Chris Paul. Alongside SG James Harden, Paul is hoping to do what he never could as a Los Angeles Clipper: take down Golden State. Last season, Houston was 14-4 ATS as a road underdog, and 23-12 ATS in the first half of the campaign. Since the beginning of the 2015-16 season, Golden State is 54-29 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points. SF Andre Iguodala is questionable to play for the Warriors.
Houston coach Mike D'Antoni turned Harden into the league's best-rounded offensive weapon last season, as the shooting guard-turned-point guard averaged 29.1 PPG, 11.2 APG and 8.1 RPG. He became a model of efficiency, getting to the free throw line more than ever before (which is saying something) and kicking out to one of the best three-point-shooting supporting casts in league history. That group included SG Eric Gordon, PF Ryan Anderson and SF Trevor Ariza, all of whom return to this year's roster. The Rockets did, however, lose valuable depth in the Paul trade. Bulldog PG Patrick Beverley will no longer hound opposing ball-handlers for the Rockets, SG Lou Williams was one of the team's best scorers and PF Montrezl Harrell was a solid body inside. Of course, what the Rockets get in Paul made the trade more than worth it. He's one of the best passers and floor generals in league history, and an underrated shooter and scorer. Houston figures to make sure that at least one of them will be on the floor for all 48 minutes, and it will be interesting to see how they coexist when on the court together. The team also added forwards PJ Tucker and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in the offseason, both of whom can and will contribute valuable minutes.
What is there to say about the Warriors that hasn't already been said? There's Durant, the near seven-footer who can get a shot off over any defender that manages to stay in front of him. He averaged 25.1 PPG in his first year in Golden State, his lowest such number since his rookie year, and his 16.5 FGA was the lowest of his career. His FG% of .537, however, was easily the best of his time in the NBA. He made the Warriors offense even more of an unstoppable machine than it was before, and his length made the defense even more intimidating. PG Steph Curry also saw his production decline somewhat with Durant's arrival, but still made far more three-pointers (324) than anyone else in the NBA. There's always a latent fear that a resentment of KD could lead to Steph being disgruntled, but he's yet to confirm that concern in any meaningful way. SG Klay Thompson was second to Curry among league three-point leaders (268), but saw his offensive looks reduced far more than any other Warrior once the postseason rolled around. But seeing as Golden State only lost one game in the entire playoffs, it was apparently the right move. PF Draymond Green is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Iguodala has become one of the league's most underappreciated players. New arrivals SG Nick Young and SF Omri Casspi figure to be deadly from the perimeter with the open looks they'll get on this team, and rookie PF Jordan Bell was a shot-blocking machine at Oregon.