The Golden State Warriors will look to take a 2-0 series lead when they host the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday.
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland.
When: Friday May 22, 02:00 (UK time)
Watch live: Click here to watch on BT Sport online!
The biggest talking point to come from Game 1 was Dwight Howard’s health, as the Rockets center sustained a sprained left knee which in turn has left him listed as questionable to play on Thursday night.
Although Houston had plenty of time in the regular season to get used to playing without him, the former Los Angeles Lakers star has played a key role for them on the boards in particular so far in the playoffs.
As a result, his absence will be a noticeable loss for coach Kevin McHale who will be hoping to tie up the series before returning home for Game 3 on Saturday night.
Another problem that he faces is finding a way of containing the Warriors, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green doing most of the damage last time out.
Key system and personnel changes from opposite number Steve Kerr also ensured that the Warriors turned a deficit into a lead to avoid a huge upset in the opener, and they will want to pick up from where they left off by taking a commanding lead in this series.
It’s never easy with James Harden involved, and the Rockets guard will look to have an even bigger influence on the game where possible. However, as expected, his duel with Curry isn’t going to be the only decisive factor in this match-up.
While stopping Curry will be a problem again for the visitors with their inability to keep up the pace and get to him in time, they also need more from their bench.
Golden State are deeper and have more talent in their second unit, and that could be key again on Thursday with Shaun Livington making a big difference after scoring 18 points on Tuesday.
Prediction: Back the Warriors to take a 2-0 lead with another win, this time a more comfortable one if Howard is sidelined.