MX23RW : Tuesday, October 23 21:08:35

Can the Houston Rockets dent the Golden State Warriors' NBA charge?

The Golden State Warriors look on course for another NBA title but can the Houston Rockets remind their Western Conference rivals of their own quality on Saturday night?

Over the past three seasons, the NBA title has been all about the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, but this year, the Houston Rockets are attempting to move themselves into the mix. The Warriors are currently regarded as the 11/20 favourites to win their third crown in four years and the Cavaliers are the justified second favourites at 5/1, but the Rockets are still value for money at the 8/1 which is currently on offer. However, those betting odds could fluctuate - for better or for worse - after the Rockets host the Warriors at the Toyota Center on Saturday night.

The value in your Warriors vs Rockets NBA betting odds may also get shorter or wider depending on the outcome of their respective games in the build-up to the showdown in Texas. The Rockets must play host to third-placed Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday evening after the Warriors have faced the Chicago Bulls 24 hours earlier. The quick turnaround will have little effect on the game itself but with the Rockets having slipped up against the Los Angeles Clippers, their next two fixtures represent an important period in their season.

The Warriors, on the other hand, have won their last three matches with their most recent triumph coming against the Cavaliers. What was so impressive about their performance in Ohio was coming back from losing both the opening two quarters to dominate the second half of the encounter. The Warriors did not manage to get above the 120-point mark - something which they had done in six of their previous eight matches - but this was about securing maximum points and bragging rights over their biggest challengers.

As well as being the form team in the Western Conference, Steve Kerr's side also boast the best away record. Their return of 20 victories from 23 fixtures on their travels is by far the most impressive team statistic produced by any side during the current campaign, with only six of 15 teams having reached double figures in that area, never mind having a win ratio of 87%. In comparison, the Rockets have won 15 of their 21 matches at the Toyota Center, a record which is identical to their efforts on the road. If they could make slight improvements in Texas, maybe they could move themselves on a par with Saturday's opponents?

If the Rockets are to cause what would be considered a surprise this weekend, James Harden will carry most of their hopes. They are far from a one-man team, but when the 28-year-old is averaging the most points per game in the NBA with 32.3 and contributing over nine assists per fixture, you have to focus your basketball bets on him playing a key part in this match. The Rockets will be hoping that nothing comes from Harden and a number of teammates barging their way into the Clippers' changing rooms after their last game! If you prefer to keep your confidence in the Cavaliers, expect Kevin Durant to have his say. His points-per-game average of just over 26 is lower than Harden's but statistically, Durant has more of an impact at both ends of the pitch and that could prove vital on Saturday.

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers with the ball as Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry tries to steal during game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena on June 4, 2015
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