Sporting Alert – The 2016 NBA playoffs will tip-off this weekend with four games with defending champions Golden State Warriors starting the second half of their championship defense.
After finishing the regular season with a record 73 wins to break the Chicago Bulls’ 1995-96 old mark, the Warriors (73-9) will look to refocus again after the celebrations, as they seek to build on what has been an outstanding campaign thus far.
Stephen Curry and Golden State will get their 2016 playoff campaign under way on Saturday in Game 1 of the Western Conference first round against the Houston Rockets in Oakland, CA.
Action from the ORACLE Arena will start at 3:30 PM ET and it will be live on ABC and streaming live on the Watch ABC App. Coverage will also be available on Sportsbet One, with live radio streaming on KTRH 740 AM and KNBR 1050 AM.
The Warriors head into this battle with the Rockets (41-41) favored by 13-points.
Golden State has defeated Houston in 11 of their last 12 meetings and the reigning champions are being back at 97-percent to win this series, this is according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.
The other Western Conference first-round Game 1 matchup on Saturday sees the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks going head-to-head.
Oklahoma City (55-27), which starts at 12 points favorites to win this game, will host the first two games of the series at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
And according to ESPN’s BPI, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder have a 93-percent chance of brushing aside the Mavericks in their opening-round series.
There are many who also believe that Oklahoma City should have things their way in this series.
Dallas and the Thunder have met twice before in the playoffs and this series is locked at 1-1.
On their way to the 2011 championships, the Mavericks beat Oklahoma City in five games in the Western Conference finals, but Durant and OKC turned things around the following year by completely sweeping the Texas side in the first round.
Game time on Saturday night is 9:30PM ET and the action will be live on ESPN, Sportsnet One, Fox Sports Oklahoma HD and KTXA. Live radio stream is on 103.3 ESPN, WWLS 98.1FM OKC / 930AM (ESP).
Elsewhere on Saturday, there are two Eastern Conference first round Game 1 battles listed on the schedule.
At 12:30 PM ET, the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors (56-26) will do battle at the Air Canada Centre, live on ESPN, SNN, as well as radio coverage on 1070 The Fan, Sportsnet 590 The FAN.
At 7:00 PM ET at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA, the Boston Celtics (48-34) and the Hawks (48-34) will get their series underway.
ESPN’s BPI expects Atlanta to get past Boston in its first-round series, giving the Hawks a 62 percent chance to win, but noted that the series will be close.
NBA First Round – Game 1 on April 16
Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Dallas Mavericks
Toronto Raptors vs Indiana Pacers
Atlanta Hawks vs Boston Celtics