What a fantastic NBA Playoffs series we’ve been treated to so far! The second round saw two thrilling series go the distance as well as a controversial series between the Rockets and Warriors end in six games.
The Western Conference Finals get underway this Wednesday as the Warriors host the Blazers in Game 1. We preview the massive series and give our betting tips below! Don't forget to head to our NBA Tips Page for our tips for the Eastern Conference Finals as well!
Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers
After a thrilling Game 7 win over the Denver Nuggets, the Blazers have booked themselves a place in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The series will get underway on Wednesday, the 15th of May and continues with a game on every second day.
The Warriors were dealt a massive blow in their Game 5 win over the Rockets which put them up 3-2 in the series. Star forward Kevin Durant suffered a calf injury which would sideline him for the critical game six in Houston. However, Golden State champion pedigree shone through in Game 6, defeating the Warriors without Durant as guard duo Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 60 points.
Durant is currently listed as a game time decision for Game 1 of the Conference Finals and although they were able to win without him on Saturday, his availability will go a long way to determining the result of both Game 1 and the series. The Warriors could not only get Kevin Durant back for Game 1 against the Blazers but All-Star centre DeMarcus Cousins is also listed as a game time decision. Cousins suffered a quad injury late in the regular season and could add valuable depth to the Warriors bench, which has been worryingly thin throughout the playoffs so fay.
Klay Thompson will also be a massive factor in this series. Through the first two rounds against the Clippers and Rockets, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr has been able to stop the opposition’s best scorer (Lou Williams and James Harden) with an Andre Igoudala matchup. Igoudala won’t be able to play on Damian Lillard for long stretches though, leaving it up to Thompson to take the All-Star point guard. High scoring point guards have been an issue for the Warriors in the past.
The Blazers won in thrilling fashion on the road in Game 7 against Denver to move onto the Conference Finals. Star point guard Damian Lillard was quiet in the win but his running mate C.J. McCollum stepped up with a monster performance, dropping 37 points to lead the Warriors to a four point win.
Blazers leading scorer off the bench throughout the playoffs, Rodney Hood, went down with a knee injury in Game 7 and is listed as a game time decision for the opening game against the Warriors. Portland will also still be without starting centre Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a broken leg late in the regular season.
Stopping Kevin Durant will be crucial for the Blazers, luckily, they possess a few different guys to throw at him at different stages in Al-Farouq Aminu, Mo Harkless and Jake Layman. None of those players will be able to completely quell the influence of Durant, but they are much better athletically matched then the likes of P.J. Tucker, who guarded him throughout the Rockets series.
The Blazers have defied the odds in both of their playoffs series so far but it’s tough to pick them against a Warriors team that has been pretty much unbeatable for the better part of five years. The addition of DeMarcus Cousins could be a massive one for the Warriors as Portland really struggled to defend Nikola Jokic in the second round and Cousins plays a similar ‘back to the basket’ style.
The loss of Kevin Durant in Game 6 against the Rockets might have also been a blessing in disguise for the Warriors. Curry and Thompson were struggling to find rhythm throughout the first two rounds but were forced to fire up shots in Game 6 and they both found their stroke, combingin for 19/40 shooting and 11/24 from three.
The Blazers will no doubt get hot in one or two games and likely win one of Game 3 or 4 at home. We think backing Warriors to win in both 5 and 6 is great value here as you can relatively get around $1.94 for both outcomes.
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