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Top 10 things to look for in the Western Conference Finals

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With the Rockets and Warriors set to square off on Monday, it’s time to dig deeper into things to keep an eye out for in this series.

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Phantom Fouls

With a ton of superstar players in this loaded Western Conference Finals showdown, we are bound to see some phantom foul calls. These are typically foul calls awarded to superstars when there clearly was no contact on the play. There could be some conspiracy to this in that phantom fouls get called to sway the momentum to keep the games competitive.

In any case, get ready for some cheap fouls!

Attack on the nether regions

We’re talking about an all out attack on the groin area. There is a key matchup here that collects two of the most well known players when it comes to nut punching and kicking. With Draymond Green and Chris Paul on the same floor in a high stakes series, we are going to see some hand and leg to groin combat. Chris Paul has been known for years for his punching accuracy to the family jewels.

Is it intentional, or some sort of weird reflex reaction? Here is a play from a few years back where Chris Paul tries to execute the give and go...or shall we say the give and groin. Best way to stop a lengthy defender in his tracks is to humble them.

On the other side we have Draymond Green who currently holds the heavy weight title of nut kicker extraordinaire. It was just two years ago in the Western Conference Finals where Green became known for his “knee jerk reactions” against Steven Adams. Green unleashed the Thunder on the man from down under.

Watch out Clint Capela!

Let’s set an over under for hits to the groin in the WCF:

Punches to the groin: +1.5

Kicks to the groin: +1.0

Flopping

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word flop as such:

: to swing or move loosely

: to throw or move oneself in a heavy, clumsy, or relaxed manner

Flopping in the NBA has become somewhat of an art and the Rockets happen to have the Pablo Picasso & Leonardo da Vinci of flopping.

There are different methods to this art of flopping. Before this series starts, let’s look a few methods:

Exhibit A: The double flop

Not intending to flop but going with the flow to blend in. We all succumb to peer pressure.

Exhibit B: Making your case

Making the moment highly more dramatic, just for the hell of it.

Exhibit C: Targeting vulnerable players

When they go high, we go low.

Technical Fouls

There will be a lot of emotion involved in this contest. Neither team likes one another and it is going to get chippy at times. We have some gritty players from both squads and if things get testy, expect some T’s to get doled out.

Over/under on total technical fouls in series:

Technical Fouls: +4.5

Controversial Calls

Somehow, someway I have a feeling that there will be some very notable controversial call that will decide a key game in this series and potentially swing the momentum of the series. The NBA playoffs is live drama at it’s peak and with all the chips on the table, some missed call or terrible foul will decide a game.

Point Guard duel

Let’s just put it out there, Chris Paul hates Stephen Curry and the Warriors and he’s been waiting for this moment since he forced his way out of Los Angeles. Paul and Curry have been well connected through their teams respective rises over the last several years. While the Clippers attempted to build a title contender, Curry and the Warriors rose to the top and seized the throne.

Curry also had one of most unforgettable crossovers on Paul in his own arena that will forever be ingrained into Paul’s memories. This will be a highly contested key matchup as Paul is out for vengeance.

No Mark Jackson calling the games

Oh thank God! This series will be covered by TNT so we will be spared from Jackson’s bitter commentary for at least one series. The trade off is that we will have to hear more of Charles Barkley during the pre/post game shows as well as the half time show. Well, you can’t win them all.

Tempo

Both of these teams run at a frenetic pace so we should see a high paced affair. Typically the Warriors tend to succeed when the other team’s are forced to play at their tempo.

Isolations

The Rockets run the most

ISO heavy offense in the NBA and are just about dead last is passing, which seems odd with James Harden and Chris Paul leading the squad. The Warriors on the other hand strive off of spacing and passing and finding the optimal shot opportunity. The styles of play between the two squads couldn’t be more different. The teams may both shoot a high volume of three pointers, but the Rockets are more spot-up shooters while the Warriors are more catch and shoot.

With the ISO heavy play, I would be interested to see who will have the ball in their hand when the games are tight and the Rockets need a bucket.

Bench rotations

As teams get deeper into the playoffs, we tend to see coaches tighten the rotations to a 8 or 9 man rotation. Outside of the starters, the key players off the bench should be:

Rockets - Eric Gordon, Gerald Green, Nene Hilario

Warriors - Kevon Looney, Andre Iguodala, Quinn Cook, Shaun Livingston

Steve Kerr decided to be bold and start the Hampton Five lineup or the modified death lineup to seal game five against the Pelicans. With Clint Capela on the other end, I could see Kerr going back to starting JaVale McGee to combat his length.