The 2018 Western Conference Finals are finally set to begin after both teams had nearly a week off to prepare for the highly anticipated series. The Houston Rockets host the Golden State Warriors Monday night as the defending champions find themselves in an unfamiliar position.

Game 1 starts at 9 p.m. EDT in Houston, and the Warriors are slight underdogs on the road. TNT will have the TV broadcast and a live stream can be seen online at

Monday’s betting line favors the Rockets by 1.5 points, according to OddsShark, even though Houston is not favored to win the series and reach the NBA Finals. Houston had the league’s best regular-season record with 65 wins and finished seven games ahead of Golden State in the standings.

James Harden will almost certainly win the MVP award after posting one of the best offensive seasons in NBA history. Chris Paul played at an All-NBA level in his first season with the team, and he’s arguably been even better in the playoffs. The point guard is averaging 21.8 points per game this postseason, and he’s coming off a 41-point, 10-assist performance with no turnovers.

Houston won both their first and second round series in five games. Golden State did the same, scoring a ton of points along the way.

The Rockets and Warriors are the league’s two best offensive teams. The Game 1 over/under is 224.5.

Chris Paul Rockets Warriors
Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets checks on referee Tre Maddox #73 after he fell during their NBA game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on Oct. 17, 2017 in Oakland, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Golden State scored at least 113 points in all four of their second-round wins. While facing the West’s No.1 defensive team in the Utah Jazz, Houston scored at least 100 points in all five games, averaging nearly 109 points per contest.

Stephen Curry will play in Game 1 for the first time this postseason. He missed Golden State’s first six playoff games, but has since averaged 24.5 points in 31.3 minutes per game.

Kevin Durant leads the Warriors with 28.0 points per game. Since Durant signed with Golden State, the team is 24-3 in playoff games.

The Warriors struggled at times during the season when they were without their full complement of stars. Curry missed 31 games. Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green sat a combined 35 games.

Now that Golden State is completely healthy and just one round away from reaching a fourth straight NBA Finals, even Houston likely won’t be able to stop them.

Prediction: Golden State over Houston, 120-114